Buying a garden room online
Several garden room companies and marketplaces offer the option of ordering your building online. They have made it a simple process. You choose a style of building, pick a size and then work your way through a list of optional extras, all individually priced.
Proceed to the checkout, enter your credit card details for the 50% deposit and bingo; you have a garden room on its way!
We are impressed with the amount of thought that the companies offering this service have put into their e-commerce sites and how they have broken down the elements of the build, all individually priced so buyers can select what they want to include.
But, by buying a garden room online, you are missing out
As impressed as we are with the technology and the planning behind these sites, we question if this is the right way to buy a garden room.
Garden rooms are an expensive commodity and should not be rushed purchases. The garden room industry is successful because of the personal service the manufacturers offer their customers.
There are few marketplaces in the industry that act as a middleman between the manufacturer and the customer. However, in most cases, you will deal directly with the garden room designer/manufacturer when buying a garden room.
These suppliers work closely with you to identify the best building for your intended use and garden. They will look to understand how you plan to use your new space and use their experience to suggest combinations of features that will help you achieve your vision.
Depending on the company's size, you may be dealing with the owner during the design stage. Bigger companies have design & sales teams. With either approach, you will have a named contact that you can liaise with throughout your project.
An important part of the garden room buying process is assessing the intended site and ground conditions for the foundation. This is particularly important as every garden is different, and whilst there are ways around tricky site issues if you are prepared for them. Buying online without a site survey, all the onus, if there is a problem, will be on you.
They will also guide you on the garden room rules in relation to planning permission and Permitted Development.
Check which garden room companies work in your area
Not all of them do!
Placing an order for a garden room should not be your first interaction with your chosen supplier
Garden rooms are too expensive a commodity that will impact your home and garden for decades to come, for placing an order online to be your first interaction with your chosen supplier. In fact, placing the order for the building is several steps along the buying process.
Initial questions can be answered on the phone, by email, live chat or visit a garden room show site. Some of the modular garden room companies have design configurators that you can play with and then submit to them for further information.
Using a design configurator or having initial talks with a company usually ends with a ballpark quote for your project, which you can use to decide if you move forward to a design consultation.
Many companies offer in-person design consultations, but video consultations have become popular since the pandemic. During these consultations, the designer will ask questions about what you are hoping to create, discuss the layout of doors and windows and suggest features you could choose to personalise your room.
Following this design consultation, you will be sent visualisations of what your building would look like, plans showing the positioning of the doors and windows and a detailed specification and quote. If you like what you see, you would then move on to a site survey.
The design consultation stage should give you an indication of what the company is going to be like to deal with. You will soon get a feel of their experience and how professional they are. After all, it is relatively easy to spin up a smart-looking website, but it is only once you start having in-person dealings with a company that you can really get to know if they can fulfil their promises.
If you have an in-person design consultation, they will have assessed your site and its access. They might still send someone to do a more thorough survey of the site and ground conditions before confirming the quote.
Some garden room companies undertake a virtual site survey rather than an in-person one. In these instances, you are normally asked to take photos or video of the intended site and the route of access to it. Do follow their instructions carefully to avoid potential issues when they arrive on site.
When you are absolutely happy with what is proposed, this is when the ordering process takes place, and you pay a deposit which can be anything up to 50% of the total project cost.
You may be asked to pay online at this stage
While we started this article by saying that clicking 'add to basket' is not the way to buy a garden room, we know that several companies use e-commerce carts as a way of confirming an already discussed project and processing the payments. They will normally send you a link with the project configured with the features agreed in the quote.
In this instance, buying a garden room online makes sense, and there can be benefits to paying on your credit card.
Buying a garden room should be enjoyable process
During these steps leading up to the point of order, you will have had close contact with your supplier, who will work with you to tailor the building to your needs and tastes.
It's actually a very enjoyable process where you will have a lot of input into the design and positioning of elements like the doors, windows and electrics. You will also have the final say on the materials used.
When buying such an expensive commodity, you should expect this level of personal service!