The Shedhead

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Progress, but slow

You might notice a slight change between this photo and the previously posted one?

Yes, it the one course of stone to provide a base for the garden office front wall. Physical progress is slow, but planning is storming along?

The idea is that the timber frame is lifted off the ground and sits on the block work, preventing damp from penertating the frame. I'll run a piece of DPC along between the blocks and timber frame.

On the heating side I have sourced a chinese pot bellied stove on ebay, sorry but it is cheaper than all other stoves. It doesn't chuck out too much heat but is big enough to heat the space and with a baffle should stay in all night.

Things to remember when buying a stove is that all the flue pipe, brackets etc can cost as much if not more if you are constructing a new chimney. Also stoves should be installed by a recogonised engineer to deal with leakages, H&S etc.

The stove is going to have to be flued through a timber wall, so insulation and fire safety are going to be important, unless I want a particularly warm but shortlived office. Apparently, the flue should be 3x its diametre from flammable materials or surfaces. You can use masterboard for boarding near stoves, as this is heat resistant. Where the flue passes through the wall I'm going to use masterboard on the interior, with rockwool insulation and a hardwood cladding on the outside. Matured hardwood has a higher scorcing point than soft wood.

The flue through the wall will be an insulated twin walled flue, this will reduce the external temperature of the flue wall.

On the heating side I have just acquired an old oak tree! Dead but good for about two years wood supply for the garden office and the other stoves in the house.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Technical Bit

It's not in my nature to consider things too long before I do it. However, given the garden office is going to be my main dwelling for at least 8 hours a day, five days a week I have decided to break habits of a life time, and do some planning.

Firstly, heating.

We live in a location that gives us a limitless supply of mature, seasoned wood. Therefore the shed must be heated by a wood burning stove. I intend to get something off ebay as this will be recycling, and also cheap? However, I feel the need to ensure the stove is big enough to heat the place to a comfortable temperature during the winter.

The way to work how many Kw of stove I need is to take the cubic footage of the room and divide by 500 = Kw (kilowatts). I found this in an old physics book in the family library (a series of boxes in the loft) I have therefore concluded I need a stove rated at 1.5Kw,...........or not very big.

Given the small space, I am going to see if I can get an old stove with a boiler chamber, and run a radiator into outside toilet to keep it from freezing up in the winter. This will hopefully use some of the extra energy produced by the stove during the day.

On the electrical front I am going to get a 20w polar panel and use this to maintain some heavy duty 12v batteries. I intend to then light the garden office with a 12v LED system. This will have a very low demand on the batteries and will enable me to run a 150w pure sine wave inverter. This will let me run 240v appliances off the battery. This will only be a laptop, radio and mp3 and speakers, so it should work better than our dodgy rural electricity supply.

Any comments on the above proposals would be appreciated.

I'll try and scan a floor plan soon to show the layout of the luxury pad I propose building.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


When you can't be doing, plan!

I still haven't sourced a decent supply of hardwood for the outer cladding of the new garden office (now its offical name). This has enabled me to think about a project plan, checking the need for planning permission and thinking about construction and design details. I might even draw some plans! Hopeful not.

It looks like I don't need planning permission as I am replacing an existing structure, in the same location, to a similar specification. I'll post a link to the numerous sites offering planning advice tomorrow.

On the design front I have decided to try and make the final building as sustainable as possible. I am going to heat it by using a woodbourning stove (recycled from ebay), using wood I have cut locally. I also intend to use a solar panel and battery system to power a 12v LED lighting system and use an inverter for the 240v appliances. This means it won't need any external power or heating sources.

On a different front it is good to read all the data on changing working habits, and a move to more homeworking and flexible lifestyles.

At the present rate by 2030 we'll all be sitting in our sheds, in our dressing gowns, growing beards, listening to radio two and writing blogs on how to make money from e-commerce. It could be worse!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Blank Canvas

We as you can see the old shed is gone. A sad day no more leaks, no more wasted money on waterlogged power tools.

The floor is original engineering brick and is about 100 years old so I'm leaving them under the floor. The floor and walls are really dry (but then the walls are 45cm thick).

Were do we go now. Well I'm building a sleeper wall between the bricks and gravel to support the frame and we are going to make good the walls before the floor beams go in.

Off to source a woodburner now. r

Friday, October 06, 2006

That's me in the corner

As it's raining, there is little shed development activity today.

Just a bit of background on how I got to needing the Garden Office (Dad's Shed).

I'm presently sitting in the corner of the living room in our home in the north Cotswolds. This is "my" office.

We moved to the Cotswolds from Brighton four years ago. We realised that whilst Brighton was still happening and on the up, we were slowly sliding over the hill. Once you reach 35 your ability to dance in nightclubs declines and skinny fit t-shirts are labled "medium".

So we packed our bags and moved to a country estate, and are now living in a deer park with views of the river and have deer poo on the doorstep, different to the dog poo and seagulls of Brighton. Both my wife and I work largely from home and we only have one office. This makes for a sometimes tense atmosphere when we are both having onesided conversations on the phone or trying for " a little thinking time".

To compound these issues we had a baby two and a half years ago. And whilst she is a lovely happy little girl you don't always need her joining in your conversations with civil servants and clients, or "helping on the computer"!

It was therefore decided that I should be banished/move to the shed/caravan/garden office. This on the ground that it would give our little girl more space to play, my wife a quieter working environment, and get me out of the house!

So that's where we are today. We have a hole where the old shed was. I have a garage full of "useful things, looking for shed two and piles of logs looking for a store. And we are at the beginning of October.

The Plan

  • Have a dry covered space by the end of the month
  • Finish insulating and flooring by end of Novemeber
  • Electrics and lighting sorted by mid November
  • Decorated and heating by Xmas
  • Working Garden Office by January

Join my blog and watch these timescales slip. It may seem a long time but the shed is just one of a number of projects, some of which require weekends in France.

Off to work know. RR

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Off to the Shed

Welcome to my first posting.

So what's this all about?


I have a 2 1/2 year old little girl, a wife that works from home, and a lack of work space in the house for sanity.

Peace and a calm working environment can only be found by retiring to the Shed and working from there. However, my present shed is full of what all sheds are full of, bikes, mowers, half tins of paint and numourous boxes of useful things I can't find a use for just yet.

So I need to build a new shed for me and work, another to store wood, and another for all the really useful stuff.

My blog will outline the problems and progress of this project. Hopefully it might even offer help and guidance, as a result of the numorous mistakes I am bound to make in the construction of it.

The present space is 3.6m x 2.7m and surrounded by walls on three sides.

The Aim
  • A low cost, insulated, low energy office and workshop space
  • Comfortable for working and relaxing in
  • Warm, dry and light
  • Self build

So there you are, if you're interested, come back and visit and watch progress through the winter as buiding and fit out continue.

Hopefully, it might help others with their projects and sourcing materials and give ideas on how you can get a shed you can call home!