Can you connect water to my garden room?

Can you connect water to my garden room?

One of the most common question we get asked when meeting with potential clients is: “Can you connect water to my garden room?”

The answer is yes!

Although there are a few things that you do need to consider depending on what you want. You may want to install a washing machine or have a sink with cold water. But perhaps a toilet and a shower would be handy for your garden gym…

Let’s explore the different possibilities one by one.


Installing cold water

Cost: from £1500+

connecting water to garden room

If you simply want to have a sink for washing your garden tools, or maybe even a washing machine for your laundry, all you need is to have cold water reaching your garden room. The first step will be identifying the nearest cold water, mains connection in your house (for example a kitchen or toilet sink). Then we have to create a system for the water to flow in and out of your garden room. One pipe will bring the fresh water in and another will take the dirty water out.
The pipes must be buried a minimum of 750mm underground. To do this, we have to build a small trench to accommodate the pipes. If we are digging through soil, we can do this simply by using a narrow spade. Things get a bit more complicated if we need to go through concrete. Of course, it’s still possible, don’t get me wrong, but it may take a bit longer which increases the final cost of the build.

Once we have sorted out how to get the clean water to the garden building, we then have to work out how to get rid of the dirty water. If there is an existing soil drain point (not a rainwater drain), we just have to add a connection and bring a stub soil stuck into your garden room.
But if that is not possible, we have to create a flow from the garden room to an outside drain. To do so means installing a pump station. The bigger the distance between the garden room and the outside drain, the bigger the pump station you will need. Another factor to consider is whether the pipes are going uphill, horizontally or downhill. The cost for a pumping station starts at around £400.

Garden Buildings are Permitted Development and do NOT require planning permission as long certain criteria are observed. To learn more about it read our article 7 garden office or summer house planning permission rules to keep in mind


Installing hot water

Cost: from £300+

can you connect water to my garden room

To avoid of having to deal with all the regulations that come with installing a boiler, we highly recommend using an electrical shower (cost starts from around £50), which will generate its own hot water. You can also install a small hot water heater under a sink, which provides you with 7 to 10 litres of hot water (cost starts from around £50).


Installing a toilet

Cost: from £2000+

connecting water to garden room

If your garden office or summer house is right at the back of the garden, you may want to consider the possibility of adding a toilet. To do this, we will need to install a macerator, which will reduce the waste to a pulp, and then we need to gain access to a soil pipe to take the waste to the main sewer. If there is no soil drain near the garden room, we will need to fit a macerator pump station which has a foul water or sewage pump that can cope with solid waste. Another option which would definitely help you to keep the price down would be installing a chemical toilet, like those used for a camper van.

Depending on your requirements and the intended use of your garden room, you may need to apply for building regulation or planning permission, but that is a whole other article!

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Garden office and summer house foundation: the screw piling system

Garden office and summer house foundation: the screw piling system

A very important part of building a garden room, no matter if a garden office, a summer house or simply a small storage room, is to make sure that the foundation is solid, strong and long lasting.
The traditional way to prepare the foundation for a building is using concrete, but, thanks to the continuous improving of technology, new ways are now available: Ground Screw, Screw Pile, Pads and concrete. All valid ways but here at A Room in the Garden we have opted for the Piling System.

There are several different good company selling screw piles in the UK but we have decided to go with UK Helix simply because their screw piles, in addition to be of a very high quality, can be easily adjusted in length depending by the size of the project and the kind of soil.

UKHelix warehouse
Paalupiste warehouse in Finland

I am here today with Rin Gamble, CEO of UkHelix, who very happily agree to meet me for a coffee and answer all my questions.


I: Hi Rin. First, thank you very much to join me for a coffee. First question, as always, please tell us a bit more about your company, UK Helix.

R: Hi Ivana. The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for inviting me!
UKHelix is an authorised sole distributor for Paalupiste screw piles, a leading quality screw pile manufacturer based in Finland. They have been designing and building screw pile since 2001 and they are considered a well-recognised and forward-thinking company. Always trying to improve their products and their offer. All the production is made in Finland to the highest standard and it is backed it up by an ISO90011 quality certificate and ISO 14001 environmental management certificate.
We are very proud to be their exclusive distributor in the UK!


I: The use of screw piles as foundations is well used in the Scandinavian countries, while here in the UK still seems to be a novelty. Is that correct?

R: Yes and no. The screw pile or piling system has been used in the UK for quite a long time now but mostly in the commercial constructions or in general in the construction of big building, which require a big excavation or where concrete is not a possibility. A perfect example is the Fishbourne Roman museum in Chichester. To preserve the Roman Villa a museum was built on top of the archaeological funds using the screw pile system. Also, a lot of projects in London are now done using screw piles due to the limited access, which makes it sometimes impossible for the concrete TIR to get there.


I: So, the novelty is that now screw piles are more and more used in the private sector and for smaller projects.

R: Yes. The screw pile system is getting more and more common. It is a perfect solution for garden rooms, fencing and elevated paths. But also, for houses and house extension. At certain scale, it is often cheaper, easier and faster and less messy than concrete. But not always. There are several options available now and what is good and more cost effective for one it is not necessary for another one.

 

Screw piles

 

Fence built using screw piles

 

Summer house built using screw piles

 

House built on screw piles foundation

 

I: One of the limitation of concrete is the weather. If it is too cold or if is raining the concrete can’t be applied. Is that the same for screw piles?

R: No. one of the many advantages of the pile system is that it can be installed with any weather condition. In addition, while with concrete you have to wait for it to set, with the screw piles you can start building straight away. Making the all process way faster!

 

Screw pile foundation frame

Screw pile foundation frame

 

I: How long does it takes to put a screw pile in the ground? And, will you do the installation?

R: This is actually another unique point of our product. We can send our team to install the screw piles but in all honesty is so simple that anyone can do it. Especially if you take our installation kit (£12). I have tried myself with my husband simply using a crow bar and I managed fine! And, how you can see, I am quite petite!
One screw pile will take around 10/15 minutes to install! And even less to unscrew it! And they can be reused!

Installing a screw pile

Helix Screw Piles explanatory video

 

I: So, no more breaking the back to excavate the ground to prepare it for the concrete! No more breaking the back for taking the concrete away if you decide to redesign your garden!

R: Exactly! Pile screw are especially good if the new building is located on a slope! Instead of wasting time and energy excavating the ground to make it flat you can simply adjust the height of the screw piles. And job done! Our screw piles go from 70 cm to 3 metres long. And if 3 metres is not enough we have extensions that can be added.
There is no slope that we can’t tackle!


I: And what about if you hit a rock? Or a tree root, cable or a pipe?

R: Like any other digging job the ground has to be inspected to make sure that there are no cables or pipe. If you hit a rock, as when you excavate to prepare the ground for concrete, you can try to dig it out first. If that is not possible you can simply reposition your screw pile. In the unlikely situation that you hit another rock you can use a special drill which will go through it.


I: The pile system seems to be much more environmentally friendly than concrete.

R: Definitely. You do not disturb the vegetation at all!


I: Are the screw pile long lasting?

R: They will last forever! All other companies galvanise their product with a layer of around 80 to 100 microns. Our screw pile, including our cheaper range, has an average of around 200 microns. Technically, it takes 1 year to go through 1 micron… quite a simple calculation. And this is without considering the steel factor.


I: I have seen your screw pile. While the screw piles sold from other company have the shape of a giant screw yours have a smooth surface with a helical head at the bottom. Why is that?

R: To prevent any frost to get attached to the pile. In Scandinavian countries temperature often drops very low causing frosting. In any kind of foundation, you must consider the frost factor. If your foundation is above the frost level when the winter comes the water in the soil will freeze and expand. This will lift the foundation and cause the soil to move underneath. In summer time, the water will defrost and shrink back but the foundation will not be able to get back to its original position. We are talking of a lift of millimetres each time, but over time that will cause a problem to the whole construction. Because the smooth shape of our screw piles the water does not have a surface to get stuck to, preventing the formation of frost. The important thing is to make sure that the helical head is installed below the frosting level.


I: What about costs?

R: The price varies. As I mentioned before, every project is unique and we try to give to each client the best cost-effective solution. But as a guide line the price for a screw pile goes from 45 pounds up to few hundred pounds per set.


I: Thank you Rin for your time today. After our chat I feel even more confident about the pile system.

R: Right!

It is faster
It is cheaper
It is cleaner
It is more environmentally friendly
And it can be installed in minutes under any weather conditions

 

 

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How we build our garden rooms

How we build our garden rooms

Garden offices or summer houses are becoming more and more popular. In addition to being an easy and cost effective way to add space to your home (with a few rules to be respected, but generally no planning permission is required) they often represent a good investment for homeowners. But for an investment to work well, you want to make sure that what you’re getting will serve you for a long time without any problems.

Many of our clients – especially those who are more technically orientated – like to know how we build a room in the garden, and what materials we’ll use, before spending their money with us. This knowledge often allows them to confirm their choice.


Foundations

Every garden building requires stable and reliable foundations. In our case, we mostly use ground screws. These are about 1 metre in length and are screwed right into the ground. This provides a perfectly levelled foundation, even in the most uneven garden.

The advantages of using the screw system are:

– You get a lasting garden building: the mounting plate is around 5cm higher than the ground allowing ventilation below the floor level, therefore protecting your garden room from humidity.
– There’s no damage to grass, tarmac or paving: only the small area where the screw is to sit will be disturbed.
– It will save time: the screw will be installed in just a few hours and we can start building straight away
– There’s no damage to the surrounding area: it will be clean and tidy with no mess or mud.
– It saves money: it’s a smart and efficient way to build foundations.
– They can be installed all year round with no delay for rain or snow.

Garden room foundations

 

Main construction

To build the main frame of your garden building, we use SIP construction boards (Structural Insulated Panel). They provide amazing insulation, are sturdy and long-lasting, and allow us to build quicker than a traditional timber framework. The main walls and roof are often ready within the first 2 days of the build.

SIP panels come in various thicknesses. As standard, we use 100mm boards, which will provide 78mm of insulation. No other product on the market gives such great insulation value at this thickness. This makes your building larger inside, warmer in winter, and cooler in summer.

The floor, walls and roof are all constructed using SIP boards, effectively creating a thermos. We want to be sure that your room in the garden conserves as much energy as possible, so you won’t need to use much heating, even when you’re working in the middle of winter.

Garden room external wall

 

Floor

Your garden building floor is also constructed from SIP panels, which provide very sturdy support for desks and chairs. Again, it’s all fully insulated to make a much warmer room.

On top of the SIP panels, we put floor underlay, and on the top of this, we install the floor panels. Our standard designs come with Luxury Vinyl Panels. They have a very nice wood-like finish, but because they are made entirely from plastic, they will not absorb moisture like MDF boards, so you get a perfect floor for years to come.

But the possibilities are endless, and depending on the use of your new garden room, you may prefer engineered wood, ceramic tiles, a hard-wearing metal floor or rubber (perfect for a home gym).

Garden room floor

 

Internal walls and ceiling

Each of our buildings is finished with moisture resistant plasterboard, smoothed and painted, which creates a perfect finish; just as you would expect from a wall in your home. We spend a lot of time making sure that your building is utterly perfect for you. In the long term, it’s definitely worth getting this part done right.

Garden room internal walls

 

Roof

The roof will be made using 150 mm thick SIP panels covered with a EPDM RubberCover. This offers superior quality and gives a durable membrane, which offers 50 years’ of life expectancy. This type of solution also allows you to choose an optional green roof if you would like to.

Garden room roof

 

Lights, sockets and internet

All our garden rooms come with lights and electric sockets, complete with USB ports, which are installed by our certified electricians. The number of them depends on your needs, and if you would like to change them to chrome plated, just let us know. Depending on the size of your building, we will make sure you have plenty of light and several sockets. We position them based on your needs.

To make sure you have an internet connection we will also run an internet cable to your building, alongside the electric cable. This will insure you have good connection even far from home.

 

External finish

Depending on the model, or your imagination, we use various external finishes, from traditional British redwood cladding, to special facia boards such as cement particles panels.

Before any type of external finish is applied, your entire building will be wrapped in a breathable membrane, which will protect the main construction, and add additional wind and water protection.

 

Windows and doors

All our doors and windows provide you with great insulation and ease of use. Depending on the model you choose or your preferences, we install uPVC, aluminium or wooden doors and windows. They are all certified, and are exactly the same as those installed in all modern buildings.

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Bespoke garden rooms – colourful wood paint experiment

Bespoke garden rooms – colourful wood paint experiment

After a series of articles looking at the more serious side of garden room planning, such as Can I claim a garden office as a business expenses and How to fund your garden building and 7 garden offices and summer houses planning permission rules to keep in mind I decided it’s high time we have a step back into the happy world of designing and imagination. While I was doing some colour testing for a small, bespoke, garden room, I thought what a wonderful thing to share with our readers!

I decided to widen my colour testing and came up with a small experiment to see how the colours that appear on the charts compare to those you see when they’re applied. So, then I went (actually I sent Lukas) to our local paint shop to buy 24 different colour samples and a paintbrush and then I asked him to cut 24 small pieces of the cladding we usually use for our garden rooms.

For my little experiment, I used Sadolin Superdec Satin, simply because it has a wide variety of colours, and it is the one we usually use in our garden buildings. To make it more accurate, I first applied a light grey base-coat and then two coats of the chosen colour.

Please be aware that the colours on a photo will always differ from the ones you see in real life. My intention is simply to establish the colour chart reliability.

 

X8530Y Blancmange*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colorful wood paint

RAL 6018*
Perfect match!
Colourful wood paint

Apricot*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly darker than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

14 E 51
Perfect match!
Colourful wood paint

12 E 53*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly brighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

22 D 45
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly brighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

RAL 3009*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly brighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

Sandbank*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

S7243T Cocktail Time
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

H8284K Crazy Daze*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter and brighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

12 C 33
Pretty good match! Although it does not show in the photos, the colour on the cladding is slightly lighter.
Colourful wood paint

Red Pepper*
Perfect match!
Colourful wood paint

Grey Umber*
Pretty good match! The difference between the chart colour and the painted cladding is less evident from the photo. The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

RAL 7038*
Not a very good match. The colour on the cladding is lighter and with less yellow in it than the one from the chart.
Colourful wood paint

U7123W Tokio Bay*
The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter and brighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

M3383R Tallulah*
Considering that blue is the most difficult colour to reproduce, this is a pretty good match! The difference between the chart colour and the painted cladding is less evident than from the photo. The colour on the cladding is slightly darker than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

K1572M Water Fight*
Not a very good match. The colour on the cladding is lighter and with less green in it than the one from the chart.
Colourful wood paint

Berberis Blue*
Not a very good match. The colour on the cladding is lighter and less greyish than the one on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

Stratus*
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

18 C 35
Pretty good match! The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

P0115Q Mutiara*
The colour on the cladding is much brighter and with less grey in it than one on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

Bright Blue*
The colour on the cladding is much brighter and with less grey in it than the one on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

Blue Peter*
Considering that blue is the most difficult colour to reproduce, this is a pretty good match! The difference between the chart colour and the painted cladding is less evident than from the photo. The colour on the cladding is slightly lighter and with less grey than the one shown on the chart.
Colourful wood paint

All in all, I am quite happy with the result of my experiment. I can confidently say that the Sadolin Dulux Superdec colour chart is pretty accurate, with the exclusion of a couple of colours. Be aware though, this article was simply meant as a guideline. Always try a sample of your chosen colour before starting painting your garden room.

To make things easier for our clients, after you’ve selected one or several colours, we’ll always bring you a sample applied to the cladding so you can be sure of what you will get.

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Can I claim a garden office as a business expense?

Can I claim a garden office as a business expense?

I am sure that if you are one of those people who works from home, the idea of having a garden office must have crossed your mind. A garden office would allow you to separate home from work, finally eliminating all those small interruptions of family life so it would be easier to concentrate on the task in hand. Plus, wouldn’t it be great to have a space to store all your work stuff without having to share it with toys, a laundry basket and the occasional guest?

Obviously, building a garden office requires a substantial investment, but if you run a business it is possible to buy it as a company asset. Or, if self-employed, you should be able to claim it as a business expense come accounts day.

I am not an accountant, and I do not know much about those things, so I started to search the internet to learn more about it. The problem I quickly ran into was that there is no definitive answer out there. Plus, the more I was reading, the more doubts I had.

So, I abandoned the internet, and instead decided to talk to the experts. I contacted Cardens Accountants and Business Advisors, a firm founded in Brighton about 10 years ago by Barry Carden, which has rapidly grown to include 4 partners and a total of around 60 employees. Adam Thompson, one of its Corporate Tax Managers, very kindly agreed to meet me and answer all my questions.

 

Cardens Accountant Interview
Me (Ivana Cavallo) with Adam Thompson, Corporate Tax Manager at Cardens Accountants and Business Advisors


Hi Adam, my first question is simple: which are the pros and cons of having a garden office as a company asset?

I guess, there are no real cons. If someone needs the space, they need the space. It gets the business out of the house and gives them some segregation. From a tax point of view, there are some reliefs. If you are VAT registered, you can claim the VAT back from the cost of the property. Which for a purchase of that size it is not small.


What about a Sole trader?

They need to be a bit more careful. If you use the space for personal use as well, you can only claim the relative percentage of VAT. So, for example, if you use the room as a office during the week and then you have band practise at the weekend using about 10% of the time, you will be able to reclaim only 90% of the VAT.


So, let’s say I build my garden office, and I use it as a guest room when my brother comes to visit from Italy…

A one off, it is not a problem at all. And if it is in a company name you can ignore it completely. It is only relevant to a sole trader. Just make sure that you can prove that its main use is as an office and nothing else.


In addition to reclaiming VAT is there any other cost that can be claimed back?

The cost of the building itself can not be deducted as a business cost, but the fixtures and fittings you put in it can. So, you can claim the cost of the desk for example, of chairs, chest of drawers, carpeting…
Any electrical work you do in it can be claimed back too. As a company that builds garden offices, it is important that you give your clients an itemised bill of the costs.


And what about your bills? For example, electricity and internet?

If you have separate meter, you can deduct the cost in full. If not, you will have to do an estimate based on your usage, and if this is not possible, you will have to calculate the amount to be deducted based on the percentage of use.


Like when you work from home, right?

Yes. Let’s say you live in a 4 rooms house and you use one room exclusively as your office. You can claim 25% of your electricity and gas bill.


I read that if you buy a garden office as a company asset, you need to be aware that if you ever sell your house you will have to pay Capital Gains Tax?


To be honest, while I would not say it can be ignored, it is not really an issue. While technically it could be a problem, in reality it is not, because a garden building has not got an actual value. Although the value of your home may increase due to the presence of a garden office, the garden office itself will not increase in value over time. Its value will actually decrease. This means that you will be unlikely to pay Capital Gain Tax. One thing I would recommend though, is to speak to your local council about business rates, if there are any, if they will apply to the garden office and how much they would be.


So, it is not connected to the business? To the value of the business?

It is part of the business. So when you buy it, it will go on to the company balance sheet at whatever price you pay for it. That cost can not be written off, but you can claim some allowances for it against the fittings. It just sits there as an asset. If it gets knock down in 10 years you can claim it as a capital loss.


In conclusion, if you have a company or you are a sole trader, it is convenient to buy a garden office through your business?

Definitely, yes! But keep in mind, tax is too complex subject and things may vary depending of a person’s individual circumstances. Therefore, I would advise to anyone thinking to get a garden office as a business asset to come to us for a more in depth tax advice or to talk to their existing accountants.

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