Whilst our vast amounts of fermented (and fermenting) boozes are housed in their very own wooden shed (in a secret location that we’re not willing to divulge), we’ve never gotten round to building one on our allotment. But now that spring has sprung-ed and the weather has been a little less grim, the unkept area at the back of our plot (once reserved for experimental nettle trials) has been deemed an area suitable for a splendid potting shed.
After a considerable amount of googling, we eventually settled on buying ours from Leeds based firm Tiger Sheds, primarily because a) we like tigers b) they’ve got a cool logo, and c) any city that has produced John Craven and Jelly Tots are bound to make ace sheds.
There are many considerations to be made before investing in a shed of your own. If you intend to build one on a council-owned allotment, the first thing you’ll need to do is to get permission from the landowner. Rules and regulations will differ from council to council, but here are the conditions that Bath City Council* decree.
1. The shed must not exceed 1.8m x 1.2m, and must be of wooden construction*, stained dark brown or dark green, ideally with a pent roof**. The shed must be maintained in a good state of repair at all times.
2. The shed is to be sited so that it does not cause a nuisance to neighbouring plot holders or properties. Your consultation with those who may be affected is essential.
3. The shed is to be removed and the ground restored to its previous condition at the end of your tenancy of the plot, or if reasonably requested by the Council.
4. The Council’s Planning Section have previously indicated that full Planning Permission is required to site a shed on an allotment, but they overlook this provided items 1 and 2 above are adhered to. However, should they receive a complaint about the siting of the shed, you may have to make a retrospective planning application to retain it.
Stop: Hammer time.
If you order online, as we did, your shed should arrive on a flatbed truck, in flat-packed parts with nails and screws – like a giant Airfix kit. All you’ll need is a hammer, a spanner and a decent vocabulary of swearwords should the construction not go to plan. A word with the company on delivery at the time of purchase, and they should be able to deliver it directly to your allotment.
It’s all about that base.
Building your new shed directly onto the earth is a no-no. This will almost certainly lead to warped shed walls and the possibility of a prematurely rotten base, so you need to prepare your site properly. This means sand, cement and spirit level.
Create a sturdy stand for your structure by building a hardcore base with paving slabs cemented on top. Our allotment earth just so happens to be full of rocks (as well as bindweed and slugs) – perfect for smashing up and using up as hardcore. Our allotment lies within the Roman City of Bath, so there’s always the possibility that we’ve laid waste to ancient roman remains, but hey, Bath stone makes fine rubble –just don’t tell Tony Robinson.
Five feet high and rising
The initial stages of shed erection will require the hands of at least two people. I found out to my cost that one adult and two larking about kids is not really sufficient. Add to this a strong southwesterly wind and you have all the ingredients for redlining blood pressure and an aggravated hernia. There’s bound to be someone pottering around on the allotment to give you a helping hand, so enlist their help by bribing them with booze.
Protect and survive
Once up, you’ll need to give your new shed a nice coat of protective paint, but make sure that it’s suitable for allotments – something that won’t leach chemical nasties into the soil. Also, that tin of ‘one coat’ paint you’ve just bought? You’ll almost certainly need two coats. And before you settle on that nice pot of ‘post-office red’, check your local council guidelines (see above). Your dreams of a Matisse-inspired paint scheme may have to be curtailed…
Strangers in the night
Your new shed will require the instillation of certain security measures in order to safeguard the contents that reside within. A layer of bubble wrap covering the inside of the window will protect greedy eyes spying any thief-friendly items you may have inside, and back this up by fitting a hasp and staple in addition to the mortice lock your shed should already be equiped with. Of course, the best security measure is not to leave anything worth nicking in there in the first place – ours currently contains a knackered deckchair, a selection of empty cider bottles and a spider. Thieves – fill your boots.
Besides these security measures, we’ve had to make an extra precaution: in order to thwart the ‘hilarious’ activity of ‘shed tipping’ that the local ruffians sporadically engage in on our allotment, we’ve made sure we keep something heavy inside (and by this we don’t mean a cosh). A couple of bags of John Innes stored on the shed floor should prevent any unplanned upturning of your structure.
Ready, sheddy, GO!
Once complete, all sheds must undergo a naming ceremony, just like any self respecting ocean going vessel (all be it a wooden, soil residing one). We threw a pint of cider over ours and crowned him ‘Teddy Shedward’**. Three cheers for Teddy… God bless him, and all who plant in him!
As mentioned, we bought ours from TigerSheds.
Take a peek at their shed range, here.
* Sloping, like a ramp. Apex sheds have pointy roofs, like houses.
** Considering Bath City Council are notorious hardballers when it comes to planning regulations and will only rubber stamp buildings with mock georgian facades, this seems reasonable.