building a shed/workshop... Any advice on features to be recommended?
Now that doing paper-and office-based engineering job, want to keep hand in. Girlfriend has new house which is pride-and-joy. Could build a "workshop" in garden. Would have to look like a garage, in keeping with the residential district.
Being in England:
gardens are not the expansive spaces many of you in the US might be thinking of - must be single-car garage size maybe plus a bit
brick-built construction is the norm - if not brick, would have to look appropriate to district.
Neighbour has nice structure reckoned to be about 25sq-metres floor.
Cost in brick caused an inrush of breath. However, word so far is that brick would be for best. Put steel beam across top of wall if want to provide for hoist, etc.
Any features of "workshop" which experience says are good to have?
Thinking of - welder, compressor and plasma-cutter, angle-grinders, saw, workbench, bench-drill, maybe a lathe if one comes along. Ironworker is unlikely to appear anywhere realistic on list!
It's a shed, and never a workshop - call it a workshop and you'll get the planning and council tax people after you!
You may well need planning permission for a garage.
A bench grinder is often useful. And a milling machine...
As to construction, my personal advice is to make it as similar as the inside of a comfortable house as you can - with proper insulation, heating, lighting etc.
In the winter you will appreciate these refinements - if you don't have them then you won't be in the shed for long in the winter.
Also, they minimise rusting, and if you don't have them then rusting will be a big problem.
Good foundations, and insulation (a layer of polythene, then 100mm of polystyene foam, it's surprisingly strong under a layer of concrete) under the floor. Don't forget the polythene must join up with the damp proof course in the walls, so leave extra at the edges.
Brick outer cavity walls with blocks on the inside, and insulation in between. If you can find a good brickie to do just the bricklaying and do the rest (mixing, carrying, perhaps foundation work and laying blocks) yourself it can be quite a bit cheaper
(if it's the right brickie, but beware... a good brickie will probably lay the bricks for a shed in three half days *if* you have everything ready for him, you have to wait for the first 1/3 layers of bricks to harden before laying the next 1/3. And it's very hard work keeping up with a good brickie!)
You might get away with a single layer brick wall with some kind of insulated panelling on the inside rather than a brick/block cavity wall.
100mm PU foam sandwich insulated roof panels are said to be good.
And did I mention good insulation? :)
If you can't afford all that then concentrate on the floor and roof and insulation first, you can always redo the walls later. But overall you will probably save money by building in brick first if you can afford it.
If you have central heating in the house it can be a good idea to extent it to the shed from the house, if they are close together. Only takes a bit of pipe and a radiator, plus you'll probably want a thermostatic valve for the radiator.
Have a look at uk.rec.models.engineering, maybe post the same question there.
Sano had excellent comments re stability of relationship. I ran across a residential rural hobby farm with a 8 cubic yard (8 cubic meter) block of concrete right outside the front door. Male with amateur radio tower had moved in, then moved out..............
And Peter is spot on with his comments......... Make it useable in the winter without needing too much energy. You want to have some heat to keep the dampness out, 55F to 60F (min) for working.
I'll add the need for good power connections. You use those funny 220 volt circuits so I can't provide details but you will want to have multiple circuits and plenty of power. Lots of outlets, every 4' is not too many. Mix of low power and high (welder) power. If you can't figure out what you want now, put in conduit with over sized boxes, pull in wire later.
Getting from the house to the shed usually means a trench. So make the most of the trench, bury multiple plastic pipes: over sized conduit for your power,SPARE oversized conduit for when something goes wrong with the first one, smaller one for phone/cable/communications, maybe even a water line.
If you want to weld, you will need some sort of exhaust. Consider some sort of booth so you can keep the fan size modest.
And think about material handling: You want to be able to bring in long stock, put it in a rack without too much fuss. Example: position your entry door about 18" out from a long wall with rack, bring material in, set it in the rack. BUT the door will have to swing the wrong way to make that work!!
In addition to most of the other comments, please consider subfloor ventilation/insulation. Also a trap door in the floor to painlessly deal with soil dumped into the crawlspace vents by helpful landscape employees.
You're asking the right questions. Your comparison structure is a bit over 12'x20', that would be considered a very small 1 car garage in the US. I have a hunch that is going to be pretty small if you want to weld moderate or larger projects. Just fine for a lathe, small mill, and tig welder.