Split level workshop- help & ideas needed

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joel.riley1

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Hi all, I have a spot in our garden that I can site a workshop, in place of an existing garage. It's a listed building so I need full planning for everything so need to fully design first.

Images attached of the area, and one of my proposed design, it's 4m x 10m.

Problem is that there is a significant slope on the plot, it's around 1.8m difference top to bottom, and the top access is onto a lane, so the option of just digging down isn't really there, and building up also isn't there as the planning officer isn't likely to go for a huge structure next to a 600 yr old thatched cottage.

Does anyone have experience with a two level workshop, with a slope, steps, wall or combination splitting the levels? Is it a pain in the buttocks?

I mostly do woodwork but also have metalworking tools so could split those two, but it would make each part pretty small at 5m x 4m.

Really like some input as I've been trying to get this project moving for a long time, and with an extension taking away my workshop attached to the house, will be workshopless....
 

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eribaMotters

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I'm guessing you have had a preliminary meeting with the listing officer. When I had a grade 2 listed house he was independent of the planning and building control departments.
I cannot think how you would be able to avoid a two storey end to your workshop, but if timber clad [top half only to visually lower the mass] this would have minimal impact and with a good amount of glass allow lots of light in. I would plan for the upper floor to stop short of the gable leaving a double height aspect to your machine shop on the lower level. I'm also wondering if a steel frame would be an option as this would cause less disturbance on the ground.
Whatever the case it sounds an exciting project, but not a cheap one. Best of luck.

Colin
 

Cabinetman

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It looks slightly more level if you were to have the workshop following the line of the lane. In other words turn it through 90°.
I’m not sure it can be done really unless you do as EM suggests and have it two story. 1.8 m isn’t an easy step or two it’s 2/3 thirds ceiling height. Ian
 

AJB Temple

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Would removing the garage diminish the value of the property?
I wonder if making the replacement building a garage that can be used as a workshop, would be wise in the context of persuading listed building officer that you are not detracting from the thatched cottage, and also persuading planners that all you are doing is replacing a shed with a better quality and more in keeping building, along with a necessary garden store.
 

Cabinetman

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Thinking about it again, purely on a how to do it and end up with a single-storey end at the lower end, The only way I can see it is to dig downwards with some stairs as soon as you enter from the lane so that’s quite a bit of digging.
 

AJB Temple

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I would absolutely make sure you can easily get wood and machines in and out easily from the lane. This was part of the reason why I suggested retaining the "garage" aspect at least cosmetically. No stairs at that point as workshops require a lot of stuff in an out.
 

Cabinetman

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You are absolutely right of course Adrian and it would be a pita to have to go down a set of steps with all your timber etc, ( probably six or seven steps and equipment could be hoisted in and out.) There isn’t any other alternative though because he’s not allowed to have a high building further down the slope near to the cottage. Ian
 

Inspector

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Would there be acceptance of making it look like an old barn would have been made in the same location? A stone walled lower room and the wood framed loft above. Then you could cut into the hill and pour a slab and concrete walls. The outside of the concrete not in the slope getting a stone veneer witch after a number of years will grow some moss and look like it was always there. Not a cheap way to go but you would have more room, avoid the steps in the space and not have possible problems with water running off the road and into/through the shop.

Pete
 

joel.riley1

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Thanks all, I'm so happy to have some input on this!

Yes it will need full planning permission with a heritage officer. I have a house extension going in, and have already made a pre application, the planner said that the house extension would be highly unlikely, but the workshop would 'probably not be a problem if bulk is kept to a minimum'. I have found a way to likely get backing for the house extension, so the workshop is next in line. He may be underestimating the scale of building I'd like though!

Cost is not the main consideration for this (although always wise to keep track of budget) as the house is my dream home, and I have been able to buy it at 31 yrs old, we will be here for as long as I can forsee, so I am not attempting to add value, or looking into what a prospective buyer may want to have in the garden.

I have written off the idea of Cabinetman as there is a mature Cherry tree next to the road, which I like and it blocks the view of a new development of houses being built just beyond the current garage. I can't change the placement of the building much without disturbing the roots of the tree. I have planted more trees to succeed the cherry when it dies, but the houses behind are already being built!

AJB Temple I made the original pre-app saying that the building would be a garage, I'm not sure whether this has much bearing on the application, compared to what the building looks like?

eribaMotters I like your input about reducing mass with half cladding, I'll make a two-box two-level design, half clad and see how it looks.

Inspector this sounds like a great idea and I'll also whip up a design as you've said. I had an architect friend round and we measured the levels, and put the measuring stick at eaves hight and it looked huge in the garden, this is the main issue. Maybe I could set back the main end somehow.

Is the general consensus that I need to avoid a level change inside at all costs?
 

joel.riley1

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To give some context here is a photo of the house, the workshop would poke through the red circle, current garage is just hidden behind trees.
 

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Adam W.

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Is the general consensus that I need to avoid a level change inside at all costs?

No. I'd build with the lie of the land as a design element. I wouldn't create a sub basement and I would have the roof step down the gradient using gables.

Then I would glaze the upper gable to alow overhead light to flood the shop. All of this would be built in green oak with sawn larch boards as cladding.

I would try to excavate as little as possible and divide the workshop using the upper level for machines and the lower level for hand tools. I would also have full height glazing to the lower gable to admire the house and garden with a deck and sliding folding doors to open in the summer months.

My design would draw heavily on local vernacular architecture and have a traditional barn appearance from the road, but something very different from the house and garden side. I'd also consider what it looked like when lit in the evenings.
 
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Droogs

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If your council are greenish, then perhaps suggest a split level with the upper overhanging the lower by a third inside, double height glass gable end, with the lower section built using cob and the top timber and straw bale and a living roof to help it blend into the woody hedgey bit. Woodwork on top and metalwork below or vice versa
 

Inspector

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Each of us have an opinion, to be respected, based on our backgrounds and the type of woodwork and metalwork we play with. Adam is heavily focused on hand tools so his needs are different than mine which is more machine focused, in part because there is virtually nothing growing here than would make good riven stock of anything bigger than spoons. I envy the wood he has available. I have to rely on hardwoods brought in from other parts of the continent thus my preference of electrified machines. Your needs may very well fall right in the middle. The metalwork is another consideration. Generally wood dust and metal machines are not the best mix and if you add welding or blacksmithing to the mix you are better having them separate if possible. My milling machine and lathe are in the garage and the woodworking shop is above, both attached to the house. Cheapest way to have all because of the shared construction.

I don't like to have to use stairs, gotta go through the house, as it is a royal pain climbing stairs while humping wood, tools, projects in/out etc. Even if you had stairs from upper to lower they take up space from the shop, which is about half the size of mine, even if for a split level one as Adam envisions. I have a door at the back of the shop opening to a deck and I can back the pickup to it but still have to lift stuff a couple extra feet. When I get forks for the tractor that will be easier. You would have level entry from the road and rather than another down to the lower level, make a trap door and overhead winch to lower/lift through the floor. You can then get away with a walking path or exterior stair for lower access. Just have to have very stout doors on the road side for security. I see your house has a thatched roof and if the same were done to the shop it would match the house and area even more. You could have a small deck or balcony over the lower level to sit and carve on or do the sanding outside when nice. It would also give a bit of cover for grinding, welding, blacksmithing work. Having a lower level would let you put dust collection downstairs, keeping the noise out of the shop, or stick it in a little attached outhouse/lean to. Both would give you a little more space in the shop. With two levels you would be able to if needed reduce the length a bit as you have more room in total.

That's my take on it but ultimately it comes down to what you want and are allowed to do and what you feel you need. Sound like an interesting project.

Pete.
 

Adam W.

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If your council are greenish, then perhaps suggest a split level with the upper overhanging the lower by a third inside, double height glass gable end, with the lower section built using cob and the top timber and straw bale and a living roof to help it blend into the woody hedgey bit. Woodwork on top and metalwork below or vice versa
Green roofs are great, they weigh a bit but they're quick to waterproof if you use a pond liner as the waterproof membrane. I've got one on my workshop and I love it.
 

joel.riley1

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Just to update, Ive had my architect friend round and we have surveyed the land and I've done a rough sketchup design of what is possible, using your suggestions above.

Gone for zinc roof for a lower pitch, likely will add velux windows and solar panels to the south side.

It looks like most of the soil cut from the top area would go into lightly raising the bottom of the lower section, keeping cost down. Yet to be seen whether the planners will allow any landscaping change, I hope so as apparently our garden used to be a quarry, so its hardly untouched...

Joel
 

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joel.riley1

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Thanks Colin,

Im guessing that the only real way to reduce mass is to make it smaller? Or have a thorough design statement explaining that mass has been reduced by half cladding, lowing the roof line, sinking the building, blah blah blah? Basically just making a strong argument...
 
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