• Constructing a garden home gym: part 1 (Introduction)
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  • Ending a cut and starting advance training
  • Calories burnt from exercise
  • Active recovery
  • Better than nothing
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  • Constructing a garden home gym: part 1 (Introduction)

    Published: 11-04-2023


    This blog series will document my journey in constructing a small garden building to serve as a home gym. I hope it can be of help to any readers. This will be a 15m2 building which will sit in the back of the garden and have my gym equipment in it. I want to build this because I want:

    • A private workout space to call my own
    • I have no appropriate room in my house or have a garage
    • Easy access to excercise

    I have no background in construction or DIY.

    This article is based on UK construction practice and planning laws.

    Planning permission and building regulation

    The first thing I had to do was to research what the difference between planning permission and building regulations were. Planning permission is a collection of rules specific to your area which dictate what you are allowed to build or change to your property. Building regulations are rules and practices which make sure a building is safe.

    Your town will have a specific point of contact for matters partaining to either. Fortunately for me due to the gym being of little size I didn't need to inform anyone.

    Planning permission

    There exists a concept called 'Permitted development rights'. These are rules which say that if what you are doing falls under these parameters you can go ahead and carry on with your project providing you stick to the rules. You don't need to contact anyone. If you do then that is known as seeking permission. Visit planningportal.co.uk for understanding the rules of when you need to seek permission.

    Building regulations

    Again since the space is under 15m2 and certainly not for living I didn't need to schedule for a building office to inspect the construction. Please see the planning portal page on when to seek building regulation approval.

    Even if I don't need to seek approval that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to follow good building practice. I don't want a concrete wall falling on me...

    Much of what you will find online in regards to building regulation guidance will be in reference to a document titled 'Structure: Approved Document A' which is a technical guideline specifying how a safe building should be created. E.g. how wide foundations should be given the surrounding ground quality. It takes a bit of reading and I reference it constantly and it has been very useful.

    Type of building - concrete masonry

    When it comes to building something you will likely make something rectangular and opt to make it out of either wood or masonry. I chose to make mine out of masonry. Specifically I chose to make cavity wall structure of concrete blocks. I chose masonry over wood because I think its more durable and I see it less maintainance over time. When you choose your main building material a lot of factors will influence your research.

    Garden building specification

    • 5 x 3 meters (15m2)
    • 2.5m height
    • Cavity wall
      • Outer skin: Dense concrete blocks
      • Cavity: 50mm air gap and 50mm insulation
      • Inner skin: Light concrete blocks
    • Concrete trench fill foundations
    • Insulated flat wooden roof
    • Insulated concrete floor
    In the UK space is precious so the size of my building was dictated by the size of my garden's width. The square meter floor space also factors into building regulations. See the planning portal page on building regulations and outbuildings.

    The height of the building is the max permittable without applying for planning permission if the walls of the building are within 1m of a boundary (they are). You need to consider the height for certain overhead excercises. 2.5m is the max overall height for my project so the interior space is even smaller. This means extra care is needed when considering your design for the floor and roof if this is important for you.

    A cavity wall is a wall comprised of an outer and inner layer with a space in between. This space can be left as a void or can be partially or fully filled with insulation. The modern standard to cavity walls (which I am adopting) is having it partially filled with insulation and leaving an air gap.

    Foundations are what your building sits on. If you base your building on the ground it will sink unevenly and break. Foundations will vary based on the weight on the building and the type of earth it sits on. Plus other factors like surrounding large trees whos roots shift the ground over time. Typically the softer the ground and heavier the building the more susbstantial the foundations. I am fortunate to have chalk underneath me which means a slightly firmer ground than clay. Base on my design I opted for a foundation method known as trench fill. You dig a trench underneath where your walls will sit and fill it up to the top with concrete. More details later...

    The roof is flat mostly due to ease of construction. All flat roofs have to be made at a slight gradient so rain water doesn't pool on the top. Again Insulated but at this point I don't think it will have a cavity.

    The floor will be comprised of concrete so it fills firm to stand on (important for any weight lifting excercise). Also insulated. The actual finish I haven't decided. Most likely some resistant laminate flooring.

    More to come

    As of today I have done a lot since I started this project months ago. A lot of my time involved planning, learning a lot from youtube and DIY forums, buying tools, construction materials, planning access/waste removal and most significantly digging up a lot of earth and pouring the foundations. I'll aim to document all of this.

    Peace out.

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