When we came to view our house in February 2013, there was an old shed with a tin roof at the bottom of the garden, but the estate agent didn’t have the key, so I couldn’t see inside. We loved the house and moved in a few months later – me with my fingers crossed that the crumbling old outbuilding would be something I could transform into a decent workshop.
At first sight it didn’t seem very promising – the shed was a reasonable size for my needs (19’ by 7’), but the corrugated tin roof had big holes and you could feel the wind blowing through the gaps in the walls, which appeared to be held together by cobwebs. There was no power, no lights and a crumbling, uneven cement floor.
In the first week in our new house, my girlfriend asked me to make a double bed frame for the guest bedroom. So I created a daisy chain of extension cables from the house, plugged in some floodlights, and rigged up some tools as best I could. Luckily England was having a reasonably dry summer so I was able to carry on this way for a few weeks making bits and pieces for the house, before it became apparent that I was going to have to convert the space into a proper workshop.
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I gave myself six weeks to complete the work, on a budget of just £750 ($1000). A third of this immediately went on electrics – our local electrician installed a new fusebox and the main cabling from the house, then I wired in all the sockets and lights myself, which he came and checked before we flicked the switch!
So walls, ceiling, floor and lighting to complete, with just £500 left in the budget. I filled the walls and roof with expanding foam to plug the holes, then built a pine timber frame inside the stone walls so I could attach the ceiling, floor and wall panels onto flat surfaces.

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Then I went to see my friend Richard, who owns a storage warehouse nearby. He had a pile of old 3/4"chipboard panels, some Chinese shipping crates and some old thick wooden racking shelves which had been in his warehouse for over ten years. I drove my old van over and took everything I could carry – the shipping crates became my ceiling panels and the chipboard my walls. Richard charged me £80 for the chipboard, but was happy to get rid of the rest for no charge.
I then visited a local recycling centre and found a stack of 4” foil-backed Kingspan insulation. I did a deal for £30 for the lot, and used it to insulate the ceiling. I bought polystyrene insulation for the walls and underfloor, so my whole workshop was insulated from the English wet and cold from top to bottom. 

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I made a new door (6" thick and packed with insulation) which is (just) wide enough to carry finished items in an out, although it’s only 5’ high so you have to watch your head!
Laying the floor was a lot of work – I dismantled the racking shelves from the warehouse and pulled out thousands (2970) of nails, then put each of the 330 boards through my table saw ten times to cut them to length and create the tongue and groove. My girlfriend helped me lay the floor, which sat on the timber frame so it was perfectly flat and even. A local glass supplier had a double glazed window unit left over from a job, so they sold it to me for £28. I made a window frame to fit.

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The remainder of the budget went on lighting, paint, fixtures and electrical fittings - six weeks after starting the project and having spent pretty much exactly £750, I moved into my new workshop.
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Since moving in over a year ago, I’ve repainted and waterproofed the roof, extended the high speed wifi from the house so I can stream music and podcasts while I’m working, and installed a sound system using some old speakers given to me by my dad. It’s a space I’m hugely proud of – built using almost entirely recycled materials, plus a lot of hard work!

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The first image on this page and the last one have been taken from almost the same perspective.