A garden office blog from Extra Rooms

Welcome to Extra Room’s garden office blog.

We love sharing all our garden building knowledge and stories with you!

Sedum Roofing for Garden Offices

Sedum or green roofing is becoming increasingly popular in Britain and the use of it is becoming widespread as an alternative to traditional materials like slate tiles or felt. A green or living roof is a roof or deck onto which vegetation is intentionally grown or habitats for wildlife are established. There are a number of different types of green roof and each type will look and function in a different way.

Initially I was very much in favour of sedum or green roofing. I liked the idea that it could lower the use of air conditioning, reduce storm water run-off and provide a home for wildlife. However after a little bit of research I realised that the ‘green benefits’ that many people were championing were very much exaggerated.

Sedum Roof for Garden Offices

Claim: Sedum roofs reduce Co2 in the air and emit Oxygen

Reality: Sedums are deliberately slow growing plants so people do not have to weed and mow their roofs all summer long. Consequently they give off little oxygen and take up little Co2.

Solution: By having a normal roof and two small bushes in plant pots either side of the building you will take Co2 from the environment and emit as much if not more oxygen as a sedum roof. Furthermore, there are a number of ornate and attractive plants that are more vigorous than basic bushes, which can also be grown in more sizeable pots next to a studio.


Claim: Sedum roofs reduce the need for/use of air conditioning

Reality: A properly insulated building should not need air conditioning.

Solution: Proper insulation! Unless there is a continual heat source like banks of computers or a lot of large south facing windows then there should be no need for air conditioning in a garden building (in the UK especially). If proper insulation is installed then your garden building should stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer without any need for air conditioning!


Claim: Sedum roofs provide homes for wildlife

Reality: No tree dwelling animals or land based animals can make use of the plants found on a green roof. Only a few insects, spiders and grubs will benefit from such an environment.

Solution: From bird houses to brush shelters, there are many ways that you can help to create habitats for different wildlife in your garden. For ideas and more information check out the RSPB website.


Now as you can see, I am fully in favour of looking after the planet, but I will always argue that there are many more efficient ways of making your garden building environmentally “green” than installing a sedum roof! Nonetheless - if desired - we will be happy to fit a sedum roof on your garden building.

Written by David Fowler at 16:20

Train fare increases in the UK and working from home

Home isn't just where the heart is, it could be where the money is too

Yesterday saw the first day of a 4.2% (on average) increase in rail fares for season ticket holders in England, Wales and Scotland! Initially the rail fare increase was set at RPI plus 3% - a total of 6.2% - but this was reduced to RPI plus 1% by the government in October to a total of about 4.2%. However, regardless of this 2% subsidy, rail ticket prices in England are now positioned as the dearest in Europe.

Great Train Robbery


We are yet to see how these fare increases will impact travellers across the UK, however commuters are already up in arms and reaction has been far from positive or even indifferent. Nevertheless, despite the Campaign for Better Transport launching an online petition calling for the government to name a date that we can expect the above-inflation formula to end, this issue does not look like it’s going to dissolve in the near future.

In an article published on The Telegraph online yesterday Christian Wolmar controversially proposes that the blame for these fare increases lie with passengers and their appetite for travel. He suggests that “the one way to ensure that fare rises are lower in the future is for more people to shun the railways and use the alternatives – or simply not travel”.

Now I am not suggesting that this is the answer to the current issue at all. Many people, especially those in London and surrounding areas, have structured their lives around a particular commuting route. However, for some, these fare increases could be the catalyst for a change in lifestyle and attitude towards work and travel.

Quite understandably I will be the first to champion the home office – I sell them! Nevertheless, disregarding my own predisposition towards garden buildings (if you can), working from home can offer an encouraging solution in these strained economic times. A view reinforced by the Live Work Network who recorded an increase of 21% of the number of people working from home from 2001 – 2012.

Correspondingly Judie Heminsley, author of Work from Home, suggests that millions of people are now enjoying savings in time and money as a result of working from home. However, in an article written by Judy for Cornwall Today she does warn that the decision to work from home does involve a lot more than a simple change of location. In her opinion, there are a number of aspects that must be considered before jumping straight into the deep end, but when it comes down to it, the best thing about working from home is that you are in control – “Unlike those who share a workplace, with little time, patience and imagination, you can create the ideal working environment for your own temperament and circumstances”.

Whether those circumstances be dictated by this year’s rail fare increases or something else, working from home could be the solution for you.

Written by David Fowler at 16:18

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from all of us at Extra Rooms! We want to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients and readers for such a wonderful year and hope that 2013 is as good if not better!

garden office new year

Written by David Fowler at 15:58

What’s a garden room when it’s at home anyway?

Studio, art room, sound-proofed music room, gym, granny annex, self-contained accommodation, outdoor dining room, beauty therapy room, guest bedroom, children’s play room, office…the list goes on! For many, the versatility of a garden room is nothing new; however you’d be surprised how many people we speak to still believe that garden buildings are reserved exclusively for storing spades and punctured paddling pools!

Garden Room

It can be argued that the primary reason for this misunderstanding is the blurred boundaries between garden buildings and their close structural cousins; conservatories, sheds and orangeries.

When you think about it like this, it’s very easy to understand how many people can find it difficult to imagine a fully insulated, secure, stylish and electrically fitted garden room in the same context as the damp and drafty wooden shed at the bottom of their garden! Similarly, if thinking about garden rooms and conservatories as counterparts, you can appreciate how easy it may be to translate the common perception that the purchase and installation of a conservatory is a costly and laborious endeavour onto a garden building.

Considering this, it may be helpful to define a garden room by its top 10 UNIQUE benefits:

  1. Warm and comfortable in cold weather.
  2. Cool in the warm weather.
  3. Private and secure.
  4. Multi-usage.
  5. Simple foundation system.
  6. Rapid build time.
  7. Modern appearance.
  8. Low heating costs.
  9. Adaptable design to surroundings.
  10. Low maintenance.

If you would like to discuss garden rooms in more detail or the types of garden rooms we have designed and installed then please send us an email or give us a ring on 01159 899 555 in the day and 01949 813 813 in the evening! Alternatively check out our garden room case studies page.

Written by David Fowler at 10:37

Decibel Meter Survey

Some interesting facts about sound:

Sounds consist of pressure waves. The intensity of sound is known as the sound pressure level, or SPL.


The human ear can detect a wide range of sound pressure levels. Sounds can be very soft, such as the ticking of a wristwatch, or very loud, such as a top fuel dragster doing a burnout. The intensity of sound pressure can be measured, and is expressed as decibels, or dB.

Alexander Graham Bell founded the concept of decibels and formulated a logarithmic scale based on 10. "Deci" refers to the base 10 log scale, and "bell" refers to Alexander Bell.

Each 10-dB increase represents a tenfold increase in sound intensity. In addition, a 10-dB increase is perceived as roughly doubling loudness.

A few examples of decibel readings are:


1 - 25 dB - Human ear begins to detect sounds at this baseline


40 - 50 dB - Sound levels in the average home


60 dB - Normal conversation


70 dB - Negative responses begin in the body. The autonomic nervous system kicks in.

All sounds consist of waves of pressure moving through the air. As decibels increase, these waves of pressure get stronger and have more physical force. The human body reacts to this physical force through HEARING and FEELING the bombardment of sounds.

When sudden, strong sounds reach the ear, and are transmitted to the brain, the body reacts by triggering the autonomic nervous system. This automatic system is in place to protect us against danger. This system produces the "fight or flight" adrenaline response, which prepares the body to either fight a danger, or flee from danger.

In addition, when intense sound waves are combined with excessive low-frequency vibrations, the effect is tremendously damaging to the body, as well as to physical structures, such as buildings, etc.


Noise over 70 dB - Increases the risk of heart attack by 20%


Noise over 90 dB - As this intense sound bombards the body, the adrenaline reaction is so powerful that people become openly hostile and belligerent.


120 dB - Standing behind a Boeing 707 while it is in full thrust, just before takeoff. Hearing loss can occur after just 7.5 minutes.


120 - 130 dB - Sound threshold for pain


120 - 140 dB - Inside the average street boom car. Boom cars with higher levels are usually seen in dB "drag racing" competitions.



Written by David Fowler at 12:13
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david fowler extra rooms garden office blog

David Fowler, Founder of Extra Rooms