Monday, 2 January 2017

New Year New Build - workshop/bungalow

After renting on and off for the last few years, my missus and I finally took the plunge, got rid of the cottage in Wales and bought a property near Brighton, with a pretty extensive back garden. I've rented a unit for all my nerd stuff for most of the last four or five years and have even converted a loft to use as the Nerd Centre.

But having stuff in a unit over a mile away means things tend to be done only to a schedule - there's no just turning up and seeing what inspiration brings - time is limited when you have to travel to your "workspace" so things tend to get queued up and I only ever manage to get done what I've planned to do (sometimes weeks in advance). Sometimes not even that much!

And having a loft space to work on PCBs and mess about with electronics has been pretty handy. But, living in rented accommodation means I was never able to do what I wanted to - such as install a roof window and have the laser cutter at home.

So with a house to call our own, I got the go-ahead to build a workshop at the bottom of the garden. Not just a little shed to put the laser cutter in (although I'm pretty excited about having my laser cutter back where I can use it on a whim). But a full-blown workshop. Just a few feet from my back door!

Of course, mid-winter is never the best time to start a major construction project. But if I don't get it started now, it'll never get done. So here's the first of a multi-part, multi-month project. The biggest and most exciting yet....

It all started with hiring a cement mixer and having two and a half tonnes of ballast delivered.

Sadly, access to the rear of the property is pretty limited. So it was all dropped off in the front garden and had to be carted through the house in smaller buckets. It took ages!

There's already a concrete plinth at the bottom of the garden, on which a small tin shed once stood (note the use of the past tense). It was about six foot by eight foot. I'm making my workshop up to the maximum size allowed under "permitted construction" (i.e. without requiring planning permission). Which means 3m by 5m and not more than 2.5m high.

Still it's a pretty sizeable area.
Which means a lot of concrete.
Too much to try to do all in one go. So we're making the concrete base in sections (that's "we" as in the wife and I, not "we" as in me and the other nerds). This is partly because of the limited daylight hours. Concrete needs to be above 5 degrees or so, to go off - and at low temperatures can take up to 48 hours to set fully. So there are only a couple of hours in each day that I can mix and pour the concrete to give the sun time to melt the overnight frost, and have a couple of hours at the end of the day for it to start to go off before the sun goes down and things get cold again.

We dug down about five inches and added an inch or so of hardcore/gravel, so the concrete is about four inches thick. It's a bit deeper around the edges (where the blocks are marking the edges of the concrete).

After three days, this is where things are up to....

It may not look at that impressive in the photo, but it's a start. And when we're outside standing in the marked out area, it feels pretty big!