Project – Club House

It’s a dilemma shared by many clubs and organisations similar to TSMEE – the old timber clubhouse may have served the club membership well over the past half century [or more] – however another coat of paint was not going to get the plumbing sorted or stop the wind wafting through the chairman’s hairpiece  ….

then someone had an idea!!

“…. so how about some proper plumbed toilets for starters – and maybe a decent kitchen and a real workshop and meeting room with somewhere warm and dry to sit and sup someone said ….”

Thus began our new Clubhouse Project

And to those who might be facing a similar predicament we thought a few words here might shine a useful light on our build process and some of the challenges we experience along the way ….

Building Committee

And being a sort of democratic club we formed a “committee” comprising – the three company directors (chairman, secretary and treasurer), and a number of members with necessary technical skills including technical drawing, surveying, electrical installation, civil engineering, and project management.

Costing, Requirements, Size and Style of Building                                    

The next stage was to decide what size and type of building we could afford.  We did various layout drawings to incorporate our requirements. It is necessary to include disabled access to entrance lobby, kitchen and toilet (see Building Regulations part M). After several revisions we decided on a prefabricated building of 18metres x 6 metres and 3 metres high at the ridge.

Following due diligence we contacted three different companies and settled for a quote from Capital Steel Buildings of Glasgow (CSB).

This was for the building shell only as delivered to site in flat pack form, and did not include foundations, windows, roller shutters, or assembly. The cost of the building, which did include 80mm of insulation in the roof, 60mm of insulation in the walls and two steel doors with shut bolt locks, was £16,800.00 including VAT.


We investigated the possibility of reclaiming the VAT.

At 20% of the cost of the project, this was a substantial amount of money, eventually coming to about £10,000. 

The main requirement appears to be that you must be a registered charity.  In addition, a VAT receipt is required. Since we bought from a number of different suppliers this would have been difficult. After several phone calls to the Inland Revenue we reluctantly accepted that our project would be subject to VAT.


Having just built a new ground level track, club funds were very low. Our secretary Linda –

never one to miss a chance to raise money –

started by writing to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and various local companies known for funding projects. 

Most applications, including the Lottery Fund, were unsuccessful. We seemed to have the wrong demographic: old, retired and healthy. 

However, one local engineering company had a fund to promote engineering amongst young people, and they made an extremely generous donation. A number of members made donations, some large and some small.

Further income came from selling life memberships, the sale of scrap from members’ workshops, sponsored loco runs and operating our railway for the public. 

In addition, Linda ran raffles, sold bottles of oil, boiler water treatment chemical and provided catering for meetings.

Planning Permission

Being unable to speak direct to anyone in the City planning department meant an online planning application procedure.

No particular problems were encountered with this process.

Landlord Permission

Although we had planning permission, building regulations approval and our landlord had been informed in writing at the beginning of the project, we were unaware of the need to obtain a license to vary the terms of our tenancy hence work on site had to be suspended for a short period until this was resolved by our solicitor and the City Council’s legal department.  With solicitor fees, this can prove to be an expensive unforeseen item.

Building Control Regulations                                                      

We completed the Building Control Application Form and sent all of the required information electronically.  Previous experience told us that when sending documents by email, they do not necessarily arrive, or they may arrive with sections missing. We always phoned our building regulations officer to check receipts.  From the start, we stressed that we were an enthusiastic bunch of amateurs and we would be grateful for any help he could give us. This approach worked. The officer could not have been more helpful.

Building Control Feed Back

Our Building Control Application came back with a long list of queries and requests for further details. At first sight, the list looked daunting, but when approached logically and systematically, things began to fall into place. After all, the assigned building control officer is there to ensure that when the building is finished it is both sound and compliant with regulations.

We were asked for a site investigation report. As will be explained later, we had employed a design consultant for the foundations, so this was not a problem.

In answer to a request for the specification for the scheme, we resubmitted the original letter which accompanied the planning application.

Whilst we had already submitted a site layout drawing, we were asked for further information regarding the locations of fire hydrants and the access route for the fire brigade.

Our building suppliers were able to provide structural calculations as requested (280pages!), and performance details for the insulation on roof and wall panels.

Our CAD draughtsman had to produce a drawing showing the locations of fire alarm triggers, fire extinguishers and emergency lighting.

The original design of the foundation raft had incorporated a waterproof membrane. Because of the risk of gas from abandoned coal workings seeping through the concrete, the building inspector requested the use of a gas proof membrane. Details of a suitable gas membrane were extracted from the manufacturer’s web pages and supplied to the inspector. Unfortunately, this membrane deteriorates in ultra violet light so the exposed areas on the side of the foundation had to be covered with galvanised steel

A request for ventilation details of the building was answered by explaining that the windows would have opening sections, that the toilet would have an extractor fan, and that the cooker would have a hood.

One query which worried us concerned the number of urinals and WC’s to be provided. According to British Standards (BS6465), we should have been providing 1 male WC, 1 urinal, and 2 female WC’s.  This, if implemented, would have taken up a completely unacceptable proportion of the floor area. We were able to point out that under the previous arrangements, a single WC in another building had proved adequate. We therefore proposed a single unisex/disabled WC, and a single urinal. Fortunately, the inspector accepted this suggestion. A further drawing showing the arrangement of all drains and their connections into the mains system had to be produced.

Similarly, as the building was only to be occupied about 25 hours per week by about 25 people, the inspector accepted that we could not provide water efficiency calculations.

The regulations require the provision of Small Building Energy Management calculations (SBEM). This was another item where a consultant with the appropriate software package had to be engaged. Normally, electric heating would not be acceptable. However, because of the low building occupancy, the consultant wrote a letter explaining the circumstances, and this was accepted.

In addition, we also had to provide further details on matters such as glazing, doors, and car parking.

To summarise, we found the building inspector very helpful, and prepared to compromise where appropriate. It was essential to have a CAD draughtsman to prepare the drawings.

CDM Regulations

The Construction, Design, and Maintenance Regulations (C.D.M.) is a health and safety legislation, which is applicable to all site work. C.D.M places a responsibility for the safe operation of the site on a company or individual, and covers areas such as risk assessments, method statements, protective clothing and safety training.

For larger schemes, which take longer than 30 days (or 500 man hours), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) must be informed. For smaller schemes, which take less than 30 days, there is no requirement to inform the HSE, but the regulations still apply, and in the event of an accident the HSE can prosecute either the company or an individual.

The project manager needs to be aware of the scope of the regulations and ensure compliance.

The principal aspects of the work require a method statement, which explains how the operation will be undertaken. This is followed by a risk assessment, which identifies any potential hazards associated with the operation, and what steps can be taken to minimise the risk. Obvious examples would be use of lifting equipment or disc cutters.

If carried out correctly, method statements and risk assessments should reduce the likelihood of an accident, but would also be a defence in court by showing that reasonable precautions had been taken.

Use of Outside Contractors and Consultants                             

A number of factors must be considered in deciding what can be done “in house”, and what it is best left to specialists. Things to consider include available funds, complexity of the work, skill base, and the number, age and availability of members. 

In our case, it was decided for reasons, which follow, that we could not contemplate doing the design or construction of the foundation. 

Specialist suppliers fitted the windows, shutters and floor covering. Members undertook all other building work and fitting out.

Foundation Design                                                                                    

We dug several test holes on the site where the building was to be erected and decided that the ground was a mixture of old

French drains and ground made-up using a variety of materials. Our track is in a park adjacent to a local green belt, which in the distant past was mined for coal using the ‘bell pit’ technique. No records of the mining were available, and certain areas were prone to flooding.  It was because of these factors that the decision was made to employ a consultancy firm to design a foundation, which would be acceptable to the Building Control Department. The consultant’s calculations were accepted without comment.

Building Construction

The building is essentially a steel portal frame covered by roof and wall panels located on a concrete base.

The base consists of about 60 tonnes of concrete and 1 tonne of steel reinforcement. We therefore decided to employ a civil contractor for this phase. The excavation for the slab and subsequent casting took 4 men, an excavator and a dumper 4 weeks.

Having watched this team at work, we were left in no doubt that the decision to contract this out was the correct one.

The steel frame and panels for the building came in one delivery on an articulated lorry, complete with its own forklift truck for offloading.

The framework was bolted together and fixed to the concrete foundation by anchor bolts. The panels were fixed to the frame by self-drilling screws, and the whole assembly sequence required only normal hand and power tools.

To make the building weather tight took about 4 weeks. During this time there were normally between 8 and 16 members in attendance, and we worked most days when the weather permitted.

The concrete floor was covered with 100mm Kingspan insulation foam followed by 18mm tongue and groove MDF flooring laid over the top.

 The windows were standard UPVC double glazed units with roller shutters to give added security. The toilet fittings were a pack bought from eBay, which came with all the handrails for disabled access and conformed to Part M of the Building Regulations.

Fitting Out                                                                                                    

After the floor was laid, we fitted out the building using stud timber walls covered in plasterboard.  All joints were taped and plastered followed by a lot of sanding to get the joints smooth.  We did all of our own plumbing, including a storage water heater from eBay. The kitchen units were again sourced locally from an advert on eBay.

The main ceiling was a suspended style (again a second hand purchase bought on eBay) (Photo 12) it was a surprise to find so many hidden talents within our membership, and the finished job has a thoroughly professional look. Where new skills have to be learned, YouTube can help a lot.


We were very fortunate to have a member who had worked in electrical contracting. He was able to design and install the electrical distribution in accordance with the current British Standards. The Part P of the building regulation does not apply, as this is not a residential building.  Test certificates must still be completed, but these can be self-certified.  The Building Inspector and the insurance company must retain certificates for scrutiny.


The civil contractor started excavation in August 2015, and the first official event held in the building was our Annual General Meeting in June 2016


The standard terms of payment of the building manufacturer required full payment 4 weeks before delivery. This would have left TSMEE in a vulnerable position in the unlikely event of the supplier going into liquidation. We were therefore able to place the payment into a bonded account held by a bank, and released to the supplier on delivery.  The cost for this peace of mind was £75.00.


At the planning stage, we prepared a detailed estimate.  All the items in this estimate were delivered for a price very close to that expected.  However, the final cost exceeded the estimate by about 10% due to unforeseen extras. These included such items as the gas proof membrane, the license to vary our tenancy agreement, the preparation of heat loss calculations, and sundry purchases such as sealants, drill bits, cutting discs and paint. The advice to anyone contemplating a similar scheme would be to have a contingency sum in hand.

Item Cost (£) *
Consultant and specialist fees   1,000
Planning and Building Regulations   1,600
Foundation including material and labour 19,650
Building Cost 16,800
Windows and Roller Shutters   3,200
Flooring including insulation   1,750
EBAY – Toilet, Kitchen, Water Heater and Suspended Ceiling   2,200
Floor Covering   1,300
Electrical including Emergency lights, fire alarm and toilet emergency call system   1,600
Fitting out (Timber, plasterboard, doors)   1,700
Exterior landscaping material       500
Sewerage Connections       750
Sundries       500
TOTAL 52,550
* Costs include VAT and delivery  


Our treasurer decided to take out insurance on the building from the first day of the delivery of the material to the site. Owing to the remote locations of many of our clubs, this could be a very astute decision.  The insurance is through the Southern Federation Scheme.

In Conclusion

We have no connection with the supplier of our building (other than being a satisfied customer), but feel that this is a very cost effective way to get a new clubhouse with guaranteed life expectancy. The construction was well within our members’ ability, plus it proved to be relatively quick way to get a watertight structure, which could be internally fitted out independently of the weather.  All of our internal work was done over the cold, North Eastern winter months.

The cost of the whole project, including consultant fees, came to around £55,000.00, and has taken approximately 1 year of work by a dedicated squad of members.  The landscaping is almost complete and we are already into our next project!