Welcome to the build a workshop series. In June of 2016 my wife and I had a modular home built on the property and soon after that I realized that I would need a place to work on my projects.
First things first. Warnings: You will need to contact your local authorities for permits and zoning before you build your workshop. I am not a pro at this, I am just a guy who wanted to build a workshop. IF you are going to use this series as a guide please do your own research on code and requirements for your area.
Part 1: Digging the hill for the foundation.
The space next to the house was not large enough for a building to be installed. I wanted to have at least 2 feet of walking room on both sides of the building so that I could work without being cramped. I started to dig by hand with pick ax and shovel. This took a long time. If you have the option to rent an excavator I would recommend you do that. It can save you the pain on your body as well as allow you to get a better grade. I learned a lot by doing the digging myself but would not go the hard way next time.
In this step I also take into consideration the drainage that is going to be needed. The hill in the back of the workshop is rather large and has lots of water runoff when it rains heavy. I make sure that I slope the hill in a way that the water will run downhill and not pool up under the workshop.
I found it helpful to install a string line or at least some markers to keep the dig zone location easy to follow.
Part 2: Build a block wall.
This was my very first time to make a block retaining wall. I think that it turned out well! First I made the frame to hold the concrete in place. I used decking boards and screwed a 16″ board to one side as the end cap. The allowed the room between the dirt and frame edge to be 16″. I then mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow with water. I poured the mix into the frame and smoothed it out. It was a lot of work but will last for a very long time. After all the mix was finished I then used rebar every 16″ so that I could install the blocks with supports. Ideally it would be good to have taller rebar but I was working with what I had. With the rebar installed I then work on collecting the blocks for the wall build. These blocks are from an old project but they are still good for a wall. Be sure to let the footer cure before moving on to the blocks. To lay the blocks I mixed the sand and cement mixture with water until it was a nice yogurt consistency. I then plopped a healthy amount on the footer in the shape of the block. I like to lay a string a cement along the footer long enough to get 2 or 3 blocks installed. Then I install those blocks. I moved along until the first coarse of blocks was complete. Then I moved on to the second and third. Before going too high with the blocks I then installed the drain pipe. This is a corrugated black pipe 4″ in diameter. I installed a T with pipe going up to a point above the wall. This acts as a clean out for future use. With the drain installed I then continue to install the blocks until the wall is done. Because the hill was not a consistent hight I was able to taper the blocks as the wall got shorter on the ends. After the block was finished it was time to get the water barriers installed. I used a product called Bluemax to coat the blocks and then I used a water proof membrane along the blocks. On the dirt side I used a sheet of cloth that would let water pass and not dirt. Then I filled the gap with rocks.
The wall has held up well for over a year at the time of writing this post.