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!

Pick a shape, any shape... it's 'your' garden office

 

A month ago I received this picture from a customer:

Shape1

The black rectangle marked out where he wanted to place his building. Believe it or not the back line of that rectangle is 14ft in front of where the two fences meet behind!

When I saw this photograph I knew immediately I had to make a site visit.

I travelled to Berkshire with my angle finder and tape measure. Having measured up and analysed the area I realised that it could be utilised, with some clever designing, in a much more effective and efficient way.

The overhanging bushes were cut to size and that already made the area look vastly different:
Having finalised plans, the guys began work:

Shape2

 

A made to measure, triangular garden building, that fits perfectly into the corner of his garden:

Shape3

Shape4

Shape5

Shape6

Shape7

Shape8

 

There is no wasted space behind the building, due to the innovative design, and the area marked in the original photograph is now in front and can be used - maximum space!

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The customer now has an extra garden room which is 50% bigger than originally planned. It is also a different design to the stock building (which we recently blogged about!) that he had chosen prior to my site visit, even though it looks identical from the front!

This is just the latest example demonstrating why being completely bespoke is a huge advantage, as it means that whatever your space, we can accommodate and work with it.

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

'The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.' Matthew 7:24

 

These days I visit more customers at their homes than ever before, it’s incredibly useful as I can get a real feel for the space we’ll be working in and the logistics of installation of their garden room or garden office.

One thing I can take a look at is what exactly the building will be sitting on and with regard to this there are always two options...

 

Option 1.

Recently completed in Essex, this garden building sits on the base of an old wooden shed:

Essexbuilding1

Even though we have a membrane under the entire building we always use pads (thin pieces of timber, bed on fast setting concrete) just to lift the building an inch off the flat surface it sits on.

This small but crucial addition ensures that there will never be any rising damp, nothing will rot and the wood is constantly keeping dry through the ventilation system.

Not to mention that you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds breaking up or destroying a huge concrete slab that actually could be very useful!

 

Option 2.

If, as in many cases, there isn’t an existing slab, patio, or base of an old garage and it is just virgin grass, we create the foundations by hand:

Essexbuilding2

Years ago we used to use a post hole borer which used to make beautiful cylindrical holes with smooth sides, sounds good.....NO!

The symmetry and smoothness of those holes meant that the grab and friction was minimised and now by digging a rather cavernous hole by hand it increases the friction dramatically.

With this method we no longer have to dig so deep as to reach solid soil under compression. The rougher sides and the friction on them means they are so much more effective as the load bearing surface and this process takes only a few hours and provides a stronger, better ventilated foundation system with far more grip!

People often think that they must have their building the exact size of their existing slab but that is not a problem. It can be several feet bigger and we will pile what is not covered by the slab - a combination of option 1 and 2!!

Biblical

So whatever the base for you building may be, we can work with it and ensure your building is strong and will stand the test of time!

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

To paint or not to paint...that is the question!

 

Cedar is a beautiful, classy, smooth looking wood and it’s for that reason in particular that almost all of our customers choose to have at least the front wall in cedar when they specify a Garden Room or Garden Office. This Canadian Western Red cedar really is the best around and not only does it look stunning, it’s very robust and durable too!

To stop it going grey after a year or two we always inhibit it with Osmo sun blocking oil, unless the customer specifically requests not to, but over the past month or so one or two of our customers have asked for the cedar to be painted in a strong colour such as light "coastal" blue. A different look all together but still strong and unique.

The quality of this wood is such that you, as the customer, always have complete flexibility as to whether we paint it or not and it is entriely up to you, having no effect whatsoever on the durability of your building.

 

Before:

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After:

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Picture of the building on site and in use to follow... Watch this space!!

 

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Long Live Extra Rooms and a big thank you to Norman

 

Phone rang last week, it was an old customer from nine or so years ago, asking me what he'd need to re-coat the roof on his garden office.

We used to do torch-on felt roofs for our garden studios ‘til recently, (we now use single piece rubber E.P.D.M.) which needed re-coating every five years or so with an anti u/v protective "Solacote" to keep the ultra-violet sunlight from damaging the felt) so I told him what and where to get it, but that we could do it for him for what he would pay just for the solar reflecting paint. We used to buy so much of it, we got it cheaper and we still have some. We also pass Hemel Hempstead often, even when we’re not actually working there.

He was delighted that I remembered him at all, and even more so when I offered that! Plus he wanted some other advice too, so I said I would drop in first. Besides I was curious and he was a nice man so it would be good to see him again.

So I called in yesterday and whilst there, I took the opportunity to look at his roof of course. I was half expecting to see the felt had begun to perish but no, it had dulled but was all still good.

 

Anyway, it was nice to take a look at a building I’d actually installed myself with just one man to help me. That really was the early days and here the ‘old girl’ was, still providing good service after her first decade with many more still to go. He then came out with what must remain as one of the best testimonials I could ever have.

He said, “Do you know what Dave? I can honestly say, and it may sound a bit strong, but I can honestly say, that this building you provided for me, this ‘extra room’ from nearly 10 years ago, has proved to be the best purchase I have made in my entire life?"

Well I was gobsmacked. What a compliment!

He went on, "I have used it daily since it was installed, so much that the finish on the laminate floor wore off so I have replaced that.”  

Who can get a better testimonial than that, and after ten years, entirely spontaneously, from the heart?

So first of all thank you so much Norman from King's Llangley near Hemel, bless you for your kind words! The least I can do is treat you (and the roof) to some "Solacote", applied for free by one of my now many trusty workers, (so different from ten years ago!) as a thank you for your kind words, which filled me with pride. One of them will drop by shortly.

So this is all very well, but for potential new customers reading this, what will you experience now compared to 10 years ago?

Well I am still here, and until November when I at long last get an assistant in the office, the person answering the phone will always be me. The chap who started this business will be the one to answer your call, the one that has designed each of the last more than 400 unique buildings, produced over the last 10 years.

If I had taken a different "Let’s standardise designs and mass-produce attitude, or even a "Let’s import cheaply from from abroad and modify, or “Buy cheap S.I.P.S. panels and do modular mass construction”, then we might have made a lot more money, but we would have lost a lot of flexibility.

That is no good for an idealist like myself, fixated on the best he can get produced, the most versatile building, that suits the customer and the garden, the most innovative, the most fit-for-purpose he can devise for every site and customer. 

So the mass-produced, standard-with-a-tweak-here-and-there, is not the direction we have gone. We are about a standard price, plus or minus the odd curved-ball a customer might bowl us, even then we try not to add too much to the price.

So ten years on, we have fine-tuned everything (don’t get me wrong, we’re always looking to see if we can improve!). Even though it seems we’ve got the ideal formula for a modern quality build, it was so heart-warming to come across one of our oldest buildings, a garden studio built using the old techniques and materials, but still giving good service and set to last a good few decades yet!

 Norman2

Norman1

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Corner posts in uPVC.

 

Now were are almost exclusively supplying our garden rooms with uPVC and we are finding that most, if not all customers, are preferring not to have white, unless their studio is close to the house and needs to match the paintwork.

So black occassionally, but mostly deep charcoal grey seems the preferred option. 

Garden Room Update 011

So now whenever a customer requires a full depth panel window to meet at a corner, we offer them a welded cill and corner post system, so there's no timber between the windows at the corners. We had a similar commission shortly, but with french doors and we are happy that the result will be excellent.

After over 400 garden offices and studios now, and none ever exactly the same, we feel we have taken these buildings as far as we can for longevity. All cladding is heavily tanalised apart from the cedar which does not need it. The buildings all have sub-floor ventilation and never sit on the groud, so won't rot from below.

All buildings are constructed with screws rather than nails, this makes access easy if any one needs to add data cabling or similar in the future, since anything screwed can be unscrewed to gain access to the cavity.There is never any painting for the windows and doors as they are upvc and very secure. Also the epdm roof covering is expected to last 50 years, long enough for most of us!

All the walls and ceilings are properly plastered so can be periodically freshened up or have a colour scheme change on a future whim. We don't use melamine or jointing strips on the walls as some competitors do, since we think is horrible, but it is of course cheaper. All our garden rooms and studios are designed alongside the customer, to suit them and their garden, be it triangular or rectangular, from barrel building to off-set rectangular, trapesium etc...

 

So have we taken garden rooms to the limit?

Don't bet on it, I have designed a new type of building, just watch this space for further details!

Meanwhile here are some more great pics of a recent project (and one VERY happy cat!):

 Garden Room Update 007

Garden Room Update 006

 

Written by David Fowler at 00:00
david fowler extra rooms garden office blog

David Fowler, Founder of Extra Rooms

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