Open Thinkering


Doug’s new #shoffice

I was going to create a new blog for this but I thought if there’s one thing I don’t need in my life it’s another blog. So it’s stopping here. For the time being, anyway. 😉

Mark measuring for shoffice (notice awesome cardboard fort)

The secret underground bunker (3)

The concrete bunker (3)

The concrete bunker (2)

The concrete bunker

Access to the secret underground bunker (2)

Access to the secret underground bunker

Ben (our five year-old) photographing Doug helping Mark measure the garden

Measuring the garden

Doug helping Mark measure the garden

I’ve created a Flickr set to chart progress.

Yesterday local architect Mark Starford stopped by Chez Belshaw for initial discussions and measurements for my shed office (shoffice). As you can see from the photos above the previous owners of our house had built a bizarre (but awesome) underground concrete bunker, complete with power.

We’re going to use that existing structure as a basis to build upon. Mark’s very much into sustainable structures and I’m very into getting as much light in there given that we’re located in the North East of England!

The backstory

Last month I started work as Badges & Skills Lead for the Mozilla Foundation. It’s a great job that allows me to work from home. Whilst that means I’ve had to sell my awesome Ford Puma, it also means that I’m completely in control of my working environment.

After some discussions with my wife, Hannah, we decided that my existing study (which is a garage conversion) doesn’t quite do the trick. The conversion was done well – to such an extent it’s very much part of the main house. And therein lies the problem when you’ve got a five year-old and an eighteen month-old.

So we decided to look outside for a solution. Initially we were looking at shed-like structures. Hence the ‘shoffice’ moniker (which has stuck). However, we thought it would be a waste not to use the existing foundations under the patio to build something more permanent, comfortable and which would ultimately add value to our house.

You’ll not be surprised to hear that I made contact with Mark Starford, the architect we’ve asked to work with us, through Twitter. I think it was this map that alerted us to his proximity. I checked out his website and then made contact on Twitter. That moved to email, he came around for a cup of tea and chat, and we got the ball rolling.

In turn, Mark’s recommended a structural engineer who in turn is going to recommend a builder. Yes, we could have got tenders and vetted people and all that sort of thing. But in reality, I want to work with people who want to work with me and each other. So it’s all good.

Mark spent a couple of hours at our house yesterday chatting and measuring and asking questions. He’s going to go away and make some drawings. I can’t wait to see them.

And, of course, I’ll share them here when he does (I think I’ve persuaded him to release his work under a Creative Commons license!)

Blogging this adventure comes naturally to me but I was definitely spurred on by Christian Payne blogging the process of creating his home office!

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