Laying the Base

Having selected the location for the studio and the log cabin that we would use as the basic structure we set about laying the base. Laying the base itself was actually broken into three separate phases; laying the concrete slab, infill and paths, and steps and brickwork.

Laying the concrete slab

For the slab itself we went with 100mm of compacted hardcore under 100mm (ish) of concrete including a damp-proof membrane under the slab on sand blinding. The membrane is probably overkill but the cost of building it in was relatively trivial as I was providing the faff and labour – this is probably not the case if you’re having someone do it for you.

As I haven’t laid concrete before I played things a bit too safe and made the slab 100mm larger in both dimensions than the base of the studio – in hindsight this was an error and could allow water to catch on the edge of the slab and run underneath. Much better to be a bit more brave and make the slab the right size.

In terms of pouring the slab we calculated that we’d need about 1.2 cubic metres of concrete – rather than mix this ourselves by hand we brought in readymix from a company called Easymix. They mix the concrete on site so you get decent control over how wet you want the mix and they can tweak it as they go.

Infill and Paths

In an attempt to mitigate the issue I created by sizing the slab larger than the studio when I laid the path and infill between the main slab and the garage I did 2 things:

  1. I laid it 10mm lower than the main slab so that there was no danger of water running up and onto the slab in heavy rain.
  2. I created a slope away from the main slab on all the concrete and paths to keep them nice and clear.

With the laying of the concrete around the slab being very fiddly and less volume I didn’t go for readymix this time but hired a concrete mixer and bought the materials. Another point worth noting if your planning this kind of thing yourself is, though it’s not readily apparent from the pictures below, I was very careful about depths and heights of concrete. As a result the path matches height with the grass so I can run a mower over the edge – it’s a small point but it makes me happy.

Steps and Brickwork

And finally to tidy up I added a couple of steps and some brickwork to hide the exposed earth and concrete behind the garage capping the wall off with some old roofing tiles. Here I just mixed the limited amout of concrete required by hand.

Costs for laying the base:

Concrete slab £440.00

  • 3 bulk bags of hardcore: £105.00
  • Hire of whacker plate: £25.00
  • 1 bulk bag of sand: £45.00
  • Damp proof membrane: £15.00
  • Wood for shuttering/tamps etc: £40.00
  • Readymix: £210.00

Infill and Paths £89.00

  • Bulk bag of ballast: £40.00
  • 10 bags of ce ment (offer): £19.00
  • Hire of concrete mixer: £30.00
  • Wood for shuttering/tamps etc: £0.00 (re-used)

Steps and Brickwork £74.00

  • Ballast: £0.00 (used surplus)
  • Cement: £0.00 (used surplus)
  • 6 25kg bags building sand: £14.00
  • 150 cheap garden bricks: £60.00
  • Wood for shuttering/tamps etc: £0.00 (re-used)

Hints and Tips:

  • Lay the base exactly the size of the building you’re putting on it. It will look tidier and prevent any issues you might have with water running underneath.
  • When pouring the readymix we had 2 of us running barrows and tamping… 2 people is not enough. Ideally we’d have had 2 running barrows and another 2 doing the levelling and tamping – it made for a very hard hours work.
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