Category Archives: Garden Studios

Day 1: Step by Step Build of our Largest Garden Building yet

Chris & Cliff prepare to load up sections of our biggest ever garden building (just over 700sq ft) to take to Sheffield:



The client has already laid the concrete base. Here’s a photo of the Ground plates going down:



Next Chris starts to lay down the insulated floor panels.


Last job of the day, Roy and Chris start firing down the floor. At least this job’s in the shade! 🙂


We built a music studio for Rob Eckland

rob-ecklandRob Eckland is an extraordinarily talented young musician whose credits include the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic games as a drum captain. Where does Rob record his music?  He has a studio in his parent’s garden near Watford.

In October/November 2011, Rob had received a call from The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) asking if he would be one of 20 professional drum captains for the Opening ceremony.

“My drumming hero, Ralph Salmins, got me involved,” Rob said.

“He was my professor when I was at Royal College of Music and he is the country’s leading Session Drummer, the absolute top of his field, so it was a huge, huge honour for me to even be considered.”

Yet since June 2012, Rob has been based in the studio at his parent’s home, David and Mary Eckland.

Rob had moved home intending on having a rough shelter for a studio in the garden. His dad, David, had decided on something more resilient.

“Our son was about to move back home. He said he would like to ‘put a garage’ in the garden to use as a studio.  We did not like the idea of a rather flimsy garage being constructed, and we instead looked at something more robust, that we could also use for our purposes,” David said.

David Eckland scoured the internet and found that the Gembuild garden studio designs were a good price.

“We undertook an extensive search on the internet, and came up with Gembuild. They have lots of flexibility around size and style, and we could also customise to a large extent. The buildings are robust, and the price is OK,” David said.

Having his own, local studio, means that Rob can now get things done quickly.

“I don’t have to travel to other studios in order to get things done” Rob said.

“I can do everything from home essentially.”

“I have been the arranger of two touring shows, The Twist and Only Yesterday, where I did all of this from my studio. I’ve also been able to record many singers and instrumentalists in there for varying projects.

“It is a good size and Gembuild incorporated a Vocal Booth in the corner”

“This means I can record the vocals properly in there, and I can also, if I want, record Brass/Wind instruments there. It has been fully padded out with foam in order to make it a very dry room so that I can record it completely dead and add special effects on later.

“There’s also a window there looking through to the control desk so I can see who I am working with.”

Currently touring as Musical director for Soul Sister, Rob’s abilities are bona fide.

Although outside his studio you won’t hear it, inside the sounds are varied.

“The main recording stuff I’ve done in there so far is Pop/Soul/Acoustic stuff. I’ve got backgrounds in Classical/Pop/Soul/Gospel/Latin/Big-Band/Rock/Motown/Acoustic so I imagine they will all play a part in there at some stage, “ Rob said.

Rob is actually a Pianist, a Musical Director and an Arranger.  He has been a pianist since three years old. Rob’s reach will be far.

Although the Gembuild office took a bit of planning and moving things around now Rob has his own studio as a base as well as a record of his work and a home for his recording equipment.

Incorporating an Outdoor Office or Room into a Garden Design

profile pic b&WThis week we spoke to RHS Gold medalist Melissa Jolly, who gave us her insight into the different aspects to consider when incorporating an outdoor office or room into a garden design.

Melissa has innovation at the heart of her designs but also a strong awareness of structure and balance. She is a designer who believes that a garden must have a sense of proportion and flow, which blends in with the house.  Additionally, the right aspect and everything has to be really practical for the modern busy lifestyle.

Melissa Jolly: “When I am asked to include an office or outdoor room into a garden design there are a couple of key points that need to be addressed from the start (aside from the practical issues of size, planning and specification).

MJ: Do you want to be able to see it and what will the room be used for? So to begin with, do you want to have the building on show or hidden?

MJ: This will depend on the size of the garden, and in most cases it will be difficult to hide a garden building in a small plot.  Therefore it is important that the building is designed into the layout of the garden.  It must integrate with the siting and style of the house.

MJ: However, also think of juxtaposition; often a very modern house could have a more traditional, rustic building nestled amongst the trees and grass, and equally a country house could have an ultra contemporary office with large glass windows looking back at the house.

MJ: Consider aspect: a little sun to warm the room up and flood the space with light is important but you do not want to have so much glare coming in that you can’t see your computer screen, or so that the office heats up like a conservatory.  Have doors and windows that open up fully in the summer months to make the most of being in the garden, and plenty of insulation in the building to keep it snug in winter – perhaps even with a log burning fire.

You will not make the most of the room unless is it comfortable to be in.

It is possible to soften the building once is it in place with the use of planting

Then, if you want to conceal the building it could be placed behind a timber screen or even a trellis or hedge.

MJ: Consider the finishing: Think about the finishing touches such as if the building will be left with its natural wood finish to grey down over time, or will it be painted or stained with a striking colour? That is, dark colours are a fantastic backdrop to the vivid greens of plants up against them.

MJ: Also consider the views: Think about the views from the garden building as well as the views of it.  Views of the garden can be calming or inspiring or energizing as you wish.

So that is one key point and the other is what the room can be used for:

MJ: For a Home office or music room, a kids’ play den or a general chill out room.

MJ: In most cases I would advise not placing it too far from the house.  That is, it

  • Needs to be convenient for all the necessary services: electricity, water and even soil waste for a toilet,
  • Also needs to be convenient for us to go out to.

MJ: The access must be easy: a path leading to it with steps if necessary to avoid having to walk across a wet/ muddy lawn and also to draw the eye down the garden.

MJ: The path should be well lit so access is possible at all times of the day (don’t forget how early it gets dark in the winter months).

A pergola along the path also helps to create interest and draw the eye towards the garden room.

MJ: Something else important is to be aware of security because offices and music rooms will contain expensive equipment and could be an easy target for burglars.  To address this, think of installing a PIR light, which will go on if anyone approaches the building, or of placing the building so it can’t be seen from outside the property.

Melissa Jolly grew up being taken by her architect mother around different building sites.  As such Melissa realises that the mood of a garden can be altered by considering the different points outlined.

To bypass the changes in contemporary styles why not try to have something that suits you personally perhaps you will find that these will turn into timeless qualities?


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