You’ve committed to your investment purchase and now is the time to start thinking whereabouts your hut is going to be positioned and the ground it’s going to sit on.
Preparing the ground correctly for the arrival of your brand-new shepherd’s hut is crucial to achieve a stable, secure space that will stand confident and sturdy for years to come.
The key is to prepare a firm base on a flat, level site. A stable footing will stop your hut from sinking or starting to slip once put in position.
You want to get this right too as huts are heavy, stationary units that can’t really be moved unless you have something to move them – traditionally this would be done with horses, but in modern times this is usually done with a motorised vehicle via the hut’s drawbar (if it has one).
It may be possible to move your hut by hand on level ground, but common sense applies here.
Most huts commonly weigh between 1.5 and 2 tonnes – that’s 1500-2000kg or 3300lb-4400lb. They can be slightly lighter and even heavier depending on the size and the materials used during construction, particularly when it comes to the shepherd’s hut chassis, cast iron wheels, frame and flooring.
What’s the best type of ground to put a shepherd’s hut?
The ideal site to position your hut should be well drained, firm and level.
Suitable surfaces include the likes of aggregate, slabs, flagstones, paving or timber sleepers. If you’re considering placing your hut on gravel, then you’d probably require a sub-base for extra firmness. Ideal sub-base would be something like MOT type 1 – available from most builder’s merchants.
To be sure your hut doesn’t start to move of its own accord, the ground needs to be level. If the ground you have in mind is on a slope or slight incline, it’s advisable to cut in to the higher part of the ground, as opposed to building up the lower level which may mean the access point is too high, even with a few steps.
What if the ground is soft or on grass?
Not all budding shepherd’s hut owners have firm, well-drained ground at their disposable.
Many aspire to place their hut in a peaceful, green beauty spot – a patch of grass, amongst a copse of woodland or an idyllic English meadow. Naturally, this ground may be quite soft, which isn’t ideal to keep a near two-tonne wheeled hut on over the long-term.
The number one problem for shepherd’s huts on soft ground is the prospect of sinking wheels.
A hut has four cast iron wheels each with a small surface area that’s in contact with the ground. This means the whole weight of the hut is concentrated down into a fairly small surface area, meaning movement is likely on soft ground. If your hut is particularly heavy, wider wheels will help handle the load too.
Related Post: Do I Need Planning Permission for My Shepherd’s Hut?
Solving the soft ground problem
To solve this problem the load needs to be spread out. Luckily there are a couple, easy to install solutions to turn your soft spot into a firm, longstanding base.
The best way is to place four landing ‘pads’ underneath each wheel. Best suggestions for these pads are the types of material mentioned in the section above – solid stone, slabs, aggregate or a section of railway sleeper.
All these firm materials will greatly help to spread the load of the hut over a much bigger surface which will stop it shifting on the less firm grassy ground.
Another way to solve this problem is to use new technology or rubber matting underneath the wheels, which acts in the same way to stop your hut moving.
What else do I need to consider when positioning a hut?
It’s not just about the ground when it comes to positioning your hut. There are several other considerations you should keep in mind to make sure it’s in the perfect spot and doesn’t have to be moved again in a hurry.
- Where does the sun shine?
Natural light and warmth are incredibly important for both practical and personal reasons. You’ll want to make sure that your hut receives as much natural sunlight as possible, so that when the sun does make an appearance in the UK, you’re ready to make the most of it.
The last place you want your hut is a cold, dark, dingy spot. You also want to make sure you have sufficient windows, pointed in the right direction to capture the suns rays.
Sunlight is also key for those incredibly important easy to grow house plants that you want thriving.
- What are the views like from the windows and veranda?
Depending on which way round you position your hut, you may be getting a view of a brick wall as opposed to the splendid vistas round the other side. Once you know where the windows will be on the hut, make sure the angle is absolutely spot on to give the best possible views you have at your disposal.
Not everyone will be putting their hut in the middle of a wood or in a field facing the mountains, but you want to make sure any sort of greenery or landscape is captured from the most prominent windows. The same goes for the veranda if your hut has the pleasure of having one of these.
- Think about the prevailing wind
A hut being whipped by the wind every night is not ideal. You’ll want to make sure your hut is not in the firing line for a prevailing seasonal wind or one that’s there all year round.
High buildings or even nearby woodland can create a wind tunnel effect, so make sure your hut is well out of the way when it comes to these potential unsettling disturbances. You certainly don’t want to be bowled over by a gust every time you step out of the front door.
- Do you have a supply of electricity and water?
If your hut is being positioned next to existing buildings within your land then this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but if you plan on placing your hut in a more secluded spot, the necessary infrastructure may not be in place.
If this is the case, you might have to think about either laying a cable or coming up with a different way to generate energy in an off-grid manner. Solar PV panels for example are a good way to generated electricity and are great for off-grid huts.
Connection to a water supply is vital if your hut is to have an en-suite or showering facilities. The same applies to sewage and having access to the drainage system. A good way around this problem is to have an odourless composting toilet which alleviates the need to hook your hut up to sewerage or even have a septic tank.
Preparing the ground for a shepherd’s hut should be a fairly simple task. The main aspects to consider are making sure the ground is:
All other considerations, such as the views and which way the wind blows, are supplementary to these two elements. However, these latter considerations are also incredibly important to plan for to get maximum long-term happiness and return from your hut, and to stop you having to move it again.
Read more about shepherd’s huts…
I’m the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life. Away from the laptop, I love spending time in nature and with my young family (plus Murphy the dog!). I write and send out the Eco Life Newsletter.