Clarke Instant Garage
I should start by saying this is actually my husband's hidey hole not mine, I call it his tent :), whilst to him it is a garage. It was bought as he likes to fix cars, and to do up classic cars but as the existing garage space was full (with an old daimler that also needs fixing), he was having to do this outside, and living in Northumberland this is less than ideal in the summer never mind the winter. Before seeing this he had tried several different temporary structures, but they had always blown down within a month, as where we live the wind cuts straight across the fields passed the houses, across the road and straight into out garden. It had to be a temporary structure as we were aware that we would not get planning permission for a garage as our garden is adjacent to allotment land. Anyway fast forward this time last year, and my husband noticed one of these is his local boat club. Not one to be shy he asked about it, and they explained that because it's essentially a tent it doesn't need planning permission, but it is built solid, and made to last. My husband was impressed and dragged me of to Machine Mart so that we could have a look, and this resulted in the purchase of his "tent" for around £450, I see it is currently £478.80. Ours is the largest size available at 12 ft by 24 ft, you can also get them in 16 ft and 20 ft length sizes.
**Putting it up**
This took my husband and his friend two days to put up, essentially it's a large tubular mechano kit with the frame bolting together. I should probably point out that the two days is because they had to wait for the concrete to dry. This comes with a detailed instruction book, which in fairness I think my husband did glance at :) My husband thinks this is supposed to be bolted to a concrete base, he obviously didn't actually do this because well, I don't know and don't like to ask, although I know the men at the boat yard also didn't do this :) My husband is quite mechanically minded and did seem to find it easy to put up, although time consuming as it's large.
Basically my understanding is that the heavy duty tubular frame bolts together, and the tent goes through the bottom bar to hold it in place, or actually that should be the bottom bar goes through the tent. The bottom legs are then supposed to bolt to the concrete base, as ours is on grass / mud, my husband concreted in the bottom feet (hence the need to let the concrete dry), I believe he also did this to give the frame added strength in the wind. It is possible to still take down the garage, which we will one day have to do to get the camper parked behind it out, but if we removed it entirely we would lose the feet. Each corner of the tent is also ratcheted down with a strap.
The boat yard incidentally made their temporary structure a lot more permanent by concreting in the whole bottom bar.
This has proved a great garage, it's now been up about a year and has withstood wind speeds of over 30 mph, rain, snow and sun. Throughout all of this the garage has stood firm, although in the wind it does creak a lot, it doesn't leak and still looks nearly as good today as when we bought it, I know because I have just been out in the rain to inspect it. Inside this is surprisingly light and airy, the inside of the tent wall is white which helps this, it also somehow seems to let daylight in through the material, this is also enhanced as you can roll the door open and tie it up. My husband has hung lights around it for when it's dark, and if you do this you will have to watch out for them heating up and burning a hole in the material. This creates a great work space, and easily fits a large car, or even two smaller ones, as well as tools. My husband has happily fixed several cars in here as well a spray painting my little car smurf (a fiat 126). Even in the depths of winter with the aid of a small heater he is quite happy in it.
My husband says that if this was on a concrete base it has the height to use an engine hoist, he has also used car ramps in here and it will fit his seat alhambra without any problems.
This does have a few minor niggles, the door bottom is shorter than the rest of the tent, the door zips blow open in really windy weather (fixed by attaching fishing weights). In windy weather this creaks, moans and moves about a foot, now this part isn't really the problem although the noise does give my husband a headache, the problem is the movement means the joints rub on the material and over time this wears a hole in it, when my husband realised this he put a small section of that thick grey tape you can buy on each joint. My personal problem is that my husband doesn't know the meaning of mobile phone, so I can't ring him if I want him and have to go out in the cold and wet to get him, but then at least I know where he is :)
I've always felt that it was expensive, but compared to normal tents it is actually comparable in price, and compared to a similar sized shed or garage it is a bargain, although obviously they would be more solid. I have spent time in here myself, mostly chatting to my husband, and therefore know it's a great shelter. I find this priceless for keeping my husband warm and happy while fixing his cars, and it means he can do this all year round instead of spending rainy days sat playing on the playstation and moaning to me about the weather, of course that does mean I'm still waiting for him to plaster the passage :)