What I needed first was some sort of design. I used Sketchup to make the doodle in picture 1, and then dropped the structure 'virtually' into my garden using Photoshop. I wanted to show my wife what the building would look like when fully built, and to show that it wouldn't be too much of an eyesore when looking from our kitchen (pic 3.)
Yep, that's little old me, (pic 4) using a petrol plate whacker to compress the soil. My friend Simon and I had cut back the turf, and taken out about 9" of soil to get to the desired 'footprint.' The ground in our area is heavy clay, so we decided we didn't need any greater footings than this and the ballast.
Picture 5 shows 1.5 tons of iron stone, wheel barrowed in from the front of the road, and then whacked and compressed to a hard foundation. Those beams are the uprights in the structure, and are 4" x 4" tanalised timber.
Pic 6 shows the basic structure going up - I wanted a gazebo style frame, which would then be cladded. Leaning on the hedge you will see the 'spoons' which we used to scoop stone and earth out to make holes for the uprights. The holes were filled with a fast-drying post-hole concrete which sets quite firm in just a few minutes, then goes completely solid in a couple of hours.
Pictures 7 and 7a just show the same state of build from other angles.
In pic 8 we have started to clad the sides with planks to form the walls of the shelter. As you will see, we have left a window at the top of the back wall - which differs from the original plan. This window, and a shelf under it, are great for standing with cool brew in hand, surveying the countryside at relaxed moments.
Picture 9 shows the structure complete. The biggest differences between the original idea and the end product are that we decided we needed half-walls at both ends for wind shelter, and we also chose not to build benches into the structure, preferring free standing tables and chairs for flexibility of layout.
Picture 10 is the way the shelter looks today. I have some nice pieces of driftwood across the back shelf, and a number of other decorative items to make the place a home-from-home. The floor of the structure is Indian Sandstone. Unbelievably, shipping sandstone all the way from India still leaves it at half the price of local stone. It's a crime, really, and very sad, but I had to go with the affordable. And it really is very beautiful, especially when wet and all the colours come out.
We call it woodgloo, because I likened the idea to an igloo, but made of wood! It's a fantastic place for just chilling and enjoying a brew, a barbecue and the company of friends and family.