About garden offices, granny annexes and garden studio building projects for people that want to develop their garden or build extra accommodation. Written by Richard Grace Project Director Garden Structure based in Cheshire UK
Designers, suppliers and installers of Insulated Garden Buildings (all types) including Lodges and Granny Annexes. Our range includes structures of both traditional and contemporary designed and built in our Chester, Cheshire UK workshops.
Garden Room Trends UK (my review of 2014 and predictions for 2015)
By Richard Grace – Project Director – Garden Structures Ltd
Another interesting year is about to start (as soon as I
have finished this post!!)
It will be my 12th year in this business and
there have been a few changes. When we started out there were a few "early
adopters" wanted an office at home and a few deciding that it
was possible to have garden space insulated and use it as an extension of home
/ work life. Now I am sure most people know about this and are aware that a
large number of suppliers claim to be the best.
Most suppliers use websites to attract
new customers. A few weeks ago I found a new local competitor using all
the normal blurb (long established / family company / years of experience etc.
etc.). The photos looked good and interestingly they had used a few of my
designs. – Curiosity got the better of me and I spent quite a few minutes
tracking the source of the photo.
Guess what I found???
One of my own buildings??
My message here is check and re-check that your supplier
really has the experience because there are a few things about building
“habitable buildings” for work / play or accommodation in your garden that
Accesss to site:
there wasn't much room here!
This is never ever the same. Even I can get this wrong.It might seem easy to take 5 metre by 3
metre fully functional garden studio off a vehicle and park it in your garden
for £13 grand. But this is not true. In this garden the site Warden would not allow us near the site and wanted us off site at 4.30pm
Yes of course everyone wants a comfortable environment but
this is not only provided by insulation. Nothing has changed spend more on roof
than walls as heat rises (remains common sense).
Most companies specify their own kind of base or ask you to
get it done yourself. Take it from me every situation is different. Don’t make
a concrete base over size etc etc.
Some will do some will not – some will do but
not connect and some will do all or nothing. We remain committed to all or
nothing. The way to design the installation is with our client after the
structure is up if possible. No changes here for anyone except LED light bulbs are becoming
popular as they cost less to run.
I have never ever seen a job that doesn’t require any at all
and I have seen jobs where the necessary landscaping costs 30% of the total
So now we know a lot – about the various offerings and about
the cost about the roof about the insulation about the planning law and about
installing in just about any situation.
What are the big questions you need answered:
How much does it cost
Is underfloor heating included
Can I have
Answer is always – almost always – sometimes – never
You can’t have plumbing with a conventional drain that runs
You can't install an accommodation building and rent it out
to illegal immigrants
You can't build 4m high on your boundary without planning permission
You can't build over 30 square metres of space without having
building control approval
Anything else seems possible.
You can buy a kit of the shelf or have a company supply and
fit one of their designs or you can use a company that designs for the site and
installs or you can simply “do it yourself”
Our market has matured:
Do the research – you will need time – there are 400 +
companies available via web who recommend their offering for the search term
“Garden Office”. Google cannot place them on the screen in an order that suits
your requirement. So Write down your requirement, review it and think it over
then type all of it in.
What google is best at is relevance – do this and you will
find the information you need. Take time and look at quite a few sites.
Ask for references and go to see a site of your likely
supplier on your own. Ask all the questions you want. This is plain common
Here are my predictions for 2015 regarding garden buildings
Timber frame will dominate – why? Well single skin wood
walls are no longer efficient enough to meet energy conservation trends. SIPS
are “simply too heavy to be the right materials” Brick is a non starter in the
– “Wooden wallpaper”
Cedar is still an option but many are thinking it is dated
and are not sure about the way it ages – however it still doesn’t rot. Ordinary
softwood cladding – cheaper and can be protected with regular treatment (the
walls tell you by flaking off) when they need re-painting. Waney edge larch is
simply "cool & trendy" it tells you when to soak it in linseed oil again.
Vinyl or better is the choice. Beware there are many
qualities of vinyl and a massive difference in value depending on where you
shop. B&Q are best value – only certain stores have a good choice but
beware rumours have it that B&Q are pulling out of vinyl sales probably
because of the margin – in my opinion they sell it too cheap in the stores
where they have the paternosters (large roll handling systems)
Having tried the various methods over the years I
have now become a MASSIVE fan of ecoflex underfloor heating. It represents good
value and offers a luxurious + invisible + controllable + economical (when
coupled with good insulation)
5. Roof covering
Cedar Shingle at 28 degrees
Not much to say here – simply this:
Flat roofs simply must be epdm DO NOT CONTEMPLATE ANYTHING
Pitch roofs – Bitumen Shingle remains a good choice
Steel roofing products – we use colourcote urban which remains far
and away the best
Conventional tile / slate will be around forever and do a
No changes here – connection must be by armour – and needs to
comply so must be done by an electrician
Here the system takes the waste and top water - pumps it 50 metres to disposal in small bore pipe saving £alot:
It was 8 years ago I designed our first low cost pumped
sewer system for garden buildings. As yet I know of no other supplier of this
but: Now my systems have in excess of 30 years continuous useage and reduce
installation cost + make it possible to have toilet / shower and kitchen in
almost any garden building at acceptable cost.
Windows and Doors
I think there is little doubt that in the domestic market
UPVC windows dominate as the best value. Most houses are brick and for me UPVC
has never seemed right in wooden buildings. Somehow they seem to demand wooden
windows. The demand for quality and good seals seems to be important and this
is an area where we continue to find clients will pay the extra for quality.
Don’t forget this – to use your building and to be sure it
fits in you will need an entry and some re-vamping of surrounding area. There
never has been a change here
For us the future – more and more Accommodation Buildings and Granny
Annexes – demand is huge and our knowledge increases.
Project Director - Garden Structures Ltd CH4 8LB tel 01244 679502