So, I’m now going into week 6 of UK lockdown, so apologies for the lack of posts. But here was a project I did with my girlfriend and a couple of her friends. She has been a vintage stylist and studio photographer for a number of years now, and she managed to do all of this from our home, with some alterations. Last year she decided to make the leap of having her own studio, which coincided with her friend Kate, who was looking for a new location for her gym, as circumstances out of her control forced a change of location. After a short few months of looking at different venues, we found this small unit very local to us in the Forest of Dean.
Surrounded by mechanics and tyre fitters, this was an unusual location, but the space and price was too good to refuse. The first thing that came to mind was that this wasn’t enough floor space as it was. So we needed to install a mezzanine floor. This is not the sort of work I usually do, but with a structural engineer, carpenter, plumber and a few builders on my friends list, the method was in place and away we went.
We infilled the 6” steels with 7” timbers. This gave us a 1” gap above the steels for reasons that would be explained later. Whilst the mezzanine was up, we needed to get the small “beauty room” finished to start bringing in some kind of income whilst the building was being fitted. My girlfriend @bettynoir did a fantastic job designing the area. The room has a lot of uses for such a small area, including a nail bar that folds down off the wall. The finished outcome was fantastic. It was a lot of fun working on this room, and it was a nice, quick, and easy build.
The surrounds were simply made from 10mm MDF, rear lit with some cheap LED lights off eBay. It gave us a really good atmosphere when lit. We also installed 2 small ceiling chandeliers, which we had to fit with very low wattage bulbs as there were 8 bulbs in this very small space. So as we managed to start to bring in some much needed small amounts of money, we continued with the upstairs which will eventually become the photography studio. Once the steelwork, timber joists, and 1.5 tones of chipboard floor boards were installed (which I had to carry up a ladder) it was time for the stairs and railings. It was at this point I found out just how many regulations are in place for things like this. I thought the mezzanine had enough building and fire regulations to adhere to. But with the railings, there is a hight regulation for handrails on staircases, which is different to the hight on the railings which is mounted on the flat, with a minimum sized gap in the uprights, and the list goes on and on. We managed to buy a staircase and handrail combo, and also managed to get some second hand iron-work railings that ticked all of the boxes. So with some minor adjustments, we made it all work.
Once that was up, I left Betty doing most of the flooring by herself, and I fitted the shop front. The front was a bit of a brain ache, but we decided to fit a new shop front, outside of the original roller shutter door. Some simple studwork, fronted with closeboard horizontal strips, and plastered on the inside. This was simple, quick, and effective. The roller shutter door now acts as a security door behind the shop front. All of the flooring was a simple clip together laminate flooring. Both of the levels were laid with the flooring that we removed from the original gymnasium that kate had laid years before. We managed to save just enough. The upstairs had less than 1% spare once finished.
We fitted a small kitchen down stairs, and we fitted the combi boiler, which was also removed from the old gym, heating the domestic water and 6 large radiators. A friend of mine is a plumber, so I got him to do the technical stuff, and I got to have a play with soldering copper joints, which not only did I enjoy, but I got quite good at.
I would also add that this whole project took us over 12 weeks, whilst fulfilling my full time job as a landscape gardener. I was landscaping from 7:00-17:00, and then shop fitting from 18:00 - sometimes to 02:00. During the entire project I only had 1 day off work, to help the plumber. It shows that with a little hard graft, and you can get things done. It also came in very cheap as we called in every favour we could regarding the help that we desperately needed, and are eternally grateful for. We spent less than £500 on labour, and a huge majority of the materials were recycled. I will dig out the good pictures of all of the photography sets for tomorrow, and will write about that all in part 2
Any questions feel free to ask.
Thank you for your interest.