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Material storage struggle in apartments. Solution = storage unit?

 
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Hello!

While I'm excited to start on the permaculture/homesteading journey, I'm currently renting an apartment. I am trying to not get deterred from activity, though it's forced me to think creatively about my situation. One thing I'm trying to do is utilize other people's property (with permission) to start some gardens around the neighborhood. I think this has huge potential for positive impact and is more feasible than attempting to purchase land and build a house at this time.

One of the challenges I'm running into is a lack of space to store raw material, particularly any green-harvested trees or vegetation for building. The best solution I can come up with (to avoid encroaching on shared garage space) is to rent a storage unit. I'm not particularly familiar with storing such materials in a storage unit, but the following is what I understand so far:

--Storing freshly cut material inside a garageis a bad idea
--Limit humidity changes -- perhaps via a dehumidifier
--fans help keep air moving, and that is good
--maybe like a grow light to dry the wood faster?

It seems like this may be a good temporary solution until I can get individual storage sites on the properties I'll be farming. I was wondering if I might be able to get away with storing green material if the storage unit has many fans, a dehumidifier, a grow light?, and the wood is stacked with many vents (think Chick Fil A fries or a lincoln log cabin, but with the logs only spaced a little). I plan on keeping the wood in the round when I harvest it. Also, it will probably be small diameter roundwood, as Utah is not known for its robust forests.

If that isn't a good idea (and I suspect it isn't), I read that one should get wood kiln dried before storage. Are kilns something easy to find in a suburban setting? Will they let me dry my own wood without milling it first? I suppose these are questions I can ask the mill, but why not include them here as well.

In addition to roundwood, I've been thinking about harvesting reeds from the local environment. They seem to grow in excess and the few organizations I've talked to about harvesting them have no problem with it. Can I go about a similar technique to dry reeds as with wood? Could they be dried more easily in a storage unit?

Help me permies forum, you're my only hope
 
Kyle Clawson
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Also, I was uncertain if this belonged in PEA. It seemed like it did, since I couldn't find an apartment specific forum. If it is not, I'm happy to move it.
 
gardener
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Hi Kyle,
Welcome to Permies. Well done for thinking outside the box and not letting lack of your own land hold you back.
I`ve moved this thread to the natural building forum which maybe a better fit than pea (which is part of the SKIP program, see all about SKIP wiki if you need more information on SKIP.
What is the intended use for the materials you are gathering? Are you hoping to build buildings on the land you are making gardens on, or is there another intended use? There may be other forums that we can also add this thread to in order to gain the attention of the most skilled minds in the correct fields.  Presumably you need to gather all your materials until you have what you need for your intended purpose, hence the need for indoor storage?
 
Kyle Clawson
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Nancy Reading wrote:Hi Kyle,
Welcome to Permies. Well done for thinking outside the box and not letting lack of your own land hold you back.
I`ve moved this thread to the natural building forum which maybe a better fit than pea (which is part of the SKIP program, see all about SKIP wiki if you need more information on SKIP.
What is the intended use for the materials you are gathering? Are you hoping to build buildings on the land you are making gardens on, or is there another intended use? There may be other forums that we can also add this thread to in order to gain the attention of the most skilled minds in the correct fields.  Presumably you need to gather all your materials until you have what you need for your intended purpose, hence the need for indoor storage?



Thanks for getting this to the right spot, Nancy! Appreciate it

I’m still figuring out what I want to use the materials for. At the very list, I think I’d like to make trellises from bundles of reeds and jute rope (which I bought).

I’m also hoping to get wood for building small structures, and maybe even for a house someday. I was thinking I might build some skiddable storage areas, as well as Holzer style cave storages on the bigger farm. Both would require an outer structure of some kind. I also plan on having chickens on the farm, so I’ll need to build a shelter for them out of something—I’m hoping it’ll be wood I can harvest :)

In addition to outer structures, I would also like to build a loft bed and book shelf. I can’t think of a way to build these out of stone or mud, at least nothing that would be appropriate in my rented apartment 😂

On the more urban lots, I think I want to build some compost piles, though I like the Holzer design for those as well (which would include wood as part of a hugulkultur, but not as an external structure). Having some extra stakes lying around likely wouldn’t hurt, either.

I’m also gathering stones for building, though I’m not as worried about those being in the weather. Stone is probably our most abundant resource here, so I’m figuring out ways to utilize it in building and landscaping.

Either way, I’m hoping to stockpile materials so that I can utilize them when I’m ready, but harvest them in an appropriate season. Plus, it sounds like wood, in particular, needs time to dry out before utilization.
 
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If you have access to land where you hope to build the structures, I would think that storing it there would be way easier and cheaper than signing up for a monthly charge with a storage unit.  I would take inspiration from proper firewood storage- make sure to get it up off the ground on pallets, covered with a tarp.  I would think that with the fairly dry climate in Utah you would be able to store wood outside for several months before you started to run into a problem with mold, fungus etc.

I have a similar problem -- as I have an older structure I want to take down and reuse on the farm and will need to store the wood temporarily.  I'm hoping to locate a shipping container, but they are hard to come by and expensive right now.  I'm also thinking about building a quick and easy geodesic dome, with a tarp cover, using the locking hubs at ziptiedomes.com, which look super easy to put together, with a pallet "floor" to get things up and off the ground.  Maybe someone else will have a better idea - if so, I am interested to hear it!
 
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I had the same problem 50 yeras ago and bought a small farm with a mortgage.
I could store whatever I wanted.
I still do!

As for building a geodetic dome to store things, I would make a simple shed and use that.
It will be faster and cheaper .
What is wrong with the shed you are planning to dismantle?
 
Nancy Reading
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John C Daley wrote:

As for building a geodetic dome to store things, I would make a simple shed and use that.
It will be faster and cheaper .
What is wrong with the shed you are planning to dismantle?



I think that each site and circumstance will be different. Everyone has different resources and constraints. If you don`t have money, you need to use what`s on hand. If you have big diameter wood, you can split it for planks. If you have thin poles, then a flexible sheet or thatch covered structure would be better. We have lots of wind and stones, so low dry stone walls are the indigenous form of building here.
Each to their own and one size does not fit all.
 
Cris Smith
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Exactly Nancy!  I happen to have access to a lot of bamboo and happened across the ziptiedomes.com video about making domes with bamboo.  His videos make it look super easy; I guess I will find out.

Plus let's get real, I just want a geodesic dome. :)
 
Kyle Clawson
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Cris Smith wrote:If you have access to land where you hope to build the structures, I would think that storing it there would be way easier and cheaper than signing up for a monthly charge with a storage unit.  I would take inspiration from proper firewood storage- make sure to get it up off the ground on pallets, covered with a tarp.  I would think that with the fairly dry climate in Utah you would be able to store wood outside for several months before you started to run into a problem with mold, fungus etc.

I have a similar problem -- as I have an older structure I want to take down and reuse on the farm and will need to store the wood temporarily.  I'm hoping to locate a shipping container, but they are hard to come by and expensive right now.  I'm also thinking about building a quick and easy geodesic dome, with a tarp cover, using the locking hubs at ziptiedomes.com, which look super easy to put together, with a pallet "floor" to get things up and off the ground.  Maybe someone else will have a better idea - if so, I am interested to hear it!



I don't *quite* have access to the land, yet. I'm still working out that deal. You're right, though, once the deal goes through it would make more sense to build a sensible building there and utilize that. And I suppose I hadn't considered the pallet and tarp approach. I tend to overengineer solutions.

I'm also not hurting for money, so that is not a limiting factor, right now. I don't want to spend needlessly, but I'm also not opposed to spending $100 a month for storage.

One other struggle for this particular land (though not for any of the urban lots) is that it is heavily sloped. There aren't really any flat building sites, though I could probably flatten a couple out if I needed to.

The world just seems to have a shortage of everything right now, eh? Or perhaps this is the first time in a long time some of us in the United States are experiencing a shortage. Sometimes I wonder if all the shipping containers are disappearing because of this trend toward turning them into houses and buildings. Such a funny yet ingenious development.

Those dome kits look awesome! I wish they weren't made out of PVC, but wow! It sort of makes sense as the ultimate temporary storage structure, huh? Set up, takedown, and storage would all be easy. I had a half baked thought a while back to try and do something similar with wood, but as I have no woodworking skills, I think I'll just leave that as a thought to simmer in other people's brains.

So is the consensus that storing wood and plant material is better on a pallet, outside, with some cover, than inside a garage-like space? Since money is the secondary concern here, would a storage unit with fans and a dehumidifier work (at least until we enter a dry season in Utah, again)?
 
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Cris Smith wrote:If you have access to land where you hope to build the structures, I would think that storing it there would be way easier and cheaper than signing up for a monthly charge with a storage unit.  I would take inspiration from proper firewood storage- make sure to get it up off the ground on pallets, covered with a tarp.  I would think that with the fairly dry climate in Utah you would be able to store wood outside for several months before you started to run into a problem with mold, fungus etc.



Storage facilities can turn into long-term arrangements since it is so easy to put stuff there and forget about it.  Then it is hard to part with that stuff when a person is tired of paying the bill each month.

I like Cris's idea about the proper firewood storage, making sure to get it off the ground, and having it covered with a tarp.

A person could build a small one at each of the various locations that they are working at.  Something like these:


source


source


source


source

Here is a thread that you might find interesting:

https://permies.com/t/159798/Suggestions-wood-shelter-solo-build

And these are from the PEP forum:



https://permies.com/wiki/148403/pep-dimensional-woodworking/Build-Skiddable-Lumber-Storage-Shed

https://permies.com/wiki/127977/Build-tiny-shed-skids-PEP

https://permies.com/wiki/147138/pep-woodworking/Skiddable-Shed-Green-Woodworking-roundwood

I am looking forward to hearing what you figured out that would work for you.

 
Kyle Clawson
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Cris Smith wrote:Exactly Nancy!  I happen to have access to a lot of bamboo and happened across the ziptiedomes.com video about making domes with bamboo.  His videos make it look super easy; I guess I will find out.

Plus let's get real, I just want a geodesic dome. :)



Oh man, I wish I had access to bamboo. Bamboo seems to make all construction easier. The closest things I have are some giant reeds (Arundo donax) which have recently become a bit too opportunistic for the state authorities.
 
Kyle Clawson
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Anne Miller wrote:

Storage facilities can turn into long-term arrangements since it is so easy to put stuff there and forget about it.  Then it is hard to part with that stuff when a person is tired of paying the bill each month.



I really like what I'm seeing here, Anne. And that's a good point. I have a tendency so say "good enough" when it comes to storing things and then forgetting I should improve the solution. I think you've convinced me.

Something simple, like what's shown here, would be a great start. I should probably start integrating interest into my idea-generating routine. I frequently forget how much creativity people demonstrate there.
 
Kyle Clawson
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Nancy Reading wrote:

John C Daley wrote:

As for building a geodetic dome to store things, I would make a simple shed and use that.
It will be faster and cheaper .
What is wrong with the shed you are planning to dismantle?



I think that each site and circumstance will be different. Everyone has different resources and constraints. If you don`t have money, you need to use what`s on hand. If you have big diameter wood, you can split it for planks. If you have thin poles, then a flexible sheet or thatch covered structure would be better. We have lots of wind and stones, so low dry stone walls are the indigenous form of building here.
Each to their own and one size does not fit all.



Nancy! This wood structure you have going here: https://permies.com/t/159798/Suggestions-wood-shelter-solo-build looks perfect! You've been holding out on me rofl!
 
Nancy Reading
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Kyle Clawson wrote:[
Nancy! This wood structure you have going here: https://permies.com/t/159798/Suggestions-wood-shelter-solo-build looks perfect! You've been holding out on me rofl!



Ah (blush)! Those are useful for firewood and short lengths, although the principle could be scaled up I guess. Much more talented people than I have built far better structures with pallets. I like pallets because they are still reasonably available, and their cross section means they have a useful stiffness. Also the modular nature means you can quickly make a simple structure like mine.
I hope the land access works out for you, and look forwards to seeing more of your projects.
 
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I didn't read every word in this thread but think I get the gist. there is land where your making agreement with owner to garden there. if it is the situation might I suggest, think, tiny house, or more exactly tiny shed, on a  trailer, since as you stated, money's not a problem. if started out as a shed for storing gardening stuff can always be converted to tiny house and transported to another property if in future you get your own land. time flys when your having fun and the rental cost of a storage unit will quickly surpass the cost of owning your own trailer with a shed on it.
 
Kyle Clawson
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bruce Fine wrote:I didn't read every word in this thread but think I get the gist. there is land where your making agreement with owner to garden there. if it is the situation might I suggest, think, tiny house, or more exactly tiny shed, on a  trailer, since as you stated, money's not a problem. if started out as a shed for storing gardening stuff can always be converted to tiny house and transported to another property if in future you get your own land. time flys when your having fun and the rental cost of a storage unit will quickly surpass the cost of owning your own trailer with a shed on it.



I hadn’t considered that. It makes a lot of sense, though. Having something mobile would be phenomenal. That would also be more secure, which would be nice. I don’t expect people to rummage through wood, but there is a public trail crossing through the property, so some security might be nice.

This is why I’m glad I found this site. Y’all have such positive and constructive solutions. So creative. It really helps open my mind to different possibilities
 
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You speak of a sloping block with no flat areas.
By inserting poles deep into the ground you could build a 'pole house' where the floor walls and roof are bolted to those poles.

pole houses
 
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and with technology there is today, somewhere in this shed on trailer you could hide one of those little gps things if your worried someone might steal your rig or you could get one of those protective boots that goes over a wheel like the cops use on people who dont pay parking tickets in the city.
 
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I really like pallet sheds, too. The one Nancy built that you linked to is great.

This is a style I like building. This picture is of a little one built on a long pallet for the floor. I've built other ones with floors made up of multiple pallets, too. The key is to have the top of the centre wall pallet a little higher than the end walls. Then you have sloping roofs to shed water. The bigger the shed, the longer the pallets you'll need to make the roof, though - or you can build something.  This one's little and there's not too much weight pushing out on the walls, so I only braced them at the bottom. The bigger sheds I've done have bracing at the top, too. These smaller ones do just fine without, even with three feet of wet snow on top.

Around here, people sell used metal roofing for almost as much as new, so I just use a big sheet of lumber wrap on top of the roof pallets to keep water out. The saw mills here give that away.
IMG_9990.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_9990.jpg]
 
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bruce Fine wrote:and with technology there is today, somewhere in this shed on trailer you could hide one of those little gps things if your worried someone might steal your rig or you could get one of those protective boots that goes over a wheel like the cops use on people who dont pay parking tickets in the city.



Buying a trailer lock keeps the trailer from being stolen.

A trailer lock fits onto the trailer where the trailer ball would go when hooking up a trailer.

https://www.amazon.com/Trailer-Coupler-Locks/s?k=Trailer+Coupler+Locks

Several to choose from. And in the below $20 to under $50 price range.  Which is a small price to pay.
 
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Sounds like you want to store long lengths of lumber for building? Eg from your own sawmill?

For most building purposes lumber can be airdried outdoors and doesn't need to be under cover. You just need to take care over stacking it level, with appropriate stickering between pieces to minimise warping. Piece of roofing material or tarp over the top to keep the rain off is adequate.

 
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