Thursday, 1 January 2015

Garden Room trends 2015


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??

Curved PD compliant roof

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 remain important:

Accesss to site:

Photo   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).

The base


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.


 Photo  Photo

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 project.

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:

Is it  -----?
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 uphill

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 sense.

Here are my predictions for 2015 regarding garden buildings

  1.  Construction method 

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 economic scenario.
  1. Cladding – “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.

  1. Floorcover

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)

4. Heating

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

 Photo Cedar Shingle at 28 degrees
Not much to say here – simply this:

Flat roofs simply must be epdm DO NOT CONTEMPLATE ANYTHING ELSE
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 great job

Electrical systems

No changes here – connection must be by armour – and needs to comply so must be done by an electrician

6. Plumbing

 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.

Richard Grace 

Project Director - Garden Structures Ltd CH4 8LB tel 01244 679502

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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.