My New Workshop Plans - Any advice?

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
I'm after advice on building my new workshop.

I have decided that my current workshop has reached the end of it's life. It's a wooden building, little more than a large shed. Uninsulated, made with poor quality wood and leaking from all angles. Clearly, when you have very expensive tools and machinery that don't take kindly to rust, this is less than ideal.

The plan, then, is to have it replaced. I have read up on the local planning laws and I understand what I can and cannot do, where I can and cannot place it etc.

I am looking at a 5.5M x 4M building, with the eaves at around 2.5M and total height at no more than 3.5M, double exterior door with windows inset at one end, no other windows. Electricity is an easy transfer from the line already installed, and there will be no plumbing.

I am currently looking at an insulated metal building with a raised concrete foundation, but am I going the right way? Building with brick and mortar would be the ideal, but the time needed to build it would be a concern. During the time between tearing down the old 'shed' and being able to move into the new building my machines would need to be under a tarp in the garden and my dining room would be full of my hand tools.

Can anyone give advice on what I should be looking at? Alternatives? Any help at all.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Double skinned "log cabins" can be an alternative, built from treated 2x4s that slot together. Often used for classrooms, workshops or garden offices/rooms. Would suit your needs well, judging by the size and feel warmer. I've always found even insulated metal sheds to be cold and clammy.

Have squint on here

 
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I'm after advice on building my new workshop.

I have decided that my current workshop has reached the end of it's life. It's a wooden building, little more than a large shed. Uninsulated, made with poor quality wood and leaking from all angles. Clearly, when you have very expensive tools and machinery that don't take kindly to rust, this is less than ideal.

The plan, then, is to have it replaced. I have read up on the local planning laws and I understand what I can and cannot do, where I can and cannot place it etc.

I am looking at a 5.5M x 4M building, with the eaves at around 2.5M and total height at no more than 3.5M, double exterior door with windows inset at one end, no other windows. Electricity is an easy transfer from the line already installed, and there will be no plumbing.

I am currently looking at an insulated metal building with a raised concrete foundation, but am I going the right way? Building with brick and mortar would be the ideal, but the time needed to build it would be a concern. During the time between tearing down the old 'shed' and being able to move into the new building my machines would need to be under a tarp in the garden and my dining room would be full of my hand tools.

Can anyone give advice on what I should be looking at? Alternatives? Any help at all.

If you’re planning on doing anything with 8ft or longer pieces, the length might be restrictive. Possibly look at asking for a planning exemption? If you think about infeed, outfeed and depth of machine, you’re looking at about 20ft as a viable minimum to do that inside. If it’s going to be just turning, then plenty big enough, of course.

For the construction, if you have the budget, then metal building on concrete slab is ideal. I built my shed out of 2x4, and it’s stood up very well, but I’d have preferred a metal building. The cost was about double for metal/concrete vs all wood.

Storing stuff outside - (Elmer Fudd voice) - be vewwwy careful! About 4 years ago, I got an absolute steal on a used jointer coming out of a cabinet shop that was closing down. It was about an hour’s drive away, and I got it home on a trailer. It was late when I got home, so threw a tarp over the trailer, and I’d unload it the next day. Except something came up, and the next day, so it was about 3 days before I could unload it. in that time, the dew/condensation had formed surface rust on the cast iron beds, and in one part, even pitted it. To this day it fcuking annoys me that I was too lazy to unload it that night.

So, if you’re going to put machinery out in the yard, pay special attention to protecting the exposed ferrous surfaces. The Cosmoline that they come from the factory in would be ideal, but don’t know where you’d buy it. Other stuff I’ve had, had what appeared to be a thin layer of automotive amber grease with wax paper on the cast iron surfaces. Either are an utter pain to remove, but definitely worth the pain to protect the surface.
 
Concrete sectional buildings. Can be bought secondhand AND reconfigured at need. We had one that someone had used as a light industrial unit (automotive modelling), we put it up and reconfigured it twice. Easy to replace a damaged roof section / add or take away a window where needed. I would go for a marine ply roof with felt shingles next time or polycarbonate sheeting (new triple wall version) so it could retain heat better in the winter as the corrugated plastic skylight panels leached heat - plus a small log burner.

DO plug the sheet ends, DO gutter in. DO insulate the gap between roof and wall. DO have a window to air.

Our secondhand one was a Concrete workshops from Leofric Building Systems Ltd who were extremely helpful when we wanted spares for our imperial secondhand shed (put up as 10" x 14") and they had gone metric. They also have a new 'temporary' base system for sheds / workshops which might simplify matters.

Friend had a woodworking shop in the log section version, which was smart and not as twee as it sounds.

It's a temporary building, and you are already building the necessary a concrete pad. If you no longer have need, it can be resold - buyer dismantles and collects......
 
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When looking at power options do the following:

Socket outlets, work out how many you need then double it.

Lighting, work out how much you need then double it... Lighting may look good enough until you start to add shelving, machines etc then shadows can be cast in the most awkward of places.

Personally I would be going down the brick built route, metal shed will be all well and good but a couple of years and you may well start to regret it, also makes it difficult for any additions to be easily made. On a brick wall you can mount things like shelves pretty much anywhere you want, metal frame can restrict positioning quite a bit.

Also temperature variations to look at, could be freezing cold in winter and red hot in summer.
 
When looking at power options do the following:

Socket outlets, work out how many you need then double it.

Lighting, work out how much you need then double it... Lighting may look good enough until you start to add shelving, machines etc then shadows can be cast in the most awkward of places.
That's what my only suggestion would be - power, lighting and also nowadays, proper hardwired connectivity - whatever you think you need, double or even treble it and make sure there's actually enough juice to power everything twice over.
 
And have a seperate fuseboard. But if you have an electrician in for owrk remind him to turn on ALL the fuseboards on the property - we didn't realise we had lost a freezerful of meat for a couple of weeks........
 
And have a seperate fuseboard. But if you have an electrician in for owrk remind him to turn on ALL the fuseboards on the property - we didn't realise we had lost a freezerful of meat for a couple of weeks........
Indeed - you'd probably need one by default if you do it probably.
 
Indeed - you'd probably need one by default if you do it probably.

That’s what we did with our house. My shop is in the basement, but has its own electrical panel, subtended off the main one. I put bench-height and low-level sockets every 4-6 feet. Again, solid advice on the lighting, it’s like the sun in there when the lights go on. There’s only windows on three sides, so very necessary. LED strip lights are cheap to buy and cheap to run. I have some LED spotlights for the awkward corners too.
 
That’s what we did with our house. My shop is in the basement, but has its own electrical panel, subtended off the main one. I put bench-height and low-level sockets every 4-6 feet. Again, solid advice on the lighting, it’s like the sun in there when the lights go on. There’s only windows on three sides, so very necessary. LED strip lights are cheap to buy and cheap to run. I have some LED spotlights for the awkward corners too.
A couple of these on your main bench are very handy too. Have them fixed to the bottom of the shelves or cabinet with a little spring clip to hold the other end out of the way when not in use.

led-machine-workshop-light.jpg
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
The size I have noted fits in with the planning laws (Permitted Development) for where I live (West Lothian). I am still wary of wood/log buildings due to the problems I have had with my current workshop. I will not be building it myself as I am physically unable to do so. As I said, the ideal would be brick, but the time needed to build it is my worry. Prefab concrete - I hadn't thought of that. I'll take a trip to Google and see what I can find.

As to infeed and outfeed space, it is not a concern. I got rid of my tablesaw as I never used it, it just became somewhere to put current projects that were in progress. I don't make furniture and so had no need for it. If I do need large pieces cut then I find a circular saw more than adequate. Most of what I make is either on the lathe, or at the workbench - lamps, clocks, household 'things', art pieces etc.

As to electricity. I had an qualified electrician wire it up from my mains power at the fusebox. It was on a separate ring (I'm not sure about the right terminology) with its own fusebox within the workshop. The lighting is fine. Fluorescent lights in the ceiling, bright LED lights over the workbench and lathe and LED spots in various places. I will be doubling the number of powerpoints I already have - only about 4 in use at any time, in addition to the overhead lights. Everything works on 230V, so no 3 phase to worry about.

As to storing tools outside during the build; It's the only way around it. I use a White Grease product from WD40 to protect bare metal surfaces on my lathe, bandsaw etc when I'm not going to be using them for any length of time, and also a machine wax as a day-to-day protection.
 
The size I have noted fits in with the planning laws (Permitted Development) for where I live (West Lothian). I am still wary of wood/log buildings due to the problems I have had with my current workshop. I will not be building it myself as I am physically unable to do so. As I said, the ideal would be brick, but the time needed to build it is my worry. Prefab concrete - I hadn't thought of that. I'll take a trip to Google and see what I can find.

As to infeed and outfeed space, it is not a concern. I got rid of my tablesaw as I never used it, it just became somewhere to put current projects that were in progress. I don't make furniture and so had no need for it. If I do need large pieces cut then I find a circular saw more than adequate. Most of what I make is either on the lathe, or at the workbench - lamps, clocks, household 'things', art pieces etc.

As to electricity. I had an qualified electrician wire it up from my mains power at the fusebox. It was on a separate ring (I'm not sure about the right terminology) with its own fusebox within the workshop. The lighting is fine. Fluorescent lights in the ceiling, bright LED lights over the workbench and lathe and LED spots in various places. I will be doubling the number of powerpoints I already have - only about 4 in use at any time, in addition to the overhead lights. Everything works on 230V, so no 3 phase to worry about.

As to storing tools outside during the build; It's the only way around it. I use a White Grease product from WD40 to protect bare metal surfaces on my lathe, bandsaw etc when I'm not going to be using them for any length of time, and also a machine wax as a day-to-day protection.

All angles covered then!

I liked @rampant’s log cabin suggestion. I need to build or buy a potting shed for my wife this year, and that looks pretty good. I happen to have the machinery to make the planks too, just need the blades for it. I’d never really considered faux log construction.
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
A couple of these on your main bench are very handy too. Have them fixed to the bottom of the shelves or cabinet with a little spring clip to hold the other end out of the way when not in use.

led-machine-workshop-light.jpg

Very similar to some that I use. I have one fitted to my bandsaw (the built in light was crap), on the lathe for when I'm hollowing something, and at other places where occasional light in needed.
 
Have a look a round a few shed displays, then knock up your own much stronger panels. These can wait until you are ready to assemble, maybe make a couple a day using your existing shop tools, easy. Come the big fine day, all the tools out of the old, assemble your panels and roof, put the tools back in before darkfall. Next couple of days, insulated walls and ceiling, make good the roof, fit UPVC windows and door from the cheapest double glazing company on offer. Then sort the electrics when time prevails. Make marks floor and ceiling for where the uprights are when you panel the interior, no problem hanging shelves if you join the marks.All this takes is time, not money, and the sparks advice is spot-on, double everything. There's a house I bought in 1984, the workshop is still going strong when I go past. It ain't big, it took time but it's still there. Others I've sold to willing buyers when I moved on, they've still got them.
 
I replaced an old wooden garage with a block-built garage. it is not as expensive as it sounds. Single skin, second-hand windows and doors. The most expensive part was the roof trusses and tiles. I got a brickie in to do the blocklaying, but that only took him 4 days, I did the rest myself with help from my sons. My refuge and hiding place. If you put a flat roof on it is cheaper again and the blocklaying will go a lot quicker with no gable ends.
 

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A few points from having built a workshop in the back garden and three in the FILs garden.

My neighbours complained to the local authority about mine. The LA said it needed planning permission and they were not prepared to grant it retrospectively (they claimed it was a "structure", as if I had built a nuclear power station). I appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. They sent an inspector around who was mildly amused at my "structure" and granted permission. The fact that the LA could not distinguish east from west helped. It is worthwhile checking with the LA, just in case. Sometimes it is easier to ask for permission rather than forgiveness.

Don't rely on the Herbert in the shed shop saying "it will be fine".

The three sheds in the FILs back garden could not be seen by anyone so we went large with one very big log cabin as a workshop and two smaller sheds for storage. After 9-10 years they are all in good nick, with an occasional coating of sealant.

You can never have enough switched socket outlets. This is a fact of life.

If you rely on colour identification in any way (we had a lot of textiles/fabrics) get natural daylight fluorescent tubes.

Whether brick,wood or metal give some thought to heating. We used 100W tubular heaters (cheap to buy and cheap to run) to provide low level heating 24/7 with 3Kw hot air blowers for top-up when it got really parky. It is also possible to wear a jumper when it gets really cold (something seemingly lost on some people).

The FIL had a shedload (geddit) of Festool kit and we were able to store this in our separate little warehouse. You could always store yours in a Yellow Box Company place for a month or two.
 

anglo

LE
Stay away from metal sheds, they have high condensation all the time,
and are always cold.
Remember, buy cheap, buy twice, spend the money to get what you want,
 

Legs

ADC
Book Reviewer
I've studied the LA Website regarding 'Permitted Development' and it's actually really clear regarding what they call "Ancillary buildings including sheds, garages, greenhouses etc". I have not relied on anyone telling me "It'll be fine!", as I don't want to get caught out.

Your FIL had lots of Festool? Wow! They cost a large fortune, and I can only dream about some of the tools they sell.
 

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