Kya deLongchamps says there are plenty of alternatives to building an extension to your home if you require an extra room, and the garden is the place to do it.
A RUSTIC shed, steely office or chic cedar-clad studio, garden buildings offer a wealth of sylvan and sophisticated possibilities.
If you’re not ready to extend but want somewhere to relax, work or entertain — what about homesteading in your garden?
New timber tales:
There is an exciting choice of stunning new products in timber, a world away from the modest Apex roofed shed.
Without planning, these structures are not supposed to be used as regular, habitable buildings, but who wouldn’t be tempted to overnight or at least glamp once a week?
All that separates a wood-framed building from a house is size, full utilities, the quality of finish and some standard of insulation.
On the rangy, ambitious end of the garden room spectrum, a wide array of timber chalets and studios are available to building regulation standard, from around €18,000, the best of which are clad in hardwoods such as cedar.
Around half the price metre for metre of the price of a similarly sized extension, they are worth consideration if you intend to use the space more than occasionally, or have teenagers in need of entertainment space.
Despite their appeal, I retain a respect for the traditional ‘shed-heads’ who buy or build a plain timber-framed shed of a roomy size, and transforms it into a rustic idyll of their own devising and imagination.
Amazing Spaces on Channel 4 last year had their Shed of the Year competition, check out www.readersheds.co.uk to see where the love of a tumble down shed could take you.
Where small really is beautiful, the most popular new form of boutique shed is a hobbity building with a rounder organic profile that sits lightly in any garden, wooded or seaside setting.
Cisco Woodframe Homes (Kerry) produce the original Pod, which beautifully recalls the Gallareus Oratory on the Dingle peninsula. Quiet as an upturned boat, with a transcended beauty it can be used as a feature, a retreat or for overnight stays.
Founded by David Griffin and built in Kerry by Danny and Thomas McElligott, the Pod has already gained a worldwide audience, and have just launched by license in Canada. From €7,700 for a Pod Beag, plus VAT+ delivery (fully erected). Contact David Griffin at www.Podsireland.com
If you want something occasional that will also serve as a focal point, Podology offer compact, eye-catching timber orbs that you can sit, work, eat and relax inside whatever the weather, including a model that revolves completely to catch available sun.
Steel is the biggest new story in shed and outdoor rooms at the moment. Strong and highly durable, the characteristics of steel allow manufacturers to offer long guarantees, and when it comes to security, a steel frame finished in heavy galvanised sheeting is second only to a block building. You get what you pay for in terms of hinges, walls and doors.
Condensation issues where moisture in the air and from your breath beads and drips from the panels of a building lacking full insulation can be offset by a slightly flocked non-drip coating to the inside face of the galvanised sheeting covering the metal frame.
Fire, always a concern where potentially incendiary garden chemicals, and petrol fuelled machines are stored, is also easily addressed with the fire retardant properties of steel.
Metal will get hot in summer, so good ventilation and a large door is key to making full use of a steel shed in summer months.
The only inescapable negative is the enduring commercial look of a steel building, and for some they will always spell lock–up. The crisp face of steel might be said to run counter to the sylvan nature of a garden.
Pierced by windows and with a wood look PVC coated sheeting and full insulation they can be handsome in a more urbane garden or yard, and are a popular choice for a seriously stylish home office.
Steeltech, one of the best known companies in the country, has just introduced a new line in generously glazed airy studios, and one to three bedroomed chalets. Their 5m by 3m non-drip insulated shed is currently on offer for €1,990 with two Clearlight roof lights and a sliding door. Steeltechsheds.ie
* With a larger garden building you may be able to recover any 13.5% VAT on a spend over €5,000 as part of the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme. See www.revenue.ie to find out more.
Take time to test the timbers
* When examining timber framing and siding, ensure it is not peppered with large knot holes. These can fall out over time reducing the integrity of the building.
* Check for irregular gaps between boards, bows, bends, odd angles, protruding nails or screws and split timbers — telltale signs of shabby workmanship.
* Wood bearers should be made from pressure treated timber securely fixed to the base of the building. As flooring, OSB or a T&G is preferable to chipboard.
* A large shed should have at least five uprights along the long walls and four at the ends. See the shed erected, don’t buy off plans. Jump up and down and lean on the walls with your entire weight.
* Timber cladding comes in rebate ship-lap, T&G, rebate weatherboard, and 8mm rough sawn feather edged overlap. Smooth planed pressure treated 12mm T&G offers least movement, the best longevity and paints up easily with a spray gun.
* All hardware should be galvanized — the hinges, locks and handles of the door. Is the door well fixed and secure? Keep in mind that no shed is burglar proof and big windows are the first line of ingress.
* Roofing felt should be of a good thick grade and attached with the correct tacks. Eaves should overhang the building by a minimum of 5cm. Check gutters are well secured and of reasonable quality.
* If you’re going for extras, additional headroom not only offers more real floor space without a stoop, but adds hanging room for shelving and hooks. Look for a stable, trussed roof in a larger shed.
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