Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

One of the first projects we have to undertake before the build can progress is to build a new workshop. Basically we need a workshop for tools and accessories and additional storage for the various materials we’re going to need over the coming weeks and months for the new build.

Initially we looked at buying an off the shelf shed/garage but for the size we wanted the best price we could find was just under £2,000! and that’s without foundations or any insulation, essentially just your basic shed in fact.

Tommy Walsh built his own workshop out of timber frame so we thought we might go for a similar build. The cost of all the materials came in at just under £1,400 and this included 150mill of insulation, a solid floor a pitched roof and in all likeliness would be made from longer lasting materials.

John is looking to post some plans in the future for anyone thinking of building their own workshop. If you’d like details please drop your email details to and we’ll let you know just as soon as they are available.


The first part of the project are the foundations on which we could build the main the timber frame construction. Start by building a frame from 6″ x 1″ shutter boards. Your builders merchant can help you with that one. When working out your sizes add an extra six inches to the actual size to be on the safe side as you don’t want your building sitting exactly on the edge of the base or it may crack the edge of the base over time. I use 2″x2″ post at each corner and half way along to fix the boards to.

Into the frame I break up about 4 inches of hardcore then on top of this I add approx 2″ layer of sharp sand. Helps to stop the hardcore from piercing the damp course. Next a  layer of thick plastic sheeting to stop moisture coming up through the floor, often referred to as a damp course membrane.

Onto this I laid about 3 inches of concrete mixed at a ratio of 3 parts ballast, 1 part sharp sand and 1 part cement. When you have the cement in spade it flat and tamp (basically flattening and removing the air) until it’s nice and level. I find the easiest way is to take a long length of four by two timber long enough to stretch across the width of the base. Then I drag the timber across the foundation frame in a backwards and forward sawing motion. Eventually the concrete will find a level. If you have holes or pockets throw some more concrete mix in and tamp again. Keep checking until you have a smooth surface. Put the work in now and it will pay dividends later when you start the timber frame.


I chose to build the foundation walls using concrete blocks, which provide a level base for the timber frame to fixed to.  As soon as the blocks had gone off nice and hard I laid a 4 x 2 timber plate all the way around the perimeter and fixed using heavy duty screws and plugs.

Sole Plate

This pic is from a later project where I used bricks instead of concrete blocks but it shows the sole plate quite nicely.

Timber frame construction

Each section of the workshop was constructed using 4″ x 2″ pressure treated timbers and fixed to the timber plate using 3.5 inch screws. I’ve found the easiest way to construct the frame is to lay each section (wall) out on the lawn and build it first. Cut everything square and to size and you won’t go far wrong.

When you have each of the walls built fix them to the sole plate with a couple of screws while you check everything is nice and level in the corners. Quick tip … make sure you have a long spirit level as your standard DIY spirit level won’t cut it I’m afraid. Employ the help of a friend or family member to hold the corners together while you drill screw and fix. I used 3″ decking screws which worked just fine but depending on the situation you might want to use bolts.


Next came the roof which was also constructed from 4″ x 2″ pressure treated timber, which is actually much easier than you think. Tommy Walsh built a full size template from a sheet of OSB plywood which if this is your first build is probably worth doing. Rather than go into too much detail here take a look at a later build here where I explain in a little more detail how to construct the roof.



Next job is to clad the roof. I used 18 mill plywood as it covers really well and doesn’t take too long to put it down. You’ll need an extra pair of hands as the sheets are heavy. Alternatively you could cut them down to a smaller size I guess. Onto this I add a layer of roofing underlay finishing off with a good quality grade roofing felt.

You don’t need to use the underlay but it does add that little bit of extra integrity to the roof. Notice we left about a 10″overhang at the end of the ridge beam. This is to ensure the rainwater is kept away from the structure as much as is reasonable.

The inside is clad with OSB board which is much cheaper than plywood and works fine and as it’s inside the building I wasn’t worrying too much about the finish. I know I wanted wood on the inside as I wanted to hang my tools anywhere without having to worry about finding the studs.



I think you’ll agree it’s starting to come together quite nicely!

In part 2 we’ll look at adding some insulation and finishing off the build.

Best wishes,

John & Tania

Part 2 – How to Build a Workshop

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