Costs… so many costs

No photos this time I’m afraid but, having (pretty much) finished the studio, I thought it might be worthwhile/informative for anyone planning the same thing to have a summary of the costs along with any spurious thoughts I may have about where I could have saved cash.

So. What did the studio as seen, a bunch of electrics in the garage, and two bulk bags of wood offcuts cost? £6833.00 – that’s what.

There’s a full breakdown below but first, my comments:

  • The electrics and wiring were pretty expensive due to [1] needing to put in a new consumer unit and [2] the set of lights and sockets that were put into the garage. Subtract about £300 from the materials costs if you don’t need these.
  • Oh my life the paint was expensive but, once you work it out actually it’s about right. The surface area of the studio is about 35sqm. The outside got four coats as did the inside (280sqm) plus undercoat (2), interior wood paint (1), and exterior wood paint (2). A 2.5 litre tin of paint covers about 20sqm so, in total, we used 19+ tins of paint. £15 each? Oh my life.
  • We used felt shingles for the roof over underlay because we wanted a ’tile like’ roof finish. Compare the cost at Wickes but I guess you could halve this by using roofing felt.
  • The base was also pretty expensive but, as you can see from the photos, it was a fairly complex beast involving a wall, steps, and large amounts of shuttering. Again I guess you could halve this.
  • £280 of clearing the site was getting rid of the corrugated asbestos roof from the old shed. The remainder was a couple of skips.

Hope this helps. Full breakdown below.


Materials £5570
Electrics and Wiring £628
Furnishing £209
Internal Structure £745
Paint and Finishing £372
Roofing £424
Base £723
Insulation £270
External Structure £2199
Tools £311
Buy £249
Hire £62
Labour and Services £952
Electrics and Wiring £280
Site Clearance £672

Build complete.

Last week saw Sal and myself make the last big push towards completing the studio. It was a pretty busy week and the workload failed completely to respect the fact that both Sal and I work full time (damn studio). Our (rather bleak) week looked like:

  • Monday evening: Paint walls and roof with white plasterboard sealing paint.
  • Tuesday evening: Paint second coat of white of walls and roof.
  • Wednesday morning (6 a.m.): Paint first coat of colour on walls. Third coat of white on ceiling.
  • Wednesday lunchtime: Paint second coat of colour on walls.
  • Wednesday evening: Paint door frame.
  • Thursday lunchtime: Carpet fitters put in the carpet.
  • Thursday evening: Cut trim strips and undercoat. Cut skirting and undercoat.
  • Friday afternoon/evening: Paint trim strips. Paint skirting.

And that brought us to the end of one hectic week – the first photo above shows the state of the studio at the end of the week.

On Saturday we dedicated ourselves to finishing off the internal fit out. Firstly this involved pressing pipe insulation into the gap between the top of the wall and putting the trimming strips over the top. The purpose of the pipe insulation is to provide a layer that will expand and contract with the external structure as heat and moisture take their toll. Photo 2 shows the pipe insulation in situ with photos 3 and 4 showing the inside after the trim strip has been fixed. The trim is fixed with a 10mm gap above that I can monitor as the studio changes size – its only fixed to the wall with pins so it can be easily adjusted.

On Sunday Sal finished off the painting of the window and door frames and I busied myself with running cables. I ran two cat5e cables from the office at the front of the house, along the side wall of the house, across a wooden strut 2m up and into the garage. From there they joined the already connected cables in the garage. The co-ax came down the side of the house from the booster in the loft and followed the same path to join the cables in the garage.

Photos 5 and 6 show the completed studio before we moved Sal in on Sunday evening. We’re both really pleased with how it looks and it, just about, fits all her stuff in it. Good times. There’s obviously a bit of finishing here and there (guttering for instance) but I won’t bore you with that – I’m sure you can imagine how guttering will look.

Whilst this is the end of the studio story there will be a couple of other posts before it gets put to bed. Next up is an analysis of the costs we actually incurred with a final set of thoughts on what I’d do next time.

The end is nigh!

In the last couple of weeks Sal and I have been busy doing a whole bunch of stuff. So…

10 days ago ‘Justin the Electrician’ arrived to bring power to the studio (amongst other things). In totality the work he did was:

  • Amoured cable from the meter into the garage.
  • Put in a new consumer unit in the garage.
  • Checked, wired up, and tested the sockets and new lighting in the garage.
  • Checked, wired up, and tested the sockets and lighting in the studio.

The power gets to the garage along the side of the house and then through a trench. The gap between the garage and the studio (50cm) is bridged with conduit. You can see in the second photo, from inside the garage, the backs of 2 conduit bridges. The one on the left is for the power with the one on the right carrying co-ax and 3 * cat5e – one of which will actually be for a phone.

After Justin had finished we ran the AV/network/etc cabling (as you can see in photos 1, 3, and 4) and finished the insulation and plasterboarding. Something we added in was a panel of 12mm plywood in the middle of the wall to take a mounting for a TV – not strictly necessary but it means that we can be a bit more flexible about mountings and positioning.

After this we went through the tortuous process of filling all the screw heads and gaps around plasterboard… and then sanding them all flat before putting a base coat over the whole lot.

No costs this time as I want to save that for the end. Carpet fitters arrive Thurs and we’d better have the painting finished by then!

Insulation (pt 2) and plasterboarding

After an arduous weekend of unrelenting studio graft Sal and I completed the insulation and added plasterboard over the top in preparation for the arrival of the electrician.

Putting the insulation in between the battens continued to be a lengthy process but, given that the walls are free-standing, I’d be uncomfortable with larger gaps between the battens (600mm). In the end the insulation has probably taken the best part of 20 hours to cut, fit, and cover in foil tape. On the subject of foil tape we used almost 300 metres of the stuff (6 rolls) – about 50% of the time was putting this up rather than the insulation itself.

Doing the plasterboarding was relatively straightforward but definitely a case of ‘measure twice and cut once’. I made sure to mark the cable runs on the front of the boards so I didn’t accidentally put a screw through a cable when fixing up the plasterboard and, after a miserable experience with the first board, I made a note of where the battens ran behind the boards so I could draw a line to follow when screwing the boards to the battens from the front.

The hole you can see in the last  picture is a space for a plywood panel to use as a backboard for the TV mount. If I thought about it I’d have put the sockets on the right and the AV sockets on the left as I could then have dropped the cables straight down rather than the awkward 90 degree bend I’m going to have to put in, however this is a small point and I’m sure I’ll live.

No costs this time as the previous post covered them.

Next up: Justin the electrician brings the power!


  • As per the previous post be really accurate with your battening. I mentioned that my innacurate measuring and placement of the battening hurt me on the insulation, it did so again on the plasterboarding and I had to cut every panel individually.
  • Take the time to mark the battens and cable runs on the front of each board, it makes it much easier to put the boards up and add screws with confidence – I nearly hit a cable and it made me very sad as I had to take a bunch of insulation our to check the cable.

Wiring and Insulation (pt 1)

Having battened out the inside we’ve spent the last week and a half running the wiring around the studio and fitting the insulation into the framed walls. We have the electrician booked for a week today and, by that point, I need to have run the wiring, insulated, and put up all the plasterboard – busy!

Last week the electrician came round to validate the wiring I’ve already done in the garage and to talk through how I was intending to wire the studio. As we have to have a new consumer unit fitted to get power out there he’s pretty happy that there’s enough work for him to make it worth his while. The wiring basically consists of a new ring from the new consumer unit in the garage running round the studio and up over the door, the bottom of the sockets are 470mm from the floor except for the one up on the wall to power the tv (picture 1). Lighting-wise there’s an external dusk-dawn light and an internal, overhead, set of spots – the junction boxes for the switching are in the top of the wall next to the door (photos 2 and 7).

When it came to the insulation I used a fine tooth panel saw to cut the 50mm Xtratherm panels to size to fit into the gaps in the battening, and about 30 seconds into sawing I stopped and fetched a fine dust mask – it’s a messy business that generates a lot of dust. Once I’d filled out the voids in a section I ran over the joints with foil tape to seal it all up.

A couple of points worth noting:

  • Photos 4, 5, and 6 show how I was insulating around the sockets. I used a section of 25mm Xtratherm behind the sockets on top of the noggin with a notch cut through to feed the wire with another panel of 25mm Xtratherm on the front around the socket to pad it out. In this way (with the 35mm back boxes) the back box protrudes 10mm out from the insulation ready to have the plasterboard put round it.
  • The above socket insulation method will also (hopefully) prevent condensation forming on the back of the backboxes as they are likely to be the coldest part of the overall wall.

Though this was the design/plan I’m not that concerned about condensation in the wall. Why not I hear you ask? Well I’ll tell you…

To allow for the expansion and contraction in the external structure I built the internal wall standalone so that it wouldn’t be affected. As a result there isn’t actually a very good seal behind it and so moisture is never going to get trapped there as it can always get around the edges. I don’t know what impact this is going to have on the performance of the insulation (I hope not too significant) but it does make a bit of a mockery of [1] my use of the foil tape and [2] the foil backed plasterboard I’ve ordered for the walls. Oh well.


  • 50mm Xtratherm insulation (11$): £242.00
  • Foil backed plasterboard (14$): £140.00
  • Foil tape (4 rolls): £10.00
  • 5mm ply for flooring (4$): £20.00
  • Metal backboxes: £15.00
  • 2.5mm and 1.5mm twin+earth: £40.00


  • If you’re intending to fit insulation between your framing make sure that you position the framing consistently and exactly. I allowed the framing to wander by a few mm here and there and, if I was insulating over the top, it wouldn’t be a problem however, in this case, it meant I needed to measure and cut each piece specifically – annoying.

Battening the inside

Having completed the outside of the studio we’ve turned our attention to making the inside into something that Sal might actually be able to use to work in – step 1: batten out the inside ready for electrics and insulation.

When planning this work one of the key considerations was the expansion and contraction of the outside structure – log cabin buildings aren’t dimensionally stable and expand and contract with heat and moisture. We wanted to ensure that, once built, we’d be able to finish to a good standard and it would stay that way. In an attempt to achieve this the wall battening was laid out in the following way.

  1. First I placed a number of treated 19mm * 38mm battens horizontally on the wall. This way they would move as the outside wall expanded and contracted vertically (the expected direction of movement). This provided an air void between the external structure and the next layer to allow air to circulate and prevent condensation.
  2. Over this I placed a layer of breathable membrane and sealed it all up with waterproof tape. The purpose of the membrane is to prevent water vapour from reaching the insualtion should any water make it through the external structure. As the membrane is slightly stretchy it should remain intact as the structure expands and contracts.
  3. Finally I build the internal battening to hold the insulation and electrics out of 38mm * 63mm CLS timber. The internal walls were built freestanding, fixed only to the floor, to allow the external structure to move past them in expansion and contraction. A 25mm gap was left between the wall and ceiling to allow for this movement – I’ll cover this in some way once I’ve fininshed the walls and ceiling.

And that’s it – pretty straightforward all things considered.


  • External battening (19*38 treated): £40.00
  • Internal battening (38*63 cls): £170.00
  • Breathable membrane: £75.00
  • Screws and Nails: £15.00


  • I don’t think I put up quite enough external battening and, as a result, the air gap is likely to be compromised. In hindsight I should have gone with 400mm centres all the way up the wall, this would also have made fitting the membrane that much easier.
  • And on that note I’m not sure how effective the membrane is going to be. Due to the construction of the ceiling in particular I had to make a lot of cuts and use a lot of tape. I’m pretty sure this means that the overall membrane envelope will be badly compromised so I’m not sure it was worth it.
  • Buy an electric mitre saw. I didn’t, and I spent a lot of time and energy with a handsaw and regretted it. It’s not impossible to do without but I wish I’d bought one at the outset.

Finishing the exterior

Having built the main shell we decided to fit the doors and windows and finish the exterior before cracking on with the internals – particularly as the weather seemed to be holding in some sort of fashion… and here the pain began.

The structure of the building is designed to slot together. Within the design the window frame is shipped as one piece and the door frame as 3 components (top, left, and right) that fit together for the doors to be hung off. Having hung the doors and have the door frame slip and change shape twice I took the radical step of taking a saw to the door frame and throwing it into the wood pile. I then replaced it with a single frame and sawed the doors down to fit – if you look closely you can see the change in door size from photo 1 to photo 2. Frankly this was the most depressing exercise as it resulted in me throwing away something that I’d paid for – never good.

Next we fitted some extra boards to the outside of the base of the studio. The purpose of these was [1] to make it look more attractive and tidy, [2] to prevent rain driving underneath and [3] to stop animals from making it their home. Ventilation has been provided in the boards to the rear to stop damp setting in.

I replaced the facia boards supplied with the kit with some larger, more substantial items made from treated boards. Primarily this was an aethetic choice however they also protect the end grain of the roof joists and the electrical/cable access on the garage end of the studio.

Finally I build some custom gutter boards and fittings so I can add gutters once I’ve sited the water butt(s). As with the door frame the design of the kit seems a little mysterious here as they clearly haven’t considered how the water will disperse from the roof.

So there it is, the finished exterior. To be honest there are parts that have been a real pain but, overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it looks.


  • Wood for the above: £50.00-ish

Lessons for the future:

  • If something looks suspect (such as the door frame) it probably is. Address it at the time as it’ll be twice as much effort later.
  • I wish I’d fitted the roof shingles after the end facia boards – I’d have got a much tighter and probably more weatherproof result if I had.