Assuming the mortgage renegotiations go well, I’ll be getting a purpose-built studio during Summer 2013. Here are the plans and deliberations so far…
Why build a studio?
There were various factors to take into consideration. Firstly, to hire a large enough industrial type unit to work in would cost in the region of £200-400 a month – a revenue stream that I don’t currently have. Local artist studio space is smaller than I would like, although probably affordable. Secondly, location – I’m much more likely to fit in a bit of work here and there if I don’t have to travel far and the studio isn’t freezing cold or damp during the winter. Also, I share a lot of my kit – so it will be much more convenient to keep it all at least at the same geographical location! I have enough space in the garden to be able to fit in a studio, so staying home seems a great solution. Oh, and the dogs won’t be on their own all day either!
What type of studio?
I did my research – and decided I needed a low/no maintenance solution as I wanted to spend time painting in my studio and not painting the studio itself. It needs to be warm in winter/cool in summer. It needs to have plenty of natural light. Ideally, if I move house, I’d like to take it with me as it’s a significant investment! As to size – I’d want the biggest I can within the planning regulations/land available so that I can have enough room for all my kit as well as potentially space to run small group sessions. I didn’t particularly want loads of work to level the ground to install a base or large concrete pad. The planning regulations allow a garden building up to 2.5m high this close to a boundary, up to 30sqm without needing building regs, and must be less than 50% of the ground surrounding the house as at 1942 or when the house was built (or something like that!).
This list pretty much ruled out a timber built studio, even if I got the double walled insulated type. A bit more research later and I’ve settled on a garden studio with veranda and flyover roof from Booth’s Garden Studios. Their studios are built from steel and PVC and come with a long long maintenance free promise, double glazing and modular design that will fit through the narrow access down the side of the house. The studio sits on concrete pads, so the ground doesn’t have to be majorly landscaped. The studios are also fully compliant with building regulations, which is particularly important if I’m holding groups in it. Here’s an example…
So what size is it going to be?
Here’s the plan I submitted for my ‘letter of permitted development’:
The internal measurements equate to a floor space of 12×24 feet, so I get almost 300sq feet or 27sq metres. That’s a good size. I even had a play with potential floor plans:
Hopefully this will work – left hand side for dry stuff, sewing area and desk, right hand side for wet work, back cabinets for storage, and centre area for working under skylights and for small group teaching. The large windows at the front face into the garden and are north facing. The canopy should help shade the studio from the sun, and hopefully between the windows and the skylights I should have a nice even natural light.
The fun bit is getting the space ready…
Unfortunately, that end of the garden had a small ornamental pond, a rockery, a raised bed, a composting area and a shed, as well as five trees that will need felling and stump grinding. Work in progress, August 2012:
Things still to work out…
I have my letter of permitted development. I’ve chosen the studio, supplier and size. I know I can get water and electricity to the studio without any issue… just not quite sure how to get waste water back as I’m fairly sure the levels will be wrong!
Accepted a quote from Andy at Leicester Garden Services to come and clear the bottom of the garden, level it, chop down the trees (except the big one) and renovate the fence – oh, and move the shed. Very reasonable and very friendly! Estimated start time, mid-March. Weather permitting of course…
Things are moving at a fast pace now! Mortgage application has gone in three months earlier than expected, and assuming I get the go ahead, and the weather plays nicely, I may even have the studio by Easter! I spent most of yesterday firming up the internal layout, as I needed to settle where plumbing needs to go. I had a jiggle around with the layout to include my new plan chest (eBay bargain) and to make space for a much-hoped-for laser cutter. A recent trip round Ikea helped firm up ideas – I will be putting sliding doors on the cupboards, which will allow some display space, and leave room to open the doors without banging into workshop participants. Billy bookcases will slip behind shallow tables to maximise storage, and one of those tables will have a stainless steel top for those hard-to-clean-up-after activities! The kitchen units will be free standing stainless steel (Udden) and will include an inexpensive drying rack beneath. Add in a trolley for materials, and one for tea and coffee, and I feel like it’s home already!
Woohoo! Mortgage application has been approved. Ash tree getting removed next week. Garden clearance now starting a week earlier (12-MAR-13) and provisional date for studio fitting is 26-MAR-13. That means I may have a studio by Easter! Just power and water to sort out, a lick of paint, collection and construction of furniture (good old Ikea), and I’m in 🙂
Today, Phil came to take down the ash tree… I think it took a bit longer than he thought – the tree was a little fatter than it appeared, and his chainsaw did seem a little short! He persevered though, and I now have next year’s firewood sorted!
A few things this last week – placed a massive order for all the furniture from Ikea, negotiating through their name changes for objects that look exactly the same and aren’t apparent anywhere in the blurb… That’s all due by truck next week. Another visit today to get the things that apparently weren’t in stock, but turned out were renamed… Tip to the wise, search by item number if you want to get accurate names!
Getting running water to the studio isn’t apparently too complicated… getting the waste water back however has proven to be tricky. One plumber demanded all piping was buried 28″ deep, with a 4″ soil pipe, a 30m trench at least. Another happy to run it along the fence, but waste pipe would need to start at above head height. I decided that I would think laterally, work a bit harder, and come up with a plan that should work. A top of the range hosepipe to supply, and a caravan waste water carrier (think water tank on wheels) to take it away. Sorted. I hope. Happily the electrics seem to be a lot easier, though the quotes are somewhat more than I expected so far.
Oh, and the studio fitters would like to come a week earlier with the contractors clearing the garden starting a day later… methinks that might be pushing it a bit! I hope to produce a time-lapse movie of the clearance and studio construction so you can see it all develop 🙂
Ikea have dropped off half their warehouse… ok, slight exaggeration, but the delivery guys did say it was half their truckload. This is the pile of shelves and cupboards, undersink units and the coffee/tea trolley. There’s the fold away chairs as well. Out of shot are the tables, legs and sink unit as well as lighting, waste bins, and seat cushions! I have to resist starting to build…
Garden clearance has been put back a couple of days, so the studio fitting remains 26th-28th March.
It’s just as well we didn’t pull the studio fitting a week earlier – the garden is far from ready. I even got involved on Monday, sawing down a rather large elder that had reached tree-like proportions, much to the amusement of the guys. Still, there’s been at least 20 van loads to the tip and it seems ready for the rotovating and raking level. Fingers crossed that all will be ready in time. I’m running out of room to put the small bits of flat pack that I’ve been sneaking in to make up early. It does have the advantage though of being able to plumb the water heater and sink prior to lifting it all down to the studio next week (hopefully). I won a wastemaster water carrier on eBay and collected that last week, and the hosepipe is ready to run down the garden, so hopefully all the plumbing should be able to be tested. This morning, I completed my last piece of work in the craft room before I move into the studio. I’ve started packing boxes and moving them down the two flights of stairs ready for the last stage of the journey. If all goes to plan, I’ll be decorating on Good Friday, putting up shelves, tables and cupboards on Easter Saturday and Easter Monday and then working out what goes where from then on.
And the guys at Leicester Garden Services have completed their mission in the nick of time! They’ve battled snowstorms, subzero temperatures and been bribed with brownies! Stubborn tree stumps relented under the encouragement of the big red stick (several kilos of metal wrecking bar), saws and axes, and sheer determination of Andy, Darren and Stuart. Checking in with Booth’s Garden Studios, I learnt that their yard had to be cleared of snow to load the truck, but the studio is arriving as planned tomorrow morning 🙂
It’s up and I’m moving in! Here are some pics 🙂