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!

Garden Room Plumbing

 

Most garden room manufacturers and installers make the majority of their garden buildings off-site and assemble and complete on-site. Staff utilised to do these installations usually come from outside the delivery areas and therefore struggle to provide staff to plumb these buildings economically.

 

Of course, it can all be done, but normally at a greater cost than a local tradesman or contractor, due to accommodation expenses and increased working away rates. Similarly, it is for this reason why we at Extra Rooms normally suggest that groundwork, laying of services and drains are performed by local tradesmen. However here is some advice you should always keep in mind when planning your garden room plumbing:

  1. When people find the drains for their garden rooms are at the wrong level to be discharged (against gravity) it will not be possible to have a toilet and sink as they wished. However, it is virtually always is possible and a good plumber should be able to take care of it all for an affordable price.
  2. Most garden rooms generally do not need planning permission as long as they fall within the parameters of the permitted development rights. This is on the basis that they are not being used overnight for domestic habitation. However, local councils are often wary that requiring a toilet generally means that the garden building may function for overnight use. It is therefore very important that you make it abundantly clear that this is not the case as some council may insist on planning permission and full building regulations compliance.
  3. It is often an advantage to use the "Saniflo" system for connecting drains from studios to the mains drainage. Some benefits of the Saniflo System:

 

- Uses a smaller pipe which does not have to be laid to a fall (as normal)
- Can be used as a life saver when the drains are falling in the wrong direction
- Uses a macerator and pump that is situated behind the toilet which pumps waste to  wherever it is required (even uphill etc.)
- For more information of Saniflo systems check out their website or ask your local plumber.

 

As I said previously, quality garden room suppliers should be capable of preparing your garden building for plumbing as well doing the garden room plumbing itself – we are anyway! However, if you are looking to save a little bit of money, it is my advice that you employ a plumber that will not charge additional fees and works close to the building site.

Written by David Fowler at 15:54

Garden Office Security

In my experience, the majority of garden offices and studios are situated in a location distanced from the main house or dwelling. This separation often functions to keep domestic and commercial life separate as well as to not block off the view of the garden from the house.

However, this deliberate distancing can sometimes bring about issues of garden office security. Considering the various functions of garden offices and buildings, you will often find lots of valuable items kept within them from confidential papers to expensive laptops and because of this it are imperative that your garden building is completely secure.

 Garden Office Security

 

Here are some tips to take into account when thinking about garden building and garden office office security:

  • Place any valuables out of sight when the garden building is not in use.
  • Alarm your building back to the house.
  • Install double glazed windows and doors.
  • Install high-quality 5 lever insurance approved mortice locks or go for UVPC as the espagnolette locking mechanism for doors and windows is superior
  • Preferably choose inward opening doors so there is less likelihood of hinges being attacked and the door being lifted out.
  • If possible have your garden building built so it faces towards the house. The last thing a burglar wants is to be seen and will not want to risk being spotted from an occupant.
  • Install a simple P.I.R at the front of the studio which will trigger a light (even during daylight) when movement is detected.  Our attention is drawn to a light appearing and most P.I.Rs can be set to trigger during daylight as well as at night.
  • For less than £100 you can buy a camera with a mobile sim card in it that will call and text you, wherever you are in the world, when the alarm inside your studio is triggered.  On this device you can go online and look at live images from the camera to check if it is a false alarm or not. Additionally, if the camera does record a burglary, you can use the images to identify the intruder making it much more likely to catch them. There are more expensive versions of this type of technology that have battery backups so any power cut will not affect them. However, they all use the mobile network so they are not rendered totally useless if the power is cut.

Extra Rooms security

With this in mind, as standard all garden buildings supplied by Extra Rooms include the following garden office security measures:

  • Keyed locks on our timber windows (we also offer UPVC windows as an option – there is no extra charge for windows but UVPC doors are a bit more).
  • Glazing units that are security glued into the casements
  • All doors toughened double glazed.
  • All windows fully double glazed.
  • Security locks supplied as standard. Insurance approved 5 lever locks and all opening windows have keyed locks.

In addition to this, all our studios are lined with plywood, not plasterboard, though it is plastered after the addition of a special adhesive, so this makes breaking in from the rear or sides extremely difficult as plywood is so much stronger than OSB or plasterboard, which can be breached too easily by removing the cladding in many other studios but is why extra rooms are such strong rooms.

 

Written by David Fowler at 16:02

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
david fowler extra rooms garden office blog

David Fowler, Founder of Extra Rooms

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