What do you need to build a unique shed?
This is the story of how to build a unique shed out of salvage, imagination and hard work.
Garden maker Posy Gentles decided she wanted a new shed several years ago. Her current shed was halfway down the garden, blocking off the back area. And it was on its last legs.
When I came back from Australia last year, I’d fallen in love with corrugated iron.
So had Posy – by coincidence and completely independently. We both wanted corrugated iron sheds.
But it was not to be. In Australia, according to my brother-in-law, ‘you’re not considered a man until you can work with corrugated iron.’
In the UK, you get a puzzled look and a discouragingly high estimate when you ask about having a corrugated iron shed built.
Well, we wanted to build a unique shed – but not at that price.
Although that may all be about to change…we’ll get to that later on.
The first thing you need is a really good foundation
As the new shed was to be at the end of the garden, rather than at the side, new foundations had to be made. Posy knew she wanted a really good base. ‘The old shed didn’t have very good foundations, which is why it started to rot. And rats lived under it.’
Various friends helped her dig a really deep hole, ‘in return for hearty lunches’. Then she paid a professional to make a flat, stable concrete base. For more about why the base of your shed matters, see here.
Build a unique shed with salvage…
Posy collected old bricks. She bought some and was given others as leftovers from friends’ projects. Her house is yellow Victorian brick so she more or less matched the shed up.
Another friend taught Posy brick-laying. It was during one of the hot spells last summer, so she mainly laid the bricks at 6am.
The shed only needed three walls, because the fourth wall was the back wall of the garden. The brick layer is about six bricks high. It creates a sturdy base to protect the wood from rot.
Posy admits that the brick-laying isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough for a garden shed.
A professional dismantled the old shed…
The next stage was beyond an amateur. Posy engaged builder-carpenter Dave Souter to knock down the old shed. He re-used the boards to make the new shed.
Many of the planks were rotten, but there were just enough to make the new shed. It helped to have the brick layer, and also that the garden wall was the back wall.
Another friend gave Posy some old windows, and Dave built the shed around them. He also sourced vintage scaffolding boards to make a door.
At last we come to the corrugated iron
Posy sourced some curved corrugated iron for the roof. She bought it new and it cost several hundred pounds. Dave Souter roofed the shed with it, and gave it some guttering round the back.
I can definitely say that corrugated iron has taken over from snowdrops as the most difficult thing to photograph. It’s so shiny that it disappears in the sunlight.
So how long does it take to build a shed?
What with the ups and downs of life, it took nearly a year to build this shed. Posy took a break from it when money was short. And because friends helped, some things could only be done when they were free.
It’s a beautiful and unusual shed. It’s big enough to insulate, so perhaps Posy could make it more of a room one day (although sometimes sheds are more useful than more rooms!).
With all the stopping and starting, it’s difficult to calculate the cost, but Posy estimates that it was somewhere between £2,000 and £3,000.
But now we’ll all be getting sheds with tin roofs…
There are two models: The Andersen and The Gardener. The Andersen has a curved corrugated iron roof, similar to Posy’s.
Both The Gardener and The Anderson are compact garden sheds. Posy’s floor area is about three times the size, so comparing costs isn’t that relevant.
When you build a shed yourself, you can have exactly what you want. You undoubtedly can save some money, especially if you re-use materials or do work yourself.
But ordering a shed from a shed company is definitely quicker and less stressful.
You heard it here first – or perhaps second…
I think I can predict that we’ll be seeing more corrugated iron in gardens in the UK. We all fell in love with vintage galvanised tin and aluminium, and the look is similar.
And I’m off to Australia again soon, so there’ll be more corrugated iron on this blog.
You can see Posy’s new shed for yourself. She’s open for the NGS on the 3rd June, along with two other walled gardens in Faversham.
And on 25th June, she is open for Faversham Open Gardens. Faversham is a pretty, historic town, and around 30 gardens are open on the day. There are also 20+ market stalls in the Market Place, selling plants, vintage tools and other delightful things.
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