Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ilze’s gourmet delights

I wanted some of my clients to tell their own story about their Gembuild office.  Ilze van der Merwe is a chef and a chocolatier and she spoke to journalist  Carol Miers about her bespoke chocolate factory, which we built in September 2011.

Ilze makes her confectionery in two garden buildings, her macaroons now appear from an original hut and her natural chocolates are in a specifically designed factory.

“What Roy Thomas from Gembuild did for me is quite interesting, having a wooden house for the chocolate factory,” Ilze said.

chocolate-makers (1)

“I Googled and I found the Gembuild website by chance. I could not have got a better person than Roy to do the job, I did not shop around as Roy was so knowledgeable about it.”
The factory was later built in four days in the back garden. The idea had come from a friend.

The “beauty of it” was that by keeping the height low, it bypassed the need for planning regulations. As it was a first for Ilze, they went through her requirements.

“Roy does rooms in different lengths and sizes and we discussed this and what kind of flooring I wanted, and having Roman blinds. We also chose a deep commercial sized basin which Roy got for me,” Ilze said

“I could have asked him for anything and he would have said, ‘That is fine, I can sort things for you'”.

“I originally started the little chocolate factory in one room in the back of the garden where I am now just doing macaroons and I am making my chocolates in the room that Roy built.  This factory is from my own home, I live on the premises and at the moment it works.”
machines in the chocolate factory (1)

The stringent requirements for making a food product, as specialist as chocolate, call for a cool ambient temperature and proper housing for stainless steel units, tempering machines and a hot cupboard.

There are also wall racks for sprays and utensils, as well as space for a trolley and all the necessary props.

“I was quite worried about the whole thing about having a space between our neighbour and the unit, about it being made from wood and the low ceiling, because of the heat,” Ilze said.

“But Roy sourced a good powerful air conditioning system for us, that has a fixed 18C temperature which is ideal for me to work in.” the chocolate room (1)

“We deliberately did not want it to be too wide, as I did not want it to disturb the flow of the garden. Now two people can work in it comfortably. 

“It has a separate boiler so it is not connected to the house. I think there is a little generator for the power and I got in an electrician to do that,” Ilse said.

Ilze’s factory gets used daily and everything is set out for her particular needs.

“The room is the right temperature, a cool place to work in. I switch the machinery on until all the chocolate has melted. I tidy up the room and prepare it for the day. I have a trolley in the corner and I put the trays there. We fixed rails on the walls where I hook on the utensils,” Ilze said.

“Then I start. It is messy a bit like working in a potter’s studio.  It is really functional and it does what I wanted it to do.”

As well as this, Ilze enjoys what she does and knows her chocolates are a good product. With only an online outlet, selling chocolates without preservatives is a tough niche market to charm, but having a factory in the garden has helped Ilze to make this possible.

Related articles: Ilze’s chocolate: The  New Factory

Anything less is just a Posh Shed!

We are confident our garden offices and studios are built to the highest standards.

In this blog post I wanted to explain this quality and ensure you arent tempted by the price of a much inferior garden building!


Our walls are 170mm thick and comprise of 100mm thick panel which is filled with fibreglass there is an internal moisture barrier to the inside face and a vapour and reflective outer barrier then a TRADITIONAL cavity ….just like your home ..with an external cladding to suit you …we offer cedar larch or thermoboard all offer 30 year plus lifespans… we also offer traditional barn type 25mm featheredge cladding which is treated and finished in a proprietory which is extremely durable and only needs recoating every five years ..recently we have introduced Cedral which is an eternit product and comes in a range of attractive colours.

As well as giving excellent insulation properties the wall is also a good sound insulator and this why our units make first class music practise studios.. indeed this is why Vervace chose us for their piano practise rooms

You can remove and replace the cladding without affecting the building you cant do that with a 75mm composite panel or a log cabin type building.


Our roofs are our trademark pitched rooves with a barn hip which look absolutely beautiful in any location.

The loft space is insulated with 180mm of fibreglass which keeps the building really warm and there is a choice of roof finishes

Asphalt shingles these will give a 20 year plus life and come in a variety of attractive colours or our newly introduced stunning slate roofs these give 50 year life and come in a range of gorgeous natural colours.

All our 25 roofs are flat but with enough fall to move the water, these roofs are necessary to comply with the 2.5m rule of the permitted development regs. The finish is EPDM or rubber as its better known and this give a life of 20 plus years in fact EPDM roofs have been on Chicago airport for over 50 years and are still going strong.


Our floors are fully suspended and again insulated we can finish in carpet tiles or laminate in a variety of colour and pattern options.

Windows and doors

We use upvc throughout with 20mm double glazed units and all the usual locking refinements you associate with these units.

We offer a variety of colours and sizes.


With our building you can mix and match the windows and doors cladding and roofs together with the internal socket layout to get the perfect building for you all within the standard price.

And remember our units are used as granny annexes and extra bedroom space, they are that good, we can air condition them and include bathrooms and even kitchens!

If you can’t get all these features …then you will just be buying a posh shed

Bespoke Garden Designs

Here at Gembuild we pride ourselves on offering bespoke garden rooms at off the shelf prices.

This week we have just finished adding a deck to an ‘Own Design’ adapted by Gembuild in Crystal Palace. This unit is in Jacobean Walnut.

Crystal Palace custom design