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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Garden Office and Garden Studio Trends 2013

Review of the Garden Office, Garden Studio, Garden Room and Garden Pod market including predictions for 2013.


Very interesting indeed!

Via “Google Alerts” I received this morning a link to http://www.garden-office-expert.com and read a post that sounds very interesting and a bit risky at the same time.

Charlie Dalton is a friend, a competitor and a very experienced Garden Office Builder. I could even say with some confidence one of the first and the best in our market. (So am I by the way). This new posting announces the imminent arrival of a “top 40 review of Garden Office suppliers”. ("The definitive Top 40 List of Garden Office suppliers in the UK" with financial data?) We will soon see it!

What use will this be to potential Garden Office clients? It will no doubt tell us that Extrarooms has become Extraroomz and the last published figures for Dunster House but it can’t tell us why or what is happening now. It may tell us that Decorated Shed has disappeared from our market with their fabulous buildings and super marketing but not why?  I hope it tells us iobuild are doing well as for me their website is industry leading in content and design. Their products and image are top-end and we all need that - if we have the money!

By the way in 2011 Aarco changed name Garden Structures because the name needed to be more user friendly. Nothing here at the office changed at all for clients or suppliers.

 

Grand Designs 4.5m high oak doors on super cedar garden room built by us in 2012 (colorcote urban roof at 12 degrees double tilt)


If I were a housing property developer and wanted to include a Garden Office in 20 of my new properties this year I would definitely bookmark Charlies post and come back to read it when published. It would be a small part of my strategy but I would want the comfort of knowing someone had done my research for me.

It is of course clear that Charlie knows this market, and has a great deal of hands on experience in running an expanding Garden Office / Garden Studio company. Smart Garden Offices

The Garden Office and Garden Studio market is “like”  (perhaps 2013 will be the year of “like” why is there not a “dislike button” on facebook?


The Garden Office Market today Jan 2013


This remains a diverse market populated by small, medium and large players. The market is in constant flux (new entrants and existing companies diversifying their building offerings). Many are one-man bands. Web sites do not give data like balance sheets, profit and loss statements. Publicly available accounting information here is historic to the point of being useless.

 


Traditional Garden Office and Store design and build by us 2012


 

About our company Garden Structures Ltd.


 

The typical client of our business looks for a supplier by battling their way through a minefield of websites, most saying they are the best, why this is and backing it up with photos and case studies. In the case of the larger (not necessarily) long established companies it is pretty obvious how they are doing because things move much slower. What I mean here is that in my 10 years in this business I have never seen a totally flat garden building site next to the drop-off point with services in place and the kettle on!

The web does not give all the info BUT it is the only research tool available to the client on their search for best supplier.

There is no average client but all have specific goals in relation to achievement of the extra space they need. All sites are different and all people are different.

See here what a site looks like on my visit and what is intended as a replacement: I love the drawing but "the cat is not to scale"

 
 
 

Other Market information and lists of suppliers

 
We have in our space only two websites, which review the market constantly:

  1. The Garden Room Guide
  2. Shedworking
As we all know now The Garden Room Guide is a directory (a very good one) with user generated content, comments and specification info. A massive amount of supplier generated content - including text, photo and video. Advertising funds it! Shedworking is a long established blog started and run by a journalist (unbiased we hope but a true professional in my opinion) and offering advertising on the side.

The Garden Office and Garden Studio Business 2013

 
Building Garden Offices is an attractive business but not always for those with the primary goal of wealth generation. The lifestyle is attractive – relatively short projects, real man stuff (working with tools). Outdoor physical activity and  a certain amount of interesting travel. It is never boring for long as projects are relatively short but very rewarding.

If you are reading this as a potential client then I urge you to read it again and if you are reading this as a competitor thanks for visiting.

If you are a potential client then what you should do is:

  1. Research for your potential suppliers and narrow them down to a shortlist
  2. Get firm quotations
  3. Talk to the suppliers
  4. Get references
  5. Check out if you need planning permission
  6. Check out if you need to comply with building regulations
  7. Follow your best instincts
Cheapest is not always best neither is the most expensive. Your priorities may be saving your own time, saving your hard earned cash or both it is that simple. There are many differing specifications and most have their place.

There is a seasonality issue in the Garden Office Business as days get shorter and weather deteriorates from October activity and productivity reduces. Driven by new -year resolutions, improvement in light and weather the business wakes up in January and gets a head of steam in March.

My Garden Office and Garden Studio market predictions for this year 2013 are:


  1. Continued growth driven by our economic situation as a nation
  2. Massive growth in Granny annexes and small accommodation buildings driven by the same + the escalating cost of care
  3. Development of new techniques will slow as we have enough insulation and cladding options already
  4. Diversification into other garden structures by established Garden Office companies as synergy exists
  5. Maybe a few more players will fail as competition will remain fierce
  6. In addition to self-build and full service offerings the client supplier relationship will develop to use more local labour for base installation, landscaping, electrics and plumbing. Driven by escalating cost of travel, and a fear of the effect of weather on productivity.
  7. Google will change their algorithm at least 3 times reshuffling the top 40. This generates more work for SEO companies and of course more revenue for their adwords goldmine.
  8. More and more “Garden Studio Pods” with different designs and maybe different materials as cedar reduces in popularity as a standard cladding for Garden Buildings
  9. Broadband range extenders in Garden Offices will become a popular extra we have been fitting them for some time and they work well
  10. Toilets and plumbing are becoming a "possible may have"

 

More like this I guess

 
Let,s all hope the weather is better in 2013 and that the competition in our market benefits suppliers and clients alike.

Thanks Charlie for helping me spice up my post and good luck with the "imminent" publication I await it with interest and I guess so will industry watchers and most importantly our mutual potential clients.

This post has been revolving in my head for some days now and your post has helped me “spice" it up. I look forward to reading the top 40 review, being in it and getting a good word!


written by Richard Grace Project Director Garden Structures Ltd www.garden-office-studio.co.uk link to us with anchor text “Garden Offices and Garden Studios” se us on twitter / facebook / pinterest / Houz etc. etc. etc. Comments welcome!

We have just taken an order for this for central London so must get on with real work:!

 
Will publish in-situ photo when done! No it's not on a beach!

4 comments:

  1. Interesting as usual so what is changing! and who will come out of Charlies post best?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fantastic Blog for innovative garden studios.Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Charlie decided to withdraw the top 40 post. Not surprising as such things can often be troublesome in competitive markets populated by small companies.

    I was looking forward to getting a good review for Garden Structures Ltd as a clean company with fantastic client satisfaction record!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Richard,
    Thank you for your kind comments about our website and business. We are fine, thank you. We don't need quite as many customers at our end of the market, just the right ones!
    Best wishes
    Lynn Fotheringham

    ReplyDelete