Like thousands of people across the UK, more and more of us are looking to our humble gardens for additional habitable space. Have you ever stood at your back door, looked out into your garden, and imagined your own Garden studio? Or maybe you’re considering taking on the challenge of building a garden room or home gym as a future project? We interviewed Charlie, a friend of Qube Buildings, who did just that.
Charlies 5m x 4.5m Garden Gym
Early last year Charlie embarked on designing and building a 22.5sq/m garden studio to accommodate his gym and training equipment. We were lucky enough to visit his almost complete studio, and find out all the ins and outs, pros and cons, highs, and lows of DIY Studio construction!
Charlie learned the basics of construction working on building sites as a youngster, which meant he was fairly confident handling materials and tools for this project. He began by digging out a traditional foundation and pumped it with concrete. He mentions this was somewhat unnecessary to support the building’s weight, however because he wanted a purpose built space for his gym weights, a reinforced floor with added steel rebar support felt like the best option, and offered him peace of mind knowing he could drop weights on it without causing damage. Charlie mentions that a foundation of channels dug out with additional support would have done the same job and require much less back-breaking effort! He filled an entire skip with six cubic meters of soil removed from site at a cost of £250 skip hire.
To ensure sufficient insulation was used in the build, Charlie used 30mm Celoflex sunk into the ground to prevent the cold from penetrating into the floor. The concrete was then poured over the top and a self-levelling layer of latex was applied. Finally, a chipboard was laid on top. This ensures a flat base and with the latex, allows some flex in terms of weight distribution. Constructing the floor was a significant part of the build for Charlie, but it needed to be able to withstand his weights.
When considering how Charlie would heat the studio, he explored underfloor heating but concluded that it would only heat the space, and not cool it when needed. An important consideration for a purpose built exercise space. He wouldn’t be able to drop weights on top of it either, and so decided against under floor heating. He will instead put a reverse air conditioning unit in to provide maximum control over temperature. One interesting point Charlie makes is that insulation for him is more important for sound proofing, as opposed to retaining heat. An important consideration when planning your studio and deciding on its use and purpose.
You will always need some help during DIY garden Studio
Charlie worked independently for the most part of his project, which meant the foundation alone took a while to complete. There were times when he could have used another pair of hands and called in some extra help for the tricky parts of the job. This included constructing and erecting each frame, lifting heavy panels weighing 28-30kg each, and sealing the roof with a rubber membrane to ensure it stays waterproof.
A significant challenge Charlie faced was achieving right angles and straight lines on a building of this size. Owing to the fact that the timbers he used were not completely straight, he discovered a 1-2cm difference in angle and height between opposite ends of the building. This then has a knock on effect when trying to ensure the cladding and roof remain straight, as well as doors and windows. Other factors which contribute to the differences in levels are the weather. Timber will retain more moisture in the winter months, and can grow by 5-8%, compared to drier summer months when the wood is lighter and shrinks slightly due to less moisture.
Each side of the building was constructed from a number of frames. Charlie needed to attach each frame individually, and then put the cladding on the frame to ensure the angles and dimensions were maintained throughout the build. Another significant challenge Charlie faced was working within the limitations of space around the building in which to move around and work in. He says that there often wasn’t adequate space for more than one person at a time, which became frustrating when he did need the help.
Designed, engineered, and ready-to-assemble
By allowing Qube Buildings to design and supply your ready-to-assemble studio, only a simple foundation is required, and we can point you to a range of options through our website, all of which are in keeping with our environmentally conscious ethos and require less labour to install, compared to traditional concrete filling. Once the foundation is laid, the floor will then sit on top, and comes in panels which attaches into place. If you are considering a reinforced floor for a weight’s gym, we would recommend taking a similar approach to Charlie and using concrete to provide you with the toughened floor based required.
Once your chosen foundations have been fitted, Qube Buildings can take over from here! We send all the panels and parts of your bespoke studio in one shipment, ready for you to install and fit together in a matter of days, without the need for unfamiliar tools, paints, coatings, or glues. Qube Buildings have engineered each panel to give superior insulating properties to the build, whilst being fully waterproof and weather resistant, meaning your studio can be used all year round whatever the elements throw at you!
Building a DIY garden Studio in the winter can be a challenge
Charlie used screws to hold his timber frames in place, and inserted sheet insulation he cut to shape, to fit inside each frame. The main issue with constructing a building in this way is around thermal bridging. Thermal bridging is the movement of heat across an object that is more conductive than the materials around it. In Charlie’s case the timber frame constitutes a thermal bridge. The metal screws drilled into the timber also cause a difference in temperature within the frame, allowing the cold to penetrate the wood. Thermal bridging therefore is a major source of energy loss in homes and buildings, leading to higher utility bills.
The clever engineering behind our Bio-Sip systems mean that thermal bridging is significantly reduced, even eliminated within our panels! The insulating layer of each panel is created using recycled plastic bottles (PET) to produce a watertight, lightweight foam core, which traps tiny pockets of air within it. This foam core is then coated with hemp matting set within a plant based resin. This is then bonded to the foam core, expelling air from between the two surfaces to create our smart Bio-SIP system. Our cleverly engineered panels are cut to the required shapes, which can be easily slotted together during the build. The need for screws is almost eliminated, thus reducing the overall thermal bridging of your studio. For our customers this translates to consistent internal temperatures, minimal heating costs, and only a small source of heat required to maintain ambient temperature within your studio during the cooler months.
This is a significant factor when weighing up whether you decide to build your own studio or choose Qube Buildings to take care of you. Qube can offer superior insulating properties, in comparison to other methods and products on the market today. This is an important consideration if you plan to use your studio all year round.
Qube Buildings superior Bio Sip v DIY garden Studio
Charlie chose to construct and erect each frame individually to complete his four walls. Once constructed, the chosen larch cladding was attached in individual lengths to form the exterior, which gives the studio its finished look. This method of cladding a building can prove convoluted as each length needs to be straight and level and attached individually. As a contrast to this approach, Qube Buildings have designed a smart solution to cladding our studios. This efficient and fool proof approach in which the sheets of cladding seamlessly hang onto attachments on the walls, are then secured in place with only a few screws. One of the benefits of hanging prefabricated sheets in this way, offers the user an option to change the cladding for a more updated look in the future. Qube offers a range of finishes for you to choose from including woods and weatherboard. These cladding sheets are easy and straightforward to fit and replace when required.
Charlie contacted a range of vendors to supply the different materials he worked with. He calculated all the material requirements himself and needed to work out precise measurements and costs. As a result, there were occasions when he found himself just short of requirements due to miscalculation or miscommunication with the supplier, but he was able to rectify the issues eventually.
DIY garden Studio is not for faint hearted
In total, Charlie spent approximately £485/sqm on materials to construct his garden gym. This included the addition of an air conditioning unit and windows and door. He worked hard to complete the job, which took him five months and worked many weekends, to finish. After completing his garden gym, Charlie required three skips in total, which added a cost of £600 to the bill.
When considering whether to build your own studio from scratch, it is important to give thought to relevant regulations and guidance around fire retardancy, and what is required for your project specifically. Charlie discovered he needed to apply a fire retardant coating to his studio, in line with building regulations, due to the studio’s proximity to the main house. This came as an added cost and consideration, but necessary, nonetheless. Charlie then coated his studio to ensure it was weatherproof.
Here at Qube, our products and materials meet fire safety standards and regulations and arrive with you ready to be assembled and used safely. Our garden studios are fully water-tight too, offering our customers peace of mind, knowing everything has been taken care of.
From designing your sustainable and high performing studio, to quick delivery and installation, Qube Buildings can take care of every step you take along the journey to discovering how you can create additional, habitable space in your own garden. There’s no need to spend months and months constructing your studio from scratch but instead, enjoy the ease and simplicity of short install times and straight forward assembly so you can start enjoying your studio immediately! With almost zero waste from our factory, Qube Buildings are not only committed to improving the future of our planet but are also invested in helping our customers to fulfil their garden’s potential for years to come!
If you would like to know more about our DIY garden Studio or like to chat to a member of our team, please contact us through our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org