Have you ever tried to assemble one of those flatpacked garden sheds available at Bunnings? The ones that say on the box “Quick and easy, just bring a drill!”
Yep, I had a drill and a several other tools, but the instruction manual lists about 15 required tools, including 3mm, 4mm and 8mm steel drill bits, mallet, rivet gun, so on and so forth and no mention of the sledge hammer that you’re gonna want so you can smash the bejesus out of the shed you just tore down to relieve frustration.
Tore down is innappropriate. Patiently dissassemble is more like it, though the sledge did come in handy, especially when the roof wouldn’t fit in the back of my van.
Perhaps you’d expect some pre-assembly from these flatpacks. I did. The door did have edge capping and hinges already fitted, I’ll grant you that. Nothing else was assembled. One hundred and forty self-tapping screws – and that was just the 10mm.
Start with the back ‘wall’, there’s two pieces of sheet in that wobbly shape so familiar to us from fences. Three self-tapping screws to get these two together. Wait, first I had to assemble something resembling a workbench. There were some handsome undulations in the backyard, so my ladder on its side made for one end and a few storage boxes from the old shed made for the other end.
Screw those two sheets together, slide on the caps top and bottom, five screws for them. One screw is now going through three pieces of metal, so those holes would want to be accurate, wouldn’t they?
I’ve got two 3mm metal bits that could make for decent ear-scratchers, if you were so inclined, they’d struggle to drill a hole in candy floss now, after the several holes I had to make.
After the caps, there’s the brace. This attaches at the back but is secured from the front. It may have been around this point – could’ve been earlier, when I read the instructions – that I rang Damo, who lives five minutes away from the job and is a practical fellow who works odd hours. This morning was one of the odd ones.
The sidewalls were frigging ‘orrible. The angled cuts on the sheets demanded by a sloping roof didn’t line up, the holes didn’t line up, I was using a screwdriver to get the tappers into place, I wasn’t satisfied at all.
I take pride in my work. I’m a gardener – not a handyman, not a builder, a gardener. I do a bit of small-scale landscaping, I know how to use equipment, this job wasn’t beyond my skills, but it was insanely fiddly. Wayne, the tattooed husband and father of the household, works an early shift and was home soon after lunchtime. The back and side walls, the roof and the door bracing was done by then. He gave me a hand finishing the front wall and got a first-hand look at the nature of the job. He asked me what was left to do.
“Hang the door, screw the walls and roof together, position that on the slab, drill holes in the slab for the dynabolts.”
He decided that he and his wife could take it from there.
“You got a drill?”
“I can get one.”
“You’ll need a Phillips head driver and a ten mil masonry bit.”
I cleaned up, stacked the walls, packed up my gear and was glad to get out of there. I scrunched the invoice down as far as I could, then deducted another hour for my education.
I take pride in my work. I hate being caught out. Gimme a few hours and I can make this:
look like this:
Next time someone asks me to assemble their Bunnings flatpacked shed, I’ll quote four hours minimum for two blokes. Or recommend a lumber yard so we can build a proper shed.
Hey, Damien Hardwick, you wanna swap jobs?
P&C, a Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Inc.
Brought to you with the assistance of Peggy Lee, Percy Sledge, Arlo Guthrie, as selected by Perky Girl, and a lot of vulgarities that I spewed forth today.