Tuesday, June 02, 2009

One Grand Designs

Dominic Jones, Head of User Experience at Liverpool Direct Limited, is another brave soul embarking on a selfbuild garden office project which he has called One Grand Designs. Pictured above is what he has at the moment...
"I went round with a tape measure and was amused to find out that every single dimension is different ;-) It’s 82″ tall at the front, 76″ tall at the back and various widths along its length. I’m particularly intrigued that the roof seems to slope, yet the walls are the same height - which means the floor slopes I guess!"
Highly commendably, Dominic doesn't want to pay thousands of pounds for a garden office, he's trying to bring it all in on a budget of about £1,000, but still make it beautiful, clean and workable. Definitely one to keep an eye on.


  1. I'm also building a shed office, looking at a budget of about £500 max, having been non-inspired by a visit to the Grand Designs Live show (I got free tickets). My wooden self-build greenhouse at the end of the garden is finally dysfunctional after 15 years, plus having a bedroom office at the moment means I wake up to a shelf full of 'invoices paid' lever arch folders - not healthy, so my wife suggested 'why not build a garden office where the disused greenhouse is?' At the Grand Designs show various salespersons tried to sell us Ecopods and Italian Timber Frame houses well beyond our means, so I thought, sod this I can build my own project from Freecycled timber and various odds and ends for much less... I'll probably set up my own blog documenting the project (watch this space...), but at the moment have just finished dismantling the now rotten greenhouse, but its very hot out there so came in for a break....

  2. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Alex, I assume you'll be embarking on a shed buying expedition shortly as you don't seem too enamoured with basement working.

    I'd really like to hear your views on the crazy prices that are being charged for many garden offices. Most are way too dear for what they are - many people seem to think that slapping the word "eco" or "modern" in front of the name will allow them to charge and extra 10K

  3. Pricing is a difficult subject but right at the heart of shedworking and you're right to raise it.

    I do take your point that it's a lot of cash to splash out - my garden office in the old place cost about £6,000 five years ago and it has done me fine right up to the end. It wasn't very special but it was well insulated and nothing went wrong with it.

    I agree with you to some extent. There is a tendency - and it's certainly not the case with all suppliers - to mark fairly basic stuff up.

    However, I would say that
    1) Even the most expensive garden office is cheaper than moving house to get an extra room, commuting regularly, etc
    2) That many of these buildings are really quiet impressive and so there is bound to be an equivalent price tag.
    3) I admire people hugely who build their own garden office. I couldn't do it and so I look on the fee as paying for the knowledge and craftsmanship that I don't possess.

    If you shop around, I'm sure you'll be able to find something that suits your budget (and if you're having trouble, please do get in touch and I'll try my best to help).

    I can't say I'm loving cellarworking. It's ok, but it's a bit dismal. Even a summerhouse would be nice.

    I'm going to put your comment up as a separate post and see what other people have to say. Hopefully we'll get a bit of a debate going.

  4. Anonymous11:25 PM

    I have a small firm of builders and would love to build garden offices – would love a den in my own garden for a whole host of reasons – initially for somewhere for the teenagers to escape to. I’ve researched this quite a bit and although initially they do appear expensive and some companies do quite heavily mark up it is still a lot cheaper than extending your home. I also believe passionately about an investment in quality rather than our throw away culture and think if you’re going to build one – make it last. I think UK manufactured SIPs are the way to go? Very interested in everyone’s views on this.

  5. Anonymous11:35 PM

    This is totally new territory to me but I can tell a lot of people writing and reading here know what they're on about. I would like to know how I would go about getting a shed assembled and by whom given that I am completely inept, too old, rather alone and a bit broke. Am I doomed to have to get a shed (probably not one I really like) that has the 'with assembly' option from a uk diy store? They seem to charge as much for this or more than the actual shed.

  6. There are some high value garden offices on the market, my company produces one of them. A 6m x 4m building will cost in excess of £20,000 but I am always happy to show anyone who is interested just why every penny of that represents excellent value for money. Value though is also determined by it's relevancy to an individual's requirements. For instance, I have suggested to 3 sets of prospective customers in the last 2 months that they don't require a super-insulated, high spec building such as ours. (One didn't require all year round use for instance).
    On the eco issue - we don't use this prefix as an excuse to make profit - argon gas filled sealed units and green roof systems, 8 inch thick walls do cost more (we know because we buy them in) - we fly the eco flag because it is central to what we do.
    We would say that if you can self build a garden room that is fit for purpose for a couple of hundred quid then that is the best garden room of all. Better on the pocket, better for the environment and much more rewarding.

  7. Richard Edmunds9:48 AM

    I am (was) in the process of replacing my garage (6M X 4M) with a 'shed' from Lugarde, as I work in my small attic as an artist, with my wife who's a costume maker. I did the drawings myself,worked out the costings, submitted the planning application and got approval only then to be told by my supplier (Cheshire Sheds) that Lugarde had increased their prices from last years by around 30%! This was due to the strong Euro against the pound but even so, getting the electrics, foundations and so on done the whole project might cost me around 12K. I know this might seem reasonable compared with a lot of other companies that are in the same market but I think I'll be converting - and as Graham said, using 'Freecycle', rather than using Lugarde to replace my garage. This will probably look more interesting and 'bespoke' than an off the shelf/peg version anyway !

  8. You know, I think he'd have had to demolish part of his house to get one of those Ecospace garden studios into that back yard. I'm not sure that was ever going to work.

  9. Wow! Thanks for the mention - I'm flattered by the interest the project has gathered in such a short time, but it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one who thinks garden office prices are ridiculous (I just thought I was particularly tight)
    I've tried time and again to get a builder out to look at an extension or conservatory - but even these small projects start off at around £10,000 - which is what turned me on to the idea of shedworking in the first place - the fact that a shed doesn't necessarily need planning permission, deep foundations etc etc means your creativity isn't limited by the size of your wallet. I like the fact that I can just get on and build it. Plus, of course, the state of my current shed means that I surely can't make anything worse!

    (Incidentally xmark - I don't want an Ecospace garden studio - I just want to make something which looks as pretty.)

    Follow the story at http://www.onegranddesigns.com

  10. Micro Homes and Sheds that are advertised on the Internet are over priced. We offer a 128 square foot two level micro home with solar lighting and a composting toilet for $9,995.00 Plus shipping.

  11. i rather like the looks of this one as is! :^)

  12. Anonymous4:53 PM

    We supply and install Lugarde Log cabins and Summer Houses along with building pools and installing Hot Tubs. We found after leaving work at Wilmslow Garden Centre we ended up with loads of paperwork all over the kitchen. So we installed a Log Cabin as an office in the Garden to keep “work” away from the home. It really works, - we have our house back. There is a great deal of difference in the quality of buildings available to purchase and it really depends on individual requirements. If it is for anything serious i.e. office, swimming pool changing room, gym, working studio, then it really is worth investing some serious money.