Amazing Spaces Case Study

A recent build by Swift Garden Rooms will feature in an episode of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Thursday 21 November 2013, at 8pm on Channel 4.


This is the case study of the build, produced by Martin Lawson of Swift:

Background to the Amazing Space

When Grandma Sue, Mum Laura, Dad Kris and three wonderful children decide to do something about working from home, they do it properly! This close-knit and artistically skilled family have proved that with enough research, planning and sheer hard graft, a dramatic and aspirational business plan can be focused around the two elements that mean the most to them… their professional passions and a remarkable location….literally on the shore on the Wirral Peninsular in Cheshire.

Admittedly, not everyone can claim to live “on the beach”, yet we must all have elements about our home location that we find appealing, and that can perhaps benefit the business that we carry out in our home office. This is a brief case study that concentrates on the inspirational progress that was made from business plan to reality…in a Swift studio that was designed to give the WOW factor!

It all began with a concept…..


The visual concept for the build


The family made the decision to create a business that would utilise the fantastic artistic talents that they all have. Combining recycled materials with panache and imagination, together with hi-tech laser cutting equipment produced a wide array of possibilities. You can see their approach for yourself at

A massive vision board was created together with a detailed, step by step business plan … full of sketches and cuttings as well as words and figures.


Intrinsic to the whole plan was to create a venue where the family can work their magic and invite fee paying clients to come and share a fabulous location and learn all kinds of techniques, producing their own pieces of art. Being highly artistic, business-savvy and enthusiastic, the family were looking for a company who would have similar values surrounding their ambitious project.

As always, Swift Garden Rooms build relationships first. We all sat around their cottage breakfast table on a cold winter’s day in 2012 – almost a year ago to see how we could work together to make their dream happen. Swift’s director, Martin Lawson and designer Mike Jolley listened vigilantly as the family told their story and passionately described their vision for a new and exciting business venture. They absorbed all they could of the atmosphere, aspirations and the detailed requirements from their clients. Sketches were drawn and studied, vision boards were perused and a walk on the beach taken to experience the setting in all its natural glory. Typical with this welcoming family, tea and cakes played a part in the process!

Swift Garden Rooms were now eager to start work on the project proposals. It was a drive back to the office full of ideas and reflections on a truly exciting and exceptional morning’s work.

Innovative and solution focused conversations soon resulted in our design being created:


The family, being typically thorough, already knew what practical boxes had to be ticked, and the Swift designers produced ideas that combine such function with flair … and met a business-like budget. Following a successful proposal to our clients, Swift Garden Rooms were selected to handle the design, planning and installation of a building that is now creating a positive and powerful reaction from all who see it.

The main features of this building are:

  • Unique and bespoke design with a stunning appearance
  • SIP panel technology producing a robust, permanent and highly insulated building
  • Huge opening glazed doors to connect with the garden area
  • Panorama window overlooking the vast shore and seascape
  • Plumbing for work sinks and dedicated electrical layout for work stations


PLANNING PROCESS: Planning permission was required for this project. Not only for the structure itself but also for the commercial use for which it is to be put. Matthew Jarman of Maydean Design was appointed by Swift. He prepared the planning application, visiting the site and bringing in additional expert advice in order to pre-empt all possible questions from planners and locals alike. Being set in an area of such beauty and special scientific interest demanded that every aspect of the building and it’s construction should be planned to be done with care and empathy.

Once again, the clients were heavily involved, especially in the negotiations and network building with local businesses to ensure that their commercial activities would benefit, and benefit from collaboration with hotels, cafe’s and the local tourist industry.

Did we mention that Shore Cottage was on the shore? Access for deliveries of building materials is non-existent. Everything would have to be transferred to tractor, trailer and 4 x 4’s and brought along the environmentally delicate and very bumpy beach. Planners needed to be sure that strategies were in place to minimise and impact on the beach and the wild-life. All these elements were skilfully and thoroughly presented by Matthew as well as dealing with concern by locals.

The decision was placed in the hands of a committee and with the strong backing of the local planning officials and tourist board, the permission was passed straight away. The relief and rejoicing was great… the build could now commence.

PREPARATIONS: Swift now had the project management tasks to undertake. Final engineering and calculations on the main structure were completed and the SIP panels started being cut and prepared for transportation. Doors and windows were ordered and the especially large panorama window was commissioned. Local transport was arranged by the clients… all deliveries would be transferred from lorries and vans onto trailers and then pulled across the beach by tractor and Land Rover. For speed, efficiency and longevity, it was decided to use Jackpads to support the structure on this uneven and difficult site. These were ordered as well as all of the other elements; roof, drainage, cladding, plasterboard, electrical installations, decking etc, etc.

After a period of beautiful summer weather the first day of the build came… as did the Chanel 4 film crew … and torrential rain!

GEORGE CLARKE’S AMAZING SPACES: We (our clients and everyone at Swift) all knew that this was going to be a amazing space… and after some approaches and assessment it turns out that TV architect and “Renovation Man” George Clarke agreed. Good choice George!

After a pre-build day of interviews and scene setting with George checking out the “before”, we at Swift prepared for the logistical challenges of the beach crossing! There was no denying the fact that the film crew were particularly keen to concentrate upon the delicate moving of thousands of pounds worth of very heavy glass across a windy, rough and inhospitable half mile of beach. No pressure then! In reality the crew were great and their team spirit helped to make the process all the more memorable and enjoyable.

Here is a diary of the key events from the delivery to handing over the keys:

Day One


While the isolation of this home is appealing, it also meant that every element of the building had to be brought across a bumpy (and as it turned out, wet and windy) beach.

Fortunately, the SIP panels that Swift use in their construction systems are manageable and require virtually no extra processing on site. However the sheer bulk of materials and the massive sections of glazing made this the most demanding day of the whole installation period.

• 06.00am: Swift convoy of Land Rover, trailer with tons of gravel, and Swift Director Martin head West across Cheshire to the seaside. Windscreen wipers on full speed!

• 07.10am: Arrive at a windswept turning area above beach and try to see the sea… hidden in the horizontal rain…. at least we won’t have to worry about children playing on the beach today!

• 07.25am: Jackpad team arrive as do the tractor, trailer and tele-handler. Swift installers arrive and all tools and all are transferred to the trailer and the first trip across the beach starts. After battling through the soft sand, everything arrives at the cottage and is hoisted over the wall to the building site.

• 07.35: The film crew are at the cottage and a 40ft articulated truck arrives with the main building elements.

• 08.00: Draw back the curtain sides of the lorry and load tonnes of pre-fabricated sections of building materials onto the tractor trailer. Convoy number two sets off over the beach.

• 09.10: Swift Tree Services Land Rover heads off for more gravel for the Jackpads that are already being set, plus more waterproofs for the boys!

• 10.25: The film crew gather eagerly to witness the transfer of window and door frames across the beach, followed by grunting and nervous laughter as ridiculously heavy (and expensive) glass is manhandled from lorry to trailer and then down the slipway to the beach. At least it has stopped raining!

• 12.00: Little is left at the slipway and the Shore Cottage garden is crammed full of kit-form bespoke studio.



• 13.30: Laura Kris and Sue lay on a fabulous lunch of egg and bacon tart, cakes and tea for everyone. Their children take the invasion in their stride as we all share the relief and rejoice in the first stage having been completed ahead of schedule and with no breakages, spillages or significant bruises!

• 14.45: Ring beam fabricated and an hour of measuring and adjusting to set the base of the new studio

• 16.05: The floor of the building is completed! Proof that the time spent in the factory translates to less time on site.

• 17.35: Sole plate accurately aligned and fixed and the first wall panels are glued, screwed, nailed and insulated in place.

• 20.10: The end of an Amazing Day, has seen a fantastic start to the Amazing Space. The footings are in, the whole floor / base structure and two main wall sections. A small army of people for the first few hours and then Swifts two main installers devoted to their task… time for the trip to the nearby hotel and a well deserved shower and rest… thanks to our clients for the 4×4 ride back to the van!


The film crew continue to examine every move as the team continue the dramatic construction of the main elements of the building. “Can you just do that again please?” was heard a few times from the producer, then the job forged ahead, with a smile and a constant accompaniment of good cheer from the increasingly excited clients….. who constantly provided amazing food and liquid relief!

Industry, skill and preparation combined to see the day close with the building have all walls complete, roof on and perfectly stable and ready for windows!



Window day! 4 metre wide sliding aluminium doors and a 2.5m wide panorama window are key elements of this design and the future connection with the beautiful surroundings. Challenge number one had been overcome, transporting the glass across the beach, but without the tractors, trailers and tele-handlers, the last few metres would prove to be every bit as demanding. Thousands of pounds worth of glass, with a lengthy lead time, plus the ever-present film crew, made this day one of sheer strength combined with delicacy and control. Another great team effort, including client Kris giving a valued and eager helping hand, saw all the glass safely installed by the end of the day.

The Firestone roofing membrane was put in place and the building, after three short days, is watertight.


Inside we start work on installing the first fix of all cables and pipes so that the plasterboard can be applied in readiness for the plasterers who are booked for Saturday. This crucial stage will allow the plaster time to dry out before second fixes and decorations can be completed.

Worth remembering at this stage is the fact that as well as the building materials, all the tools have to be brought to site by unconventional means! Masses of hand tools, ladders, benches, power tools, batteries and chargers were brought in huge cages by the tele-handler on day one…. and taken back to the van as they were finished with; one by one! Our clients have a 4×4 and regularly use the beach track as they live their normal routine life… they covered many extra miles acting as a taxi / courier service for us all… Thank you again Kris, Laura and Sue!




Plasterers attack their task and a few hours later the interior of the studio takes on a whole new atmosphere. Even while drying out, the smooth walls and ceiling start to give an indication of the size, quality and perfection of this Amazing Space.

While the plasterers are outside, the preparations for the external cladding are started.


A few more days into the project and the building is gaining a lot of admiring comments from passers-by on the beach. The finished shapes and angles are making striking impressions. The cladding is all in place with the black preservative stain being applied. The roof installation is being completed, gutters fixed and the connections to the water, drains and electrical supplies.

All through the process, the appointed Building Inspectors have been ensuring that everything we do is compliant with building regulations .. from the foundations to the emergency lighting. Everything is progressing well and the completion is in sight.

The electrician is booked to complete all the power and lighting details and the client’s hand-made range of sinks are installed… quite a task as they utilise ancient reclaimed items from old laboratories. Connections have changed over the decades!

Our clients have their own fabulous ideas and aspirations for this building and have been intensely busy preparing the reclaimed and personalised wood-block flooring. Rooms full of furniture and fittings are readied for the departure of our installation team and all the time the clock is ticking as the TV coverage makes huge demands upon timing.


Completion! Less than two weeks of intensive work and skill have produced a beautiful building. It is decorated inside and out, has been signed off by the Building Inspectors and ready for our clients to start creating their working art studio. This was completed ahead of schedule, within budget and with a rich and treasured array of accomplishments and challenges overcome.



Panoramic view of the interior

Panoramic view of the interior

We love our job… in such a short space of time an empty piece of garden has been transformed into a very special building. Engineering, planning, industry, skill, adaptability and a positive, solution-focussed approach has won the day. The atmosphere on site was enhanced by working with clients that shared all these values and gave good-humoured support and hospitality throughout the process. We are delighted that the respect and collaboration was so successful and produced the following feedback and testimonial:

“Swift’s customer service has been excellent, from the outset their communication has been exemplary. They have responded to any query by phone or email very quickly, with each and every member of the team being fully up to date with all aspects of our build.

We have benefited from a truly personal service and have felt valued and included in every step of the process. Martin and his team have been proactive in giving us regular updates and information. We have never had to chase anything up .

The Swift team were amazing on site! We had a number of unusual site constraints including unusual delivery access, working around tides and working around a young family – 3 kids all at home over the summer.

Everything ran like clockwork and the team pulled out all the stops to assemble the studio in such a short time scale. The builders worked tirelessly and left the site safe and tidy every evening. The passion for the project was shared by the whole team and we felt the builders were enthusiastic and committed to ensuring we got a truly amazing studio.

Swift has exceeded our expectations in every aspect of the project from the design and planning permission through the build and after care. We were after an unusual build and we feel that Swift worked with us to deliver an outstanding inspirational product on budget, on time and of excellent quality.

We invited a number of companies to quote for our build, but from the moment Martin walked through our door we knew Swift was the only company we would want to work with. Martin’s enthusiasm for our project was palpable from the day he made his first visit to us. Martin described his team as being solution focused and our unique build certainly threw up plenty of challenges to overcome. The Swift team handled everything smoothly from successfully gaining planning permission first time (despite being in a greenbelt and in an SSSI) to working the build and site deliveries around incoming tides, and scheduling the build around the migratory patterns of protected wading birds.

The build itself went like clockwork and the result is an inspirational building and an amazing home to our creative workshop business. The building and business has been a life changing project for us and we are so pleased to have worked with such a great team who have realised our plans in a well organised and stress-free way.”


This is a significant step beyond merely carrying out a work function at home rather than in a more conventional workplace. This is a fully committed and dedicated business that is centred on a tailor-made building in a very enviable home setting.

Sue, Kris and Laura are now offering courses at their exciting artistic environment at Shore cottage Studio. These include…

Explore, Design & Stitch: This two day course begins with a walk along the tide line gathering visual information to use back in the studio.

Creative Laser Cutting: This two day course is suited to anyone looking for an introduction into creative sketching and use of the laser cutter, or those seeking to further their artistic practice with new technology and techniques

Photographing Natural Detail: Friendly tuition and gentle theory to help you get more from your digital SLR camera. Designed for the complete beginner with a new camera, or those that want to move on from automatic mode.

Commissions are also available should you want something personal to be created especially for you.

Please go to for more details. We strongly recommend regular visits to this inspiring site so that you can be sure not to miss any gems which we’re confident will continue to be created in this beautiful location on the shores of the Wirral Peninsula. The blog is regularly updated with all sorts of interesting features and regular activities in which you can partake in your own location.

The Swift team are thrilled to have had such a rare opportunity to design and build a legacy which is already making history and bringing heartfelt smiles to so many faces.

We love our job!


What more can we add?! If you would like to talk to Swift about your own Amazing Space call them on 0800 3102 800 or visit their website 


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