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!

The plot thickens... how to design for space


Well Extra Room Bloggers - good old Dave talked himself out of a quick sale this week, but it was the right thing to do.

A customer wanted a building fast and was therefore going to have our 14ft by 8 ft stock building with secret storage area, until I received some site photos and realised we could do a lot better.

The building was going to go right at the back of his garden, and it's a really good idea to have a few moments to walk away from your back door of a morning and leave home behind. As you start to walk towards your garden studio or garden office, you can start thinking about the day ahead, then you can arrive mentally prepared, let yourself in and start working out what you must achieve, which tasks are the highest priority etc... All well and good, until the mobile rings of course! 

So, anyway having a garden office as far away from the house is a good idea, so what was wrong with this customer having the building which met his needs perfectly? It was the wrong shape, that is why!

This gentleman's garden boundary comes to a point and therefore a rectangular building, whilst it was going to go as far back as it could was about 3 metres from the crux of the corner, and the sides were going to be close to the side fence at the rear, with the front corners of the building over a metre away from the fences each side.

Well now he is going to have a building that follows the rear boundary accurately, about a foot inside it and parallel to each change of direction. (Including the right hand fence has a bit of a dog-leg in it).

So what's the big deal? Well now he can have the front wall wider for one thing, as he is getting a bespoke building so we can make it any size he likes and being irregular, the front wall will be much wider than the back wall and a lot wider than it was going to be before, giving a lot more space along the front wall than ever before, and believe me, this is the wall to have the space on because of the way we all like to use our garden rooms.

Now, rather than just some french doors and panel windows either side, he can also have a double window to one side and look down the garden as he works, as most people prefer to do, but still have a panoramic view from anywhere in his studio.

His plot lends itself even more to this as his garden slopes upwards away from the house, so from his studio he will be looking down all the way, about 70 metres in his case, down to his house below, so he will be the 'king surveying his castle' and beyond.

All this will be achieved whilst the line of the front wall will now be where his back wall was formerly going to be, so his studio wil entirely occupy the area of his garden that was all going to be wasted behind his building.

So that is a double whammy, he gets a more useful design than just a rectangle, he now gets a beautiful large picture-wall, never mind picture window, one he can sit at a desk at with a window above desk height, and it is all in otherwise totally unused space and he gets to keep virtually all his garden.

This is the photo he sent showing where the stock building was intended to go initially, and what triggered me into realising we coud do far better for him.

Extra -Rooms -Space

This is what is meant by designing a building according to the plot it sits in, and what we at Extra Rooms are about, not just supplying attractive buildings that are fit for purpose, insulated for all year use, but building that fit their environment and yours. We achieve this with planning and good design.

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

The garden office future's so bright, we gotta use shades...

Especially at this time of the year and for many studios that face the south or sun, we are asked about

providing blinds and tinting the glass.

We used to offer solar glass but found that this had some major drawbacks, not least the cost, amongst some other practical difficulties.

Solar glass has a solar reflective tint built into the inner surface of one of the layers of a double glazed unit and it works well. But no matter how large or small the order, there is a one-off delivery charge from the glass manufacturers, of £350 and this is in addition to quite a heavy premium on the glass itself. Plus if a couple of french doors are included in the order, they must be toughened first, so it can all get really costly.

Even if we accepted all that, if one of the units were to be damaged either soon or in years to come (even just a small unit for a top opener costing normally £30 for example) it would be the normal £30 plus £350, so obviously, the manufacturers don't want to handle small runs, they want large orders for office blocks etc, not one-off garden studios etc...

BUT don't panic ExtraRoomers! - As it happens, there is a tinting film available in a bronze tint, it goes really well with the rich tones of the cedar we have on most of our garden offices and garden studios, so this is what we use.

This has great advantages. First of all, we can do it ourselves, so everything is "in house', no third pary involvement, and we keep it in stock now so can do it the same day. Also it goes onto our normal double glazed units and even as a worst case scenario, we may sometimes have to do one twice if there is any damage, but we can live with that.

With the charcoal grey frames, which we are supplying more and more, it complements everything nicely, appearing bronze from some angles and a similar dark grey to the frames from others, don't you agree? (see our lovely pic below!)

Oh, and the cost?

About £30 per double glazed unit or on average £150 per building.


 Tinted Windows Garden Office

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Sorting out the electrical hook up for a studio office and 'best practice'

A very competent sparky has worked for us on many occasions, we met him through a very discerning customer in London about 5 years ago, his name is Arthur Hunt (threecore). Every time we have recommended him to a customer they have given very positive feedback.
Written by David Fowler at 00:00

Relocation, Relocation and other advantages...

Well, we don't do it very often but we did it again a few weeks ago; we relocated a garden studio that we supplied not long before Christmas in Reading, over to Windsor.

To be fair the customer did tell us it was on the cards, so rather than piling as usual we just placed it on some breeze blocks, cut flat into the ground so as not to have to dig up the piles later.

One great advantage we have in making our buildings the way we do is that all of them except the double skinned soundproofed rooms are fully relocatable.

If we were tempted to get away with some cheap plasterboard we couldn't plaster the buildings in our factory and then transport them ready plastered. So we have to accept the higher cost but it does make for a far sturdier building, since ply is so much stronger than plasterboard or even O.S.B. (oriented strand board). We did try O.S.B. but it shows a slightly textured pattern when plastered, so we stick to the good stuff and it certainly makes our buildings extremely strong and long lasting.

The first garden room we built over 12 years ago is still in daily use and is not even a fifth of the way through its life.

So here are a couple of photos of the same building, once near Reading now in Windsor. The different surroundings and angles the photos were taken from make it look a different building but I assure you it is the same one.



Another great advantage of making garden rooms relocatable is that if you come to sell your house, the new buyer may try to suggest they dont really need it (and certainly don't want to pay much for it). This is when you can say "Ok, we will take it with us then" and of course if you want to, we will relocate it for you, but once they are aware that they could lose it, they renegotiate because the results speak for themselves. Out of 400 buildings, five relocations is a small number, the rest went with the house when they sold.

So it pays to have a building that is truly relocatable, even if it stays put, because it needn't, that is the reason!

Written by David Fowler at 00:00

The Curious Incident of the Artist, the Hinge and the Landscaper in the Night

We are supplying more and more of our garden studios with grey upvc now as opposed to white, they seem to be taking over at the moment and they do look quite nice.

We were kindly permitted to drop in on this one a few weeks ago so had an opportunity to take a few photos in the daylight. (For most of our installations we rely on customer photos as we completed under cover of darkness!)

Upvc -garden _room

The customer is retired now and besides cycling quite seriously every day to keep fit he wanted an artist's studio so he can paint - he'd wanted to for years but never had the time in his job as a trouble-shooter for an oil company.

Anyway, he ordered his garden room last September but then decided to wait for the landscapers to get their work done first, (despite my advice to the contrary) so having just started his building we set it aside and got on with other buildings.

The reason I had originally suggested to him that he get the garden building done first is three fold:

First, landscaping can suffer completion delays as customers often add on extra work as they see the initial project developing.

Secondly, once a garden room or studio is installed in a garden then it becomes more apparent how it sits in its surroundings and often different ideas on landscaping will come to light. If this happens before the landscaping is done, then fine, it can be re-worked but afterwards it is just too late.

Thirdly, the weather. It causes delays for landscapers more than most, as they cannot stay out of the elements so sometimes have to come away from site and sit it out until the weather improves.

With only a couple of weeks to go until Christmas, he decided I was right and the building was to go in first and so we transferred a team across to the site and we just managed it in time!

3 months later we received an email with a few photos - the hinges on the upvc doors had pitted with the start of rusting. Of course, we went back to our suppliers to figure out what had gone wrong.

Meanwhile, I arrived in Winchester to take a look at his hinges, they had indeed pitted. The door handles were fine but the hinge caps were not, so we tried to order some stainless ones. NOT AVAILABLE! So we are sending another set on the assumption that the first ones were just a bad batch, since it has not occurred with any other customers near the coast before. We shall monitor - so watch this space! (We will make sure it gets sorted one way or another).

Meanwhile, I of course had a chance to admire the completed landscaping... NOT!

They haven't even shown up yet!

Upvc -garden _room1

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

David Fowler, Founder of Extra Rooms