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Wannabe Chat Slut
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With everything that's going on we have accepted that our usual 'proper' holiday is just not going to happen this year. I wanted to have something positive to look back on so we talked about what best to do with the money we would essentially save. A foreign holiday with two kids is not cheap these days, particuarly when we enjoy adventurous and exciting holidays as opposed to two weeks in a resort somewhere.

The weekend before Easter a friend of mine who is a bricky (and lives over the road) asked me if I had anything I wanted help with this week as he is off work and a little bored given the current restrictions. We quickly decided to build a summer house / garden room / work space and use the money we would usually spend on a holiday. The main issue was that on the Monday before Easter weekend we had no materials, no plan, and just a rough location in the garden where we would want it... Quite a big challenge given the current issues in the building trade in terms of both materials and availability of trades.

As there seems to be a lot of interest in this type of project I thought I would share the project with you on here, assuming that at least a few people are interested! Happy to share everything from design, build and costings. I am a fairly extreme DIY'er compared to most people, but I am not a tradesman / builder by profession.

Let me know if you're interested before I continue posting irrelevant stuff on a car forum! :LOL:
 
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I'm in - as I may have mentioned in other posts, I am moving to a new gaffe next week, and at some point we will need a garden office to replace what we are leaving behind. Loves a good building project I do!
 

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Wannabe Chat Slut
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys. I find sharing projects online helps keep me motivated!

My first consideration was planning and building regulations, which fortunately I am fairly familar with given my job. It seems pretty clear that if you aren't in a conservation area you can build pretty much any kind of garden room you like without planning permission being required, provided you step it in at least two metres from all boundaries, and stick to a dual pitch roof with a ridge height of no more than 4 metres. Providing you build it more than one metre in from a boundary, and build it prodominantly from non combustible materials, even a room with internal space of 15-30 sq.m is exempt from building regulations providing that it won't be used as sleeping accomodation. I do think this could be used as occasional guest accomodation so intend to build it to be compliant with building regulations where possible.

We already knew the location we wanted it at, which is shown edged red on the plan below. We wanted it here to separate the main back garden from the funny shaped piece at the rear. There will be a wall in between the new building and the boundary with a gate in it, and the back of the garden will be a vegetable garden with some fruit trees. My four year old is fascinated with plants and wildlife (and gardening generally) so we are encouraging this and indulging him a little, anything to avoid plastic toys and TV!

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We are currently about 20% of the way through the total redevelopment/rebuild of the house, which is not going particuarly well at the moment for a variety of reasons. I am hoping a manageable project like a garden room will get me back on track!

The next issue was how to build it, which is basically a choice between a wooden structure, a modular building, or brick, assuming you don't want to pay the extortionate cost of a pre constructed building (which look to be in the region of £15-20k). For me there was no option, I wanted brick. Typical wooden buildings seem to last 10-15 years before they start to deteriorate, and I want this to last indefinitely. I am virtually certain we will never move from here - I hate the expression 'forever house' but that's how we feel about this one! We are still pinching ourselves that we were in the position to buy it during the first lockdown just over 12 months ago.

With virtually no time to plan anything properly, I went out with some string, a can of line marker and some pegs and started playing around. I decided on a rectangular pitched roof building with a cut out porch at the front, mainly because I have always wanted a covered porch to sit out on in the evenings.

I did a favour for someone a while back, and they went above and beyond in returning the favour by lending me a 1.5tonne digger for 12 months (he owns a hire company). I can reuse the top soil elsewhere in the garden, and the clay (which exists around 10 inches down) will probably cost £150 to have taken away. So very little cost involved in the excavating. :)

Foundations.jpg


This is how it was at the end of day 1. I borrowed a laser level to get the footings as level as possible, and the wooden pegs are all set to help get the concrete level. I am putting in 300mm of concrete, with 10mm steel mesh due to the proximity of trees. This probably wouldn't have satisfied building regulations due to the trees, but I am happy it is more than good enough for what I am building!
 

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Saddest VZi'er 2020
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Interesting to see how different people attack similar problems. I’m in the midst of creating an area of decking and putting up a summerhouse. I’d have loved to build something more permanent, but the whole “project creep” thing would have likely meant some other jobs would never get finished. As it is I just wasted an hour looking at laser levels online instead of just going outside with some sticks and building line. 🤣🤣
 
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Wannabe Chat Slut
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Amazingly I managed to find a company who would pour the footings on 24 hours notice, so Day 2 saw this sorted. I ended up needing 4.5 cubic metres which had to be barrowed a fair distance so was a bit more expensive than I have previously paid for concrete. The bill was £585. I haven’t incurred any other cost as yet so that’s the start of the running total.

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I was laughed at by the builders merchant I use when I asked for a delivery slot later the same week, but fortunately a friend of a friend with a flat bed pickup offered to collect the 45 trench blocks I need for the next stage. For anyone who doesn’t know these are the height and width of a standard block but three times as thick, and made of a less dense material. They are also interlocking and have built in handles to make laying them more user friendly. They cost me £3.45 each plus VAT, as opposed to £0.82 plus VAT for a single concrete block. On that basis they are more than twice as expensive (one trench block replaces two concrete blocks) but they require less labour, and save the effort of filling the cavity to just below DPM level. Plus I think they’re a better option near tree roots. I got the 45 blocks dropped off and carried them round ready for 7am the next morning!

Please feel free to offer any advice / criticism as I am very much an amateur and rely on what I learn as I go along! Where is Mr Slug when you need him?!

As I said I have major works underway with the house so already have sand, cement, concrete blocks, common bricks and face bricks ‘in stock’ which I can borrow to get started. I managed to get a delivery slot for just after the Easter weekend, and reserved space for a full truck load.

So far so good!
 

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Wannabe Chat Slut
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Day 3 was a family day in the garden, so with the compusory BBQ and beer not a great deal was done. With a little help from my eldest (Austin, 4) we did level off the earth from the middle of the foundations, whilst there was no chance of me damaging new brickwork! This created a surprisingly large pile of soil which is partly due to the fact that soil 'swells' approximately 40% on excavation. It was good quality soil so I managed to find useful places for it around the garden to raise the level of some planting areas. Not many 4 year olds can say they can drive a real digger - getting him off it is now the problem (and the track lines all over the lawn.... :LOL:)

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Perhaps due to the volume of beer consumed I didn't take any other photos, but the next photo is from the start of Day 4, when it was time to use the laser level again to set the trench blocks.

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Day 4 ended up as another day in the garden, as my friend's wife and kids joined us for the afternoon for another BBQ and even more beer. However, as the kids generally took care of themselves playing all day, we got a hell of a lot done, including covering the inside with a layer of hardcore and setting up for the following day. Austin is convinced he wants to be a builder so I managed to give him a real job to do (he has already worked out the difference between an actual job that needs doing, and when I mug him off with a fake job!). He helped with laying the mortar for the blocks, and then with pointing up the tops where the carrying handles are cut out. Excuse the ridiculous lockdown hair, he does have a haircut booked!

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End result was very rewarding for what was a really enjoyable day.

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:cool:
 

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Wannabe Chat Slut
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Day 3 was a family day in the garden, so with the compusory BBQ and beer not a great deal was done.

View attachment 292467
If you are particuarly observant you may notice one other change on Day 3, which was a complete cheat as I paid a local company to build and erect a potting shed at the back of the vegetable garden. It pained me to pay for something I can do myself, but my wife keeps telling me I need to draw the line somewhere and accept there aren't enough hours in the day for everything!
 

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If you are particuarly observant you may notice one other change on Day 3, which was a complete cheat as I paid a local company to build and erect a potting shed at the back of the vegetable garden. It pained me to pay for something I can do myself, but my wife keeps telling me I need to draw the line somewhere and accept there aren't enough hours in the day for everything!
Any progress Gareth?

:)
 

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Wannabe Chat Slut
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Any progress Gareth?

:)
I've been working 14+ hour days lately so haven't got around to sorting the photos, but this has prompted me to do it. :)

Day 5 (full day) and day 6 (half day) saw the inner course of blockwork going up, and the first outer course corner of face brick. This is a little labourious as I decided at the last minute to go a fair bit higher with the face brick than intended, and to add a dental course to add a bit of interest. This is all very new to me but I am enjoying it.

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You can see in the background the sorry state of my house at the moment! :rolleyes:
 
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Brilliant, love seeing these things, learning how people build is great
 
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