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When we bought our home 9 years ago, we bought it from an older lady who was downsizing. She left us rather a lot of items in the house to help us out as it was our first home, from sets of wardrobes to a dining table, to the outdoor shed.
We've been noticing that the outdoor storage shed/summer house was beginning to look the worst for wear. It was rotten at the back, and as it was sat quite hard against the fence there was not a lot we could do there. The final straw was the kids managed to break one of the windows while out there playing, so I was anxious to replace with something more suitable.
While shopping in costco one day, we noticed one of these sheds on display alongside a Keter branded one. I'd heard of Keter before, but not the Lifetime brand, so we didn't purchase in store while we researched further. After much umming and aaahing, we decided that the American Lifetime brand was more sturdy looking of the two brands, and we couldn't find it online any cheaper than what we saw in costco. Unfortunately by the time we made the decision, it went out of stock in store so we ended up buying online instead for £60 more at a cost of £749. Naturally, after making such a large purchase, the exact same model is for sale on amazon now for £649.
The shed was delivered in two exceptionally big boxes. The combined weight of the boxes (and the sheds total weight) is 147kg. Crazily, they were delivered by one man in a van, so I ended up having to lift these with him best I could (not much help at all) into the garage till we got round to building it.
We decided rather than try to move these boxes again, we would open them and lay the parts on the grass for assembly purposes. We found within the box there was an exceptional amount of polystyrene protecting the panels from banging into each other and getting damaged. I'm not particularly fond of polystyrene in packaging with its ethical issues, but it did protect all the pieces till we were ready to use them.
Firstly, we were placing this on the site of our old shed (once we demolished it) which did make assembly a bit easier. The shed comes with a booklet to aid assembly which can only be described as a novel. Each instruction is accompanied by lots of pictures, and they were needed at least at the start to get us going along the right lines for assembling the ship.
Firstly, it is recommended that 2 adults can assemble this in 2 hours. This is a severe underestimation. While I am useless at DIY, my husband is rather competent, and the two of us could not do this in less than 4-5 hours. This was with children underfoot, but not to the extent that they added 2-3 hours onto the time.
You need to make sure firstly that you have the right tools for the job. Ladders are essential, a decent drill is another one. A rubber mallet is also necessary.
Step one is make the base. We were lucky we were placing the 8 foot by 6 foot shed onto patio slabs that had already been laid rather than starting with making a base. Full instructions are given how to do this. Concrete is recommended although you can also build on top of wood.
We started with laying the floor of the shed. This reminded me of when we laid laminate flooring inside, as the 3 plastic pieces just slotted together in that same way - starting with one piece at a 45 degree angle to the next, my husband slotted the piece in, I stood on the piece on the floor so it was kept straight and didn't move.
When we saw how lightweight the floor was, we decided that we best anchor this to the floor. This is where the drill came in really handy. The instructions were not clear about where to do this, though we saw there were 6 circular points - 4 in the corners, and one in the middle of each side. We drilled through these into the concrete patio slabs. One negative here is there were no screws to anchor this in place. Luckily, my husband has some long screws and rawl plugs that were suited to the job.
Once this was in place, we started to slot the wall panels in. These were plastic panels a couple of feet wide and the height of the shed. There was a definite technique to putting these in. There were shaped holes along the sides, and you needed to line the bottom up with these, then slide the panel along into the narrow part of the slot to lock it in place. This part definitely needed two people as I needed to hold the first panel while my husband put in the second panel. They then needed lining up along the edges. The two edges were shaped a bit like teeth edges, and as they knitted together, the panels were then connected firmly together by screwing a steel reinforcement along the join. We had to repeat this about 12 times I think it was to get the walls built. We ran into a few problems lining these panels up as the concrete base was not entirely flat, so we needed to level off the floor by inserting wood spacers under it to raise it in certain places while we worked.
Moving to the roof, we had a fair few problems as firstly you needed to make some metal frames to support the plastic roof panels. Because this is an American product, my husband found that his spanner set was not quite the same measurements as the American produced bolts required, so a bodge job was required. In truth, this added time onto the build.
The first step in roof assembly was putting on two triangular sections on the front and back to create the Apex roof. This is what I really liked about the look of the shed, as it has a vent at the front and back which look like little round windows. These vents needed setting into the panels, but they were easy enough to attach.
The roof then comes in 5 sections. Two flat sections in a dark brown colour which have a tiled look to them. These are overlaid so that the shed remains waterproof. The final bit is a clear plastic triangle that goes at the highest point of the roof to let light into the shed.
The doors again were a little faffy - firstly, they have plastic windows on them which needed putting onto the doors. Secondly, once they were put on, we realised that there was a huge gap down the front, so again, we had to work out where the base was not level to get them to line up properly.
This shed is very aesthetically pleasing. I love the look of the tan coloured walls contrasted with the dark brown roof and brown features like the vents. I think it looks quite striking compared to the dull green of the shed that was there previously.
In terms of maintenance, there is a good advantage to having a plastic shed with steel reinforcement. Instead of having to paint this and perhaps refelt it at some stage, we have just ducked out of all of that maintenance DIY for the forseeable future.
We realised quickly that this is quite a lightweight shed and it needed anchoring. We get quite strong winds in our back garden, and they have been enough to blow over a tethered pvc greenhouse, and the kids large 10 foot trampoline, so I was a bit worried it would move in bad weather even if it were full of stuff.
The shed does not strike me as being the most secure shed. As we were assembling, I said to my husband that it wasn't any more sturdy than a little tykes childs shed. The panels are certainly not that thick, and anyone wanting to break in would not find the doors on this much of a challenge. Saying that, I think the same could be said for our old shed too. We only store the kids outdoor toys in the shed, so hopefully if anyone did look through the windows they would only see toys and be put off.
The steel reinforcement does go a long way to providing the support. I must admit to a moment of thinking what have I bought when we were in the middle of putting it up before the roof went on and the sides were just wobbling when I touched them. However, now it is fully built it does feel sturdier.
I think you need to be quite a competent DIY person to tackle this as a project, and it was quite heavy going holding it all in place when my husband was screwing all the panels together.
Instructions were passable, but we found that all of the bags of screws and the panels had been given letter codes, and unfortunately when it came to building, these codes did not always quite match up, so thankfully we could kind of work it out from the pictures. I say we - I mean my husband. We'd have been in real trouble if he interpreted it like I did.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the purchase. We could have purchased a similar sized wooden shed a bit cheaper, but this one looks good and hopefully will last a lot longer for us as we just don't get the time to get out in the garden painting and repairing things as often as we should. It suits our needs pretty well, though I am not going to give it 5 stars due to the difficulties we had building, such as no screws to anchor it, and american measurements with the bolts meaning our UK tools were not quite a match.