In 2010, just after returning from cycling the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I set about creating a home office in my garden. For years there had been a shed there, but it had to become much more than just a shed.
Since I sold my retail business in 2006 I've always had an office "space" in my house, which occupied a corner of my living room. It was fine as an office space went, but I never "went to work". It was just 4 steps from my sofa, but I hardly ever made the commute, choosing mostly to watch trash telly instead.
I realised I needed a place to go to work, and though it was still on the footprint of my property, the garden seemed an obvious choice.
Over six weeks I remodelled the existing 8' x 6' shed, raising it up on bricks by two feet, insulating the inside walls and installing an electric supply.
Four years on and it's as good as the day I built it.
Two months ago a need arose for increased storage. There were so many bicycles, inflatable canoes and other large outdoor gear, that the apartment was surely going to burst at the seems. Though the garden is small it once again seemed the obvious choice. First stage was to remove the old overgrown plants in the area and set concrete pillars in place, effectively raising the build off the damp ground. I could have laid a large concrete slab, but that's not very eco-friendly, and it's also very difficult to remove in the future should the need arise. So the solution was to dig one-foot deep holes, fill them with rubble, then sit concrete piers on top with a rubber membrane between the concrete and the timber supports.
Once the floor was built, a strong sandwich of 25mm marine ply and 70mm of insulation, the walls could go up, and finally the roof. For the technically minded this comprised a vapour barrier on the inside (which was later covered in plasterboard), insulation between the wooden frame, a breathable membrane and then an air gap between the membrane and the outer cladding. The roof is a special one piece rubber called EPDM, guaranteed for 25 years. Job done.
The only remaining thing to do, next year, is to place a living roof of sedum down, as just now the view from the windows of my apartment is of a vast expanse of black rubber. It's a tiny bit bigger than the office shed too. Actually, it's twice the size! Surprisingly it sits comfortably in the garden, and has created a really nice enclosed secret garden, which itself has had a bit of a makeover.
Overall it was an entirely different build to the first shed. Over the past four years I have learned so much about construction, and it is with confidence I can say this "shed" is built to a timber frame house standard. It now stands snuggly next to the original office shed.
A shed? Hardly.