A garden shed is a tremendously useful structure. It’s great for securing those high-value garden tools in a secure place without cluttering up your main living space. But an outbuilding like a shed can also serve a slew of other purposes. And many sheds in North Wales are being modified to serve those purposes.
With the proper permissions, one might use it as an outdoor shower, toilet, entertainment centre, or even a fully-fledged guest house. But naturally, in order to do so, you’ll need to ensure that the building is provided with things like water and electricity.
Though equipping an outbuilding like a shed with these sorts of amenities might seem like a significant upgrade, the work is actually surprisingly straightforward. Let’s take a look at how you might proceed.
It’s worth commencing with a note on safety. Electricity, and particularly mains electricity, is highly dangerous and potentially lethal if placed into the wrong hands. If you’re going to be messing around with it, then you should ideally know what you’re doing. If you don’t, then seek a certified contractor. They’ll not only be able to install cabling safely, but they’ll possess the detailed knowledge necessary to save you money and stress in the long run – for example, they’ll know exactly which gauge of cable is required to provide enough current for your needs.
You’ll want to run your electrical cable underground. Ideally, this can be done using a conduit pipe, which will allow for more cables to be installed further down the line, without the need for more excavation. Naturally, a garden is a place where a lot of digging is done, so you’ll want to bury the cable well. You should also use a steel mesh to protect your electricity supply – the last thing you want is for you or a future owner of the property to inadvertently plunge a spade through the mains electricity line.
Running water pipes from one end of a garden to another is quite straightforward. As you might expect, problems only arise when changes in temperature come into play. If your piping is not sufficiently protected from cold, then it’ll freeze during winter. Pipe freezes, clearly, are bad news; they not only prevent water from reaching its destination, but will cause bursts in the pipe, which will need to be repaired – meaning that you’ll need to dig up the garden again.
Fortunately, it’s possible to get a great deal of insulation from the soil itself. Bury your pipes deep and ensure that they’re properly shielded – particularly in areas where the pipes come up from the ground. Special sleeving can be bought from a suitable plumber merchant in North Wales, which will serve exactly this purpose.
What about waste water?
Of course, water isn’t just a one-way street. Not only will you need a means of transporting clean water to where it’s needed – you’ll need somewhere for the water to go after you’ve flushed it away. Here we need to consider gravity – unless your building is on a hill, you’ll need to push it to the domestic drainage system. This will require a small pumping station, comprising a water tank and a pump – ideally one with a built-in macerator (a sort of blender which breaks waste into small pieces so that it can be easily moved along a pipe, thereby ensuring that things like toilet tissues, rags and sponges don’t cause a blockage). This will allow you to move waste away from your outbuilding using a narrower pipe.
If you’re going to be installing a water system in a mostly-wooden building, then you’ll need to ensure that you get enough ventilation. All of that moisture can, over a long period of time, have a profound impact on the wood – it’ll allow rot and mould to take root, and cause structural problems later on.
If you’ve installed a toilet, then this consideration will be all the more important. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to use an outdoor toilet that doesn’t have adequate ventilation, you’ll know what’s at stake.
One might make use of technology in order to improve ventilation. By pairing the fan with a timer or humidity sensor, you’ll be able to ventilate the room only when it’s required. In most cases, ventilation can be retrofitted to an existing shed. If you’re looking to create something that will generate a lot of moisture, like a Scandinavian-style outdoor sauna, you’ll need a specially-designed building to cope with the steam.