The whole reason we started this website was that we wanted garden room buyers like you, to learn as much as they could about garden room buildings to allow them to make informed buying decisions.
A garden room is a big ticket purchase that is going to have a big impact on your home for years to come, so we want to arm you with information so you can avoid making costly mistakes. We urge you to thoroughly research your options when buying a garden room.
Don’t rush in
We urge you to spend some time researching the market, a market that has grown rapidly over the last few years. There are garden room suppliers offering charming traditional designs and those offering the ultra modern; using several different construction systems and offering varying levels of experience. So, there is a lot for you to look into!
Start by identifying what you want, and don’t want
A good starting point is to look at various styles of garden room and identify the shape and design styles you like. You may be able to pick out some of the design features you want to incorporate into your own building, and perhaps, more importantly, identify the design features you don’t like. A good starting point for this is our gallery section where you will find hundreds of photos of different styles of garden room.
Identify if you need to apply for Planning Permission
In many cases, a garden room can be built under the Permitted Development rules, and therefore a Planning Application is not required, but you need to check your individual circumstances early on, and not rely on websites that say ‘no planning required’. At the end of the day finding out whether you need to apply for Planning Permission is you, the homeowner’s responsibility, as in the worst case scenario, you would have to take down an unauthorised garden room – no one wants that! You can learn more about garden room Permitted Development here.
Get an idea of what you might be spending
Some garden room suppliers are very transparent about their pricing on their websites. These prices are a good way of getting an idea of the price of different size & styles of building and how prices differ between suppliers. These prices are normally for standard specification buildings, and prices will alter as you choose from any optional extras on offer.
If you are looking for a more tailor made solution, you will need to go down the bespoke design route. Bespoke design is normally priced by the square meter of the building footprint. Some suppliers will give examples of this rate on their website.
You may find our page on garden room prices useful. We researched and compared a number of garden room firms to show you the price range and average prices for popular sizes of garden room. We have also look at bespoke design prices and the extra costs you need to budget for when buying a garden room.
Decide if you are taking the modular or bespoke design route
There are two ways of buying a garden room. One way is to choose a standard style of building, select a size and then mix and match modules of glazing, doors and wall panels to create a layout that works for you. This is a very flexible way to buy a garden room; it is also you quickest and most cost effective option. We look at modular garden room design in more detail in this article.
If you have an unusual site or have specific design ideas, then your best bet is to work with a bespoke garden room designer. With bespoke design, you can have input into every element of the design, so you end up with a building is tailored around you. If you are wondering about the costs involved in bespoke garden room design, take a look at our pricing page. You can also learn much more about bespoke garden room design in this article.
Compare like with like
With so much choice in the market, you are going to need to narrow down your search by comparing garden room designs and suppliers against each other. To ensure this comparison is a fair one you need to ensure you are comparing like with like. As happens when buying a car, garden rooms come in different marques. You have bespoke designs, designed just like a house and packed with designer features which are like the Ferraris of the market, ranging through to standard designs with only a few options to customise the building which is your basic runaround. Just like when buying a car there are lots of levels of specification in between.
Some buyers compare garden rooms solely on price, and while this is one metric, it’s not the only one you should consider. We suggest you compare buildings using these criteria:
- Size – compare buildings that are roughly the same size as size has a big impact on the final price.
- Design type – modular designs will often be your quickest and most cost effective option, but with a bespoke design you can really tailor a building to your garden and tastes. You need to be clear on these distinctions when comparing buildings.
- Specification – garden rooms come in various levels of specification from house quality, Building Regulation compliant designs to much lighter-weight designs which have been designed to be cost effective & quick to build. You need to be aware of the difference when comparing rooms.
- Designer features – design features like Cedar cladding, bi-fold doors and fully plastered interiors are desirable but pricey. To ensure you are getting a good deal you want to ensure you are comparing buildings that offer the same features.
- Experience – this can be a bit difficult to judge just from a website, but you should consider how much experience the suppliers you are comparing have building the type of room you are looking for.
- Price – of course price is going to be a big factor in your comparisons, but if you have compared by the metrics above you should be able to clearly see why there are differences in price.
Learn how garden rooms are built
It’s a good idea to get a grip on how garden rooms are built so that you are sure you are comparing like with like. There are several different construction systems used in garden room design. They all owe their origin to timber house building, but you will find that each supplier has their own take on this system. Some suppliers use the same building systems which are being used to build full-scale houses, like SIP’s – Structural Insulated Panels or heavy duty timber frames packed with insulation. Other garden room designers have taken these systems and created their own in-house versions of them which maximise the use of sheet materials to make them quick to manufacture, easy to manoeuvre and quick to install once onsite. Garden rooms built with these custom designed panels are amongst the most cost effective and quickest to buy.
It is important when buying a garden room that you are clear about the differences in these systems so that you know what you are buying, and what might appear to be the same building is offered by one supplier at a much lower price than another.
The materials used in garden room design have also been taken from the housebuilding industry; they are chosen by designers for their durability and long lifespans. These choice mean that by design garden rooms have a long lifespan with little annual maintenance needed. You need to make yourself familiar with the materials used to finish a garden room, particularly the exterior ones so that you can make informed choices and minimise the amount of maintenance you will have to do to keep your room looking good.
In the construction section of this site, you will find lots of advice on different aspects of garden room construction from the foundations through to the final electrical hookup.
Find suppliers who work in your area
You will want to narrow down your research to suppliers who work in your area. While many suppliers offer a nationwide service, others only work in certain regions, so it’s good to know who is who. Take a look at our supplier’s directory where you can search by the type of garden room you want, design type and by the area of the UK you live in.
Learn more about these suppliers
Once you have identified some suppliers who work in your area, your next step is to research them further and get a feel for their work and experience. Looking through their portfolio of builds and reading testimonials from past customers is a good starting point, although it has to be said very few suppliers will publish a negative testimonial! If you type the suppliers name into our search, you are sure to find lots of articles that we have written about their work over the years.
Our search is located in our main navigation bar:
It’s a good idea to get an idea of a garden room suppliers experience. While there is nothing wrong with working with a new firm, and everyone needs a start, you are opening yourself up to hiccups along the way. If you are looking for a straightforward build, you want to go with a firm that has the staff in place to assist you throughout your journey and who has a tried and tested building systems, where all the kinks have been ironed out.
See a building or two before you buy
It is a very good idea to see a garden room or two before you actually buy one. It can be difficult to describe the feel of these rooms, and for you to see how substantial and well built, they are just from photos. There are three key ways to see a garden room before you buy. The first option is to visit a trade show like Grand Designs Live where several garden room firms take buildings for you to go in and explore, we have a list of upcoming shows here. Your second option is to visit a show site where you will find a number of different garden room designs on display. A handful of suppliers have buildings on display at their factories; we have a page listing them here, you will see they are mainly in the Centre and South East of the UK. Your final option is to ask your shortlist of supplier choices if they can arrange for you to visit one of their builds close to where you live – most suppliers offer this option. This can be a valuable task as you get to see the garden room, but you also get to ask the owner some questions about working with the supplier.
Another valuable part of your research is to request a site visit. On these visits, a representative from the garden room company will visit you (for free) and discuss what you want to achieve, assess your garden and work with you on some initial design ideas. It is a good idea to request site visits from about three different suppliers; you will then get to compare their approaches to your project.
Not all suppliers offer a physical site visit and instead rely on you telling them about the site and providing photos and maybe a video for them to look at. Suppliers who take this approach feel that a site visit is expensive and would rather pass on the savings of not conducting them in the price of their building. They also are confident in that their building systems can overcome any obstacles they might find onsite. If this is the route you take, be clear where you stand if problems do arise onsite and the build is delayed, are you liable for any extra costs or the supplier?
After a site visit, you will be sent design ideas, plans and visualisations to choose from. These will be accompanied with written quotations and schedules of work. You will have the opportunity to hone these designs further before placing an order if that is what you decide to do.
Protecting yourself during the build
When you place the order for your room, you will be asked to pay a deposit; this can be anything up to 50% of the total project cost. It is worth asking your supplier if this payment is protected. Some suppliers offer an insurance backed deposit guarantee should anything go wrong. There is premium to pay for this, but its worth considering for the peace of mind it offers.