Archive for May, 2009

31st May
2009
written by Dom

When I first had the idea I reckoned the internet was going to be my friend here – I love the idea of freecycle and donated Doogle’s puppy crate to  a grateful freecycler a couple of years ago. – I’ll admit I got a bit tired of the regular emails and spam-filtered them – which turns out to have been a bad idea – Yahoo Groups blocked my account which has made joining up again harder than I imagined.

I was banking on freecycle being one of my primary sources for materials for the project, so – fired up as one only can be at the start of a project – I tried to join Widnes freecycle – they’re only up the road I thought (certainly closer than a significant proportion of Liverpool) and I thought I should try and join as many as possible – the Freecycle sign up form says after all “Are you a member of another freecycle group? – we don’t mind

How surprised was I then to find out I’d been refused membership – I got a short email from Caz, Enid, Jake and Mel of Widnes freecycle stating “Thanks for that information, unfortunately we keep members local to the groups (Widnes Freecycle covers Halton) and only take the nearest outsiders if members have posted to their local group first and have not had much luck.”

Well, Caz, Enid, Jake and Mel, thanks for that information – Next time I’ve got a piece of junk item of undoubted value to somebody – possibly in the Widnes area – I’m trying to get rid of, I’ll take it to the tip.

31st May
2009
written by Dom
Here it is... and it's not all depth of field - it really is pretty wonky.

Here it is... and it's not all depth of field - it really is pretty wonky.

So, I thought I’d show you what I’m up against. This is the shed as it stands in all it’s Yozzer Hughes glory. Part of the problem I’m going to have is that I need to keep it standing for as long as possible – it’s full of junk and spiders which I really don’t want migrating into the back room.

I went round with a tape measure and was amused to find out that every single dimension is different ;-) It’s 82″ tall at the front, 76″ tall at the back and various widths along its length. I’m particularly intrigued that the roof seems to slope, yet the walls are the same height – which means the floor slopes I guess!

The one positive I thought I could draw from the whole process – that I was building my shed on a concrete floor, has kinda been knocked away as I realised that the floor itself slopes, so I’m going to have to cut a channel to build my brick base onto… A worry, coz I think i’m going to have to hire one of those scary concrete cutting saws you see them chopping roads up with…>>gulp<<

30th May
2009
written by Dom
This is the goal - the Ecospace Garden Studio - if I was richer I'd just buy it

This is the goal - the Ecospace Garden Studio - if I was richer I'd just buy it

I love Grand Designs. Really I do. What’s not to love about creative people building their dream home? It’s inspiring, it’s intelligent, it makes me feel good about myself as a designer. Yes, Kevin McCloud can be unbearably smug (and what is with the puffa jacket Kev?) – but he’s a smart man, passionate about his job and the people whose projects he follows. I marvel at the beautiful modern lines of the architectural wonders on display, the clean lines of the glass (always last to arrive because it’s been shipped from Germany – why is it always Germany? What’s wrong with St. Helens?). I share in the joy and secretly imagine myself and the family squatting in a caravan while we wrestle a minimalist palace out of a muddy hole cut into some obscure Welsh hillside…

… Then, about two thirds of the way through the program I start getting really angry – angry enough to throw things at the telly (or at least turn over to Britain’s got Talent)… it’s at the point where the couple in question start discussing how they’re just going to have to go another £100,000 over budget because they simply must have the taps they saw in Turin… £100k over budget?

I’m annoyed because I’m jealous of course – where do they get the money? – They’re almost always retired bankers or something or other “in the city”, moving out to the sticks to raise the next generation of Jeremys and Jocastas away from the hustle and bustle of the lives which paid for their lovely house in the country.

Well, I’m not a retired banker, I work for the council. I don’t live in London, I live in Liverpool. I haven’t bought a fabulous undisturbed plot of land overlooking a Welsh valley, I’ve got a back yard with a ropey old shed. But I still have dreams… designs… even, dare I say it, Grand Designs…

ONE Grand Designs to be exact. I live in a small terraced house with my beautiful wife, my 17 year old twin men, my 11 year old son, a bearded collie with training issues and two cats. There’s not a huge amount of space to go around. If I want to be creative I have to do it on the table in the back room surrounded by piles of ironing and clean up after myself. I dream of clean empty space. In the Guardian the other weekend I read a fascinating article about “garden rooms” (check it here) – “They’re cheap, chic, eco-friendly and above all – there is no commute. Could shedworking be the way forward for those looking to work from home?” – works for me! – where do I sign up?

Except of course as I read on I felt a familiar red mist rising – they’re not that cheap are they? … £25,000 for the sleek cedar-clad box I fancied … £25k for a shed?

Which brings us to the point of this exercise. My One Grand Design. I plan to replace my wonky old shed with something as near to this as possible on a budget of £1000. I intend to scav, borrow and bodge wherever possible to keep the costs down, but my aims are as follows…

  • I want it to be beautiful – like a grand design
  • I need a shed where I can keep the kids bikes and my tools and stuff safe and locked out of sight
  • I want a clean, warm, insulated room where I can work undisturbed both summer and winter
  • I will not, at any point, resort to wearing a puffa jacket.

I’m drawing up plans and putting together a shopping blagging list as we speak. I hope to link out to places and people I find useful along the way. I haven’t set a deadline, but it’d be nice to get it finished by the end of the summer – watch this space!

Dom.