Building a new workshop shed

I caught up with Richard Fletcher from WhatShed and quizzed him on buying a new workshop shed.

Workshopshed: Hi Richard, thanks for being interviewed, could you let the readers know a bit about WhatShed?

Richard: WhatShed are the number one garden building review site on the web. They review sheds, greenhouses, workshops, playhouses, and pretty much every kind of garden building that you could imagine. Their fair, impartial, and in-depth product reviews, let you know exactly if a garden building is right for you. Add to this their top 20 product lists, their in-depth look at voucher codes, and their ranking of shed merchants, and it is easy to see why WhatShed is such a popular site for people looking to buy a garden building.

Workshopshed: What do you need to consider when choosing a site for your workshop?

Richard: This is a great question and one far too many people do not think about. We have heard a few horror stories of people ordering a workshop and not measuring their garden and then not having enough room. So, the first thing that you want to consider is: do I have enough space for the workshop that I want? Measure the site, look at the dimensions of the workshop and then check again. A strong foundation is key, as this really does set your shed or workshop up for the rest of its life. We actually have a very in depth guide about building a proper foundation for a shed on WhatShed that has helped many people out. It is not actually as hard as you may think. The reason a proper foundation is so important is that a shed or workshop can warp if the foundation it is built on is not right. This can then wreak havoc with the doors, frame and pretty much the whole shed in general.

Workshopshed: What if there is already a patio or you can’t build a concrete base?

Richard: If making a concrete foundation in your garden does sound a little bit intimidating for you, then there is always a pro shed base that you can get. Most retailers that we deal with offer a pro shed base and if you already have a solid area in your garden, this will come in very handy. A shed base is usually a strong plastic base that you install the shed on top of, keeping it directly off the ground and providing a more secure foundation.

Workshopshed: For me, light and secure storage are key. Does that affect the choice of materials?

Richard: Yes, it can do. You may be surprised to hear this, but the majority of workshops and sheds that we have reviewed do not actually come with a lock and key, so you will be required to install a padlock. To be fair, it is not all that hard or expensive, but it is something to think about going in. We have seen plenty of workshops and sheds that are light, quite compact and still offer some very secure storage. These tend to be made with thick tongue and groove shiplap cladding and have a door that is supported with double z framing and hidden hinges. In our experience, these are the best materials to look for if security is your main concern. Be sure to look and see if a lock and key is included, or at the very least a hasp and staple so you can easily add your own padlock.

Workshopshed: What styles and design of building work well as a workshop?

Richard: We are glad that you have asked this question! The easy answer would be ones that are classed as workshops, but we have also looked at plenty of larger scale sheds that we feel would also work very well for this purpose. When it comes to a workshop, it is not just a lot of floor space that we tend to look for, we also feel that headroom is a major factor, certainly more so than when you are looking at a general storage shed.

Richard: In our opinion, a nice apex roof workshop or large shed is the best style. These will give you plenty of floor space, most of the time have double doors, and also give you that extra headroom we talked about. Good headroom is important, as you do not want to be hunched over while working on some cool project. An apex roof will always ensure that you have a large amount of headroom right down the middle of the workshop which would then allow you to position things like work tables and shelving at the side where the headroom is not required to be as high. So, when you are looking at workshops and sheds, please do not just look at the floor space. Also look at the headroom and ask yourself: will I be comfortable spending a few hours inside here?

Workshopshed: At this time of year, a warm workshop is essential. Can all buildings be installed or retrofitted with insulation?

Richard: We agree that you certainly want a nice, warm workshop for the winter. We have actually seen some larger summerhouses and general garden buildings that do come fitted with insulation, but these tend to be the very, very expensive structures that can cost upwards of a few grand! Now, we must be honest and say that we can count on one hand the amount of workshops and sheds that we have seen which offer insulation as an extra, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

If you wanted to add insulation to a workshop, then in our opinion it would have to be a wooden workshop as these tend to have a nice and chunky frame that you could quite easily put some insulation in, board up, and not actually lose much of your inside space. This is something we are sure even those with the most basic DIY skills could do, but at the same time, we do not think it would cost all that much for a local handyman to do it.

Workshopshed: How do you pick between different suppliers?

Richard: At WhatShed, we take each workshop that we look at on its own merit. Of course, there are times when we go into reviews with some preconceptions about certain suppliers. For example, the BillyOh range, Waltons, and Shed Plus do make workshops and sheds that have very similar features, so we could point someone in the right direction if they said: we want a workshop that has this, this and this. But for the most part, we prefer to look at each product on its own, rather than basing our opinions on who the supplier is.

If people do want to know about more specific details, then you will be pleased to know that at WhatShed we do actually take a very in-depth look at different brands and retailers and let people know in general what kind of products they can expect. However, we would advise anyone looking for a workshop not just to look at who is making or supplying it, but to check it out, see if you like the look of it and then take it from there.

Workshopshed: What preparation do you need to do before the shed is delivered?

Richard: As we said before, you will want to make sure you have measured the area and that you have ensured you have a solid foundation prepared. Clear the area so that there is nothing there and make sure you have a space in your garden when you can get the delivery guys to put the workshop. You do not want them to dump it on the area where you plan on installing it, as this will just cause a huge headache. So as well as an area for installation, make sure you have a working area as well. Not many people think to do this, but it can make the installation process that little bit easier.

Richard: We hate to sound like a broken record, but you really must make sure the area you are positioning your shed on is solid and provides a good foundation for the workshop or shed to be built on. Actually, if you have paid for an installation service and the guys show up and you do not have a proper foundation or at the very least have ordered a shed base, then it is most likely they will refuse to install the shed! This is because they know that it will end up having problems down the road. So please, please, please make sure you have a solid foundation ready in your garden before the shed arrives.

Workshopshed: How long does a typical workshop take to install? What is the process?

Richard: In all honesty, it depends on the size of the structure, but a good time frame is around 8 hours. The reason we say ‘around 8 hours’ is that in our experience, most sheds tend to say anything from 4 – 8 hours for installation. So it could turn out that you do get your shed up and ready in just a few hours, but we always feel that it is best to set aside 8 hours (or even a whole day) so you do not rush. It also depends on your DIY skill level. If you are good at DIY and so is the person helping you out, then we are sure you can have a shed or workshop knocked up in a couple of hours and without any stress or hassle. In most cases, we would say that the majority of sheds, workshops and other garden buildings we have looked at, are more fiddly than straight up difficult. Some people we have spoken to get frustrated with the instructions that some garden buildings come with. If that is the case, we always suggest you just take your time and do not get stressed out, as this is when mistakes can happen.

Workshopshed: Is there anything to do once the building is installed?

Richard: One thing we also want to mention is that most workshops and sheds will require a coating of wood treatment shortly after installation. Some people are willing to run the risk of leaving treating the shed for a few weeks. Do not do this! We always suggest that you think of treating the shed or workshop as part of the installation service and that you do it once you have built the structure.

Workshopshed: Thanks for some great information and tips Richard, as with most things it sounds like planning and preparation are key.

You can contact WhatShed via their website.

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