Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Village Underground: audio slideshow

Oliver Shah, who wrote recently about carriageworker Joe Dunsthorne and Village Underground, has now put together the rather nice audio slideshow above which features Joe chatting about his work as well as lots more photos of his shedlike working atmosphere.

Art Fund Pavilion shortlist

Tent London and The Light Box are running the Art Fund Pavilion architecture competition: the winning entry will be built as a semi-permanent summer pavilion, shown during this year's London Design Festival and will then travel to The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking. There are some interesting shedlike designs including Karim Muallem's (above) and Feix&Merlin's (below).

Not everyone 'gets' shedworking

Imran Ali at Web Worker Daily has written about the OfficePOD which we featured last week. After discussing the structure he goes on to describe it as a "slight oddity" and, more controversially, "providing a solution to a problem that most telecommuters and web workers simply don’t have". He continues:
"Increasingly, as families begin to accommodate multiple web workers and telecommuters within the home, house design will need to explicitly accommodate permanent working areas, rather than repurposing a dining area, spare bedroom or cramped study for work. I can’t help but think that the OfficePOD isn’t a good solution. If you have little space within the home to work, chances are your property doesn’t have a garden or yard that can accommodate a “parked office” outside!"
I've tried a couple of times to comment on the story at WWD but for some reason my comments aren't showing up...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Container shedworking in Africa

Continuing our ongoing series of customised containerworking atmospheres, here is mobile phone operator Zain using shipping containers as prefab offices in rural areas of Kenya. While, below, they are also used as restaurants.Seen at AfriGadget. Thanks to Alex Bellinger from SmallBizPod for the alert via twitter

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Tiny Office

Some of you will already be familiar with Jonny Barker who runs the excellent Tiny Little House blog and web site, but what you may not know is that he is also building a Tiny Little Office (pictured above). Jonny describes it as a "slightly scaled up version of a kid’s playhouse" but large enough for a desk, chair and filing cabinet. He says:
"I have no blueprints or anything to work from I am just making it up as I go along from a basic design idea in my head. I want it to have a traditional garden cottage kind of look. It will be a grown ups version of a child’s den playhouse."
There are lots more photos and details at his site which will particularly appeal to those of you interested in building your own garden office/shed.

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Winston Churchill's shed

Well done to those of you who hunted down Saturday's Name That Shed entry. Martyn Cox writes:
"I recently snapped this shed at Chartwell in Kent. It is none other than the shed once owned by wartime PM Winston Churchill. I like to imagine that in between meetings with Stalin and Roosevelt, rallying the RAF during the Battle of Britain and helping to plan the D-Day landings, that Churchill could find time to potter in his shed, rearranging the shelves, filling jars with screws and making sure his packets of seeds were in alphabetical order."

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Enterprise Nation - Three ways to source new work

This week, Emma Jones from Enterprise Nation says it's the perfect time to spruce up your business development and pursue opportunities that will mean new work from existing customers and new work from new customers. Here are her three suggestions to help you keep the contracts coming in.
More work for existing customers
Make contact - start with your existing customers by contacting them to check they are happy with your service and products. Offer to conduct a review of their requirements and ask if there is anything more you can be doing for them. Do they expect their needs to change over the next 6 months and are there new ideas you can take to them that will mean an improved service for them and new business for you? You can find out all this – and more – through scheduled catch-up calls with your most long-standing customers.

Refer a Friend – develop a promotion that invites customers to refer their friends and family to you. Can you offer a discount or incentive to make this happen?

New work for new customers
It’s more expensive to attract new customers but they cannot be ignored – there could be a whole new marketplace out there, waiting for you to arrive!

New markets – have you ever thought about selling to the public sector? It’s a sector that’s still spending and the criteria to apply for projects are not as onerous as you might think. There is a useful feature on this topic here that refers to sites where you can search for contracts and tenders – they are www.supply2.gov.uk and www.competefor.com

New products – partner with other companies to offer a new range or bundle of products and services. If you are a web designer, how about partnering up with a print designer so you can offer an online and offline service. You reap the benefits of doubling up on business development effort and the client wins as they receive a full and complete service.

New work for all customers
An effective way to generate new sales leads – and goodwill – is to bring your customers together and make introductions. Bonding your customers to each other at an event or gathering will bond them ever closer to you. Everyone wins; you secure new work and deeper relationships and your customers have the opportunity to do their own bit of business development too!
Emma Jones is the founder of the home business website Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Shed Chic preview

A nice piece by Sally Coulthard in The Sunday Times ahead of the publication of her new book Shed Chic next week casts a general eye over the world of shedlike atmospheres. As she says:
"Even in today’s depressed market, a shed can add modestly to your property’s price tag, but most people build one because they want to stay, not move, and they use them not only for storage, but as a place to work. Hence the rise of the shed-office, with a wireless broadband connection."
We'll be reviewing her book later in the week here on Shedworking. There's also a more general piece - Tips for shed heaven - in the same paper.

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

The Shedworker's Bookshelf - Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger

You wait for a book about tiny houses to come along and then suddenly two pop up. As well as Jay Shafer's new volume which we covered last week, you might be interested in this one out this month, Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger. Zeiger edits Loud Paper Magazine for young architects but her name will also be familiar to those who read Metropolis and Dwell. Published by Rizzoli who say this about it:
"In the spirit of treading a bit lighter on the planet, a new trend in sustainable living architecture is what is called "microgreen living" - literally the creation of tiny homes where people challenge themselves to live "greener" lives. This idea, which sprang from eco-awareness and the reduction of carbon footprints, has led people to consider low-impact living as a "greener" alternative to ordinary housing. Far beyond solar panels and the use of sustainable materials, homeowners have embraced the concept and have implemented many creative and stylish solutions for day-to-day living, such as a room that doubles as a shower with one swift movement of plexi-glass from a well-concealed pocket door. A tiny house is an experiment of space but also a challenge to simplify ways of life."
Tiny Houses showcases 30 examples from around the world including treehouses and floating houses, featuring plans and lovely photos.

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Willow Balls

From the same fine people who brought you the Fab Tree Hab, here are the Willow Balls. Mitchell Joachim, Melanie Fessel and Maria Aiolova from Terreform have come up with these mini-lodges, prefab pleached structures with access to composting toilets, gray water systems, and solar powered lighting. If you're after a green shedworking atmosphere, then this would be just the ticket.

Forest hut

A lovely shedlike atmosphere for Sunday. By David Ayres and one of the Just Sheds pool on Flickr for the 2009 National Shed Week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Name That Shed

Welcome to another round of Shedworking's world famous garden office-based competition. Another tricky one this week owned by a very famous person indeed (now deceased) in the mid-20th century. Many thanks to Martyn Cox for the photo. Now, can you Name That Shed?

Friday, March 27, 2009

OfficePOD: for employers AND employees

Now here's a bit of a seachange: a garden office supplier targeting employers to tell them about the benefits of shedworking. OfficePOD believes that employers need to think more about encouraging shedworking (particularly of course in their own model, pictured above and below. Here's what they say:
We designed our service to deliver, on behalf of the employer, a proper and fully implemented home working programme. This we know, from experience, has to be a separate space dedicated to productive work that is both safe and compliant in legislative terms.
So, for example, not only do they offer a flexible lease option to encourage take-up - and argue that while it costs £9,000 a year to have an employee in an office building, leasing an OfficePOD is only 5,000 per year - they point out that a nice environment is conducive to productive work and believe they have created "a product that staff would want, and even be proud to have, in their garden".As for the garden office itself, it's a rather natty 2.1m square structure (to help ease planning problems), prefab to speed up construction, and with various green boasts (recycled/recyclable materials, etc) and a special cooling system. Here's what they claim:
Whilst not strictly applicable, calculations show that an OfficePOD achieves the highest rating under the government's EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) scheme as well as an indicative BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Energy Assessment Methods) rating of 'Excellent'. Adopting OfficePOD will also create massive CO2 reductions - a positive step for organisations looking to adopt The Carbon Trust Standard.
There's also an OfficePOD blogVia Treehugger and Springwise

Protecting your garden office

We welcome regular Shedworking reader Nicholas Tims as today's guest poster on an important subject for all shedworkers: security.
At least one computer, two screens, a mini-server, an occasional laptop, a priceless Cuban cigar collection – my shed (a work in progress), will probably contain all of these things. Um, except the cigars. And it won’t be practical to remove all the equipment on a daily basis. Naturally, everything will be insured – and its actual worth is small. However, should the shed get burgled, the inconvenience of needing to restore it all would be painful.

I’m struggling to sex this topic up (which is probably why Alex suggested I guest post!) but: alarms? Does your shed have one?

I’m considering two options:
(i) wiring the shed into our house alarm – which is monitored and alerts the police
Pros: one system, as secure as the house when on holiday
Cons: potentially expensive as must be done professionally, would involve setting zones when at home (but not in shed)
(ii) fitting an external alarm
Pros: cheaper
Cons: not as secure as the house, need to remove high-value stuff when away for an extended time, relies on kindly neighbours to alert someone if it goes off and you’re not at home

Although I’m yet undecided, I’m leaning towards the second option. I’m a homeworker (soon to be a shedworker). I’m here a lot. If it goes off while I’m asleep/in the house, I figure I’ll hear it. If I’m out, well, the neighbours have my mobile number. So, given this, what do I want out of an alarm?
a) a visual deterrent – which means an outside box
b) one PIR, one door sensor (in fact, the PIR alone should do it)
b) the ability to set it remotely from outside the shed which means a wireless keypad and/or keyfob (ideally both)

There are numerous packages out there which will suit me but the challenge seems to be in finding one small (and cheap!) enough to suit needs. Most systems are intended for houses and hence contain numerous PIRs, door sensors, etc. that you won’t need. Yale have just updated their standalone series which nattily wirelessly transmits a signal to a mini siren in house/flat, which then sounds. Cheapish at £50 at Argos. But it fails my wish for an outside box and truth be told, I’d rather the alarm were going off on the shed than muffled in the house. Still, it will undoubtedly suit some.

Staying with Yale, you could try and pick up a cheap HSA3200 (or similar), which is around the same price on eBay, or if you’re quick, there’s one here. This full system includes an outside box, keyfob, 1 PIR and 1 door detector. So it ticks most of my boxes above. The main advantage of this unit is that it’s expandable with HSA3000 and the current model HSA6000 accessories, which are readily available on eBay. So, adding a wireless keypad (for backup when that keyfob goes missing…) would be around £20.Otherwise, there are similar options that exist among the larger alarm makers, e.g. Friedland. And for around £150 or so, you can pick up systems such as this one at Secure Home Direct that take a sim card, dialling/texting you so, at worst, you know you’re being robbed.

Or you handy types could of course just try this if you have three minutes spare...
Please do share your security solutions in the comments below.

Vivid Green: Pavilion

Vivid Green has launched a new model, the Pavilion. It is designed to provide low cost accommodation from early spring through to late autumn but, with additional insulation, the structure could provide a comfortable year round space. It combines the benefits of solid, timber walls with a canvas/synthetic roof to give a large, light space suitable for shedworking (though it's also aimed at those looking for holiday accommodation, outdoor classroom, café, etc). External walls can be rendered or timber clad.

Studio Retreat: now open for business (especially in Ireland)

We previewed the launch of Studio Retreat last autumn but due to personal circumstances, Keith Halligan was unable to get it off the ground as planned. I'm happy to say that it's now up and running, supplying garden office kits for self build (though they also provide installation if required - indeed they are offering free installation and delivery on any orders placed before April 30 2009). Keith says he is concentrating on the Irish market - an area where there are not many suppliers - as that is where their workshop is based but he will also be covering the UK.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Shedworker's Bookshelf - I'm Outta Here!

"I'm Outta Here! How coworking is making the office obsolete" will be of interest to mobile shedworkers. Written by Drew Jones, Todd Sundsted and Tony Bacigalupo it describes itself as a book about "the people and places that make up a workplace revolution": coworking. You can buy the book in both 'normal' book form and as an ebook at lulu.com and you can visit the useful web site which accompanies it here which argues that coworking, like shedworking, is making the office obsolete and has lots of information for anybody considering setting up a coworking space.
Via workalicious
Thursday posts are sponsored by Vivid Green, the low energy garden building specialists. Click here for more details

Coming Unmoored - Life in a Small Floating Home

Coming Unmoored is an excellent newish blog by Stephanie Reiley which chronicles her attempts to rebuild/redesign her life in a Portland floating home. It's not specifically concerned with shedworking, but there's lots on the site about living small. Stephanie is also one of the writers on the newly launched Small Living Journal. Definitely one to keep an eye on. You can see lots of photos of her floating home at time of purchase on Flickr.
Thursday posts are sponsored by Vivid Green, the low energy garden building specialists. Click here for more details

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's the best solar energy solution for a garden office?

A reader of Shedworking has written in with the following query. I've suggested a couple of possibilities but please do comment with your own thoughts:
"I read your Ingalls Street Studio post with interest as we’re getting closer to starting my outbuilding project. Basically, we have a brick outbuilding that is about 10ft x 12ft and is ripe for conversion to a home office.

One of several things that needs doing is sorting out a reliable electricity supply with fuse box etc, so that all my gear isn’t running off an extension cable, or some other hazardous setup. I will be getting a sparky in to do an armoured cable in a trench, but I spotted the mention of solar power that could supply the bulk of power requirements, with the remainder coming from the mains.

What sort of panels are required for this? Do you know anyone in the solar business that could impartially advise me on this?"
Wednesday's posts are sponsored by The Garden Room Company®, the UK's premier supplier of garden offices and garden rooms. Click here.

How to star in the In Me Shed video

The marvellous band Punks Not Dads (as featured on Shedblog) are calling on shedworkers around the world to star in the video for their anthem to sheds “IN ME SHED”. For more details, go to Shedblog, but essentially you will need to record a 10 second video of yourself shouting "In me shed" and email it to them. Shedworking will certainly be taking part. More news about Punks Not Dads later today...
Wednesday's posts are sponsored by The Garden Room Company®, the UK's premier supplier of garden offices and garden rooms. Click here.

The Kitchen Designer: container shedworking

Container conversions have been slowly growing in popularity over the last couple of years so Shedworking was delighted to hear from Mark Hanner of The Kitchen Designer about his 20ft shipping container shedworking atmosphere at Trowbridge Garden Centre, Wiltshire:
"My decision to convert a 20ft shipping container, came after an 18 month search for premises to setup a small kitchen studio. By budget wasn’t huge and that restricted me enormously with the standard high street option, coupled with the greed of some local landlords! I wanted to ensure I didn’t follow the trend, and do something unique.

"Also conscious of the looming recession, the shipping container was a good way forwards. It now also provides me with a very cost effective platform for expanding the business, with the ability to put units in many places other businesses can’t be!

"The conversion process was a big learning curve for me, as I did most of the work myself – calling on friends and family for help where needed. Inside, the container is studded out the same as you would most interiors, and is insulated, boarded and skimmed. I wanted to ensure the interior looked as smart as possible, and once you are inside, you’d never know you were in a container. I've even installed ceiling speakers that provide wireless radio & music."Outside has been left standard, with a coat of specialist black container paint. I did initially want to conceal the outside with a timber clad frame, but decided it was much more quirky to see the container. The same goes for the doors – I originally wanted to pin these back, but chose to have them set at 90 degrees to give the frontage more width. They will also come in handy as advertising boards should I wish."The doors are held in place by a simple steel bar, with brackets welded to the container. The steel bar can be removed, and the doors shut as normal – therefore still keeping its function as a container. I can, should I wish, close the doors, lift up the container, and relocate (although I hope they’ll never be the need!). Outside I’ve landscaped with stone around the sides, new turf at the front, and a deck platform.

"Overall, the container has provided me with an incredibly flexible, cost effective, and quirky solution. I’m already considering where to open a second one, and have had interest in providing 6 more conversions as cost effective offices."
Wednesday's posts are sponsored by The Garden Room Company®, the UK's premier supplier of garden offices and garden rooms. Click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sheep wagons: mobile shedworking

Sheep wagons in the US historically provided the same kind of shelter facilities as shepherds' huts have done in the UK. These attractive structures - similar to European gypsy caravans - are of course also ideal for shedworking as the fine folk at Idaho Sheep Camp point out. Run by Kim Vader, who comes from a family of sheep herders (many of them Basque - the Basques were some of the earliest sheep ranchers to use these wagons), their wagons are built in Boise Idaho. The floor and side walls are built with tongue and grove, doors in Birch and pine, as well as wood stoves. Examples are pictured above and below.Also of interest is Ogden's Sheep Camp which offers a modern version and if you're looking for a good book on the subject, Sheepwagon: Home on the Range by Nancy Weidel will be right up your street. And for more history, go to Wilson Sheep Camps.
Thanks to James Westwater for pointing me in the wagon direction

Fordyce workshop/shed

A village workshop/shed in Fordyce, Scotland, by Pleasureprinciple2009 on Flickr.

Property market: Glenview, Oakland

Beautiful, peaceful studio/office space available in Oakland's tree-filled Glenview neighborhood. Opening onto a lovely backyard garden, this studio-apartment-workspace is downstairs of a craftsman-style residence, and has its own entrance and small separate waiting area.

The main room, approximately 17' x 12'8", has a window and sliding glass door that look onto the patio and garden, which are available for tenant's use. There is a second room (approximately 12'1" x 8'6") with a sink and stove, and plenty of space for a table/chair and refrigerator -- or for file storage, a copy machine, etc. The renovated bathroom measures approximately 7' x 6'11" and includes a shower. There are some closets and cubbies for extra storage.

Wireless included; utilities included as long as any appliances you bring in are energy efficient. There are no stairs. Gas wall heater. Smoking and incense are prohibited both inside and outside.
More details at craigslist

Ada Lovelace Day: Tessy Britton

Though not strictly a shedworking topic, this marvellous celebration of women's contribution to the world of technology is organised by Suw Charman-Anderson who writes the Kits and Mortar blog. Essentially, Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. As Suw says: "Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised."

About 1,600 of us around the world have agreed to post today on somebody we believe is an unsung heroine or deserves wider acclaim. It's a very hard choice but - and she doesn't know I've picked her yet - I'm throwing the Shedworking spotlight on Tessy Britton. As Director of Thriving, Tessy specialises in embracing and raising awareness of innovative educational ideas and at the Thriving too group blog which she guides, she provides a platform to "shamelessly prove the case for optimism by revealing the explosion in positive human thoughts, creations and actions from around the world".

As far as I'm aware she's not a programmer or software developer (though she does have an impressive knowledge of the latest online developments), but what she does do is use technology to, in the widest possible sense, improve the world and encourage others to do the same. This is, for me, a key way of "excelling in technology", utilising its many possibilites to achieve positive goals. I'd urge you to nip along and have a look at the sites I've linked to above to see what I mean.

Tea house

A lovely shedlike atmosphere for some tranquil shedworking by David Maštálka of A1 Architects and sculptor Vojtech Bilisic (photos by Ester Havlova). Built of oak with a larch cladding, the domed roof is covered with paper.Via lots of places including Dezeen where there are lots more images.


Greenhouse is a bin which looks like a shed. Press the 'porch' pedal and, voila, the roof opens for your rubbish requirements. Sadly it's only a prototype at the moment, a marvellous idea from Jantze Brogard Asshoff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

kubus: the space between

A lovely rotating shedlike atmosphere from sturm und wartzeck, designed as one in a series of modules which could fit together to make a home. But, as Lloyd Alter at Treehugger says: "With garden sheds and small spaces being all the rage, it stands on its own quite nicely." There's a lovely video of it rotating, complete with church bells in the background, here.Via Treehugger and archicentral

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Harley-Davidson shed

Well done to those of you who guessed that Saturday's Name That Shed shed was the recreated version of the backyard shed where William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson put together their first motorcycle. More details at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

Discovery Shed launches

New television channel Discovery Shed - a channel for men who enjoy things like fishing, DIY, build, cars, bikes and outdoor adventure (and I'm hoping to see some shed-based programming too) - is now up and shedding. In an interesting press release, they suggest that "a third of British blokes believe their ‘me-time’ is dwindling, with forty-two per cent getting less than an hour a day to take any time for themselves". They go on to suggest that the pressures of work and family life appear to be hitting men harder than women - a third of chaps confess to rising stress levels during the last six months, compared with less than one in five females. I'd be interested in your comments...

Which is somewhat at a tangent to the launch which is kicking off with the ‘Gone Fishing’ campaign, urging men to take time out of their lives to indulge in some productive ‘me-time.’ Discovery Shed is on Sky 242 and Virgin 27.

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.