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A New Home Workshop, Part 2

Making plans

By Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Planning different shapes...
  • ...and heights
  • Getting quotes for shed kits
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Last issue in A New Home Workshop, Part 1 we looked at preparing the pad for the new home workshop. But what was this home workshop going to look like?


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For my last home workshop, I chose to construct a 14 x 6 metre shed with a 3 metre high wall. This footprint was the largest shed I could fit into the area that was available. At 3 metres, the wall height was greater than normally specified for a home workshop - this extra space was used for storage. In addition, three skylight sheets were installed in the roof and two whirling ventilators were fitted.

The shed worked very well: the only design deficiency I found was that it needed better ventilation when welding.

However, with the new shed, the situation was rather different.

Firstly, there was far more space available. Our new block is just over an acre in size and so, within reason, the shed could be any dimensions I liked. Secondly, I’d found with the 3 metre high shed that the extra storage space was extremely useful – so with this shed, why not go higher again? (And if I went higher, what about later having a mezzanine floor and perhaps installing a car hoist?) Finally, whereas with the previous shed, the entrance roller doors were in the end walls of the rectangular shape, the current property layout suggested that with the new design, the doors would be in a side wall.

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I started making some sketches, working from the previous 14 x 6 metre design – the red block is a car. However, with the roller doors being in a side wall, a 6 metre width meant that any cars in the shed would be parked on this short axis – and that was a problem. Why? Well, a length of 6 metres, while enough for car storage, doesn’t provide sufficient space ahead of - and behind - the car to allow easy working on it.

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So then I went up in width to 7 metres, then 8 metres. An 8 metre width, I figured, would give sufficient room either end of the car, even with a work bench placed along one of the long shed walls (yellow rectangle).  However, a 14 x 8 metre shed has an area of 112 square metres – and the cost of a concrete floor is starting to get rather high. The length of the shed was then dropped back to 12 metres, giving a 12 x 8 metre footprint – an area of 96 square metres.

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The next step was to consider doors. As I said, a deficiency of the previous shed (pictured) was that ventilation was insufficient. That was primarily because the sole doors were at one end of the long, relatively narrow shed. In the new design, the roller doors were to go in the long wall, so the ‘doors at one end’ effect would be less of an issue. But how many doors should be fitted?

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I settled on two roller doors, as shown here.  The second roller door will be used primarily to provide ventilation – in fact, if I set my welding bench up in front of it, by opening the door I can potentially have many square metres of air flow.  Finally, despite my being quite happy not having a personal access door in the previous workshop design, my wife requested that we have one in this shed.

So by this stage I had a 12 x 8 metre shed, with two roller doors and a single personal access door.  Now, what about height?

The starting point with height selection was consideration of a mezzanine floor.  This floor, that won’t be built when the shed is first constructed but is a possibility for the future, could increase the shed’s effective floor space by a quite major amount. For example, if a mezzanine is built across one end of the shed and comprises one-third of the area, no less than 32 square meters of floor space has been added! However, should this area be just for storage – or should it be an additional room? They key difference is in headroom – 1.5 metres height is fine for box storage but not so good for walking around in!

Taking into consideration potential mezzanine headroom, the appearance the shed would have on the block, cost, and the implications for aspects like clearance if a car hoist is fitted, I went for a 5 metre high wall.

Pluses: Planning a new home workshop is lots of fun…

Minuses: …but it might all be for nothing if the local council won’t approve it

The Surprise: How going ‘wider and shorter’ quickly changes the utility of the design

Cost: Nothing


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Part of the planning involves leaving space for a four-position, open car-port in front of the shed. This structure will not be built at the same time as the shed (we can’t afford it!) but the levelled shed pad will be constructed to provide room for the later construction of a carport – and in the meantime, compacted road-base will be placed in front of the shed to allow hard-surface parking for four cars.

Kit Supply

The next step was to get some quotes for the supply of a shed kit in a 12 x 8 x 5 metre size. As the name suggests, a shed kit comprises everything required to build the shed – from the bolts to the roller doors to the gutters to the sheet steel.

I emailed the following request to six different shed suppliers.

·       12 x 8  x 5 metre wall

·       2 roller doors 3.1 metres high and 3 metres wide

·       1 PA door

·       4 clear roofing sheets

·       Colorbond walls and zinc roof

The price I requested included delivery to my location about 80 kilometres north of Canberra.

The quoted prices varied from AUD$13,498 to $19,336 – a variation of 43 per cent! My closest dealer, Southern Garages of Goulburn, New South Wales, was a little higher than the lowest price. However, when I showed them all the other quotes (all obtained in writing, of course), they dropped the price to $13,785 – and I went with that.

Pluses: Emailing quote requests is quick and easy – and you get the figures in writing

Minuses: The shed kit costs were higher than I expected

The Surprise: The price variation between different shed suppliers

Cost: Nothing

Next issue: gaining council approval

The parts in this series:

Part 1 - Clearing the space

Part 2 - Planning the design

Part 3 - Gaining planning authority approval

Part 4 - The concrete slab

Part 5 - Getting the shed erected

Part 6 - Stormwater handling

Part 7 - The electricals

Part 8 - Organising storage

Part 9 - Building the workbenches

Part 10 - Evaluating the outcome

Interested in home workshop projects and techniques? You’re sure then to be interested in the Home Workshop Sourcebook, available now.

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