SQD, Mind Ed.

Building the build shelter.

Blog time : it’s mid April 2021 and i still haven’t started the actual build because none of the materials have arrived yet , but….having a handy sawmill in the valley that turns out ‘rough’ timber for outside use i decided to use the dry but cool weather to get on and get my outside boatbuilding shelter built. I have been working on a couple of the side projects for the build but i’ll write those up as separate posts – meanwhile rather than trying to be Steve the newbie boatbuilder iv’e been Bob the noob builder this week. So…..in the new format for the project blog posts here’s what’s going on in terms of what’s happening on the bench, what’s taken up the admin time and ‘lessons learned’.

On the bench this week.

Not exactly ‘on the bench’ this week because it’s all been happening outside on the various saw-horses, garden bench and step-ups iv’e been erecting the long term boatbuilding and boat storage shelter which is the only way that i can build a boat here unless i put up something like a polytunnel and then took it down at the end of the build. As far as the locals and the council are concerned it looks just like a car port except that iv’e conveniently built it right up against the workshop so i should be able to work under shelter all the time : it’s within planning regulations here as well and with this kind of structure that’s mainly a matter of it coming in at less than 30 SqM and less than 2.5 meters eave height. Compared to the cottage we live in the shelter is mostly level and square (mostly) !

As of the end of this week the basic frame is up, basically posts set in concrete but with some degree of complex laying out because some had to go inside the side rail and some outside ; iv’e thoroughly confused my neighbour by not knowing what the official builder-y terms for things and instead talking about my sheer clamp (done both sides) beam shelves (ditto) hanging knees……and the ‘deck beams going’ in as i write…..just waiting on the next delivery from’t sawmill. My plan is to finish the whole job with 7 lengths of polycarbonate clear sheet, which is a useful smoky grey, to give me rain cover of course but a useful amount of light underneath. I may shield the outside slightly because that side faces due south and i don’t think it would be ideal to have one side in strong sunlight……just a note also that i deliberately didn’t order the stock for the boat’s stringers until i was able to keep them in dry shelter.

If it looks big in this picture then that’s simply because i took it with my widest wide-angle lens, i can just walk under the low-side rails with the rail just brushing the top of my beannie while still having enough slope on the roof panels to shed the rain quickly……eventually i’ll add more water butts to my tank farm and collect the rainwater which i use lots of in the veg garden.

Week 1, posts in and side rails up.


Now, i’m thinking of this series as my story about being definitely not a skilled woodworker or boat-builder that decides to build a boat at home with the resources and space that i have…..but…..i also want to consider this series as having a wider discussion about each task or problem that i come across ; and creating the actual space is the first task for me…..without this = no boat built.

I’ll just re-iterate that i have to build the boat at home because for me there really isn’t a viable choice to do otherwise but there might be for other people ; i know of one local blogger and home boatbuilder who built a similar but smaller boat in his garage for instance and i think that must have been a squeeze but it would have been at least warm and dry and viable all year round where mine is really only good for about 6 months of the year. So, a big home garage (2 car garage would be good) would be an option or some or some kind of outbuilding that could be converted would do the job – where i live it’s not unusual to have all sorts of big sheds and small barns on many of these rural properties even when the house or cottage is a small one.

What are the other choices or options though ?

I know of several amateur builders that have built their boats under a cover in the back row of the less posh boatyards and equally a few that have started, stopped and then ended up with a half finished project and a big monthly bill for the boatyard space…..remember that to build say a 25 foot cruising boat you need the space of about a 35 foot boat just to be able to work all round the outside and the yard will generally charge you for that. With my own local yard i wouldn’t even have that option as the guy who runs it has chosen to pack the boats in so hard that’s there’s barely room to squeeze between them…..oh and apart from that not allowed anyone to work on their own boats ……but still pay their bills of course. A large part of my choice is that nobody can tell me that i can’t work in my own yard and my commute to work will be all of 100 feet : remember that the drive to ‘work’ will take hours from the build time…..even getting to and from the local boatyard would take an hour at each end of the day even here.

I looked at the option of renting space in a small industrial unit but once again i couldn’t find anyone locally who had a space on the floor of around 20 feet by 10 feet and the cost of renting a complete unit is astronomical : here in the UK industrial units go for about £5.50 per square foot per year rental and i would need a minimum of 200 square feet, the problem being that very few units are that small and the average rent for a small unit around here is about £7-9,000 per annum…..ie all of the build budget every year of the build. Just to add that the same space in a boatyard around here would ‘only’ be about £2.000 a year.

Around here it might be possible to find a friend who owns or rents a patch of land, i have one friend in that situation, and share the rent/put up a temporary shelter structure except that can run into all sorts of problems with the nimby neighbours or having to move the whole project halfway through because the farmer wants his land back !. Equally possible around here might be a farmer or smallholder who has an empty barn or space for a structure and wouldn’t object to a reasonable rent in return…..that would have been a possibly viable option around here as i know of 2 or 3 potential sites with the right kind of attitude. If you’re in the city though and that’s your only choice of where to be then it’s your garage or garden and a shelter of some kind and then in the UK potentially a whole world of pain from moaning neighbours and rule loving local councils – perhaps even byelaws and local planning regulations.

My own thoughts are that each situation will represent some form of compromise, i can build a boat here in my own drive and nobody can say that i can’t, the walk to work is easy so i don’t waste any time getting to and from a distant build site and equally the job is right where i can see it so security is, on average, pretty ok. The downsides are that i have had to limit the size of boat to less than 18 feet but that’s the kind of compromise i was looking for anyway ; the real downside if anything is that iv’e had to build the actual shelter first and there is a cost in doing so……even the cost of materials for a simple shelter like mine has come to around £1200 so far and for a small build like mine that actually accounts for a decent proportion of the whole project budget.

The ‘Mind Ed’ was just a small personal reminder for when i had the cross member semi-clamped at just above head height…..i can walk clean under it but anyone a bit taller will have to duck !

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