Sunday, 12 August 2012

Interior Decor

Well I'm nearing the end of the shed build. As I type this I'm waiting for the glue on the skirting board to set, and will likely be spending the next few days boxing up the mountain of paperwork and computer stuff on my desk, in preparation to move in!

In this post I'm going to detail what I've been doing over the last week. This includes painting the walls, painting the door/window (aka the wood work) and laying the floor.

Lets get started:

Interior Painting

I really didn't know what colour I wanted to paint the room. All I knew is that it had to be reasonably light, as there is only light coming in one one wall, which the sun doesn't shine on until late in the afternoon. 

With this in mind, I had planned to go with an off-white on three walls, and then a light green on one wall to add a bit of colour into the room. 

Well that didn't exactly happen. I went into homebase to see what paint was available and to try and get an idea of what I should go for. While I was there we accidentally found a 'clearance' shelf, with misc paints on it. 5 minutes later I'd picked out a coffee/mushroom type light colour for the three walls, and a darker chocolate colour for the feature wall, in addition to a "Liquor-off-white" colour for the ceiling. 

The total cost? £0.00. Yep, thats right. Free. 
  • The cost of the the light-coffee (big tin) colour was originally £32.99, but was reduced to £15. 
  • The cost of the chocolate tin (a smaller tin) was originally £14.99, but was reduced to £8.
  • The cost of the liquor-off-white (big tin) colour was originally £14.99 but was reduced to £8.
So thats £62.97 worth of paint, that once reduced was £31. However upon pulling the nectar card out we were informed that we could pay for it on the points we had, so did that instead, resulting in it being (effectively) free!

The paint went on beautifully and worked really well. I was a bit worried about the darker chocolate colour and that it may make the room seem too dark, but thankfully it doesn't.

Wood-work Painting

For the door/window/windowsill I had planned on staining the wood to a dark-brown colour, so bought a tin of Homebase wood stain, called something like "ash oak". On the tin, it was very dark, however once painted onto the windowsill, it came out a very ugly bright orange! Despite having three coats, it just looked terrible, so in the end I had to change the plan and go for white. This meant the wood had to first be primed before it could be painted. Here's where that nice bargain I got at homebase on the interior paint gets off-set. For the primer, undercoat and eggshell white paint it cost £60. A complete rip off, but I had little other options. 

Thankfully as it turned out, I didn't need the undercoat as the primer was a 2-in-1, so I can get £20 back on that. I still fell £40 is still a heck of a lot of money to paint such a small area white, but maybe I'm just being a tight git!

The whitework didn't come out brilliant, with a few streaky marks on the door, but it will suffice. I certainly wasn't going to go about doing it all over again, as by this point I'd already waisted 4 days in the process.


For the flooring, I opted for laminate. I did look into both carpet and solid (bamboo) wood, however for the low-cost and efficiency, laminate seemed like the best option. I'd have loved a solid bamboo floor, however I know it'd get scratched to bits and would need replacing in half the amount of time. 

The laminate I chose was a Wickes branded one called 'Butter Oak'. It's a mid-range flooring that uses a lock-together system, so doesn't require any glue. 

I used a silver-faced underlay, which acts as a vapor barrier in addition to levelling any minor imperfections. I'd have liked to use the green fibreboard, however from the information I've read, on thinner laminate flooring such as mine, it would have created a very bouncy floor. 

The silver underlay went down very easily, and has an adhesive strip on it to fix each length together. This creates a complete vapor seal (much like using aluminium tape on celotex does). 

Once the underlay was done, the flooring went down and was surprisingly quick and easy to do, with minimal cutting needed. In total it probably only took a couple of hours to do!
Laying the floor

Skirting Board

I added a pre-finished white skirting board around the edge of the room. I paid the extra for the pre-finished ones as not only is the paintwork way better than I could do (it looks like its sprayed on), but it would have saved me a good 2 days waiting for the primer and paint to dry.

The skirting boards were fixed to the wall using small soffet nails (which have a white head, making them blend in) and some instant grab adhesive. 

Room complete!

At this stage the room is now complete and ready to be used! There are still a number of fairly minor things to do on the outside (such as a guttering and another coat of exterior paint before winter), but these can all be done over the next couple of months. So long as they get done before the end of summer, it'll be fine. 

This certainly is not the end of the blog posts. I'll be posting a price roundup soon in addition to a tips and common problems that happened, as well as more photos of when I move in, how security is done, heating, lighting, etc as well as some posts after I've been in there over winter and such.

Floor and skirting board finished!
Another view from the door.

Completing the walls

(Sorry its been almost a month since the last post. I've not been able to upload pictures. All fixed now though!)

After the electrics were all finished in the last post, I set about completing the walls.

Joining/Taping the walls

Given that there were some fairly large gaps that needed filling (in most part due to my poor cutting of the plasterboard), I opted to go down the standard taping and filling route. Had the walls been a little more level with no gaps between the boards, I'd have probably not bothered.

As you'll know if you've been following the blog, I'm a complete DIY novice, so this was something completely new to me that I was convinced I'd royally screw up! I spent a good few hours researching the best way of doing the taping/filling. This included watching countless guides on youtube too.

When it came down to it though, this information was fairly useless and it's just a case of going for it and seeing what happens. So thats what I did!

The first few bits came out pretty poor, however once I got the hang of it and figured out how much filler you needed, it wasnt too bad.

For the edge of the door and windows, I used a metal corner bar to support the edges (aka "Plasterboard Anglebead" - pictured below). This will ensure that if the corners are nocked, it wont rip the (cut, so very flakey) plasterboard apart. These just tack onto the plasterboard, and were then covered with the tape (I used the mesh-style tape, not the solid paper style tape as this allows the filler to go in-between it) and then used filler to effectively make it part of the wall. The end result is that you cant see any part of the metalwork, and the corners are near perfect smooth 90 degree angles.
Wickes Metal Anglebead used to protect the corners of the walls.


Once the filler had dried, it needed sanding to get it as level as possible with the plasterboard. For this I used an electric sander. A word of warning. This is messy. In fact, its probably the worst and most messy part of my entire build. It took a good 6 hours of solid sanding to get a half decent result. The cleanup work afterwards took another good hour!

Final Result

The end result of the joint and taped walls was ok. It wasnt perfect, but then I never expected to get it perfect, this being my first time doing it.

To help smooth the walls even more, I used a 1200 grade lining paper, which made the walls MUCH better, with only a sight line visible on either side of the wall where there was filler.

Walls done, just putting up the lining paper!


One thing I did need to do was get a windowsill put in. I initially planned to just go and buy a length of windowsill from Wickes and cut it to size, however given its extortiantly high price, I decided to first attempt to make my own. I already had a huge amount of leftover wood from the shed build, so used a spare roof plank and cut it down to the correct length, then used an electric plainer to flatten the surface, and to create a curved edge (and to remove the tongue/groove that was on the edges). Once it was plained to a rough size and shape, I finished off the edges and corners by manually sanding them. The end result was pretty much exactly what I'd have paid £15 for at Wickes, and it only took 10 minutes to make...result!
My home-made windowsill in place!

In the next article I'll detail the interior finish!

(Note: more photos from this post are on the flickr set!)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Electrics and wiring complete!

On Friday the electrics were brought into the shed. Thankfully we had a dry morning so the electrician was able to get the SWA cable in before it rained! The power comes in at the left corner and goes into a fused switch box to isolate the room. It then goes off to three double sockets.

Obviously its just the back-boxes in place and the wires, and the actual faceplates will go on once the plasterboards are up.

I also brought the coaxial (for Virgin Tivo TV) and a Cat5e in from the house. There was an existing hole on the outside wall that the Tivo box used to get into an upstairs bedroom. Thankfully it was big enough to take both a coax and ethernet cable without having to make the hole any bigger.

The coax/ethernet cable is then tacked to the wall at a low level, and is kept roughly half a foot away from the power cable to help avoid any possible interference (however it is unlikely unless you were to literally wrap the cables around each other). The ethernet comes in at the front of the shed and runs along the left wall, where it will terminate in a wall-mounted network faceplate. The Coax cable will literally just stick through the corner of the plasterboard as you loose a lot of power on the cable if you first go into a faceplate. Since there is likely already a fairly big drop in power from the house, I'd rather not risk loosing the signal all together.

I've also now finished all walls with insulation, and am currently awaiting for some expanding foam to set before sealing up the edges with aluminium tape. The plasterboard can then finally go up on the walls.

One bonus for the power is that the electrician lives less than a minute's walking distance away, so once the plasterboard is up he'll be able to pop round quickly to do the faceplates.

Pictures to follow soon - it's currently chucking it down with rain (shock horror!) and the camera is locked in the shed.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Update on the cabling & a few plans

That was some speedy delivery from! I ordered the 30 meter WF100 Coaxial cable yesterday, and it arrived around 1PM today.

I gave it a good test and it successfully works with the Tivo box!

I've also now ordered the networking supplies. I did plan on going with Cat6 but the only speed back to the house that I'll really need is going to be for the internet connection. I cant see Virgin Media giving us a free upgrade that takes us over 1gbps any time soon!

For the network connection I'm using a cat5e cable, which will terminate into a standard network wall socket in the shed. The plan is that this will then go into the back of a Netgear WNR2000 router (its the one we used for Virgin prior to them switching us over to the Superhub). This will then offer 5ghz wireless inside the shed, in addition to being hooked up to a gigabit 8 port network hub, simply because  wireless in our area is TERRIBLE due to some clever idiot at BT decided to have their routers bounce around different channels. I regularly find that every channel has at least 2 routers on it.

For the network supplies I went with an eBay supplier for a 50 meter outdoor grade cable (I dont need the full 50m so will cut it and have a good 15 meters spare for making internal cables). I also managed to get hold of a networking kit which included the punch, crimping and cutting tools.

The rj45 module and wall plates are coming from ToolStation.

The plan of things to do between now and next Friday (when the electrics are being fitted) is as follows:

  • Give the shed a clear out (I've been a bit messy with my offcuts, screws and tools!)
  • Clear space for the cables to be run to the shed
  • Seal around the roof facia boards to help reduce water dripping at the front and sides of the shed
  • Cut back the neighbours trees as they are making the shed roof constantly wet. 
  • Finish battening out the front (door/window) wall and insulate.
  • Touch up some paint on the outside
Most of this 'to-do list' is weather permitting!

I should really also be looking at interior stuff right now. I've got a folder on my desktop with a bunch of photos that I've picked up around the web of other peoples garden office interiors. My own goal is to make it a bright workspace, but not hospital-style white washed walls. So it'll be light walls, a laminate flooring (Although I have had my eye on some rather nice solid bamboo flooring with great insulation properties), etc. 

Any suggestions or inspiration ideas for the interior are welcome! :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Small update on progress!

Just a small update on the current situation. I had to wait until I could get a quote from the electrician before proceeding, that is now complete.

The original plan for the electrics was to go from the consumer unit to the shed with a completely new ring main. The biggest problem (or more of a pain) with this is that the consumer unit is in a downstairs toilet at the FRONT of the house, while the shed is as far away from the BACK of the house as possible. This would mean a cable would have to:

  • Go out the side wall of the downstairs toilet, into the garage
  • Run along the side and back of the garage wall, and then through the wall into the utility room
  • Along the utility room wall, then through the (brick) wall to the kitchen
  • Across the top of the kitchen cupboards
  • Out the main wall to outside (at 2nd level height)
  • Down the wall, along the fence to the shed
This would mean a very long run of cable. 

The electrician worked out that I really dont need that kind of dedicated ring main as the room will be running 2 computers, 2 screens a tv and a Tivo box plus an uplight - remember I'm not having a fixed ceiling light added, so no extra fuse will be needed for that.

After some fiddling round behind cabinets, we found that there is a plug socket on a 13 amp circuit for the dishwasher that can be tapped. So we're basically taking a spur from that socket which can then go directly out the wall to the garden then along the fence, saving a good 20 meters of extra cable!

So the complete job will be:
  • Fit fused switching spur in kitchen (I assume that's something along these lines but could be completely wrong)
  • Fit ~20-25 meters of SWA cable through to the shed
  • Three double plug sockets in the shed 
We did discuss an extra consumer unit in the shed, however from the looks of things it really isn't needed. The only benefit would be that if there was a fault in the shed, it would trip in the shed instead of the house. Given that I'm happy to walk 20 paces back to the house to flip the switch (assuming it ever goes off), it really wasn't worth having it put in. Obviously if I ever decide I want it in, it wouldn't be much of a job as the SWA cable can be cut and put into a consumer unit with minimal cable threading required.

The total cost for the electrics was way lower than I was thinking it would be. I've been scouting round forums looking to see how much people were quoted, just to get a rough idea. It was messy! Some people would be quoted £100 while some were quoted £1000+! I played safe and budgeted £600 as a precautionary measure. Much to my surprise the quote came in at a little over £200 - very reasonable! This is obviously all Part-P verified work too, so is completely legitimate. This means I can spend a little more on the interior and other finishing touches.

So, there's the electrics! It's being hooked up on Friday 13th...I just hope thats not an omen!

Solar Power

I should add at this point that being a bit of a computer geek kid of guy, I've bought a few of these new Raspberry Pi computers. Its basically a micro-computer that is about the size of a credit card, and runs on a measly 5v USB power supply. The three I've bought are on backorder and should be here within 10 weeks. My plan for them is to hook them up to a solar panel. I'm on the look out for a very simple panel on a stick. Maplin used to sell one but seem to have stopped now. The idea is that these three mini computers will run my local web server which I use for development. This means that I can avoid having a second beefy computer plugged in, and instead run these little devices off free power. Further down the line I may extend my options and opt for a bigger panel however I'm planning on starting small for now.


I'm also looking into running one of these Raspberry Pi's as a security system. I should be able to hook up a night-vision webcam which could be mounted in the corner of the room. Then using the raspberry pi, set it to record to a network drive inside the house (would be a bit silly having the drive in the shed). This on top of a standard motion sensor and door sensors should be ample security. 

There will actually be very little value in anything sold as I'm going to be selling my desktop computer and getting one of the new MacBook Pro's as these support 2 screens. Meaning I can use it as a desktop computer in the office during the day, then take it out with me at night. Meaning the most anyone could get away with would be a couple of cheapo screens and a badly screen-burnt TV. These however would be anchored to something non-movable using a Kensington lock.

Additional Wiring

I was planning on using a 'Slingbox Pro HD' to basically allow me to pick up TV from my Virgin TIVO box. This transmits the picture over your local network and allows you to change the channel. Unfortunately some clever person at Slingbox decided not to support HDMI, and another clever person at Virgin/Tivo decided not to support component cable connections from the box.

Because of this I've ordered a 30 meter WF100 Coaxial cable from and will be running this to the shed and placing the Tivo box in there. This is assuming there isn't a huge amount of signal loss.

Assuming the cable works (I'll be testing it down there first before fixing it into place) Im also going to run ethernet to the office. I was going to skip this and stick with the trusty home-plugs however if I've got to run a cable down there anyway, I may as well run 2 and get a solid network connection. 

The end is really in sight now. Once the electrics are in place I can get the room completely plaster-boarded and skim over the joints (that should be fun...remember that I've got practically zero DIY experience prior to this!). Once its skimmed over I can get on with the interior work. I've also got to find some sort of vent to fit into the wall which is proving to be a nightmare to find anything that will work with the thickness of wall. 

Right thats all for now. I'll probably be posting an update on or around Friday 13th when the electrics are being done!

(Sidenote: Hmm...ok I lied, that wasn't a small update at all!)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Battening and insulating the walls

I spent yesterday and today battening the internal walls. The first step was to effectively wrap the walls in a breathable membrane. This would help to prevent condensation forming, however it shouldn't be an issue as I'm using the same 'warm' method used for the ceiling. This will mean there is no air around the wall, thus condensation can not form. To be on the safe side though, the insulation will be sealed in with silver foil tape, preventing any form of air movement.

Once the membrane was up, I started on the stud work.

To get the correct widths, I cut a sheet of Celotex in two lengthways, creating a 600mm width (or near enough to 600mm as the sheets are ever so slightly smaller than that), and basically used it as a guide as to the distance between battens.

Once the vertical battens were in place, I placed a single noggin across the middle of each. 

The same was done for the back wall, the only difference being that smaller gaps were used between the vertical supports. 

For the left hand wall, I opted to use two sets of noggins as this wall will likely have a cupboard on the wall, in addition to monitors mounted on it. Because of this, I've basically strengthened a few parts of it to allow for heavy loads to be supported. 

I've opted not to add the insulation to this wall just yet as the electrics need to be added. I've also not yet sealed the insulation in place yet as I'm waiting for some more silver foil tape to be delivered (damn you eBay!).

Once the walls are sealed up, I'll get the right and back wall covered in plasterboard.

At this point you may notice I'v not talked about the 'front' wall (I.E the wall with the door and window). I had a bit of a problem with this one. The door and window that came with the shed have a 1.5cm frame built into them. The floor bearer does not. Meaning that the roof bearer is 1.5cm out. So I basically need to add a 1.5cm piece of wood across the top, to support the plasterboard. I've actually got a ton of spares from the shed build so hopefully I can find something half decent to use for this. Once that's done I can get that wall insulated and boarded up. Thankfully there will be no major weight load on this wall, just plasterboard, otherwise it could have cause a potentially annoying problem resulting in an odd shaped wall.

Finally, taking the idea from someone else who is currently converting a shed (whom I met via the forums), I've decided to add a 'lessons learnt' section to each post, basically saying what I screwed up or would do differently next time, so here it is:

Lessons Learnt

  1. Never underestimate the amount of wood and screws you'll need. I did three separate trips back to Wickes to get more supplies!
  2. A staple gun is very helpful when putting up a breathable membrane. You still need to seal it to the wall with a waterproof tape (I opted for duct tape) but it helps hold it in place while you get it all lined up.
  3. Cutting Celotex is a pain. If using a saw, get one with extremely fine teeth. I found a kitchen knife (The kind they use in Subway to cut sandwiches - very sharp!) to generate zero dust, compared to a saw, which got it everywhere!




Stud wall

Messy insulation
The full set of photos so far can be found on the Flickr Page.

The end does seem to be in sight. The main big jobs remaining as of this post are:
  • Seal the insulation on the right and rear wall
  • Sort out the 1.5cm gap on the front wall, and add insulation
  • Plasterboard over the front, right and back wall
  • Get the electrics fitted on the left wall
  • Insulate (and seal) the left wall
  • Plasterboard the right wall
  • Skim over the plasterboard gaps
  • Paint the room
  • Add the flooring
  • Add a skirting board
  • Move in!
Actually, when you put it into a list, there is still a hell of a lot to get done. My feeling is that once the electrics are in place I'll be finished in no time. However while I'm waiting for the electrics to be done, I can still get the three other walls finished.

One thing I also want to do at a later stage is add a seal around the roof. I noticed that the roof edging boards do have a very tiny gap, meaning water can trickle under them. It would never get into the shed as its on the overlap, however I've bought a bitumen sealant that is designed to fill gaps around fascias. I'll likely also add some extra sealant on the joins of the roof felt just to make me feel that bit happier about it being water tight.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ceiling Done!

I (well...we) got the plasterboard up on the ceiling today...what a hellish task that was! Couldn't believe how hard it was to get it to go up, but got there in the end. The shear weight of the boards combined with the fact that we had to get them to fit perfectly made it a tiring task.

I've also modified my plans slightly. To speed up the process, I've opted to just go for 3 double sockets on one wall, and nothing on the other 3 walls. This means I can get three walls completely insulated and plasterboarded and then get the electrician to work his magic on the final wall. I was originally planning on four double sockets (2 on each of the 12ft walls) however I really don't think I'll need it, and can always use an extension lead if I need more.

I also opted not to have a ceiling light as I've previously found that you can get away with a cheap-ish Ikea up-light in the corner. I'll then top it off with a couple of desk lamps, these will all use a strong white light bulb instead of a standard yellow-ish bulb. This should help a lot as I'll obviously be using the room as an office, so want a very crisp, clear light in there.

I've not got photos of the plasterboard up yet as it started pissing it down with rain just as I finished.

One really annoying thing I found was that because of the odd spacing on the roof batters, we had to cut the plasterboard in odd places to get it properly supported. We then had to add the top of the wall supports just under the plasterboard to give it extra support around the edges. In all it took about 2 and a half hours. Once the room is pretty much finished, I'll add joining tape and then skim over the gaps. I'll then probably line both the walls and ceiling in a thick lining paper before painting.

Next on the list is getting the wall studs in place, weather permitting, I should be doing it tomorrow.