My impractical playhouse
(note: 1 ft = 0.305m)
I’d been hoping that eventually -- like maybe five years from now -- after we were more financially grounded, we could build an outbuilding in the backyard for all my hobbies. It would be around the size of a three-car garage: it would have a large open area that would serve as both an exercise area (some weights; mats; punching bag) and a music room (a place for my drum set, amps, guitars, keyboards). The end would be walled off (to keep the dust away from the music gear) and serve as my woodshop (I primarily use hand tools, rather than large, scary, expensive power tools [e.g. table saws, bandsaws]). And one corner of the building would serve as a household storage room, lined with floor to ceiling shelves for suitcases, Christmas decorations, and the like.
Maybe half a year ago, I’d phoned around for estimates from places that manufacture steel sheds, and the prices -- if I remember correctly -- were in excess of AU$10,000. And that’s just for the basic shell: To retrofit it to make it studio-worthy (e.g. layers of drywall/sheetrock/gypboard) would push up the price beyond that.
So, when the builder stopped by last night for another round of discussions, I asked him how much -- in rough terms -- would it be to just build an outbuilding of the same solid-ness as a regular house.
For a building 8.5m x 7m [28’ x 23’], which would include the 6m x 7m [20’ x 23’] gym/music studio, the 5m x 2.5m [16’ x 8’] woodshop, and the 2.5m x 2m [8’ x 7’] storage room: A little under AU$29,000.
Yeow. O.k., how much for just the 6m x 7m [20’ x 23’] gym/music studio? I can always do my woodworking in a stand-alone 3m x 3m ][10’ x 10’] sheetmetal garden shed. Answer: Somewhat under AU$20,000.
That was sobering. Even once I get a permanent job -- and presumably, a series of raises and promotions, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to spend twenty K on a giant playhouse. I mean, if I was at sixty K that’s half a year’s wages -- pre-tax! Yeow.
Well, I guess it’s back to reality:
-Woodworking: In a sheetmetal shed for a few hundred bucks. I suppose I could line it with plywood, and maybe some insulation, to try to keep the heat down so I can actually use it in the summer. Install a DIY “infrared eye” burglar alarm to sqawk in case anyone breaks in, and keep all the good stuff locked up in cabinets.
-Music: Short-term, in the spare bedroom -- I’ll just hope I can cut down the ambient noise (e.g. traffic; household noises) enough to achieve clean recordings. If we have a second kid, I guess I’ll figure something out -- maybe another 3m x 3m [10’ x 10’] sheetmetal shed in the backyard, lined with layers of sheetrock? That’d be do-able -- it’s the size of the bedrooms in our current house. Nasty standing waves, so I’d have to deaden everything and set up some bass traps -- no “live room”-style recording. But workable.
-Working out/martial arts: Maybe one o’ them free-standing canvas-and-aluminum-pole gazebos, for around a hundred bucks? Wrap it in bugscreen to keep out the mozzies during the summer? Get a few wooden beams, hang the punching back from 'em. (BTW: People have suggested using the on-campus gym, or joining a gym. That’d be a halfway solution, but it wouldn’t quite fit my needs. I can’t hang around on campus; I need to get home. And I can’t spend fifteen minutes each way commuting to a gym during the evening. I need something that I can use at 8pm at night for a half hour or an hour, without having to spend much travel time to access.)
-Storage: I suppose just stack stuff in the spare bedroom (when the house is built). And most of our current guff will go to its proper place. (Examples: I have probably ten boxes of videotapes that really ought to be on shelves; probably ten boxes of music gear that needs to be set up, or at least accessible on shelves or in cabinets; and probably four boxes of books that should go on bookshelves [we’re currently waaaay maxed out].) I briefly thought about putting ‘em in an outdoor shed, but I don’t trust the security. So, I guess the future reality will be a bunch of individual, relatively cheap, customized sheds in the back yard.
Not as elegant -- but workable. Yeah, o.k.