Big Shed Build

for any non Lotus car talk or projects.
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

I always enjoy reading other people’s DIY build threads so I thought I’d document my own garage build here. Although, calling it a garage might be a stretch as it's more like a really big shed. This is copy paste from another forum so I'll try and update it so the timeline makes more sense as I go.

I bought my first house in 2015, one of the requirements was off road parking, preferably with a garage. When I bought the house, it had a single garage at the top of the garden, with access via a lane which runs behind the row of houses. My garden is on an uphill slope and you can see the garage in the top left of this photo.
ImageDSC_0307_1 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

Imaged878c95d3120396b63763fbc887624f467b57bbe_645_430-1 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

When I moved, the garage was still full of rubbish which I had to clear out
ImageDSC_0517 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

Unfortunately, this garage was well past its best and looked like a strong gust of wind could finish it off. At the time I had an MX-5 track car which had failed its MOT and I needed to get off the road and strip to sell the parts and fund my next car purchase. At the end of October 2015 I knocked it down so I could park the car there instead. Here you can see the view from the rear access lane, not a very friendly slope into a small, single garage.
ImageDSC_0015_2 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
ImageDSC_0013_1 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
ImageDSC_0019_2 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

At this point I had a rough idea of the future goal. I wanted to level off the top of the garden across the whole width and build a double garage, orientated width ways across the garden (so 90 degrees from the original) and the doors would be on the right hand side. At 5.5m long, it would take about half the width of the garden, leaving another 5m in front of the garage doors for a hard stand area to pull out of the garage onto for working on/washing the car etc or providing parking for another car. With this in mind, the old garage wall was roughly re-laid across the garden to start building up the level. You can quite clearly see the slope I’m working with here and I would have to build up to about 1m height to create a level with the end/top of the garden.
ImageDSC_0025_2 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr ImageDSC_0023_2 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
ImageDSC_0031_2 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

I built a shed so we could move the garage junk and tools out of the utility room, moved the mx-5 into place and fenced off the gap where the garage had been, this was later replaced with an opening gate when I replaced the MX-5. We then focused on redecorating the whole house.

ImageDSC_0113_5 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

There was money left in the budget after decorating and the plan was to use that for the garage build. However, the kitchen, which we thought we could live with as was, turned out to be a disgusting mess and 6 months later I decided to redirect that money and completely gutted and replaced the whole kitchen (that whole build is documented in a time lapse on YouTube somewhere if you want help going to sleep at night). I saved whatever I could over the next few months, and when there was enough money in the bank again I had a tough decision to make:
Build a garage or buy a new track toy?

It seemed daft to have a garage without a fun car to put in it so I went out and bought this little Lotus.

Image2017-05-31_02-55-12~2 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

The poor thing suffered being kept outside all through winter 2016/17 so again, I put my mind to saving up some money to give it a home. That brings us up to September of 2017. Budget severely restricted I now had to find the most economical way of getting a garage built before Christmas. I settled on a wooden garage from Chart Garages, 16’ wide and 18’ long. This meant I could use the concrete base from the old garage (which was 17’ long) and just level off the rest of the garden up to that height.

The top of the garden had become very overgrown so a few months earlier I had cleared away most of the weeds, only for them to have completely grown back again over summer

ImageIMG_20170902_135615960_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20170902_135618746_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

I cleared them again and needed to find a way of getting a lot of hardcore to start leveling off the slope.

ImageIMG_20170317_144621964 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

It was going to be quite expensive to buy something in, so I spent a month digging out a new patio area at the bottom of the garden outside our living room and carrying the waste up the garden, 2 buckets at a time.

ImageIMG_20170923_170118910 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
ImageIMG_20170923_152232628 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

It’s all chalk so with a big hammer drill and some sweat we started to level off the garage area.

ImageIMG_20170909_120736313_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20170917_163220510~01 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20170909_163354388_HDR~01 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171008_173133133 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

At the same time I started digging a trench for foundations for a retaining wall.

ImageIMG_20171005_183154560 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171008_173219244 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

With the trench dug, we spent a day mixing concrete and filling in the hole again.

ImageIMG_20171014_124253379 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171014_170028287 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

The retaining wall would line up with the existing concrete slab and build out from there. I put a kink in it where the garage stops and the hard stand starts, to give a little extra turning room. And not at all because I dug the first part of the trench in the wrong place...

ImageIMG_20171014_170044641 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

The concrete blocks for the wall arrived

ImageIMG_20171018_130435540 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171018_141247953_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr


And the first block was laid, quickly followed by the rest of the wall. This was all during Storm Brian in October 2017. Myself, my dad and his experienced bricklayer friend had it up in a day while dodging rain showers,

ImageIMG_20171021_104806946 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171021_163407492 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171021_163505148 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171123_153617899_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

After the mortar had strengthened, I finished backfilling and making level. By this point, the garage had been ordered and a build date supplied. I had 6 weeks to finish getting the site ready. However, the budget was getting stretched thin too so I decided to focus for now only on the half of the site where the garage would go. The second half for the hardstand/driveway area could be finished afterwards. The MOT Type 1 went in and was whacked down.

ImageIMG_20171105_124121915 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171105_164500163 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

A frame to hold (and level) the concrete slab was put in. For this I laid concrete blocks on 3 sides, with wooden shuttering on the front edge. I trial fitted the steel mesh and cut it down to size. Here you can see I have a problem with an existing gate/fence post diagonal support, which is concreted in right where the slab is going to be.

ImageIMG_20171112_153309415_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171112_153341795 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

I shored up behind the blocks with concrete, filled in a gap behind the rear edge and the neighbour’s boundary and sunk and concreted in a new fence post to re-fix the diagonal support.

ImageIMG_20171112_140235054 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171112_140247539 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171119_132817547 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

I then laid the DPM sheet, put the steel mesh on spacers and tied it together.

ImageIMG_20171119_132833407_HDR by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

The concrete arrived (3.5m3) and was poured straight into the hole.
ImageIMG-20171122-WA0007 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

We leveled and smoothed it off best we could but it didn’t really dry fast enough to get the best surface before daylight ran out (and then it rained).

ImageIMG_20171122_155042718 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

The following day I found it looking like an acne riddled teenager with a pockmarked surface. Less than ideal but as the plan was to cover the floor inside the garage anyway so tried not to get too upset! This is how the site looked at this point (end of November 2017). After the garage is built, the shed will be moved and three fence panels taken down, this will be the new access point to the garage with a long sliding gate.

ImageIMG_20171123_153754152 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr

ImageIMG_20171123_153815034 by zimbarbaluba, on Flickr
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

At this point, you can start to appreciate this was a fair amount of groundworks and prep required. It might help to show the lane access at the back of my property which explains the difficulty I had accessing my garage/driveway previously.

Here you can see the problem with the situation. My inconsiderate neighbours insist on parking their vans/trucks directly opposite the gate which used to provide access to my off road parking. To even get the elise in here required a multiple point turn if the neighbours' vehicles were there. I avoided going out if it involved returning in the dark as it was just too stressful. One cold morning I left with the windows still steamed up and caught the rear wing on a fence post when I misjudged the turn. Luckily no significant damage was done but I just got fed up with the situation. The final straw was when they threatened to punch my girlfriend one night when she politely asked them to move their van. They are not nice people.

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The new gate will be at the other side of my garden, combined with the turn off the lane being more of a parallel park turn instead of a 90degree swing off the road I will have a lot more room to maneuver. This means taking out the 3 fence panels on the left.

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I first had to cut down some bushes, then remove the kerb stones and dig out the soil (and more chalk) to just below road level so I can resurface it.

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The kerb stones are extremely heavy, I had to smash the first one out but after that I was able to lever the rest out with a long metal bar. I couldn't move them far on my own. All of this took me about 4 to 5 hours, I'm not getting much more working time in the daylight on a weekend at the moment.

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I went to Wickes and loaded the car up with 100 engineering bricks.

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The garage will be built on a frame of these, so we set about measuring up, checking and double checking for 'squareness'.

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The bricks then went down, this took us about 20-30 minutes for each side of the square.

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This was as per the design spec sent by the garage company. The doors in the front are offset to the left.
We also tidied up along the back edge where the boundary with my next door neighbour is to prevent it crumbing away. Originally this was right up against the garage (which I knocked down). Later I realised there was a big design flaw here which is still plaguing me to this day. Because I didn't install any drain along this edge, whenever it rains heavily the water pools up in the channel formed between the end wall of my garage and the boundary wall. Eventually this finds its way into my garage, puddling up in the rear corners.

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Now I was ready for the garage delivery which was about 1.5 weeks away. I still had to finish leveling of the area which will be in front of the garage and sorting out the new access point in the fence.
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

The tricky part of the situation here was that row of houses behind mine was built about 15 years after mine. Before then the lane was only used for access to the rear of our properties. However, when they built those houses, their deeds were drawn up to include the section of lane immediately behind their plot of land, which previously wasn't on anyone's deeds, meaning they now effectively own that part of the lane and I have no authority to say they can't park there. We have right of access, and their argument is I can access my property (even though it's very difficult). Any decent human being would be more considerate, perhaps park on the other side of the lane which would allow me to swing around their vehicle onto my property, but that would mean they have to walk a few steps further each day which is apparently too much to ask. Man maths obviously means the best solution to this problem is give myself a nice big garage and hardstanding.


Just before Christmas 2017 there was a big step. In fact it was mid week, a couple of days before I went away for 3 weeks over christmas.

The guys from Chart garages turned up when they promised - 5 minutes past 7 in the morning. We had to wait for the neighbours to move vehicles - I got 2 different rather grumpy people out of their beds, removed my gates for better access and by 8am the build had started.

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25 minutes later it looked like this

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The first part of the roof went on and while I was doing the day job, my father starting removing some fence panels temporarily so I could get the lotus inside before I went on my holiday.

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We leveled out the gap/hole from the lane roughly so I could drive the car across, and the doors went on.

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The Onduline roof sheets went on next.

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And it was finished. The guys packed up and were on their way to the next job by 12, it was all very fast.

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Bearing in mind I basically had to find the cheapest way possible to get the biggest size garage I could, I'm very happy with the result and construction. I didn't add any windows so will obviously need to run power up there, once it's dried out I will think about flooring options. Also needs guttering (which they would do for me but I think I can do it cheaper) and some drainage issues tidying up. I'm thinking insulate, board it out and paint the internal walls white.

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Moving the lotus in was a challenge. A very tight turn, restricted by the shed (next task is to remove it) and uneven ground with a low car. A lot of shuffling back and forth, planks of wood and bricks under the wheels and I made it.

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With the car parked in this position, you can see there is plenty of room all around

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The fence was rapidly rebuilt, stronger than before so it will last until I move the shed and build the new gate.

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and a battery powered security light fitted. I've had one of these on the side access of the house for 2 years now, still on the original batteries. Later when I ran power up there I replaced this with a mains powered LED security lamp.

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And the view from upstairs window in the house

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Now, clearly having the lotus fenced in isn't ideal so I had to try and sort the next phase out as quickly as possible, especially seeing as the MOT ran out shortly after. Empty the shed contents into the garage, remove the shed, finish leveling out the rest of the base and build a new sliding gate for access.
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andybond
Site Admin
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Another great project thread.

What product are you going to coat the exterior wooden sides in ?
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

andybond wrote: Mon May 24, 2021 5:17 pm Another great project thread.

What product are you going to coat the exterior wooden sides in ?
Well to be honest that's still tbc because it's 3.5 years later and I've still not done it. It has been scheduled as one of the projects for this summer though.
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thommo
Posts: 4917
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:50 pm
Location: Lancs

A great read. Not afraid of hard work, then?
Exige S1 No: 139
andyzim
Posts: 157
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 8:30 am

thommo wrote: Mon May 24, 2021 6:34 pm A great read. Not afraid of hard work, then?
I prefer to get stuck in myself if I can. This particular project has dragged on way too long though. More updates to come.
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