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! 🙂


Judy’s words of wisdom for home workers

 “Working from home is a bit of a dream for a lot of people, “ said Judy Heminsley, author of the book ‘Work from Home’.

“You can understand why if you are commuting all the time.  Then having a garden office is a step forward into another dream again.”

My-home-office-alfresco-reading-300x225For many, being able to sit in a garden office is something planned for over many years, yet there is more to it than simply having your own work space, there are also practical aspects, as Judy explained.

Having worked from home for twenty years running businesses, Judy began the popular site, How to Work from Home  after publishing her book four years ago.

To begin, here is list of five of Judy’s useful tips:

  • Make sure you go out and socialise, write times in your diary for meeting people even at a business breakfast club once a week.
  • Finding yourself having to manage solo you should remind yourself that you have many untapped resources.
  • Many people are quick to say how you should plan your work timetable but experiment to find your natural working pattern as everyone differs.
  • Most people find it easier to offer help than to ask for it but make it your policy to ask for help when you need it.
  • While home workers may miss the chance to talk over a work problem with a colleague, if you do have a problem, don’t wait for things come to a head, go and talk to someone who believes in you.

As well as being qualified to give solitary workers a confidence boost Judy is enthusiastic about home working and supports start-ups with telephone advice on how to work from home.

Everyone meets unexpected situations so I asked Judy to explain one of her own.

My-home-office-home-working-at-the-mill1-300x225“I worked from home for twenty years. I was running a cleaning company for twelve years, then helping my partner who was a trainer and coach by doing the admin and the running of his business,”  Judy said.

“When I was running a cleaning busines my partner in that hurt his back. Although we employed people we also did cleaning ourselves and I had to take on his cleaning and take other cleaners around to the places he would normally do.

“My day was extended to be much longer than usual. Then there is not only the extra work and the tiredness and the aggravation that comes about because obviously the person is ill, but there is also the worry of ‘Are they going to get better?’ and ‘How is this going to affect us long term?’ so it is a very difficult position to be in.

“Working from home can sound so idyllic and that it is all going to be so fantastic, but it is not a bad thing to think about ‘How would I cope in a crisis?’ We all get them even if it is the computer going down, or somebody letting us down, they happen.

“It is amazing what you can do if you have a crisis but if you knew about it before you would think ‘Oh Gosh I could never cope with it’. Afterwards you sometimes wonder how you did do it. But you do cope at the time and I think people are wonderful in being able to do that.”

According to the Office of National Statistics 2011 Census data there are 1.4 million people working mainly from home.

Some make the leap from office and successfully adapt to solo working, others, like Judy have always worked from home.
Winter home office
Asked what are the advantages, many home workers will put flexibility at the top of the list.

Usually we think of flexibility as being the ability to work around other commitments like childcare, but there is also another advantage, being able to do more by finding your natural way to work.

“You quite often read articles about how to work from home with all sorts of rules about how and when you should work, but I have found that it depends on the individual, what works for one person does not work for someone else,” Judy said.

“It is good to take advice from people and listen to what they do but it is sad if it makes you feel inferior or inadaquate.

“So I always advise someone to experiment and see what works because if you find a routine that does then obviously that means more motivation.

“One plus is that if you are on a roll it is quite nice just to be able to carry on and get things done.”

Judy recently took part in a co-working scheme, set up by Anywhere working, a group that shows how remote working can improve your productivity, which saw Judy jump aboard a pedi-bus during a mobile meeting around the streets of London, talk about rolling.

Want an Off Grid Garden Office? We spoke to Eco Shed of the Year Winner, Kevin Holland

“I just want a comfortable life without being held to ransom by foreign owned energy companys and to do my bit for the planet,” said Kevin Holland, winner of 2012 eco shed of the year.


Kevin is a former community policeman who calls the headquarters of his renewable energy business, a solar shed.  Although traditionally a man’s domain Kevin admits he hosts community meetings as well as charity events in his workshop.

Kevin had to pay up front for solar panels but now the 250w Philidelphia M60’s feed electricity back into the grid.

“The more energy efficient you are, the less money you spend, “ Kevin said.

“My own house dates back to 1480 and used to cost me over £1500 in oil and £800 in electricity bills. Now I spend about £500 on oil, and that will be down to zero within 2 years due to other measures.

“My electric bills are paid for by the money I receive from having a feed-in tariff, so I suppose, yes, it is worth it.”

Kevin Holland was going around council estates and participating in energy saving projects. Ten years on he transferred this knowledge to his shed, house and business in the Norfolk countryside, putting dreams into practice.

“Ideally, an insulated shed costs less to heat if using it for a workspace, “ Kevin said.

“And the golden rule of renewable energy is insulate before generate, or reduce before you produce.”

“Years ago, everyone had an Anderson Shelter to protect them from Mr Hitler’s bombs. Today’s risks are very different; fuel supplies, water shortages, waste disposal, and energy security. “

“My panels are grid tied and feed power into the workshop where we have an office and all the freezers that store our food that we grow.”

That said, in addition, part of Kevin’s rainwater system runs over the panels keeping them at optimum temperature.

”I can’t find better panels for the UK Climate, but inverter technology has slightly improved since I had mine fitted,” Kevin said.

“The company Samil are now doing an inverter with a 99% efficiency as well as a 20 year extended warranty.”

Kevin could also have suggested using the natural light in more of a usual way. When you choose your windows plan for the path of the sun in winter as well as in summer.   With a lower winter sunlight it is more likely to need lower tree trops.  You might even want to think about adding some sky windows.

A rough guide for the overall area of the windows is to leave one fifth of the wall area transparent for maximising the use of the sun.  Then with that done, standard solar lights cost nothing more than the original outlay as they charge during the day.  There is, for instance, a d.light at £30 that has a good beam and also charges your mobile phone.

While Kevin is a passionate eco shed spokesman there are different exents that you can follow.   But what then is the need for additional products?

“Once a space has been made comfortable, one should look at lighting and heating, “ Kevin said.

There may be grants available to help with energy saving installations. One place to start asking questions is the UK’s energy savings trusts.

Kevin Holland has an array of trophies for his enterprising feats and he is ready for every eventuality. The well-known “ Be Prepared” of the boy scout’s motto seems fitting enough when it comes to designing and building a garden office.

“If the Russians turned the gas taps off and we had a drought, I could live quite comfortably because of the renewable energy measure I have put in place, “ Kevin said.

Kevin’s words may sound drastic at the outset but he probably would have won the Scout of the Year award.

Energy savings trust Scotland

Energy savings trust England

Kevin Holland Twitter

Facebook page

Centre Alternative Technology



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.

An Alternative option to a Care Home for your Dependant Relatives [Infographic]

If you’re ever in the unfortunate circumstance of having to decide what the best option is for your dependant relatives, it is a diffcult decision. do you get home help? send them to a care home?

Gembuild may have the answer! We have built many garden rooms for the purpose of using them as a Granny Annexe.

We have put together this Infographic which shows the benefits to such an idea.

“Why a Garden Office is the Ideal Accommodation Choice for your Dependant Relatives”


Please comment, share and let us know what you think

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What Makes a Great Garden Office? [Infographic]

Recently, I was looking through some of my competitors websites and was alarmed to see the low building specifications they were offering!

I think its important the customer knows exactly what they are paying for, as I have found many lower quality buildings are no cheaper than the high spec garden rooms Gembuild are proud to produce.

For this reason I had the below Infographic created which compares a high specification garden office to a lower specification one.


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The Different types of Wood we use to build our Garden Rooms

Here at Gembuild we use three different types of wood cladding or external cover; larch, cedar and thermowood.

What effect does each have on the final building?  Where do they come from and how long do they last without needing to do any maintenance work?

We are surrounded by it, we have walked under it, we have known about it for as long as we can remember. We have sat on it, slept on it, burnt it and eaten from it. We have walked on it, put things in it and we have touched it. It is wood, it is lovely, it smells nice, it lasts, we love it.

No doubt we take wood for granted growing as it does whenever there is a clear patch of earth but what does the wood in your garden office have to say? What is the hidden story behind the bark?

Gembuild’s designs use larch, cedar and thermowood for the external cladding, which can be dyed in different colours.

Wood knots, grain and textures are generic, and vary with their climate and habitat but each unique giving the offices a natural and individual appeal.

Take the Siberian larch which having grown in arboreal forests with wintering temperatures of -50 ‘C has endured conditions that can be variable and uncertain. Yet, during summer, close to the Arctic circle, there is midnight sun on the tree tops but underneath, wild boar, red deer, bears and tigers endure harsh conditions.

This wood, once felled and treated, survives the Western European climate for up to fifty years or longer.

Or take the Canadian western red cedar, still sent down the Fraser river to the Strait of Georgia and the Vancouver harbour, floating under Lions Gate bridge, where lumberjacks for centuries felled the statuesque tree for its beauty and utility.

It has qualities that make it a practical option for the outer walls of your garden office, as well as a certain quality that means for the owner, less upkeep.

Our cedar cladding designs include the Neoteric, Rusper, Faygate. Warnham, Ockley and the Colgate.

Our third type of cladding is thermowood.  Although wood is good to go thermowood is especially chic at the moment.

It was no surprise that without courting controversy people wanted to further improve wood’s insulation properties using modern techniques while keeping it’s natural qualities.  No need to debate the natural credentials if you only treat it with water and steam.

So the increasingly popular thermowood, became part of a growing area of timber framed houses in the UK. The scale of their use shows it is now an acceptable building material

Thermowood is Scandinavian, infact it is manufactured in Finland. You can identify it because having been treated under tightly controlled conditions as it has a registered trademark, from The  International ThermoWood Association.

If you have this conditioned thermowood you can expect a better and more durable insulator, with a thermal conductivity reduced by at least 20%  so stopping heat escaping that much better.

This much you can know you don’t take too many risks when you choose wood cladding and each plank has a story to tell with a whole world behind it.