programming, coding »

[5 Feb 2013 | 216 Comments]

One of the things that I have found when doing work at home recently is that I don’t get into a ‘flow’ which means I don’t seem to get as much work done as I think I should. I put the main reason for this down to my work area not being particularly conducive to coding and since I now have 3 kids there is a lot of their things around and they are always interrupting me. So with this in mind about 6 months ago I started to design how I would convert my shed (which is pretty big (4.5m x 6.8m) into a place where I could get into a good ‘flow’ for work.

I’ve put a little photo gallery of the work at the bottom of the blog post.

The Goal

To create an area where it is possible to create excellent software

Requirements

Temperature

When I ran my start-up a few years ago from home I did it out of a room in my house that had been converted from a garage by the previous owners. It converted badly with no central heating. I found it was hard to regulate the temperature, it got really hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. This was a real issue for productivity and was one of the issues identified as a bad experience when I recently caught up with some of the guys involved.

Lighting

As part of the overall environment for writing code I was very interested in finding if there was some kind of lighting configuration that good for coding.

Space versatility

I am not 100% sure what this space is going to be used for. Perhaps me just writing code, perhaps having a team of people in there designing and making software, perhaps hold some training courses, I just don’t know. With this in mind I want to keep all options open and make it easy to re-configure the space accordingly.

Others

  • Collaboration
  • Colouring
  • Connectivity

Limitations

The shed has no utilities attached to it - mains water, gas or electricity.

Design Decisions

Utilities

  • Connect electricity. This was the minimum number of utilities I needed to enable the implementation of the other requirements I had.

Temperature

  • Insulation – put 50mm Celotex insulation on all the walls and ceiling of the shed. Insulation is proven to be the most effective part of temperature control.
  • Under floor heating – this is planned to be the primary heating source. It is quiet and easy to control. It also works well even when it is very cold outside and most importantly it is discreet which is part of the space versatility requirement.
  • Air-conditioning unit with inverter – this can keep the room cool in the hot summer and with the inverter it can also produce hot air when it is cold, although when it get really cold it is not very effective.

Lighting

  • Indirect light for writing code. During my research on a good coding environment I found out it was to reduce eye strain you must not to have things that draw your eye away from the screen such as lights in the ceiling.
  • No windows – this eliminated a source of light that might cause eye strain, improves the insulation and security properties of the building as well as improves the Space Versatility of the room.
  • Day light bulbs – having lights that mimics daylight helps with concentration and energy levels. I will be using daylight bulbs for my indirect light.
  • Standard bulbs – while the indirect light is good for coding it might not be good for all possible uses. So I have also installed track lighting so I can clip in and out up to 16 GU10 bulbs anywhere in the room maximising the Space Versatility.

Space versatility

  • Items already covered is that there are not visible radiators on the walls or things in the floor, no windows so there are not limitations created by the walls or floor.
  • Power and network points are located on the cross beams of the ceiling. This makes it easy to plugin anywhere in the room

Collaboration

  • I love whiteboards and find it the best way to knock around ideas. With this in mind I have dedicated one long wall to be painted with dry wipe paint which will make it a 6.8m x 2m whiteboard!

Colouring

  • I’ve gone for a green colour on the walls as this is supposed to help relax and help concentration.
  • The floor is a white wood floor, as there is only artificial light I wanted to try and keep it as light as possible
  • Ceiling is white with special paint which is supposed to help reflect light.

Connectivity

  • There is CAT6 cable throughout the room for people to connect to.
  • To connect to the house broadband I will start with some Ethernet Powerline adapters but might have to get a proper external CAT6 cable installed if this is not fast or reliable enough. External direct burial CAT6 is quiet expensive so I’m just postponing that expense at the moment..

Does it work?

I’ve been in there a few times now and it is a very nice space to work. The whiteboard wall is awesome and is my favourite feature. I’ve ordered some desks that should arrive in a couple of weeks so i’m working off some pasting tables at the moment! Everything else seem to just work as I hoped, the temperature is nice, lighting is good and I always feel I can concentrate on work. So far so good :).

Credits

I must credit Rich Bartlett for the high quality work he has put into making this happen. His attention to detail and building skills has made my vision come true. If you need a good all round tradesman you can contact him via twitter: @richiethebass (https://twitter.com/richiethebass)

Photos

There are various photos from what the shed looked like before work started, the work Rich Bartlett (the guy in the nice woolly hat as it was about –5 outside!) did to renovate it showing the various things that we did along the way.