Sunday, 6 December 2015

Garden Ofice and Studio Building trends for 2016

Garden Building Trends 2016

Written by Richard Grace – Project Director - specialist Garden Structures designer and builder. (we are now entering our 14th year)

 – not much new but all remains the same! Here is a picture of my best mate Ian who has just bought this "Brand New Morgan - I cut off his head to make sure none of the other guys can recognize him! The car has to live in a garage, not many cars do these days. We convert garages to living space now.

HIGHLIGHTS and some low-lights of the year 2015 

We have been in the Garden Buildings business now for (I think about 14 years). In recent years I have been writing a year-end review. This one nearly gone was an interesting year so – here goes - my review for 2015! Featuring 12 of our most interesting and demanding projects. (with my candid comments!)

The year held some great successes and some difficulties - like no other – both good and bad!!! This blog post is (a sort of notepad straight out of my head) unlike some of my other stuff, some of this is “risk A” but so what!. I do hope people accept it but as usual I am me.

Plus of course the Internet and the ability to do this and change it quickly has modified the planet forever. Here's a word for non-futurists. Watch out as the pace of change is increasing.
This review is based on what is happening in the Garden Building business now. A lot is still good and demand remains higher than ever.

Orchard Studio - Granny Annex / accommodation extraordinaire was my most favorite project of the year.

SO HERE IT IS - At the turn of the year (last year) we were a bit behind schedule (5 weeks) Oh shit! But still pushing the boundaries of design. Creating new stuff, using new techniques, employing Romanians, Bulgarians and Poles. Javi – Our Spanish project manager had left for all the right reasons in the middle of last year (but rumor has it he might be back soon) life here had to go on without him.

1.Orchard Lodge Granny Annexes / sleepover building  – Here are a few more shots of my chosen project of the year.

The client brief was simple - “mum and dad want to stay over, it needs to fit in with what we have and who knows what it will end up being used for" (keep this quiet Richard but our daughter wants her boyfriend to stay over as well). We need shower room with toilet + kitchenette.

On site survey I could see the land was damp-ish but the outlook, access and space was ripe for a new creation, maybe traditional in design. Everything possible within permitted development planning rules and current building legislation was packed in. We were commissioned to handle the WHOLE JOB. from dig to handing over the keys and a few paint brushes.

2. Home Studio with a difference – Kingston on Thames (round the corner from our beautiful Richmond Park.

A treatment studio for a Pillates specialist who had built and grown her business in Kingston but needed her house back. There was good space needing developing at the bottom of the garden.

it has almost everything !

Pathway lights, plumbing,waiting room, underfloor heating car parking at rear etc,etc.

3. A Garden Office with a big / big difference

A MASSIVE Garden Office for “one guy” renting a space on the fabulous estate of one of the UK’s richest individuals. His job is to buy the best “horse blood” to fulfill the Lord's 3rd wife’s dream. The spec was for a  40m sq  DE-mountable building i.e. possible to move easily - fully insulated- underfloor heating etc etc etc - build in 10 mins -no mess allowed and so on and so on.


The project took longer than plan,  but - look it's fine - to me!

Even more interesting was that this horse was born here the day after we arrived! 

4. A good looking building for admiring and sitting in.

The whole thing is on here
It is so beautiful I just stood looking at it myself the lights have a flipflop switch at the house so client can see it anytime!

A Beautiful Summerhouse for a lovely person, in a lovely garden.


5. Outdoor activity centre caretakers office - We were called in to replace this!


 with this ---------- starting like this:

A replacement building to organise better and better kids activity holidays. An office for the caretaker of a fantastic outdoor activity centre. I must admit - here I was influenced by the location, a sort of “busman’s holiday” At the foot of Snowdon in one of the most beautiful places available to work. And with people doing great and good stuff with inner city children from all over uk.

6. A therapy studio built for a chiropractor fairly close to home – gave us a bit of a travel break.


All normal stuff, complete project except painting, toilet, waiting room, therapy room, underfloor heating, landscape / pathway / wheelchair access etc etc.

7. An outdoor kitchen beyond all comprehension. Maybe the client was a lottery winner?


I simply don't know where to start explaining the specification. This building is an outdoor kitchen the whole of the front opens onto an indian stone paved area and provides walk through at the same height with appropriate drainage. The side you can see opens as a bar with a massive oak slab serving area. Cooking facilities are at the rear of the building beneath the skylights. Client is very keen on entertaining his family and mates of course. And a really great guy.


 8. A Garden Studio in North London for the most demanding client one could imagine. 

Brief was basic “I want exactly what I want and the complete job and it MUST BE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY". HERE ARE PHOTOS FOR YOU TO EXAMINE.


Basically this is a cedar clad box like all my competitors build but maybe of higher spec - I am not sure!

9. JUST A SEATING AREA – BUT WHO KNOWS? “ what will be talked about here?”

Glade seating area

A seating area for a longstanding existing client in their beautiful 4 acre landscaped garden (my 4th project here - but just a dream)

I have tried and tried to photograph this project but the trees get in the way. So here I am going to describe it. This is called "Glade seating area" It is in the same garden mentioned earlier in this blog. An oak frame L shaped valley roof open structure with cedar shingle roof, oak benches and corner table. It has smartphone controlled lighting, internet access and phone chargers built in. The owners are leading cancer specialists. When I was briefed on the project all I could think was that if these two people sit here and think together the world could be a better place. Everything about this project was a dream come true.

It contains cooperation, creativity and ultimately a sort of purpose - at least in my head.

I loved doing this.


10. An art Studio for the head of design and creator of Liberty prints. 

Where the most beautiful fabrics could be designed. A traditional but inspirational design environment, a space at home but away from home.  - At the bottom of the garden.


Very traditional but well insulated and functional building has plumbing for washing brushes etc which exits to the front. The trench was a long dig but project was a joy to design and construct.


11. A building in the garden where two ladies could develop and grow their childcare business.


The project was just round the corner from Stoke Newington  railway station in the most orthodox Jewish area one can imagine. Impossible I thought early on due to parking and logistical difficulty (everything had to be taken in and out through the small terraced house. But I did it. Has small toilet sink, outdoor covered play area, underfloor heating etc. Good project for worthwhile cause, but a logistical nightmare!

The Jewish guys mostly agreed with me that wearing tesco bags on their hats when it rains is a bit “silly”.


12. Last but not least – A multipurpose accommodation building for a young American engineering project manager. 

A “MAN CAVE”- More gizmos, knobs and whistles than you could dream of.

 Review and trends for 2015 ends

 As usual I am pushing the boundaries of what can be done with small buildings in peoples gardens. You don’t need to spend long "googling" all the basic stuff - keywords “garden office” “garden studio”, “granny annexe” I remain passionate about what I do!


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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.