Most garden rooms come complete with the foundation system included in the package, but a few dont and you will need to organise a concrete slab
To help you choose the right garden studio for your needs we have put together a few key questions you should ask before buying.
What choice do you have over the studios layout? You may well be happy with the standard design of garden studio you see in the brochure but do you have any choice in the positioning of doors and windows, the type of roof covering used, the finish on the floor or choice of paint colour? If you are buying a garden studio that is built to order you should have some flexibility on the final layout and finish but be prepared that any changes to the standard specification will have an impact on the price.
How well is the garden studio insulated? Different suppliers use different construction methods and different types of insulation so how can you compare how well insulated a garden studio is? The key is the u-value, quality garden studio suppliers can tell you the u-value of their floors, walls and roof, the lower the figures the better performing the garden studio will be. U-values are measured in W/(m²K), figures below 0.2 W/(m²K) are considered good.
Where does the timber used in your garden studio come from? This is an important question, your supplier should be able to prove that they use timber from certified, renewable sources such as FSC or PEFC certified forests. Don’t be fobbed off!
Are there any hidden costs? Some suppliers include the garden studio foundation in their prices, others don’t so check out before you order. Another extra cost is the connection of the garden studio electrics to the mains supply. If you need to apply for planning permission for your garden studio, your supplier should be able to supply you with drawings and specifications, but check to see if they charge extra for this service.
What is the garden studio lead time? Ask this early on to save disappointment, some suppliers will have studios ready to go, and the time from order to installation may just be a few weeks, whilst other suppliers will build your garden studio to order and may have a waiting list. Twelve weeks is the maximum you would expect to wait from order to installation.
How is the garden studio delivered? Some suppliers will deliver a garden studio fully finished and crane it into place, other garden studios will arrive in manageable panels that go together quickly and some companies will have all the materials delivered to site and build the studio from scratch on site.
How long will the studio take to install? Onsite times can vary from supplier to supplier, some companies can fully install a garden studio in one day, other suppliers may only have one or two workers on site and installation can take several weeks.
What are the payment terms? It is common place for garden studio suppliers to ask for 50% of the price as a deposit, 45% before delivery of the office and 5% on completion of the job. This is a good system as it allows you to hold back some of the money until the job has been competed to your satisfaction. If you have to pay a deposit whist waiting for planning permission check to see if this is refundable if planning permission is declined.
Does the garden studio come with a NICEIC certificate? It’s important that any electrics are installed to building regulation standards and they should only be installed by a qualified electrician. Garden studio electrics installed by a registered electrician will come with a NICEIC certificate.
What warranty does your garden studio have? Most reputable garden studio suppliers will offer a guarantee with their buildings and you should expect to have a warranty of five years if not ten included in the price of your studio. Ask if the warranty is insurance approved as this offers you greater assurance than a suppliers own warranty in the event of the supplier going out of business.
If you have a sloping site you may think that a garden room is out of the question, think again, with suitable foundations a garden room can be built on any site.
A concrete slab can be cast into a slope but will only ever be an ugly addition to your garden which is difficult to disguise – this is because to get a level on a slope, a deep concrete slab has to be poured which will be visible sticking out from the earth.
The other option is a stilted foundation which takes the slope into account using longer posts at the front of the site and smaller ones at the top. These silts / posts can be made from various materials such as oak, concrete or steel and they should go down into the ground at least 1000mm and be spaced not more than 1000mm apart. Once all the posts have been set in concrete and ‘gone off’ a treated framework grid, braces all the posts together and forms a sub base for the garden room. Steps up to this deck can easily be incorporated into the garden room design.
When taking measurements to see if planning permission is required the measurement is taken from the highest point of ground immediately adjacent to the garden room, so if the garden room is installed on a slope the measurement point is taken from the top of the slope immediately next to the garden room.
This type of foundation can be used in other circumstances, for example I have designed garden rooms that partly hang over water – the front stilts in the water.
For the best garden room manufacturers an awkward site won’t be an obstacle to installing a garden room.
Garden rooms need to be built on solid foundations, and there are many different types of foundation on offer such as concrete slabs and plinths and stilted foundations.