When buying a garden room, there are three approaches to installing the building in your garden. In some cases, the company will have materials delivered to your home and construct the room from scratch in your garden. This approach can be described as on-site construction.
Another approach is to manufacture the building in a factory and deliver it to the site in modules that are then assembled in your garden. This method is known as off-site construction.
A third option that a few companies offer is to fully build the garden room, including the exterior and interior finishes, in a factory. The building is then transported to the site on a lorry and craned onto a pre-prepared foundation.
Off-site construction is by far the most common approach in the garden room industry.
Different approaches to off-site construction
There are two different approaches to off-site construction within the garden room industry. Some companies have workshops or a factory where they manufacture the buildings in-house. Other companies don't have their own manufacturing units. Instead, they source the different elements of the build and project manage them to arrive on set as they are required.
The leading names in modular garden room design have factories where they manufacture the modules that form the room.
Their factories are laid out with different stations that specialise in specific elements of the build-up. When the modules leave the factory, they are virtually finished, often with the windows fitted and the interior finishes applied.
The modules are produced in manageable sizes so that one or two installation team members can manoeuvre them into position once on-site.
With this type of off-site construction, once your installation date comes around, the modules and other building elements are loaded onto lorries and delivered to your address.
With this type of in-house manufacturing, the company also has their own installation teams that they send to transport the modules from the lorry to your garden and then start assembling your garden room.
Check which garden room companies work in your area
Not all of them do!
Often when buying a garden room with a SIPs core structure, the designer sends the plans for the building to a specialist SIPs manufacturer who cuts the panels to size and delivers them to your address when required.
They apply the same outsourcing approach to other aspects of the specification. For instance, they source the doors and windows from one company, the exterior cladding from another and so on.
This approach to off-site construction requires establishing strong relationships with other companies and excellent project management skills. To keep the on-site build stage on schedule, it is important that the right materials arrive on-site at the right time.
International off-site construction
The majority of garden room companies manufacture their rooms here in the UK. There are a few companies where the UK-based company has their manufacturing unit overseas. An example is Garden2Office, which specialises in Swedish-built garden rooms or Moonalabs, making their hardwood buildings in India.
Eastern Europe is another popular destination for garden building manufacturing. Many of the sheds and log cabin ranges sold in the UK each year are manufactured in Eastern Europe, and in recent years, they have added insulated garden rooms to their portfolios.
Delivered to site for quick installation
Whichever off-site construction approach is chosen, one of the main benefits of undertaking the bulk of the work before the installation team arrives on-site is the speed at which the project can be completed.
Building a garden room is one of the quickest ways to extend your home. Often a small modular garden room building can be fully installed in just a day. Larger, more complex projects take around 2-3 weeks with the installation team on-site Monday to Friday.
Built in optimal conditions
By manufacturing their garden rooms off-site, companies can control the conditions their buildings are made in.
As we all know, the British weather can be inclement. If the room were being constructed from scratch on-site, different layers of the build-up could be exposed to the elements. If rain gets into the layers of the build-up, it can have long-term effects on the room's structural integrity.
With off-site construction, a lot of the work is done inside, in dry, temperature-controlled environments.
If you choose a garden room design with a painted finish, you can be assured that the paint has been applied to the cladding in optimal conditions, enhancing the finish's lifespan. This is because they can control the dust and temperature in their paint rooms.
Precision equipment access to CNC, jigs and templates
When a garden room is constructed from scratch on-site, the team sets up a little workshop with the tools they need. They don't, however, have access to all the machinery that companies who specialise in off-site construction have available.
Some off-site construction facilities, like those used by SMART Garden Rooms, Offices and Studios, have large CNC machines. These computer-guided tools precision cut and shape timbers with millimetre tolerances.
It is not only parts of the core structure that are machined in this way, but the finishing details too. For instance, the cutouts for the electrical switches and sockets are cut this way, ensuring they are cleanly cut and in just the right position.
If you have an interest in carpentry and construction, the workshops of off-site specialists are a place to behold. As you walk around, you will see stations set up for specific tasks. The benches are equipped with specialist jigs and templates, so each module they produce is an exact replica of the one before.
Access to experts
Another benefit of off-site construction for garden rooms is access to the right people at the right time. In the workshops, you will find workers who specialise in carpentry, paint finishes, electricians etc.
They work on their aspect of the build-up in the workshop in a way so others can efficiently complete the job.
An example of this approach is the electrician's work. They will pre-wire the electrics into the wall modules of the garden room. As the installation team leaves the site, the electrical system is ready to be connected to the supply in your house.
Unless they have quoted you to undertake this final electrical connection, they will leave it to you to organise the work with a local electrical firm. This is because sending an in-house electrician to the site is expensive for them. It's better to have their electricians in the workshop wiring up several garden rooms a week than sending them to the site to work on one.
In the last two points with have looked at off-site construction methods having access to precision machinery and in-house experts who are able to have input into several garden room projects at once.
We have also looked at how completing the bulk of the work in factory conditions means the on-site installation phase is quick. This is an important factor as the on-site stage can be expensive.
Keeping the installation phase as short as possible is important as every day the workers are away from the base is costly when you factor in overnight accommodation and travel costs.
Some companies who build their garden rooms off-site will test assemble it in their workshops before delivering it to you. This allows them to check that the frame fits together and cut timbers, such as the external cladding, to size, in the knowledge that they are going to fit.
They then dismantle the room and transport it to your garden and rebuild it.
Complete off-site build
A few companies will totally construct their garden room in their workshop and then deliver it as a complete unit. This system requires a lot of forward planning as the room needs to be built on a steel frame so that it can be safely lifted.
It is a quick transformation when you buy this way. You start the day with just the foundation in place, and in just a few hours, you will have a fully installed garden room.
A benefit of this method is that you could take your building with you when you move house as it could be lifted out of the garden and transported in the same way.