Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to turn a WWII bunker into a garden office

So there's a concrete WWII bunker in your garden and you want to turn it into something a little more garden officey - what should you do? That's the question posed by Bristol-based Shedworking reader Laura Dixon who will give up her home office in the house this summer to her newborn baby. Here's what she says:
Now, that's not a problem because I have this great structure in the back garden - a concrete WWII bomb shelter [pictured above]. It's dark, cold, damp, full of snails and garden equipment but ripe for conversion - I think.

What I need is a company which has managed to do this successfully or which might be up for a challenge. The largest problem I can see is that since it's bombproof, the walls are really thick and it's terrifically difficult to knock down. So adaptation is the key - I'd love to knock out a couple of walls and replace them with floor to ceiling windows, plant wildflowers on the roof and run in some kind of cabling, if the glass windows could actually hold the weight of a roof that is thick and heavy concrete. I've really struggled to find anyone in my area who has done this or has in fact done anything with their bomb shelter other than use it as a shed.

This might all be a pipe dream (on my small budget particularly) but Shedworking has convinced me that it is possible...and would beat the hell out of working on the dining room table for the rest of my working life!
If you think you could help Laura, please do get in touch with me or leave a comment below.
Tuesday posts are sponsored by The Home Office Company, manufacturers of unique garden rooms since 1998. Now in 10 exciting new colours. Click here for more details.


  1. Hi Laura,
    The bunker is most likely drawing damp up through the ground the plants growing on the facing wall if not contributing to the problem are certainly not helping. It’s tough to give you a definitive answer but here’s my suggestion. Consider getting a company to give you a quote, one that specialises in basement waterproofing. They should be able to provide you with an all in price for completely tanking the bunker plus amending the walls to include more windows. The drawback is you will inevitably loose floor space as insulation layers will have to be added to the inside walls. This could be as much as 350mm loss of floor space in both the width and the depth of the room. I would imagine this service won’t come cheap, as such companies are in demand, but I fear doing anything less will result in a room that needs excessive heating to maintain an ambient temperature.
    Don’t rule out demolition to add an off the shelf product as an option. It may not be as costly as you think. Get two or three quotes, have a look in the trades and services section of your local newspaper. You might find anyone offering hard landscaping services would be well equipped for the job. This will at least allow you to make an informed decision by comparing the costs for both scenarios. Good luck with whatever you decide upon.

  2. Thanks so much Sean - I'll pursue your ideas! Really helpful...