Not that long ago, garden buildings were generally bog standard storage sheds, summer houses and children’s playhouses, all uninsulated and generally prone to damp. Quite why the nationwide trend for well-insulated, souped up sheds, shoffices, shepherds huts and multiple variations on this theme began has never been pinned down precisely but it has roots in the early noughties and Yorkshire born journalist Alex Johnson certainly played a key role in helping to popularise the concept.
In 2005 he published The Shed, a magazine for those who, like him, worked from pretty rudimentary garden sheds. That became the brilliant blog and www.shedworking.co.uk and a book ensued. Andrew Wilcox, aka Uncle Wilco, also played a vital part in fuelling the desire for a garden room.
A passionate “sheddy”, he runs the www.readersheds.co.uk and is founder and head judge of the Shed of the Year competition. His website has also successfully revealed the multitude of uses for a garden building, which includes everything from office, retreat, artist’s studio and pub to workshop, yoga studio, mini museum and holiday let. The list goes on.
Yorkshire author Sally Coulthard, who constructed her own shoffice, helped show us how to make garden buildings super stylish with her best-selling books Shed Chic and Shed Decor, while for the more adventurous, she published the DIY manual How to Build a Shed.
The pandemic, the rise in homeworking and the desire to have “a room of one’s own” has since put rocket fuel under an already buoyant market while also broadening the range of designs and price brackets.
Andy Eamonson, who co-owns Wakefield-based Cedar Garden Buildings, says: “The interest rocketed from the start of the pandemic and while it has eased slightly, the market is still very buoyant. “People are now buying garden buildings for all sorts of uses. We still build lots of home offices but we are seeing a lot more customers wanting to use our buildings as gyms and exercise rooms, bars, studios and even saunas.”
Cedar Garden Rooms prices range from £18,000 to £20,000 up to £40,000 and come with a concrete base and connection to electricity. They are insulated and the roof is covered with EPDM rubber, which comes with a 20 year guarantee.
“We have had to factor in the increased cost of materials and diesel, which is now an issue but the higher cost has not put buyers off,” says Andy, who advises would-be “posh shed” buyers to do due diligence before choosing a garden building installer. “Look for a firm with a proven track record,” he says.
If you fancy something contemporary with great attention to detail, PodSpace, based in Mytholmroyd, has this covered with a range of architect-designed buildings that can be lifted into the garden as a complete module or as a panelised system put together on site.
Built from Siberian larch with rain screen cladding, the front is floor-to-ceiling glazing and prices start at £28,890 for a 3.6m by 2.6m NeoPod and run to £47,860 for the large EcoPod. Michelle Lord of PodSpace says: “A lot of our work is in London, where space is at a premium and buyers often want them as a home office or a gym. We are also seeing more people wanting bigger pods with a shower room and mini kitchen.”
For something extra special at the higher end of the market then a garden building by Yorkshire Oak Frames is a good investment. The timeless, rustic buildings are bespoke and built to last with a sturdy oak frame and tiled roofs. Prices start at £30,000.
Robert Hornshaw of Yorkshire Oak Frames says: “Our buildings are made for the long term and the benefit of investing in them is that they stand the test of time and, therefore, what you spend, you will get back when you sell your home. Plus, there is no doubt that they will make your home more saleable.”
For those who want something rustic and also portable that they can take with them when they move, a shepherd hut should appeal. Oliver’s Huts, based in Stainburn, near Otley, is a relative newcomer that has seen business boom with orders from all over the country.
It was founded by cabinet maker Oliver Molyneux 17 months ago and, along with making the traditional and contemporary huts on wheels, he and his team also make the kitchens, doors and furniture. Prices start at £25,000 and £35,000 plus for a larger hut with a kitchen and bathroom.
“My background is in traditional woodworking techniques so this suits me perfectly and the business has really taken off,” says Oliver. “The huts are built to last and they are popular because you can take them with you if you move house. They also have a high resale value. Our best-selling hut is £37,000, which is tailored for glamping and can be used as a holiday let.”
Before you buy, check whether you need permission to site a garden building. Most do not need planning permission if the building is a maximum height of 2.5 metres and if it is within two metres of the house boundary.
If you live in a National Park, listed building or conservation area you need to seek planning permission. Rules are more loose for shepherd’s huts on wheels as they are classed as portable but check all the same and if it is in a field, change of use for the land that the hut stands on may be required.
Useful Contacts: Yorkshire Oak Frames, near Wetherby, www.yorkshireoakframes.co.uk; PodSpace, Mytholmroyd, www.Pod-space.co.uk; Cedar Garden Rooms, Wakefield, www.cedargardenrooms.com; Oliver’s Huts, www.olivershuts.co.uk; Shedworking, www.shedworking.co.uk. Readers Sheds plus details of the Shed of the Year competition,www.readersheds.co.uk. Sally Coulthard’s website is www.sallycoulthard.co.uk