When it comes to sports that really get the adrenaline pumping, skateboarding tops them all! While it may not as popular in the UK as it is elsewhere, it still continues to attract fans of all ages. That said, it can sometimes be difficult to find a local skatepark to get some proper practice in.
Luckily, you also have the option of installing a skateboard halfpipe right in your own back garden! Naturally the halfpipe will need to be structurally solid with a smooth ramp, so the creation of the components should be left to a joiner and the assembly to a carpenter. The surface under the halfpipe will also need to be completely flat. To achieve this, you could have a landscape designer excavate and level the area, or install a patio.
Before getting started on anything, including the design, it will be a good idea to contact your local planning authority. Skateboard halfpipes usually count as ‘raised platforms’, which fall under Permitted Development Rights provided they are not above a certain height. However, this is not guaranteed, especially if you live in a listed building, a conservation area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Your LPA will be able to confirm the type of consent your project will require, or they could let you know in advance that your project will not be feasible. This may be depressing news, but it is better to find out at the start, before you waste time and money constructing your halfpipe!
Having to apply for planning permission is always a sour point for hobbyists who want to improve their homes with unique features. However, in all fairness a skateboard halfpipe can raise genuine issues. For starters, if it is too close to your property boundary, your neighbours may worry about you being able to peer over into their garden and disrupt their privacy. Skating on a wooden halfpipe also has the potential to disturb your neighbours with noise.
This might sound like a mere formality, but trust us: skateboarding forums are filled with stories of people who built their own ramps and halfpipes, only to be told that they needed to take them down. It will be better to know what you need and apply for the necessary consent in advance, so that you can avoid wasting time and money.
Luckily, your local planning authority’s website should have most of the information you need. Skateboard halfpipes are typically classed as ‘raised platforms’, just like wooden decking. The usual rule for these structures is that they will not require planning permission as long as they are lower than 30cm. Do not assume that you can build a halfpipe as long as it is lower than your shed; sheds are outbuildings, which have their own rules.
There are a few other rules to take into account as well. For example, combined with other extensions and outbuildings on your property, your halfpipe will not be able to take up any more than 50% of the garden area.
The most important thing to remember is that these rules can be extremely fluid, varying from area to area. As such, it will be a good idea to contact your local planning authority and ask for advice well in advance of your project actually getting underway.
When planning a skateboard halfpipe, it is generally better to go with plywood than concrete. Wooden halfpipes are cheaper, easier to build and more simple to take down. The main drawback is the noise that they tend to create, but you can minimise this by filling the coping with sand or expanding foam, or by placing mattresses behind the ramps.
Think carefully about where to place your halfpipe. Again, it cannot be too close to the property boundary. Your LPA should be able to let you know the exact distance that you will need to put between them to avoid encroaching on the privacy of your neighbours. The ground below the halfpipe will also need to be perfectly level, so consider asking a landscape designer what your options will be.
The actual components for the halfpipe should usually be made bespoke by a joiner off site. This is simply because it will be easier if they can use heavy workshop equipment. Remember, each piece will need to be perfectly shaped for the sake of safety - don’t just wing it!
A carpenter will assemble the skeleton of the halfpipe, usually with timber and 2x4s. The surface itself will then be screwed into place. For the sake of safety, they will also typically install a barrier around the raised sides.
Be sure to check that the halfpipe is structurally sound before your start skating. You should also make sure that your Pro takes the time to tell you how often the wood will need to be treated.
Do you have any old skateboards gathering dust? Why not consider your own skateboard upcycling project?