How To Build A Garden Workshop

Welcome to a guide that unlocks the gateway to your personal haven – a DIY garden workshop. In this article, I’ll navigate two key aspects: establishing a robust foundation and assembling a prefabricated garden building that’s perfect for all your hobbies and interests. I built this garden workshop to accommodate my woodworking hobby, which eventually turned into a small business.

How to build a workshop

First, we’ll delve into the art of crafting a reliable base. Choosing the right location, preparing the ground, and constructing a sturdy foundation are all crucial steps to ensure your workshop stands strong against time.

If you’re looking to build your own workshop from scratch, then you can check out my full guide to building your own shed from scratch here: How to build a shed from scratch

Workshop location

I had a reasonable size space to work with for this project but decided to go for a 12 x 10ft garden building. 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.

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 which (in my opinion) is one of the best websites for customisable garden buildings and they offered 10% off the first purchase.

Building a solid workshop base

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.

How to build a workshop base


For the base there were a few materials required to ensure a good strong surface for the shed to sit on.  These included:

  • MOT Type 1 Sub base – This stuff is perfect for creating a solid surface to lay your slabs.  It consists of 1mm – 40mm jagged stones that compact down to form a strong level surface.
  • General purpose cement – Combined/mixed with sharp sand to make your mortar mix (Concrete)
  • Sharp sand – Mix with cement to make mortar.
  • Paving slabs – I didn’t use anything fancy here, just a basic slab to support the shed.


To complete this base you will need a few basic tools and one not so basic, the cement mixer.  You can try mixing the concrete by hand but for the amount required it’s much easier to buy or hire a cement mixer.

  • Wheel barrow – Moving your materials around the garden
  • Cement mixer – Mix the mortar.  I purchased one and now rent it out via Fat Llama
  • Trowel – For applying the mortar to the base
  • Shovel– Round edge shovels are ideal for digging into the MOT materials.  Flat edge shovels or spades are better for moving larger loads
  • Compactor – I created my own out of a sledge hammer and an old slab but you can also buy or hire one
  • Spirit level – The larger the better.
  • Rubber mallet – to tap the slabs into place
  • Tape measure – 8m is ideal
  • String –  for marking out a level area
  • Wooden pegs – for marking out a level area
  • Gloves – hand protection

Step by step guide for how to create a workshop base

  1. 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.
  2. Level out the area. This took a lot of digging and back pain but was essential to the overall build.  The overall area needs to be flat but also requires a bit of run off for surface water.  So don’t worry too much about levelling this perfectly.
  3. 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 60mm depth. In some cases you might need to go a little thicker but as my soil is mostly clay it wasn’t essential.  Clay is a very tough soil that hold weight well.  To calculate the amount of Type 1 MOT you require you can use this calculator.
  4. As you can see I had a little help. 
  5. I used a roller and makeshift compactor to create a nice flat surface.  I used a piece of wood and spirit level to get this as level as possible.  It’s important to compact the sub-base as much as possible to make sure the base doesn’t sink when all the extra weight is added after.
  6. Mix up the concrete. I used a cement mixer because the thought of mixing all that in a wheelbarrow or mixing tray 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 after to make a wet mix. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help if you get stuck.
  7. 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.
  8. Ensure you follow the string line as you go along which should have a 2cm drop for every 1m.  This is to allow water run off.
  9. Once all the slabs have been laid leave to go off for 12 – 24 hours. 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.

Garden Buildings Direct promo

Building a prefabricated workshop – Step-by-step guide

The instructions for assembling these prefabricated workshops are straightforward and easy to follow. To simplify the process of joining the panels, I utilised F-clamps, which served as an additional set of hands. It was crucial to ensure that the base was completely level, as this alignment was essential for the proper positioning of all the panels and roofing elements.

The base and walls were easy enough to erect. I had some rain which didn’t help but a large tarpaulin helped keep things dry.

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 purchased a decent smart home Yale alarm system, home 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.

Estimating total costs for your DIY workshop build

Here are some things to consider when estimating the total costs for your workshop:

  • The size and scope of the workshop. How big will the workshop be? What features will it have? The more complex the workshop, the higher the costs will be.
  • The materials you will need. What materials will you need to build the workshop? The cost of materials can vary depending on the type and quality of materials you choose.
  • The labor costs. If you are hiring someone to build your workshop, you will need to factor in the labor costs. The labor costs will depend on the size and complexity of the workshop, as well as the hourly rates of the workers.
  • The cost of permits and licenses. If you need to obtain permits and licenses to build your workshop, you will need to factor in those costs as well. The cost of permits and licenses can vary depending on the location of the workshop and the type of workshop you are building.
  • The cost of tools and equipment. If you do not already own the tools and equipment you need to build your workshop, you will need to factor in the cost of purchasing them. The cost of tools and equipment can vary depending on the type and quality of tools you choose.

Construction estimating software can be a helpful tool for estimating the total costs for your workshop. This software can help you to track all of the costs involved in the project, and it can also help you to identify potential cost savings.

Here are some specific steps you can take to estimate the total costs for your workshop using construction estimating software:

  1. Gather all of the information you need about the workshop, including the size, scope, materials, labor costs, permits and licenses, and tools and equipment.
  2. Enter this information into the construction estimating software.
  3. The software will then generate an estimate of the total costs for the workshop.
  4. Review the estimate carefully and make sure that it is accurate.
  5. Use the estimate to help you make decisions about the workshop, such as the size, materials, and features.

By following these steps, you can use construction estimating software to estimate the total costs for your workshop accurately and efficiently.

Here are some additional tips for estimating the total costs for your workshop:

  • Get quotes from multiple contractors. This will help you to get an accurate idea of the labor costs.
  • Be realistic about the scope of the project. Don’t try to build a workshop that is too large or complex for your budget.
  • Allow for unexpected costs. There will always be some unexpected costs involved in any construction project.

By following these tips, you can avoid surprises and ensure that you have a realistic budget for your workshop.

A Journey from Foundation to Craftsmanship: Your Ideal Garden Workshop

In this guide, we’ve embarked on a journey that unveils the door to your personal retreat – your very own DIY garden workshop. As we navigate through the intricacies of creating this space, we focus on two key pillars: establishing a robust foundation and assembling a prefabricated garden building tailored to your hobbies and passions. This journey began with my woodworking hobby, which eventually blossomed into a small business, showcasing the potential of a well-crafted workspace.

Starting with the importance of crafting a reliable base, we’ve explored the selection of the right location, the meticulous ground preparation, and the construction of a solid foundation – all fundamental steps to ensure the longevity of your workshop. This foundation is more than just a physical structure; it’s the bedrock upon which your creative ambitions will flourish.

For those who aspire to build their workshop entirely from scratch, my companion guide “How to Build a Shed from Scratch” serves as a beacon. This comprehensive resource navigates the process of creating a workshop right from the ground up, offering insights into design, construction, and the essence of craftsmanship.From the initial choice of a 12 x 10ft garden building to the complexities of crafting a robust base using paving slabs, this journey reflects my personal experience. The tools, materials, and steps outlined offer practical guidance, making the once-daunting task accessible and achievable. With patience and determination, the base took shape, providing a solid stage for the main workshop structure.

Assembling the prefabricated workshop called for attention to detail. The instructions were clear, yet the process was further eased with the aid of F-clamps and a steadfast commitment to ensuring a level foundation. This alignment proved pivotal in seamlessly integrating walls and roofing components. Key insights emerged, underscoring the significance of proper alignment, the strategic use of drills, and the value of collaboration when additional hands were required.

Our workshop, now assembled, stands as an empty canvas. The journey, however, doesn’t end here. As you step into this space, the next phases beckon. Security measures, a thoughtfully designed workbench with storage, well-planned lighting and electrical points, and the creation of a suitable path are all chapters that remain to be written. Your garden workshop is a living testament to your dedication, embodying the fusion of creativity and craftsmanship.

As you embrace the promise of your workshop, may it become not only a space of utility but a sanctuary where ideas flourish, creations take shape, and passions find their rhythm. This journey has laid the groundwork, and now the true artistry of your endeavours awaits.

Workshop build
Garden Buildings Direct promo
Garden workshop interior empty

If you liked this post then take a look at some of my others for some great ideas.

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