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!

When is a garage not a garage?

 

It was a couple of years or so ago when we did this garden building, but the customer only sent these photos having finally got round to painting some of the cladding black. In fact I think it has all been painted now and looks fantastic.

Theirs was a large building, split into a garage and a large garden office.

We did not put in a floor for the garage as it had one underneath the old ugly concrete garage that sat there before, so we had some fun working out how to deal with the two different floor heights. 

In the end we brought the floor through from the studio section, a metre into the garage, where they could then mount their shelving units. It both simplified it for us and made life easier for them too as the old conrete garage base was wonky but good enough to park a car on. The racking could then sit on a level base protruding through from the room next door.

The whole point of the building was to create a large enough space, so that a growing family with teenage boys could benefit from the extra room and save them from moving house, as they have a cottage which was sometimes a bit cramped for them all.

So everything has worked out really well.

Here's what our customer Nick had to say:

"We couldn't be happier with our choice of Extra Rooms. Not only did they tailor a building to our needs and specifications but they were easy and great to work with. They also understood and respected our budget and worked brilliantly within it. The team who then came to assemble the building were highly professional and courteous. They basically became part of the family for the two days they were here and couldn't have been nicer to have around. The finish on the building, which is a garage and sizeable outside room, is excellent both inside and out. We highly recommended the design and build that you get with Extra Rooms". 

 

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Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Plastered!

 

You just cannot make up for experience when it comes to quality and skills, they have to be honed over time and taught to the workforce so they can be fast tracked to the skill set required for the particular job in hand. This applies to the order in which the tasks are carried out, as well as technique.

When I started making garden room buildings (on my own initially) I brought my experiences as a general builder, quite naturally, to the workshop, what else could or should one do?

Sounds reasonable, sounds logical, but sometimes it was not just wrong, it was wholly inappropriate.

Plastering for example is a case in point. Experience and a few years at it spasmodically as a builder over the decades, had given me a fair amount of experience when added up together, so you would think I would have transited seamlessly to plastering our garden rooms but oh no no, not when you are as thick as a couple of your own scaffold battens!

I trestled out the building, started the plastering with the ceiling and then after it had been polished off I took the platform down and started on a couple of facing walls. 

That is how it is normally done in houses, it made complete sense and it worked.

I did this for the first two years of making garden studios and rooms.

But what a Dipstick! What a Plonker, what a Turkey-brain!

Plastering ceilings is much more difficult than plastering walls of course, since you are plastering above you, you splash yourself easily as you flick water on the plaster as you trowel it off, your arms and shoulders ache as you continually hold the float above your head for an hour or even two sometimes, it is not an easy job.

Eventually, the 'turkey brain' writing this realised that it would be a lot easier to plaster the ceiling panel by panel, so after the penny dropped, this is how it has been done ever since, but with an additional tweak.

Once you plaster a wall or an upright panel, you soon find it is far too easy to load the plaster onto the trowel near the floor and then skim upwards but then you end up with thicker plaster nearer the floor, thinning to the correct thickness as you go higher. You apply it horizontally but then find again it is all to easily to make it too thick at the beginning of each stroke.

You must do both together, plus in curves, this balances it out but near the floor it is a lot more awkward and harder to be consistent.

So spin the panels to horizontal and raise the panels so the bottom edge is above knee height and now the whole panel is comfortably within reach. Why didn't I realise this before?

So now I get a much easier and a better job straight away, no re-applying and balancing skim thicknesses so much.

It just goes to show, experience is key but it can wrong-foot you when your work and circumstances change slightly.  

So now I've adapted, I can teach the workforce from the start

Moral of the story:

Experience and skillsets are really important, but you never stop learning new twists.

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Is this a World record?

 

I often wonder if I am the most experienced quoter in the industry - at the high end of the garden room market?

Of all the specialist garden studio companies, we are one of the oldest and over the last 14 years we have supplied around 500 buildings all told, (thats a guess, once we got to 120 my memory faltered and we lost our first few year's emails so can't easily check) but of the number, whatever it is, we have only made about 6 identical ones, all the rest are bespoke.

All well and good, but then it got me to realising something, and it makes me a bit cocky (but hopefully not too much!)

It may mean, indeed probably does mean, that since I have quoted for every one of the buildings and designed nearly every one to be unique, along with the customer, that I am the record holder for the most number of unique garden room buildings in the UK.

I wonder if anyone else in our industry can exceed that claim?

If not then I am top, HOORAY!

(A bit sad! But little things please little minds...)

 

Here's a little bespoke snooker room  - what a great playroom!

Inside

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Unexpected outcomes - even after all these years!

 

So, a couple of months ago I went on a few customer visits and met with three potential garden room clients. 

It felt at the time that of the three, one baulked a little at the price, one was really impressed with our new Slim Gym product, with me asking: "By the way are you into health and exercising" on the way out, so it looked like we would at least supply a gym if not a garden room building as well. The last client seemed really keen for us to build a larger building, split into two, one half soundproofed for drums and the other as a pilates room

So of the three, it looked like 2 sales were imminent and we'd made a very worthwhile trip.

What happened next?

Well, with the large building, we sent all the spec sheets and requests for further information and duly recieved an email back, ignoring all the requests for info and instead many questions. Fair enough, no objection to that, but with no answers, just statements like "You will do drawings showing designs and you will also do...." it was very difficult to move forwards quickly and easily, so we put that onto the backburner for a while, until we had managed to get all the other emails done, quotes confirmed etc...!

Now my father was an architect (this may sound an advantage and indeed in many ways it was, as this gave me a very good grounding in the building industry), however, it gave everyone the impression that I never 'needed' to learn any drawing skills. Consequently even though I can indeed draw, it takes me an absolute age to do them to an acceptable standard (since the bar was set rather high by my father and I don't want to do a bad job). Meanwhile the phone kept ringing with new business enquiries, more of the usual follow-up queries came in and to cut a long story short, those drawings never got done and by the time I found a suitable window of time, it was too late to follow up.

So what was the final outcome of that trip? 

We received a polite email from the people who were really impressed with the slim gym, the 'dead cert' couple, that they had decided to go elsewhere, fair enough, it surprised me though... 

Instead we got a deposit cheque from the first customer who we did not expect was interested at all!

It just goes to show :)

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

When is a Sound Proofed Garden Room not a Soundproof Garden Room?

 

Soundproofed rooms are visually pretty indistinguishable from our normal garden rooms, it is what goes on inside, hidden within the panels that makes the difference. It's the layers fitted to the inside of the room that makes them soundproof.

So you cannot tell from outside, (unless you know a few subtle tell-tale signs) whether the photos of our rooms are examples of normal rooms or soundproofed rooms.

Of course, there is one blatant and definite way to distinguish between one of our soundproofed studios and a competitor's soundproofed studio, a way which nobody can argue with, and that is a DB meter.

This means that if you are looking for a soundproofed garden studio, and they are expensive, then you must do your due diligence and get it right. Test them with a CD or MP3 you really like (Dire Straits or Wiley - depending on your taste!) and "pump up the volume" to the max, close the doors and walk ten paces away. 

Even better, ask us for the nearest soundproofed garden room to you of the same db suppression spec as you want, and not only go and test that, but also ask the owner what we are like to deal with too. We have many customers all over the Uk so there is always a soundproofed garden room not too far away. Because your a local, they are always happy to help, since we only ask if they are on the doorstep of a potential customer.

Simply measure the sound left at 10 meters away (we use that as a datum since a neighbour is rarely closer than that) and that will give you your answer.

Choose your supplier based upon that. From that point onwards, we look forward to suppling your guaranteed soundproofed extra room.

Written by David Fowler at 00:00
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David Fowler, Founder of Extra Rooms

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