When buying a garden room, whether it be a home office, gym or granny annexe you will deal directly with the company that designs and manufactures it. While there are some people who act as middlemen, 95% of garden room suppliers deal directly with their customers. By working in this way, suppliers can offer a concierge service, so you end up with the room you want, and by cutting out unnecessary middlemen, they can offer cost effective buildings, built in a timely manner.
Buying a garden room is a series of steps
Your initial research will pay dividends
We have written in detail about the importance of researching your options when buying a garden room. The time you spend researching the market and your options will pay dividends. After all, a garden room is a significant purchase and will have an effect on your lifestyle and home for years to come. We all want to feel we are making wise decisions with our homes and money, and our aim with this site is to help you make informed buying decisions, so do explore The Garden Rooms Guide’s 3000+ pages!
Suggested reading: Thoroughly research your options when buying a garden room
Making initial contact with suppliers
Once you have researched your options and created a shortlist of suppliers to investigate further, you will either make contact with them via email or a phone call. You may choose to visit a show, or the suppliers show site where you will find team members ready to show you around a garden room and to discuss your options.
Suggested reading: See a garden room before you buy
Request a site visit from a few suppliers
We believe that a site visit is the most important part of the garden room buying process. It is an equally valuable experience for the buyer and the garden room designer. The visit allows you to express what you are trying to achieve and for the designer, it will give them the opportunity to assess your site and the access to your garden, make design suggestions and advise you on Planning Permission, etc.
The majority of garden room suppliers will offer a free, no obligation site visit; others offer more of a virtual site visit whereby they ask you a series of questions about your garden and ask you to take photos. You may be asked to take a video of the journey from the road to your proposed site so they can look at the access.
Site visits are costly for a supplier to undertake and this is why some firms only offer the virtual option, they argue that they pass the savings they make on to their customers in the building price. Our concern with virtual surveys is who is liable if a problem crops up on-site, whether that be due to access or the site itself. With a physical site survey, potential problems will be assessed by the supplier so they should factor in any problems into their quote. If you go down the virtual survey route ask this question early on and read the small print in your contract, so you know where you stand.
Suggested reading: What to expect from a site visit
Visit a local garden room built by your chosen supplier
We can’t overemphasise the benefits of seeing an example of a garden room before you buy. If you haven’t seen an example of your chosen suppliers work earlier in the buying process at a show like Grand Designs Live or by visiting their show sites, then it’s a good idea to ask them if they can organise for you to see one of their past builds locally.
The chances are that your chosen supplier has built a garden room quite close to where you live, certainly within an hours drive. Firms often have arrangements with past customers to let serious buyers visit their garden room. This can be a really valuable process as you will get to see the quality of the building up close, identify features you want to include in your own building and ask the previous customer questions about working with the firm and the build process. We would also ask a former customer what they would do differently if they were buying again, this could be quite insightful!
Suggested reading: Visit a local garden room
Design ideas, specifications and quotes
Once your supplier has a clear idea of what you are planning to achieve they will send you some design options to choose from. These will be in plan & elevation format, and it has become the norm to use computer renderings of what your room will look like from various views. With some firms, these renderings are quite basic while with others it will be just like looking at a photo of the proposed building sitting in your garden.
Depending on the type of design service you have opted for bespoke or modular you may go back and forth on these designs asking your supplier to hone them down until you have the final design you are happy to proceed with. This is quite normal.
The plans will be accompanied by a detailed specification outlining the core construction of the building and the specific design features you have chosen for your building, e.g., bi-fold doors, underfloor heating, etc. Read these carefully and question anything you are unclear on.
The plans and final specification will be accompanied by a written quotation for the project. Again read this carefully to ensure you are clear on what is included in the price. Common extras we see are VAT – firms often price ex-VAT, so you will need to factor that in. Delivery is also becoming a common add-on, this is normally priced per mile from the suppliers base to you. You may find that the first X miles are free and then you pay something like £3 per mile after that. The most common thing not included in the quote is the electrical hook-up to the mains supply. Garden rooms will be prewired, but the connection to the mains supply in your house is often not included in the package price. You will need to engage a qualified electrician to do this and depending on how far your garden room is from the house this can be £1,000+.
Once you are happy with the design, specification and quote, you will place your order. At this stage, you will normally be asked for a deposit. This deposit can be anything up to 50% of the project cost. Some suppliers will offer a deposit protection scheme which could be worth investigating.
Suggested reading: Paying for a garden room
Apply for Planning Permission – if needed
If your research shows that you will need to apply for Planning Permission to build your garden room, your supplier will start the process rolling now. They will organise the documents that are needed and liaise with the Planning Department through the process on your behalf, making this as stress-free for you as possible. Planning applications typically take 8 to 12 weeks to be processed.
If you can build under Permitted Development rules, you may choose to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development. This process will give you written documentation that what you are building is in compliance with the current Permitted Development rules. This certificate can be useful if you have questioning neighbours and when you come to sell your house.
If your building is going to require Building Control approval, your suppliers will prepare the documentation and liaise with the Building Control Officer throughout the project on your behalf.
Suggested reading: Do you need to apply for Planning Permission?
Your garden room will be manufactured
There are two key systems for manufacturing a garden room – on-site construction and off-site construction also known as prefabrication.
With on-site construction, your supplier will have the materials for your building delivered to your site, and they will then build the room from scratch in your garden. This service is often offered by smaller suppliers who have one team of workers who they send to your site to build the room. Because the room is being built from scratch on-site, the team will typically be with you for a couple of weeks until the room is complete.
The majority of garden room suppliers make use of off-site construction methods as this means they can cut the on-site down to a fraction of the time that building a garden room from scratch takes. With off-site construction build times can be one day to a week. Off-site construction allows firms to have teams of installers working on different jobs throughout the country simultaneously.
With off-site construction, many suppliers will manufacture the garden room in their workshops and test build the room. Other suppliers, especially those who make use of house quality SIP’s will source the different components and project manage the process so that everything arrives on-site at the right time for a quick build.
As well as the speed of installation, off-site construction offers many benefits such as the level of finish that can be created by manufacturing and finishing the components of the build in factory conditions.
Whichever system you opt for, you will normally be asked to make another payment before work starts on-site. With some suppliers, this payment will be the balance of the project cost. With others, it will be anything up to 45% of the outstanding balance leaving a small payment due on completion. We believe the second option is better for you the customer as it means if there is anything you are unhappy about you can withhold the final payment until it is rectified.
Suggested reading: Hassle free off-site construction
Completing the build
Your garden room will take shape quickly once work starts on site. The building will go through several stages before it starts to look like the finished building so be patient and don’t panic during the initial building, we know some people do, not thinking that it will ever look as they imagined! It is a good idea to take a look around the build each day and if you have questions ask the installation team, so that if there is a problem, it can be rectified before work goes too far. Remember that making significant changes and additions at this stage may well cost you money.
It is worth inspecting the finished building for any defects and create a snagging list if you find any. Give this to the installation team so they can rectify any issues before they leave site. Once you have signed off on the building and the installation team leave site the balancing payment on your account will become due.
Unless you had an agreement with your supplier to connect the electrics of the garden room to the mains supply, you will now need to engage a local electrician to do this. They will run an armoured cable between the garden room and your house and connect the new system to your consumer unit. They will then test the new circuit and issue with a certificate saying that the system complies with Part P of the Building Regulations, keep this safe so that you have it ready when you sell your house.