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Studio Build Pt 2: Planning the studio

Right, so let's get going with my studio build.

The first thing I had to do was actually plan what I wanted to build and see what I could build. The initial suggestion came from my Dad who is a builder (ah, now it comes out). I'll not deny that my Dad's advice and contacts have come in incredibly handy for this project however hopefully I can pass on all that I've learned.

Anyway, we realised that the best opportunity for me was to build an entirely separate building in my back garden. There was no room in my tiny house and my garden was a decent size. This was the first decision made. From there I needed to look at how much space was available and how much I can use.

Now given that this was a large construction in my garden, concerns about planning permission were raised. So, the first stop was my local council website to gain advice about what was allowed. Quite amazingly I found that I could legally build the structure without planning permission provided I complied with a few rules: -

  1. The building covered less than half of my back garden area.
  2. The building was at least 4 metres from the house (although I think even closer may be possible in some circumstances).
  3. If the building had a pitched roof (which mine does) the ridge height is less than 4m high.

Now, with this in mind I still applied for a Certificate of Proposed Legal Development so that the local council were aware of my building work. This is not a requirement in any way however when an anonymous neighbour complained about the building, the council were very much on my side for having kept them informed (and the complaint was quickly dealt with as a result).

One point that may not have been apparent was that building materials were not covered in the rules above. In fact there is no extra restriction on building permanent structures from block or brick anymore than wood in the UK. Having read a few articles about shed conversions (in Sound On Sound) I decided to spend the extra cash and go for an entirely block built structure.

At this point my plan was to build a structure containing three rooms: a live room, a control room and a small restroom. The outside dimensions were around 6m x 5m. I decided upon one large door and no windows. Windows are a pain in studios for a variety of reasons including security and soundproofing. In the end I felt it was easier to do without them.

Anyway, beauracracy in the UK has a well-deserved reputation for testing your patience and I have to say that I spent about 5 months messing around with the local council.

Having got my certificate of proposed legal development, I began a protracted series of confusing phone calls with building regulations. To summarise: if building regulations get involved then everything will be a lot slower and cost a lot more therefore we try and avoid needing them. In the end they were happy with the electrics (provided I get them 'ticketed' with a registered electrician) however any plumbing would require building regulations (in case a subsequent owner decided to use the building as a residence). As a result I decided to lose the restroom and just go with a live room and a control room. We'll see how these choices got trimmed down to a single room in future installments.

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Comment by Chris Merritt on June 14, 2007 at 11:13pm
I love this series!

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