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!

About Me

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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.