Bike Shed work & Garden planters

An update on the work going on this weekend!

I spent my Saturday working at Twickenham for the Barbarians, so as a result, it was a case of fitting as much as I could into Sunday. I got fairly productive, and managed to get the frame for the bike shed sorted, as well as some raised planter frames built for the garden.

The bike shed is just a frame at the moment, so this week I need to get it waterproofed. Flashing and a membrane should do the job, so I’m going to do that as soon as possible to ensure the wood stays dry.

On the planter front, I had a nice long crate which I could cut in half lengthways. I then took some spare planks from disassembled pallets and boarded it to make a solid board. Combining this with some membrane spare from the bike shed roof, I will be able to line it to prevent rotting and create a raised planting area in the garden to hold some vegetables. Its gone together quite quickly, so I should be able to finish it and get it created very soon!

I’m a crafty bugger

A productive Saturday with the father has left me in a good state of affairs with regards to bike shed progress. An abundance of old pallets in my back garden have been taken apart and screwed together into some nice doors where possible. I also had some left over to make myself a nice beer crate for carrying the homebrew around.

The problem when trying to make something out of pallets is the sizes of the pallets. If you know that they are all the same size, you can make your structure accordingly, but if you have pallets of various shapes and sizes, like me, then you have to resort to taking them all apart and using the wood to put it back together into some sort of structure. It requires more thought and more time. Fortunately, with the help of my dad, we had these two resources  available.

We were lucky enough to have two pallets which were the same size, so we used them for the door. A height of 1.2m and a width of 1m per door leaves us with a nicely sized bike shed. We finished the day with the doors finished, and enough offcuts to make a beer crate, as shown in the photos. Next free weekend, I’ll be able to get the frame and roof of the shed done, and the doors attached. It might be a while until I get the green roof on top of the shed, but once its ready, I’ll look forward to finishing it.

Time to get creative

With the winter setting in, there is little light in the week to get anything in the garden done. But that doesn’t mean smaller projects can’t be completed! In the last week, in the spirit of environmentally building things, I’ve been reading about pallet craft. It’s a bit of a craze around the world – making use of old pallets and turning them into some beautiful pieces of work. Though I’m not quite ambitious (read: crazy) enough to make an entire shed out of the pallets, with the onslaught of the wet weather, my hallway is getting a little wet and dirty due to my bike being kept there, and I could do with a little bike shed out the back to keep it dry and safe out there. I smell a project coming on!

I’ve started collecting pallets from my college, and stripping them down. A bolster chisel and a hammer does the job, but its not the easiest of things to do – pallets are built to last!

With the wood all ready, I’ve got my dimensions of the shed designed to (in mm) 800 deep, 1200 tall and 2000 wide. This should fit 2, maybe 3 bikes which is perfect for my collection! The width allows for some extra storage space, and I might throw some shelves in the side for accessories. The hope is that if it is strong enough, I’ll use it as a sample project for a living roof. The location of the shed will be ideal for a little herb garden, which I will plant on top. Getting the things right, like lining the roof, layering the soil and getting the drainage right will be good practice for the large scale project which I am planning for the summer.

So I’ll be sure to keep this blog up to date on the build! Next week should be a potential build date, as long as the weather is nice – this weekend is looking a bit too wet 🙁

In the meantime, here are some inspirational links to get you thinking about your next pallet build.

Table from pallets

Chair from pallets

Beer crate

Pallet shed (this shows other builds) – Scroll down to the shed built by Kelly Hutchinson, I think thats my favourite 🙂

It’s worth pointing out (especially with the pallet sheds) that there are some people who have concerns about using pallets in the house – it’s a good point that you don’t know where the old used pallets have been and what chemicals they have been treated with, so I’m thinking pallets might be best suited for outside use. Most of the ones I have collected are in a pretty good condition (they are used to transport paper on, so they are clean), but I’d be careful if making indoor furniture with anything which has been used outside – the debate remains open I believe.

Volunteer Help

I’ve been getting back to college work this week, marking, writing assessments and completing practicals with the pupils. Its good to have a target to finish work before Christmas term comes along and its all going well. In the spare time, I’m working on getting plans for a building frame drawn up, and will be visiting people about possible installations. The lovely weekend allowed me to get a little more done on the garden, so its nearly ready for major digging!

I just want to post a big thank you to two websites who have listed my project on their pages, and helped get word out so that volunteers can register with the site. I have posted on a few forums and had a trickle of sign ups, but posts on websites have really started to gain some interest.

Low Impact Living Initiative
This website is for a non-profit organisation who offer some eco-living products and plenty of advice on improving the way you live your life in a more environmentally friendly way. Its got a great forum to get involved with.

Natural Builders
The guys at natural builders are really positive about eco-development and will happily promote events and builds happening on their website. Its a good stop if you are looking for whats going on in eco-construction in the UK and want to find somewhere to volunteer or train.

Many thanks to both sites for the help 🙂

Take Precious Time

One of the things that has been forced on me due to the onset of Winter is the fact I have to wait for the worst weather to pass before cracking on with building development. Being the type of person who acts now and thinks later on DIY projects, this has been frustrating, however, given the time I now have to reflect on what I am planning, I begrudgingly accept that it is of great benefit to me to go through this wait.

I have not been idle since returning from my hike. The last week has been taken up by learning 3D modelling software, and reading of many blogs detailing ecological developments in the UK (See the project for links). I now have a good idea of what the building will look like, and how it will fit into the landscape (see photos below)

I also found a very informative PDF today which does a reflective study (part of a dissertation) on the buildings built in some of the blogs I’m reading. Its great, because a lot of the websites seem unfinished, and I’m left thinking “but what are the buildings like now?” Which is answered by the document. One of the closing conclusions is this: plan. Most of the builders agreed they would like more time to plan their buildings should they tackle them again. So I must admit, the timing of Winter’s arrival is a blessing in disguise. I’ve been thinking ahead about foundations, walls, roof fittings and starting to add up the costs of materials alongside a  checklist of items needed for the build. When things begin to kick off, I’ll share it on this blog.

On the subject of planning ahead, this weekend, I’m getting two quotes from builders for the roofing and framework of my building – should the price be too high, I’ll look at load bearing straw bale, and consider DIY methods. Otherwise, I’ll be able to think more about infill methods, and have the relief of knowing shelter during construction won’t be such an issue. Time will tell, and I’ll post up here with progress!

I also just got back from a visit to the planning office – planning permission isn’t needed for what I’m doing because of the size of my garden, but its always worth double checking, and the nice people at the office are even going to provide me with a letter saying I don’t need permission. Always good to have some paper backing up what you are doing if you can, just in case.

Other than that, its time to look at building retaining walls. The tiering of the garden is also on my mind, and I’ve recently been in touch with some people over making use of the sub soil which is being dug out to create a retaining wall using a super adobe method. Its a well known method which is used to create buildings well over 2m high, so creating a 1m retaining wall should be well within its limits. The cost of such a wall? About £20 for 1m high and 10m long. Bliss. More on super adobe here.

Y’know what, the title and nature of this post also prompts me to post a song by the Maccabees. Lovely. (sorry about the adverts, but thats the link.)
Maccabees – Precious Time