Building a garden workshop

This is great, my own workshop and I got to build it myself. I’ve been looking forward to this for years and now I’m there. I still have a little to do including a workbench, shelving, storage and running power but the essence is there and I’d like to share how I got there.

I had a reasonable size space to work with for this project but decided to go for a 12 x 10ft build. This would allow me to leave a reasonable amount of space between the workshop and the garden boundary. I was tempted to squeeze in a couple of extra feet but this would leave it very close to my mulberry tree. It’s strongly advised not to build near trees or bushes as these over time can grow into the building and cause damage.

So once I had decided on the size I needed to choose an actual building. Was I going to build this myself or save some time and buy a flat pack one? On this occasion I purchased a building from gardenbuildingsdirect.com which (in my opinion) is one of the best websites for customisable garden buildings and they offered 10% off the first purchase.

So the building was on the way but I needed some solid ground to put it on. I knew I had a few options here but I had to consider what I could actually achieve on my own with the tools I had. I ended up going for a paving slab base. This would offer me a robust, strong and level base to build on. This part of the project was probably the most physically challenging but is actually quite easy in terms of skills required. I’d repaired some of existing patio before so I had a little experience but never attempted anything of this size. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Buy materials – including flag stones, sharp sand, cement and hardcore (Type 1 MOT)
  2. I started by marking out the area with some wooden pegs and string. Square this off by measuring from corner to corner until both lengths are the same.
  3. Level out the area. This took a lot of digging and back pain but was essential to the overall build.
  4. Fill the area with the type 1 MOT and level off by walking over the whole space with tiny stomps steps. I used enough for about 75mm depth. As you can see I had a little help.
  5. Mix up the concrete. I used a cement mixer because the thought of mixing all that in a wheelbarrow was very off putting. You can purchase one for about £230 or hire one for about £15 a day. The mix should be about 4 parts sand to 1 part cement. Water is added to ensure a nice even mix. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help here.
  6. Using a large blob in each corner of the slab and levelling off with a large spirit level. Each slab should have about a 6mm gap and level with the last. To get a nice level base you can use a long piece of wood to lay across the slabs and gently tabs each into place with a rubber mallet.
  7. Once all the slabs have been laid leave to go off for a day. Now to fill the gaps. Simply mix some slightly damp sharp sand with some cement, about a 1 part cement to 2 or 3 part sand. Then using a scrapper push the mix into the gaps and level off with a small pipe or similar shaped tool.

That’s it for the base. Now onto the workshop. It was relatively easy to put this building together as the instructions were pretty clear.

There are a few key points to take note here to ensure a good sturdy build.

  1. Ensure the base is completely level. Any slight unevenness will affect the way the walls and roof fit together.
  2. Use two drills. One for drilling pilot holes and one for screwing. This will speed up the build.
  3. When screwing the walls together, only use a couple of screw to start with as it’s very likely you will need to adjust each slightly.
  4. I managed to build most of this on my own but there were a few times I required an extra hand. Thanks wifey 🙂
  5. Check all the parts and arrange into piles before you start. This makes it easier to find everything and speeds up the build.
  6. Don’t buy cheap drill bits from eBay. I went through a pack of 10 in two days!
  7. Avoid rainy days. Ideal time to build would be in the summer. I was caught out by a couple of rainy days that prevented me from building. You can’t fit the roof materials when wet.
  8. Think about what floor you want. I went for the cheaper floor on this model but wish I’d gone for the thicker flooring. This was about an extra £150 but I think it’s worth it. I added a cheap laminate floor just to strengthen it up a bit. This cost about £50.

So far This is just a big empty space. The next stages for me to finish this project and make this a fully operational workshop will be:

  1. Add some security. I won’t be putting anything in here until I’m happy it’s protected. I’ve purchase a decent smart home Yale alarm system, security lighting and triple bolted doors.
  2. Workbench with storage. I’ve got some great ideas for a workbench I intend to build myself. Stay tuned for more on this.
  3. Fit lighting and electrical points. Not too sure how this is going to pan out as I’m not a big fan of electricity as you can read in one of my other posts.
  4. A suitable path. At the moment I just have some loose paving slabs laid in the grass but this isn’t ideal so I’d like to lay a proper path with a nice border.

That’s it for now but as always, if you’d like to know more just drop me a mail.

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