Friday, 25 November 2011

Incredible weather for Garden Building

Seven Barrows Office

It must be global warming because there has only been frost on the windscreen of my pick-up truck once so far and there have been T-shirt days on our sites certainly within recent weeks. Mud on boots has been less than normal and recent projects have been quite demanding.

Bespoke office building at Seven Barrows Stables

In September we designed and built a fab traditional style large office of very high specification. Seven Barrows was built in traditional timber frame and clad on the inside and outside with pine boards. Office furniture and kitchen units were supplied by us to suit the style. Landscape was also designed by us. The veranda gives the building a “fishing hut” look as requested by its fishing enthusiast horse race trainer. Nicky Henderson. It was great to work at the stables where the horses received fantastic care and attention. They are expected to perform and seem to be doing so although “Long Run” was pipped for first place at Haydock Park last week and I lost a tenner! (best I stick to building I guess).

 Inside Seven Barrows Office

Chiropractic Therapy Studio

In October back in Cheshire we installed a Therapy Studio with waiting room and toilet for use by a Chiropractor. The building was installed within permitted development rules and between the trees at the bottom of the garden. Our small bore toilet solution was installed and two way switching for the covered veranda lights will make it welcoming for clients in the winter months. The tri-fold doors seem to be very popular still.

 Therapy Studio fits between apple trees

Terra Nova Rifle Range

An unusual School amenity building project was completed in mid November. A small-bore rifle range at Terra-Nova School, Jodrell Bank Cheshire. The building was specified by the schools trainer to comply with all requirements for Olympic standard shooting (at targets of course). 16m long and 5m wide the building provides for safety of the kids in its internal layout and special theatre style lighting for the best target illumination.

Windows are up to to avoid stray ammo!

A big long supershed really

Theatre lighting for the targets fitted by the Wizard

We are working now on a Grand design style project in North Wales.

The year is coming to an end I expect colder less predictable weather in December and January and time has been allocated to completed work on our own sawmill. The wizard (here fitting the spotlights at Terra Nova) has added new facilities this year including a forge.

Noella and I would like to thank all our clients for may interesting project this year. In December we are visiting Branksome Place again and I will make an update on the sad story of their rotting log cabin. Due in January is Thomas Oliver our fourth Grandchild making it two of each. We are very proud grandparents although none are yet old enough to be a help at our workshop (maybe soon!)

 Two of them

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Garden Office and Garden Studio Insulation

Insulation of Garden Studios and Offices (An important topic)

By Richard Grace Project Director Garden Structures

It’s always been on the agenda but never more so than now. When our clients are investing their hard earned cash in a work building (Garden Office or Garden Studio) at home they always want to know:
a)     “Will it be warm and comfortable?”
b)     “Will my things be dry and protected in bad weather?”
c)      “Will it cost me a small fortune to heat?”
d)     “Will it become too hot on our best days?”

The answer is “yes if the building has a watertight roof and you control the temperature” but - it will cost more for this control without insulation. All the information I sought in preparation for this article about the importance of insulation in a single storey building reveals the following: (I guess you already know)

1.     Heat rises leaving cold air at the lowest level in a structure.
2.     Air movement in a structure tries to equalize the temperature inside and       outside.
3.     Some materials provide better resistance to temperature transfer than others.
4.     Return on investment on structural components varies

This table indicates the importance of each part of a single storey structure

The most vital investment associated with loss of 40% heat on cold days and responsible for 80% of overheating on hot sunny days
Important should be draught and condensation free + provide adequate resistance to heat transfer in and out typically 25% of heat loss
Vital without good draught sealing and double glazing allow draughts and can lead to condensation even then responsible for 15% of heat loss
Vital (the same as windows) but need to be in constant use + resist draughts and condensation another 12% of heat input gone
Some heat is lost if floor is highly conductive and in direct contact with ground e.g. concrete exposed or single skin wood fixed to exterior beams 8% is going here
The above is my analysis data drawn from multiple professional sources and reflects the relative importance to internal comfort level of each part of the structure. You can see from this table that the ideal structure would have no draughts, a flat (highly insulated) roof at about 2.2m height, walls which are thicker at the top than the bottom and less windows than most people want. As previously stated I think we already knew this.

Some experience

Over the years Noella and I have lived - in a cottage in Derbyshire with stone walls two feet thick, an old chapel converted, three modern style houses of different specification, have been on holiday in a caravan, tent +++ more hotels than can be remembered. We have been overheated in a tent, frozen stiff and damp in an UN-insulated attic flat and superbly comfortable in a single skin wooden cabin we had as a showroom for six years.
If we all had an unlimited budget to build a garden office today we would both choose Structural Insulated panels with Solarflex (brand) folding doors and windows. This specification is probably the best available and with minimal heating or cooling provides a superb comfortable environment at the lowest energy cost.
At the other end of the scale a thin drafty single skin wall with drafty windows and no roof insulation would be uncomfortable on 250 days out of 365 in our climate and require expenditure of at least £300 per year to control it. (This is an ordinary garden shed)
So - let us look at another table comparing the three most common Garden Office and Garden Studio construction techniques with specifications that meet the essential criteria for Garden Offices here in the UK.

Comfortable all year round
Save some further cost on energy
Superb Specification
Flat roof with 70mm of dense insulation
Upgrade to 150mm
65mm of single skin pine wood
Double skin with 50mm dense insulation
Sealed double glazed windows 10mm gap
15mm gap in double glazing with seals
Triple Glazing
Same spec as windows
Same spec as windows
Triple Glazing
Two layers with some insulation
40mm dense insulation
Cost per sq m installed project

3m*4m Office Total Project inc VAT

We are asked about electrical systems, security, maintenance etc.on each and every client site-visit. All of the answers are simple but the explanation of insulation importance and ROI remains the hot (in more than one way) topic of the day.

Richard Checked May 2017

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A Short History of Garden Offices

“Didit dar dit, screech screech screech reboot reboot – tweet tweet tweet”
Since the millenium something has been happening at the bottom of the garden all over the UK – silence, efficiency, time saving, planet saving and family friendly.
With the almost universal use of web1, with the emergence of web2 and web three “the cloud” on the horizon there is less need for the communal workplace. Travel is more costly, work and life “balance” becomes more demanding on time as communications become easier and the pace of processing information continues to increase.

More and more people are working from home

A Brief history of the garden office market 2001-2011 By Richard Grace (Aarco Exclusive Timber Buildings)

Phase 1. The humble shed transforms into a place to Work

Internet for the masses brings broadband into the street and the cost of being on line collapses. A few companies adapt high quality sheds and summerhouses and name them “Garden Offices”. The biggest demand was in the South East of course where practically everyone now knows someone with an office at home. With space being at a premium building a workplace in the garden became an obvious option.
New companies arrive on the scene re-naming these structures “Garden Studios” but they are still “Garden Buildings” or “Super Sheds”.

Phase 2. The shed market splits and a new sector arrives (2001)

The market for Garden Offices and Garden Studios becomes competitive and starts to attract media interest, new companies arrive all using the internet as the primary route to market and some shed show-sites start to build the high quality sheds into their displays. Bloggers and directories written by professional shed working journalists take interest and claim their space.
The competing, predominantly small building companies develop their own unique selling points and the market is divided by three construction systems. Log walls (log cabins), Timber Frame composite walls an SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) panels. All these systems have a place, give different advantages of cost, ease of installation and comfort.
Still the architectural designs remain the same shed like structures, flat roof cubes and small houses. New names emerge “Garden Den”, “Eco-House” “Garden Office Pod” etc. etc.

Phase 3 The new market becomes competitive. (2004)

Our Government sorts out planning for outbuildings to make it easier????
Following an attempt by legislation in 2008 to make it easier for people to understand what can be built without the bureaucracy attached to planning applications. People with small gardens have been limited to cube style flat roof buildings because of the so-called Permitted Development Rights.
The Cube manufacturers ramp up, franchising makes an entry and universally the flat roof quality garden building suppliers use rubber roofing sheets (epdm), which do not leak, give the low maintenance and the assurance the investment will be protected.
Plus Plus on the back of “Kyoto protocol” the green brigade can now have grass roofs which look better from upstairs windows and make everyone feel environment friendly. Insulation becomes a must for the clients as comfort and energy bills change their priorities.

Phase 4 Recession causes growth/shake-out and efficiency increases (2008)

The recession comes as recessions always do and the fall out in the construction industry brings new competition to each end of the market, the number of UK companies claiming to be specialists in Garden Offices and Studios tops 300.
Helped by Google geographic polarisation takes place with many companies claiming local territory.
At the top end the product is absolutely in line with executive housing quality and the offers now range from the posh-shed to the “Garden Palace”. A place for work for family and friends with all the mod cons imaginable a long comprehensive guarantee and finance available as a package.
In fact Garden Annex’s where relations can stay or Granny can live are now available as turn key package from many Garden Office Suppliers. There are now no shed suppliers that don’t have a Garden Office or Garden Studio offering. A significant percentage of installations now have bathrooms and kitchenettes.

Phase 5 Where we are today (2011)

Weird and wonderful derivatives of the “same thing” are now cropping up daily as trendy architects and designers personalise their “Garden Office Pods” and specialist compact furniture suppliers are emerging to support the ever marching and increasingly competitive trends.
None of this is unusual – since the dawn of time new products and markets have emerged and competition has brought about increasing choice and value. In our market the range of product has increased and brought seemingly endless choice.

Customer Choice

The one question remains in each new client contact “What is the price”. With so much choice and so many competing companies offering “everything” our clients must have a method of comparing value for money.
Customer Service remains constant in all large purchases this is of the same importance and remains No.1. Buildings should therefore be judged on three criteria. Design, Specification and cost per square metre.
In the Garden Building marketplace this ranges from £100 per sq m for a good B&Q shed which you transport and erect yourself to £1500 per sq m for a Garden Palace, which arrives, in your garden seamlessly with all the goodies the keys and a long insurance backed guarantee.

Our offer to this market covers the range from £300 to £1000 per square metre "We don't sell sheds" and now a new catch phrase enters "We don't build Palaces" we build exactly what you need as agreed and our Customer Service remains "simply the best" call us on 01244 679502 or email

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Log Cabin at Branksome Place and weather of course

As followers will be aware I have to watch the weather - "well" my prediction is if we don't get rain in the next few days I will have to declare it an official drought - the ground is dry as a bone, difficult to dig and for golfers un-watered greens are impossible to make puts on
 Latest + more on the log cabin at Branksome Place (Hilders)

I know a few people liked my post about the Log Cabin at Branksome. Even the Marketing Manager at DeVere appreciated some parts of it.


The cabin has had a bad winter (what would you expect when the roof felt is completely rotten)


Noella and I returned to Branksome Place as Devere gave us a really good deal. We were visiting to attend Tom's Wedding at Merrist Wood College in Guildford. Tom has married Hannah at last (he reffered to her as "the wife" for the past eleven years. If any clients can remember Tom worked with us on quite a few jobs around Surrey and is now a lecturer  specialising in arboculture (chopping up trees with a chainsaw). On one job with me in the North he stepped on a rusty nail and the hospital visit delayed the project + his Mum was not pleased (since this we have reviewed our procedures of course).
On the Saturday morning I took a stroll down to check on the now famous log-cabin and took a few more photos (they may well be the last of this beautiful cabin which holds so many memories. (see my previous blog on this subject)


The missing roof covering has left the cabin in a devastating rotting condition. The deck is dangerous and the doors are badly vandalised. Certainly this is no place to take your grandchildren and mine certainly won’t be playing here as I had hoped they would.

The roof boards are 90% rotted and a section in the centre of the log walls on the left has received a thourough soaking for years now leading to severe damage on the beutiful 190mm round logs..

I made a plan to save the cabin by chopping out the rotten timber and replacing the roof completely. It is still possible and of course over the last ten years being in the business I know how to do it.
The swimming pool is not suffering so much damage and everything else here is in top notch condition.

Sorry about this diversion but to us "Cabin Builders" it is difficult to watch.

Back to our projects.

One of our recent local projects on the Wirral is now finnished and the client has promised internal photos with Office and Gym stuff in place. Here is a shot of the completed project:

On closing this post - I don't know if I should do this - but for those interested in woodworking skills you have to see this I was thinking of claiming it was taken in our woirkshop but here it is heading towards 2 million views and anyone that has used a bandsaw can understand why!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Spring is here daffodills are out and temperature reaches 14 degrees

That's it winter is officially over. Time to get blogging again.The winter work took us away to High Wycombe, Wimbledon and Ironbridge none of which were in daily driving distance so Hotels /pubs were home for a while.

I won't be saying much about the hotel in Luton but something of the others:

The most noteable were The Kings Arms Hotel Hampton Court where I wrote a review as follows: + The Swan at Bridgenorth (see below)

Our stay at the Kings Arms Hotel :

This hotel has a very good location with more than pleasant surroundings and easy access to rail. I guess parking could be problematic sometimes but we found space without too much problem.

Breakfast was excellent and the rooms had great character.

What impressed me most was the attitude of all of the staff without exception. We were greeted and dealt with in a pleasant open and straightforward way. Everyone made us feel totally welcome.

I stay away from home a lot and my own hotel test was passed with flying colours. I leave a teddy bear (really he is an orangutan) in my room. Noella bought him for me and he reminds me of home. Not only was he placed back on my bed each day but the room staff arranged him with care.

This hotel scores ten out of ten as a home from home.

On to Ironbridge for a bigger job and more staying away.

The Ironbridge job found us staying at The Swan at Bridgenorth. The Bear (the pub that is) made a mess of our booking thats how we found the Swan - A good old fashioned pub with excellent service.

This is how Congo was looked after at the Swan

He was placed on the bed every day - one day they sat him on the bed head with earphones on keeping up to date with news and sport (even left my radio on tuned to five live)  Score fifteen out of ten another excellent home from home!!!!!

Our next two jobs are on the doorstep so Congo stays at home.

here is photo of my dashboard:

Future stays near Telford may be here (client has invited us to stay in this fantastic lodge - guess who built it)

BBQ season is here see our new range at

About Me

My photo
Richard is an experienced business consultant specialising in garden structures design and planning + The UK's leading expert in using Pinterest for business marketing web traffic generation at lowest cost.