Monday, 16 January 2012

Garden Office and Studio Trends 2012

Trends in Garden Studios and Garden Offices for 2012

A bit of blogging and predictions from me - Richard Grace Garden Structures Ltd Project Director and blogger in chief.

 Olympic year is here I would make a comment about Olympian Sheds although I should be careful here as Olympian sheds are a sort of competitor. Which brings me to my first point.

Competition in the UK Garden Studio and Garden Office market 2012.

Probably driven by the continued doldrums in the building market overall the competition here remains fierce. This of course drives costs down and benefits clients, it keeps us all on our toes and maintains high quality service.

Web remains the main marketing tool for most companies. PPC costs have remained high although adwords a great tool for instant traffic. Traditional media advertising has remained cheap, as competition in that field too is fierce.

Unfortunately the combined effect of increasing competition and cost pressures stresses some companies to breaking point and recently we have seen some competitors fail to make it through.

Social Media and Garden Offices

I am learning more about "social media". Personally I have not been a big facebook fan, as I don’t like turning down friend requests. I notice that following introduction of Google+, “which by the way I do like” this problem is, being addressed by facebook, a family button has appeared (maybe I just didn’t see it before).

Social media effect is proliferate and chaotic. We are all involved in some way – right now I am nervous about touching my phone screen in case it sends a private message across the planet by mistake and I guess I am not alone.

Almost everywhere people are trying to work out if finding family detail first on facebook is “how things should be”! Well its great to keep in touch with cousins on the other side of the planet but not for learning that one of the grandchildren is ill.

What has changed a lot?

 When we started in this business as one of the early entrants in 2001 a few things have changed quite dramatically.

  1. Clients have more choice of supplier and product design
  2. Suppliers have more competition
  3. Designs and building material preferences have proliferated
In ending my review of this topic it would not be like me to avoid saying something controversial.

Whilst our market remains in steep growth overall the visibility of competition over the web has led to some companies using desperate negative marketing. i.e. instead of explaining why they are the best they tend to imply the competition is not good.

Here are a few examples: (Decided to delete this so as not to be guilty myself)

From my own standpoint the customer remains king and client satisfaction is the key.

“Live and let live is not a bad business attitude and never has been”.

Anything new in materials or design?

There are always new designs, last year saw a proliferation of “pods” a sort of space-age capsule instead of a traditional building. A good thing unless you are a traditional neighbour next to a fairground cast-off or a Google pod with logos still in tact.

On the materials side I am quite excited about a bit of a trend in roofing material, which looks like a traditional zinc roof. We are introducing this as an option and have our first order right now.

Trends in our Market overall.

 The cost of commuting and the development of IT or should I say the proliferation of connectivity between web, phone, tablet and the so called cloud itself continue to be big drivers for us.

The option of working from home and remaining fully connected with the world of work is definitely here. It is accepted and here to stay. The embarrassment of working from “a shed in the garden” has gone.

Sleeping in a shed in the garden is next on the list. Why not? Many Garden Studios are now better insulated and of a higher fire safety specification than the main dwelling. Families prevented from moving due to the continued credit crunch need additional accommodation and at least for us this is a growing area of business.

More and more I am coming across clients with what I call a “Grand Designs” concept. The Garden building project has become a “passion” and competitive between owners.

Our Market has “come of age”

I have noticed a marked change in attitude of clients and other business associates, as they are now aware of our market coming of age. It is differentiated from the traditional shed market because they now know someone who has a supershed, garden studio or a workroom at home.

Oh and regarding the weather. The autumn and early winter was good and today it is good but COLD! So must get back to a bit of physical work.



  1. More of the same stuff from me but suggestions welcome from (the moderator)

  2. 'Sleeping in a shed in the garden is next on the list. Why not? Many Garden Studios are now better insulated and of a higher fire safety specification than the main dwelling. Families prevented from moving due to the continued credit crunch need additional accommodation and at least for us this is a growing area of business.'.
    I would question this in part- not the better spec as that is spot on, but immediately you use a garden room as accommodation then you need planning permission which can be a lot more trouble than it is worth!
    Also, people should not be fooled into thinking they will be toasty warm if they sleep in their garden room; like houses, these buildings require a heat source otherwise you will be waking up with seriously frozen assets...

  3. Wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments, Richard. Competition is very strong in our sector - but this is balanced by a much greater awareness of "proper" intermediate (not a shed, not brick) buildings like yours and ours.

    That said I haven't seen a new realistic or serious competitor arrive on the market in a couple of years. Our joint customer group, fortunately, is bright enough to see through the endless "me too" and "mobile number only" outfits who splurge a fortune on PPC promoting their one photograph of their one prototype. Those outfits make me Grrrrr.

    I agree too, Google plus is much more business user friendly... but it's rather like attending a party which hardly anybody else is attending!

    Now I've commented on your blog - please feel free to drive a tank right across mine!!!

    All the best - come and say hello when you are next in Suffolk.


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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.