Phase 1

The first stage was to board out the loft area using 18mm T&G chipboard (sold as 'Loft-packs'), and then the wall and door framing were installed. As the roofing timbers are rather small, this frame was intended to help support any extra weight in the loft...

The partition wall is a single layer of 18mm chipboard rather than a conventional plasterboard cavity wall - it's much easier to attach shelves to and avoids losing 5 inches would otherwise be wasted space. The only problem is the timber framing remained visible, and sawn pine doesn't look all that nice...

The bench (14K)
The bench (10K)

For the bench, I chose 22mm MDF. Three pieces were cut by a local supplier to form the 'n'-shaped bench, supported by a simple 4-by-2 frame. The two 10 foot horizontal lengths of 4-by-2 sit in slots cut in 4-by-2s fixed to the wall and partition frame. The outer edges of the small benches are also supported by a piece of 18mm MDF (see below). You can also see the box that will contain the power and light switching.

To determine how much support the bench required, I experimented with some lengths of Dexion angle-iron and found that centre supports were adequate. Timbers were cut to length and installed - and I covered the front one with an offcut of the floor carpet - a nice touch, given that otherwise you'd spend your life banging your knees against it... Annoyingly, the cat uses it as a scratching post!

Suspended floor

The next stage was the floor. The concrete floor was reasonably flat and even, but I decided to build a simple suspended floor using a 4-by-2 frame. This was mainly for insulation reasons - although I wish I'd stuffed it with fibreglass at this stage. I never did get around to doing that, but even with no insulation, it was a lot nicer than the bare concrete floor.

Suspended floor (15K)
Suspended floor (15K)

I added the damp-proof membrane on the assumption that the concrete floor didn't already have one. Between this and the underside of the frame, you might be able to see the small blocks of wood that were used to shim the frame to get the floor more-or-less level...

Finished floor
     (20K)This picture shows the finished floor, complete with carpet...

You can see the 18mm MDF panels that support the ends of the small benches (mentioned earlier). These are supported by the floor framing - if you look at the previous pictures you can see that there are 4-by-2s directly underneath each...

You can see how I ensured the frame supported all the joins in the boards because I didn't want to use tongue-and-groove boards. I was considering the possibility of running cables under the floor in the future, but it's impossible to remove individual panels of tongue-and-groove flooring once it's finished. However, this never happened - all cables were dropped down from the roof space.

Ultimately, the final result was OK but could be better - partly because the timber for the frame (bought from a different supplier) was much poorer quality than the stuff used for the bench.

The door-frame is visible here, although the door has yet to be hung. Also not yet fitted is the doorstep - that was fairly complicated for reasons that escape me now...

Insulation

I could have dry-lined the garage, installing insulation behind plasterboard sheets, but this would have reduced the internal dimensions considerably and would have been a complicated task in its own right. Instead, I was fortunate enough to have collected enough off-cuts of something far better from the skips at work. When building edit suites, studios and dubbing areas, the walls are lined with a product called SoundSorba.

It's a 1 inch layer of compressed fibreglass, with decorative cloth bonded on the front surface. The product offers excellent acoustic and thermal insulation properties, and can be used to cover a multitude of sins.

It is supplied in 8 by 4 sheets, and fortunately for me, the ceilings in many of the various areas at work only had 7 foot ceilings, so, I had a lot of offcuts that measured 4 foot by approximately 1 foot. Plus a handful of other larger off-cuts that were also spare...

I was able to fold the product around external corners by making 45 degree cuts in the layer of fibreglass behind the fabric... You can buy special metal brackets (covered with matching fabric) to hold the SoundSorba to the wall, and while I used them in places, offcuts of these were in relatively short supply so I cheated by using tricks like spacing the skirting and dado (see bottom of page) away from the wall with 1" batons. Where the SoundSorba met the bench, 16mm quadrant moulding was used to neatly hide the joint.

Soundsorba meeting the bench (13K)
Skirting spaced away from the wall to secure the Soundsorba (12K)

These pictures show the main shelves taking shape. I used Spur brackets (well, the ScrewFix ones, but I'm sure they're the same). They are spaced away from the walls with 1 inch batons which bring them in line with the front surface of the SoundSorba. Also, you can see the pine fascia which holds the top of the Soundsorba - later that gets painted and is used to hold a ceiling...

Shelves (13K)
Shelves (13K)

Cat-5 socket (14K)Here is a view of the computer corner, where a small brick pillar was in the way. Looking at the moulding detail, you might correctly guess that I was practising with a new mitre-saw! Ironically, all that detail is hidden completely by the PC that sits there! The picture also shows how I mounted the Cat-5 network point and the telephone socket.

Yes, the PC has been moved to the right for this shot. I felt the need to share this with the world! It's a bad affliction, being an engineer!

Shelf Unit

The other main construction is a set of shelves that stand on the floor behind the bench. These were made from veneered Conti-Board and assembled using glue and dowel-joints. The top surface is an off-cut of laminate worktop. The final height is the same as the main bench, and it forms a useful additional space...

Shelves (13K)
Danish oil effect (11K)

These pictures show the effect of a couple of coats of Danish oil. It's my favourite finish for wood, and almost everything I build gets treated this way (even I can't get it wrong!). The MDF benches responded brilliantly to this as well - they lasted remarkable well, despite the abuse they had. The right picture compares the shelves an untreated offcut - although to be honest the differences are more marked in reality.

Roofspace

Roofspace (16K)This picture shows the roof-space of the garage. I insulated the roof, which was a horrible experience! Sadly, it wasn't really possible to cover up the insulation as the timber roof trusses were in the way - indeed many of those battons had to be cut so that they could be maneuvered into position.

Looking towards the left, you can see the bundle of cables going through the wall into the house (the garage is attached to the house). They go straight into a triangular space just above the stairs, which is accessed by lifting out the floor in a cupboard. This is where the network switch and RF distribution amplifier was cunningly hidden away. It was hard work sorting all that out, but well worth the effort.

The loft space was surprisingly useful, and was always full of junk. The installation of a loft-ladder and a hatch that can easily be opened from gound level with a simple pole has made the space much more user-friendly. Needless to say, there is also a light which can be switched from downstairs, or in the loftspace itself.