The Shed Economy
This section gives an overall picture of costs (premises excluded) and income plus some specific examples of Shed economies. Bear in mind that not everything has to be done at the outset, plus there is something about Sheds that seems to generate goodwill and most Sheds find potential costs being whittled away by member ingenuity and community gifts of all types.
Set up costs
Once you have a useable space workshop-specific considerations could be: better ventilation; lighting over benches; dust-extraction at source as well as airborne fine dust;RCB’s on the power circuit and emergency stop buttons; a safe place to store inflammables and raw materials; enough cupboards/tool racking; an equipped kitchen; and benches with sufficient working space and storage of work-in-progress. An outside space to work on bigger projects or for sanding/varnishing is desirable. You will need to spend some money on publicity such as flyers/posters initially (allow £150 for that if you do not do your own layout and check prices with www.urbanprinting.co.uk.) You may also need some First Aid Training
Providing you are willing to use second-hand tools most Sheds find these come as gifts from within their community although some expenditure will be required to fill the few remaining gaps. UKMSA has arranged for Sheds to have trade discount with Triton Precision Tools who as part of Powerbox, an Australian company, appreciate Sheds and have 5000+ products available under various brands. They offer 25% off power tools and 49% off all hand tools and consumables to Sheds and (via the Shed) to their members. Sheds are effectively being treated the same as retailers. Further details from UKMSA. Worthing Shed has good experience of the Kreg brand from Triton.
The main running expenses could be headed:
- utilities and rates
- maintenance and consumables
Staff /supervision would be an addition.
Solutions vary enormously from rent-free, peppercorn but with substantial repair responsibilities, hiring (rates, utilities, maybe insurance and aspects of H&S included), through to full tenancy contracts. See Premises section below.
Power usage looks heavy but is mostly intermittent except perhaps for lathes and dust-extraction equipment.
UKMSA checked the insurance market and concluded that the Zurich Insight policy arranged through Tennyson brokers represented the best quality public liability cover for the premium. One specific advantage is that they do not insist on volunteer management needing to be covered by Employer’s Liability as most other insurers do. A small Shed may pay £260 for the basic cover to which you might add other elements such as theft, member-to-member injury, buildings etc. Contact UKMSA for a code that will get a 5% group discount.
Maintenance and Consumables
Again costs are activity-dependant but will include repairs to tools or premises, H&S upgrades, administration, glues/screws etc etc. Purchasing through the Triton discount (above) will help. You can further cut expenditure by accepting the Triton Challenge which offers £250 of goods in return for a photographic and written record of the making of a product. They will create drawings from the photos and put this on their website as a guide for other makers. You are unlikely to get £250 for anything else you make and still hav esomething to sell!
The majority of Sheds are being run with volunteer management which is obviously more sustainable if there is any doubt about the supply of funding. Whilst this factor and the personal commitment of those volunteering might mean a Shed will still be functioning 10 years later there is a cost to those involved and they will need the support of others if the arrangement itself is not to become unsustainable. Aylesbury Shed found maintaining the role over the summer difficult as people naturally want to take more time off to spend with the grandchildren etc. Broadstairs raised £50,000 from the People’s Millions and hired a part-time coordinator. Paid staff can be useful to get things going but can they then get the members to take on responsibility when funding ceases? It is a hard transition but when the Kendal MiS funding ceased enough volunteers were found from within their 70 members for it to continue and thrive.
The average running cost of a Cheshire MiS (staffed, 5 days p.w.) is £43,000 pa whereas some small Sheds cost under £5000 pa. More examples of Shed economies here.