We're Moving

The search has been completed, after the disappointment at losing Radium Street Property that we had been looking at we continued the search and after a lot of negoating over price we can now confirm that from (hopefully) June Hackspace Manchester will have a new home

However we don’t have far to move! we are moving downstairs into the old Nightclub unit with direct street access from Pollard Street East one level accessible unit of over 5000 sqft (so over 3 x the size of the current space)

We are still planning the move and build out including floorplans etc but we will be doing some consulting with all members on this. Hopefully more details on all this will be available in the coming days.

Some Pictures can be found below alongside the current floorplan of the unit (your looking at the one called Warehouse 1 outlined in yellow)

Site plan.pdf (2.7 MB)

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Moving Next Steps
_Subject to change _

Subject to final checks and signing of the lease we will take access to the property from the 1st of April.

Prior to this date (tbc) we will arrange with Northern Group to have access to the area to draw out a blank floorplan and get accurate sizes. This will then be made available to anyone who wants to express an idea in how the space should be laid out and hopefully a 3d model version available within the space (no guarantees)

Aiming to have an open viewing for any member interested in seeing the space prior to the members meeting on the 1st of April (again this is subject to a few things but aiming for this )

Build Out Weekend

19-22 April
At the moment we are planning to use the Easter weekend including Good Friday and Easter monday to complete the majority of the build out needed for the space. This includes putting up the walls removing toilets, building any large workspaces or work benches that are required and laying out areas ready for equipment to move in, installing electrical cabling and sockets etc, painting any areas that need painted and fitting lights.

We need as many people available during that weekend who want to get involved in (literately) building the space. There will be a large list of jobs and just take part in what appeals to you. If you are planning on attending please complete the doodle poll linked below and in comments please add your telegram username so that we can get in touch with more details (and if i can persuade the board there might be free pizza available to those who come along)


Once the build out has been completed we will have a weekend planned for infrastrucure fitting including things like Hackscreen, Access Control, Internet etc after this the following weekend will be dedicated to snagging and finishing anything that needs completing You will be asked to sign up to these as and when they happen

Assuming evil laugh things go to plan we are looking at moving the weekend of the 11th - 12th May (again this might change) and do a soft opening/dry run open evening the following week which leads us into Makefest where the new space can be heavily promoted and official first open evening on the Wednesday following make fest (29th May)

And at somepoint we can have an opening party!

Let the bikeshedding begin

Hi All,
Some of this might be redundant (I’m sure Greg has thought a lot about this already)
but I’ve listed all the things that spring to mind.

Blockwork Walls

  • I spoke to Giles about the blockwork
    One thing to consider is that the walls can’t go up all in one lump.
    You need to put it up a bit at a time, allow say 12Hrs or so for the first few of layers to harden then the 2nd lot etc.
    So in other words the walls may extend past the initial weekend very easily.

  • Question - I have access to a Cement Mixer, let me know when or if to bring that in.

  • One of the things we need to be very careful about is making sure the walls are very straight
    It’s something I don’t really have any experience of myself, I think Giles has some laser levels etc we can use but we need to be careful.
    Mixing cement is fairly easy by comparison (usually on top of a large sheet of something).

Since we need to wait for the walls to harden, this might also act as a stopping point for the wiring.

Cable Trays

I think we should avoid using the cable trays for the initial mains wiring to start with.
Taking it down should only take a day or two, but getting it back up may take a lot longer, since this might involve making new brackets etc.
Also we can just pin the twin and earth mains to the walls.

What I’d like to propose is taking it down then stashing it in a corner.
Then later on, we put it up maybe vertically across the ceiling instead of across the walls for things like data or project wiring (or dropping mains to the desks)

Door Access

I’d like to suggest prioritising the RFID access to the door if possible.
Let me know if you need any help getting the lock onto the door
Only so that we can get as many people in at different times to help set stuff up.
Cramming a lot into a few weekends should get a lot done with everyone turning up from past experience with hack the space days.
But we may need time for things to dry or harden out, or for others to gain access outside of those weekends.

Floors / Paint

For the floors I’m not sure if blasting it with a kartcher power washer is such a good idea
Since the water needs somewhere to go and we may end up with lots of dampness everywhere

But I’d like to see some proper paint on the floors at some stage maybe later on

  • Acid wash to get the oil grease off
  • Then a one or two part to seal the floor / paint it nice colours

There are issues with that in that it may take a long time to dry out and would probably need the right kind of PPE
There’s also the cost.
Since we’ll have double the space than before maybe we can do this at a later date and just move things around / do it a section at a time.
(assuming we don’t just fill it up with more crap)

Ceiling / Paint

With the current space we had to rent out some scafolding then spend half a week bashing the hell out of it getting all the loose paint down.
Also we tested it for asbestos before hand.
I suspect the new place will be in a better state than this one, but we may want to consider if painting it is an option.
Or if any loose debris is on the ceiling I have access to an SDS drill to get that down.
Again we can possibly leave this to a later date / after the move and just shuffle things around / do it in sections.


  • Fire Doors everywhere please
    It should help prevent the noise from leaking out

Cable Trays

I think we should avoid using the cable trays for the initial mains wiring to start with.
Taking it down should only take a day or two, but getting it back up may take a lot longer, since this might involve making new brackets etc.
Also we can just pin the twin and earth mains to the walls.

Actually, no, twin and earth requires protection of some kind.

I feel like we should preserve some of the nightclub somewhere. Maybe keep part of the stage and turn into a DJ Booth?

Sorry yes your right about the trunking, I think Rossy is after the nice looking metal style trunking

For the Blockwork Walls there may be a lot involved with that, I asked around a bit (I only know how to mix a bit of cement and a bit of wiring myself)

I’m going to assume the board’s already got permission from the landlord
(I think it requires permission for semi permanent structure)

  • There may be a basement so one consideration is if the floor can support the weight of the walls or if it needs to be strengthened.
  • We have walls about 10ft high in my garage (I didn’t put them up), I suspect these will need to be taller maybe 14ft? since you’ll need to reach all the way up for there to be noise insulation, I’ve been told typically you need buttresses (bits that stick out) to support a wall that high so someone will have to work out how many / how far apart etc. I think something like every 6ft 8inches or so.
  • There may be an impact from an insurance point of view (has it been inspected / put up by someone certified, could it fall on someone etc)
  • maybe additional insurance from a point of view of construction work.
  • Another thing to think about is potential fire risks, multiple exits, regulations etc.
  • Plans might need to be submitted to a structural engineer.
  • Involvement from the fire brigade for fire escapes etc.

From the Builders point of view

  • Possible restricted access whilst building taking place, making sure tools don’t disappear etc
  • Block, Sand, Cement.
  • Hire of scaffolding with tresseling ladders etc
  • Hire of registered builder

You could be looking at somewhere from 6 - 12 months maybe for something like this?

Many Thanks

Another important question for discussion maybe at the meeting is when we can start to take down the existing cable trays and anything else that needs disassembling
From what I can gather I think it’ll take longer to disassemble that lot than what I first thought so the sooner the better.

I was going to do some double checking about what electrical regs we have to comply with. I think we should also put some time into planning how we want the circuits to work, I don’t know if it would be worth having a couple of circuits that have isolator switches near the door that turn off things like all the benches in woody dusty and the electronics area so we can have some ‘last man out’ isolators.

I’m happy to leave my tools around for people to use for the buildout as long as I don’t need them on a job, but Richard raises a good point here. I’m happy for them to be used but only by people that know how to use them properly, I can’t afford for them to be buggered up by somebody trying to cut paving slabs with my tracksaw or similar, and they wouldn’t be for general use in the Hackspace by any member - but I’m more than happy for them to be put to good use. I’ve got a good amount of site equipment. I don’t have scaffolding but I’ve got a couple of sets of platform ladders that might be good enough for what we need. I’ve also got enough gear that hopefully we don’t need to take all the tools out of the existing space whilst we’re doing the build out - tracksaw in leu of table saw, mitre saw, drills, impact drivers, circ saws, that kind of thing.

A few other thoughts that have been popping into my head over the last couple of days that I think are worth writing down.

First up - order of works - this can make a huge difference to timescales. This might seem like a weird order to do things, but when rennovating property this is the order we do the final stages in.

  1. Paint all the walls and ceilings when plastered. This happens before second fix electrics, before skirtings, doors, floors etc are installed. Painting is a lot quicker when you aren’t having to cut round endless sockets, and can paint all the way down to the floor without having to brush in the last few inches. Also because floors go down after, it means there is no masking or dustsheeting needed. This way you can do 99% of the painting with just a roller.

  2. Install second fix wiring (sockets etc), any second fix plumbing and so on.

  3. Flooring

  4. Second fix woodwork - skirtings if any, doorframes etc - as these are ideally done just over the edges of flooring etc, and hides any expansion gaps depending on the floor type used.

I know not all of this will apply, we are unlikely to need skirtings, and we also have building work first, but as backwards as it seems prioritising painting etc first speeds things up. Traditionally people start with the heavy building first and move along the ‘finishes’ (i.e. plaster) until they get to paint. instead, think of it as layers and start at the back and move forwards. If things go on the paint, do them after.

Flooring wise, assuming we have concrete, I had a look on eBay at second hand carpet tiles. Not ideal for everywhere in the space, but they have a lot going for them. Because they aren’t glued down in installation, office refits often pull out hundreds of uncut, matching ones and they sell cheap. They have good insulating properties because they are rubber backed, don’t need fixing down, so once the first straight line is laid they are very quick to lay, are hard wearing and look pretty decent. If we have a graphics area, some kind of classroom etc, these would be a good and very cost effective option. As an idea, on completed listings, a job lot of 390 (about 100 square meters) didn’t sell at an asking price of £150. Theres another job lot on at the moment for 600 (150 square meters) currently bidding at £1.

For building the walls, I came across a system a few years back called Bricky - it’s like a plastic template you put on the blocks, and then spread the mortar over, it leaves a uniform mortar line to help keep the lines uniform and the bricks level. It’s a simple plastic jig and I’m sure we could build something similar from MDF to help with building the wall. I’ve got self levelling lasers to help lay things out, and plenty of spirit levels. I also have a couple of long levels (1.2m & 1.8m) that aren’t level anymore but are still useful straightedges that won’t be mucked up if they get covered in cement.

I think Richard is right about the walls needing supports building in. I’ll have a look and see what i can find, and I have a couple of people I can ask. It might be worth planning the distance round usable space left inbetween - for example if we leave 2.4m between supports then full rips of sheet material would make the gap between into good shelving. I’m 95% sure we don’t need building regs or structural engineers for a non-supporting wall but I can check building regs for this.

On the wiring front, a couple of random notes. For conduit and trunking, metal is sexy but bear in mind the more metal the more earthing we have to do. I also believe that new electrical regs state that any electrical infrastructure such as cable trays needs to be held in place by non-combustable fixings, so that in the event of a fire the cables don’t start falling down, so we need to be using concrete screws or fire rated resin fixings instead of plastic plugs, although in all honesty I rate the concrete screws as a lot more convenient than plastic plugs anyway.

Finally, if the ceiling is similar to the current space (vaulted brick with old plaster covering) then I would suggest we spend a day with a couple of SDS drills and strip it all off. It’s usually quick going although messy, and means we won’t have bits of ceiling forever coming down onto projects and equipment. Also, exposed brick vaulted ceilings = sexy sexy hack space.

I know we have build out weekends planned but I’ll likely have some week days off without jobs on after we get keys, I don’t mind spending a few of them in there doing some of the more mundane prep such as stripping ceilings or clearing rubbish, taking out toilets etc so that when we have more people down we are in a good position to hit it hard and get as much done as possible.

Just to add to the list of things to think about

One thing to look at is how high the walls will likely end up being. Something I was told about (again I don’t know anything about building myself). If we end up using something like aircrete / thermalite which I think is the lighter stuff. We need to be careful that the blocks at the bottom can support the weight of the stuff that’s on top, since the walls might end up being quite high (maybe 14ft?) assuming they’re going all the way up. We might need to check the compressive strength of the blocks at the bottom.

Not sure if the internal walls section of this might be relevant as far a block width / wall length / height.

Something else is the mix for the mortar. Again I might be talking out of my bottom with this one, but I think the mortar has to be less strong that the blocks. So that when it settles any cracks end up being in the mortar instead of the blocks.

We should also be able to re-use that vinyl covering we’ve already got down under the tables at the moment, I think there might also be a small bit of roll we didn’t put down yet, although that will only cover a small area. I like the idea of the carpet tiles anything that covers the floor.

Done a bit more reading.

RE Building regs. Turns out we do technically need them, I think I’ve only every worked on jobs where nobody bothered… However we can do one of two things. One is we can do a full building regulations application with plans, they are looked at by the council etc, and that process takes a few weeks. Or we can issue a building notice to the council, after which we can start work within 48 hours and if they want to do an inspection they will, but they might not. One the one job I have done with building inspectors involved they want to see things done right, but also are hesitant to advise on specifics, I’m assuming for liability reasons. If we go down the building notice route it’s much quicker but then it’s our responsibility to ensure that we comply with the applicable regs - I’ve done some reading and am happy to do more.

I’ll be able to work out wall heights etc when we measure up the space. I’ve done work on a building that had a 30’ high wall built out of standard concrete block with no special measures taken with regards to compressive load - I don’t think that will be a problem with typical concrete block with the scale we are working with but it’s worth the 5 minute google to double check for sure. That did have two buttresses built into a wall that was about 18’ wide.

I’ll do more reading, I only had an hour this morning before spending the day in the car driving south. I’ll be at the open evening on Wednesday evening so I’ll catch up with anybody there about things as well. I’m going to see a house my uncle is having built tomorrow so if the builder is on site I’ll ask him about some of the questions about wall building. It’ll be in the morning but if anybody has anything they want me to ask whilst I’m around a team of builders then fire it over and I’ll try my best.

We can take the opportunity at the next viewing to look at how the existing block walls were built actually, thats probably a good starting point!