DIYer replaces garden shed with Alpine-inspired cabin for just £2,500

The chalet style shed has wooden panelled walls with metal sheets forming the triangular roof. The shed is surrounded by forestry
The Alpine-inspired chalet was once a ordinary garden shed but was transformed by Alex Dodman into a retreat for his family (Image credit: @alexdodman)

In an display of creativity and resourcefulness, Alex Dodman, a 37-year-old NHS Ambulance service worker from Saffron Walden, Essex, embarked on a DIY journey to replace a rather ordinary shed with an Alpine-inspired chalet in his garden.

Alex, a keen DIYer, decided to replace an existing underutilised shed, on a limited budget, to create a space his young family could use year-round. A suburban Essex garden would rarely be associated with a pocket-sized ski chalet, but Alex's vision made it possible, with the NHS worker documenting the project for his 126k followers on Instagram.

Here we take a look at how Alex achieved this and the summer house interior ideas his project could offer you.

Chalet-style cabin is now a place to kick back and relax

Initially serving as an underutilised home gym, the previous shed became nothing more than a dumping ground once Alex joined a local gym. In addition to this, Alex claimed the surrounding scenery of tall fir trees made the unsightly shed seem out of place which also prompted the change.

Determined to maximise the space and enhance the garden's aesthetics, Alex spent two and a half months crafting his new garden cabin in the hope he could introduce a taste of the Alps to his garden.

The A-frame garden cabin features insulation and timber-clad walls. Large windows provide ample natural light and offer views of the pool (another DIY project).

Inside, the chalet includes a television – mounted on a hinge bracket meaning it can be moved out of the way when not in use – comfortable sofas and prints. The illuminated porch provides another spot to sit and relax on warmer evenings.

Mastering the A-frame on a budget

Taking on the task with his own hands, Alex crafted all the framework from wood and utilised galvanised metal sheets, measuring four-and-a-half meters, for the roof.

While instructional videos specific to constructing an A-frame shape were scarce, Alex drew inspiration from Instagram photos and adapted his approach accordingly.

Speaking to the Homebuilding & Renovating, Alex claimed the most demanding aspect of the project proved to be constructing the A-frame structure. He found himself investing time in understanding and applying Pythagoras' theorem, seeking assistance from his father to overcome the complexities involved.

With a modest budget of £2,500, Alex sourced materials from suppliers such as B&Q, as well as discovering cost-effective – or free – materials on platforms like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace to keep costs low. He secured a free front door from the former and purchased three windows from Facebook Marketplace for just £10.

Project just one of many for DIY Dad

The father-of-two has proven his knack for DIY garden projects by constructing a swimming pool for his garden last summer. Other DIY projects include a pergola, a home cinema, and a gym.

Alex advises anyone undertaking a DIY project in the garden to just "sketch out what you want and go for it". To see Alex's full journey or view his other DIY projects visit his Instagram account @alexdodman.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.