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+
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.
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+
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
In these blogs and throughout this website, you’ll have seen the word ‘bespoke’ plenty of time: ‘bespoke garden office’, ‘bespoke summer house’, ‘bespoke design’… Everyone understands what the word ‘bespoke’ means, and I am pretty sure everyone would love to have a bespoke ‘something’. But everyone also knows that bespoke design means more money. Or is this a misconception?
Once again, here at A Room in the Garden we’ve found an expert to answer our question and give you some pointers about creating a bespoke room for your garden.
Hi Aaron. First of all, thank you very much for joining me for a coffee and a chat. How about you tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into architecture and interior design.
Thank you for inviting me. To make a long story short, my family has worked in the construction industry for many years. They used to buy unloved houses and give them some much needed TLC, creating a home where we could all come together as a family.
I was always passionate about design, so when it came time to choose a university course, Architecture was the natural choice for me.
Following my graduation, I worked for various individuals and practices including Brighton University, gaining experience in all different aspects of the industry, from home extensions to the refurbishment of listed buildings. And then I finally decided to open my own architectural and interior design practice, Pavilion Architecture.
Architect and interior designer Aaroon Humber and my self at Franklin’s Cafe & Antiques A perfect blend of coffee and inspiration!
What aspect of your job do you love the most?
Without a doubt it’s the creative part of my job that I love. It is always so satisfying when you work with a client to create their dream home that is unique, individual and designed just for them rather than a creating a carbon copy of the latest front cover of Vogue.
When people hear the word bespoke, the first thing they think is, “expensive!” Is that the case?
No. Having something bespoke does not have to mean expensive at all. If you have a budget, you just have to make sure you use your money wisely.
Any advice about how to do that?
In each room you need to choose your focal point and accent with key pieces. For example, the fireplace is often the focal point of a living room, and this can be enhanced with the right accent pieces. They don’t have to be brand new designer accessories or furniture; they can be old items collected from charities shops. Just remember to keep it simple, less is more and shop local.
How do you create something bespoke? Design does not come naturally to everyone, and some people may find it hard to express what they like. Any tips on how to go about it?
The first design consultation is for me to get to know my clients and find out their design preferences, aspirations, requirements, budget and time-frame. I always ask my clients to collect images and objects that express their personality and taste. So, choose a starting point for your design scheme and work outwards. Remember a space is never finished. The best spaces grow organically as you add to it over time rather than being finished in one go.
What do you think is the advantage of having a bespoke design?
To have something that is individual to you can be very comfortable, fulfilling and enjoyable. It can be scary to break the rules to have something different. But I believe a home should be the place where we can really be ourselves rather than “Keeping Up with the Joneses”.
I agree with you! I think that there is a great satisfaction in having something completely bespoke! At the moment, we are working on a project for a lady who loves rabbits. Her reaction when she saw that we incorporated a bespoke screen with a rabbit silhouette was priceless.
Last question. As you know, we specialise in bespoke garden office and summer house, or even better, bespoke garden rooms in general. What is your opinion on building a garden room? Is it worth to have a bespoke design?
A garden room is a fabulous way to extend your home. I would recommend to any homeowner considering a garden room to carefully consider their requirements and opt for a solution that not only meets their needs but also fits into and enhances the garden. This will not only add to your enjoyment of the space but will also increase the economic value of your home.
Thank you, Aaron!
Hopefully his great insight will help to unlock the mystery of bespoke design for you a little bit more.
And, as always, if you have any questions about design that you would like to talk to us about, please do pick up the phone, email us or simply add your comment below.