SIP’s! What are they?

SIP’s in the UK have only in recent decades become a noted method of construction, most commonly used in the construction of residential properties and small commercial projects, despite having existed since the 1930’s. The first instance of a SIP’s building was in Wisconsin, USA, 1937 and was even dedicated by the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The building survived the harsh Wisconsin climate and ultimately stood the test of time with its removal to make way for a larger building in 1998. Since 1937 like most things developments have been made and more modern materials used resulting in panels with better insulation and structural integrity.

Wisconsin, Forest Products Laboratory, stressed skin panel building.

A SIP’s panel, simply put, is a form of insulated foam core sandwiched between 2 pieces of OSB this provides a very strong building material which has insulation built in.

There are many benefits to using SIP panels when it comes to construction, a few of those are:

Reduced build time: Due to the format of using large panels wall sections can be erected very quickly, often once a foundation has been placed and the walls ready to be put in place, the shell of a SIP building can be completed in a matter of days. One of our Garden Lodges can be completed in a matter of weeks, depending on size usually between 4-6 weeks of construction time.

Better Insulation: The panels, as it says in the name, have the insulation at the core of the building and because they can be slotted together very precisely there are much less cold bridges and the buildings are very air tight allowing for a better control over temperature.

Less wastage: SIP’s are often prepared in a factory before they are then sent to site, this allows for less wastage on site and very minimal wastage during manufacturing.

Green: The insulation for SIP’s is built into the structure, removing the need to add insulation at a later date, providing a very well insulated home reducing heating bills etc. The OSB used to construct the SIP’s is also sourced from young fast growing trees, which makes for a very renewable source and young trees can process carbon dioxide better than older trees therefore, reducing the overall CO2 emissions created.

We have now worked with SIP’s for a considerable time, and we are always comforted when visiting customers and they tell us how warm and cosy their new garden rooms feel, because of the insulation very minimal levels of heating are required to maintain a comfortable temperature in the lodges. They are also often taken aback at how quick the process is, from when the materials turn up on site to when they are able to move into the annexe. If you want to build at a specific time of year through us, then the best thing to do is book a site survey a month or 2 before you would like to build.

It may surprise you that even with these huge beneficial factors of using SIP’s, brick and mortar is still a more commonly used format of which to build and one of the simple answers to this is because it is still functional and it is the most widely known format for building a home. For large homebuilding companies to retrain would provide a fairly substantial cost and ultimately why fix something that isn’t broken? but we ask why not have something a bit better?


Smart Homes? Is it the way forward?

Smart homes! Should you be installing a smart home system into your home?


Let’s start with understanding exactly what having a smart home means. A smart home allows you to turn your ordinary bricks and mortar home into something that resembles the Jetsons, although sadly without the flying car! Automation is the key word when it comes to smart homes, allowing you to take control of many aspects of your home via an app on your smartphone, smart device (Amazon Alexa or Google home) or a smart thermostat like the ones offered by companies like Hive and Nest.


This is the ultimate upgrade from the old fashioned clapping lights situation, now you can press a few buttons or even just speak from the comfort of your armchair to change the temperature across your home, turn lights on and off, control security systems, close and open blinds and more. Along with this unparalleled convenience there are many benefits that can come from having an automated home, energy efficiency is one of the key selling points for smart homes, from your phone you can adjust the temperature of your heating, your lighting and electronics allowing you to remotely control these aspects of your home, so if your out and your heating is going to come on at 7 but you miscalculated and are actually going to be a few hours late, then you can simply adjust your heating to come on 15 minutes before you get home, that way it will be nice and cosy for your return and you’ll be saving energy as you won’t be heating an empty house!


Not only does that make you happy because you can save on your bills but it’s also beneficial for the planet and that is a win-win situation if you ask us!
To get an understanding of a few of the possibilities with smart home functionlity, take a look at this video by youtube Danny Winget, where he gives you a little guidance to some of the products that you can use to smarten up your home.

There are a couple of concerns about smart homes and their security, as you are connecting a lot of your home appliances and systems to the internet, this can open you up to the possibility of having your home hacked and that is quite a scary thought! You have to consider a few things though, with a good security system for your wi-fi you will curtail most attempts at someone trying to hack your home but the biggest thing to consider is that its not common it would be fairly unlucky for it to happen to you. Think of having a good wi-fi security setup like locking your car, a thief is much less likely to steal something from a locked car then an open one.

To conclude our little article, we are pretty sure that we would all welcome smart home integration into our own homes. The convenience that a smart home system allows is quite amazing in most cases, it really seems like we are making steps into the future much like those retro visions of the future!


Grand Designs Live Review

Grand Designs Live!


So on Tuesday the 2nd our marketing man popped out to the ExCel in London for the Grand Designs Live show. Upon entering the grand designs corridor which is a bit like walking into some kind of Willy Wonka type world for construction, interiors, home technologies and everything Grand Designsy!

The tunnel of grand design dreams! #granddesigns #tv #themetune #london

A post shared by Garden Lodges (@garden_lodges) on

Once through the Willy Wonka tunnel, you are confronted with a small communal area with walkways through to the different sections of the show those being; build, interiors, kitchens, bathrooms, gardens and technology. All of these sections include lots of interesting and state of the art products including smart home technologies, garden/home sculpture, water features, grand designs interiors, jukeboxes, lighting, art, even an infrared sauna which sounds a bit scary but they provide a unique solution for a home sauna.

A great feature at the Grand Designs Live, is the ask an expert in this area you can pop along make a quick appointment and have a free discussion with an industry expert regarding your plans for home improvements, home building and more. The ability to have a free discussion is great as often these kind of consultations might cost a few quid.

One thing that caught our eye were these large hot tubs that double up as a swim spa! They are designed in such a way that they will create a current that you can swim against providing a basically endless swimming pool which we thought was pretty cool! albeit a bit pricey sometimes more than our entry level lodges! .

An item that we took a good interest in was smart home products, we are interested in using a smart home product with our garden buildings and will hopefully see the incorporation of smart home products with our future projects. We like the smart home products as they allow you to control many different functions in your home by using a simple app! Security, lighting, heating and many other things can be controlled by a smart home system.

A highlight of the show was at the Grand Theatre where there were multiple talks taking place. The face of Grand Designs Kevin McCloud had some time on stage discussing the TV show and buildings with some of the homeowners that had featured on the show in the past. They went through their favourite parts of the build and the process, so if you have an interest in self build projects its definitely a show to visit.

Overall we had a pretty good time at the Grand Designs Live event, with lots of potential products that we could see included in our Garden Lodges in the future. The only downside to it is that we think they should put conveyer belts in somewhere, the show takes place in such a large space, during our day there our marketing man clocked up around 19,000 steps! We have added a set of photos from our visit so click below to take a peek. 


Get Your Gains in Your Own Personal Gym!

We have built many Garden Lodges for our customers for many different reasons. One of the more popular uses for the extra space provided by a garden room is a gym. We have helped our customers build functional and beautiful garden rooms so they can reach their workout goals by only taking a few steps from the house to their own personal gym! One of the biggest benefits is that you won’t ever have to wait around to use a machine that the person before you didn’t wipe down!

We wanted to collate a few inspiring images and items from some home gyms that really excel in style, design, functionality and might inspire you to wipe the dust from those dumbells.

Our Garden Lodges can make perfect and stylish home gyms, pitched roof options allow for plenty of headroom needed for weight lifting or running on a treadmill, on top of the functional aspect, installing gable end glazing will give a beautifully bright space that feels open and connected to your garden and outside space.

Now when it comes to owning your own home gym you are obviously going to need to kit it out so we wanted to direct you to some products, some of which are on the budget side (with good reviews) and to some luxury or state of the art items you can use to fill your home gym.





An exercise bike is a great way to get your heart pumping it is also a lower impact sport in comparison to running so a little better for the joints. We would suggest looking into one that uses a magnetic resistance system due to it being quieter, less maintenance and it uses set levels for resistance compared to a friction resistant exercise bike, if you are looking for a harder workout though friction resistance is the way to go. Another great thing to look out for is a bike with a good display and computer, as the better ones will accurately track your work outs, your heart rate and many other stats that should motivate your session.

JTX Cyclo 5


At £599.00 it is not particularly cheap, but what you get for that is a state of the art machine. The JTX Cyclo 5 has a myriad of functions and a high quality specification list, including 16 levels of resistance, advanced computer with bluetooth compatability so you can play your tunes through the speakers, heart rate sensor and more, click through here to visit the website. 


Brand-X RT-01 Roller Trainer

Cycle Roller

Currently on sale at £89.99 the roller trainer fits a tight budget and is the more compact (sort of) way to train at home, this may be the better option for those of you who look to cycle on the roads, as with this product you have to use your own bike. Much like a rolling road that you might see at your local garage, you stick your bike on top and start peddling the only thing to note is that you have to keep your balance otherwise you might find yourself and your bike horizontal and on the floor. Click here to visit their website.




Treadmills are the og gym equipment, a home gym without one would seem a little empty to be honest. The great thing about  treadmills is that they allow your body to move the way it’s supposed to and the ease of use is fairly unparralleled in comparison to other machines.



So this treadmill seemingly from the future is a beast of a machine it also comes at a bit of a beastly price too, it starts with an 9 and has 3 figures after that before the decimal, it is very close to being a 5 figure sum. If you were to bite the bullet and have one of these placed in your home gym, you might get some local fitness freaks drooling at it through the windows, we would also suggest beefing up your home security, although, it would be a rather cumbersome thing to try and steal. This machine allows for multiple types of exercise including the standard treadmill running so it is a bit of a multi-functional item possibly reducing the need for other equipment. Click here to view the product on the Technogym website.


Reebok One Series GT30


The budget option! At a remarkable 3% (£319.00) of the cost of the SKILLMILL Connect this treadmill may not provide the same amount of functions as the other but it is a great treadmill, have a look at this review linked here with a critical review and user ratings. Whilst still retaining a good level of design and style this treadmill has a good computer system with heart rate moniters aswell for tracking your workouts with a good degree of accuracy. Listening to your personal tracks is also made easy with inbuilt speakers so you can connect it to your phone or mp3 player! The only cons of this machine are that there is no bottle holder and the top speed is a little lower than other treadmills. Click here to view the treadmill.

Conditioning and Weight Training

Now that we have partially covered the cardio side of things, let’s have a look at an all in one machine, as it will take up less space and its multi-functionality will serve all of your muscles in one convenient product. If a all in one machine is not for your then do not fret there are many different options you can go for, simple barbells and dumbells can be pretty suitable, as you can use them in many different ways and a simple sophisticated bench press is fairly inexpensive.

BH Fitness G152X Global Multi Gym with Leg Press


Have a look here to see all the functions that this multi gym equipment can do, it is advertised at £1,299, although there is another offer on the site there at £799 it might be a bit of a steal at that price. Ultimately though if you want to get all of your workout goals completed in one this maching should provide all you need, it even has a leg press so you wont just be focusing on the mirror muscles unless thats what you want!

Bodymax CF666 Lever Bench Press


The safer way to lift! because this benchpress uses a lever system you shouldn’t find yourself dropping a barbell on your chest after you have pushed yourself to the limit and you can’t lift no more. A sturdy machine that comes with storage for both normal and olympic style weights. The weights might be an added extra, but again you can use them in other areas like sit ups, squats and other workouts. Click here to find out more.

Now that you have an idea of what you might want to put in your home gym we can look at where. Annoyingly the equipment for a home gym is quite bulky if you have a spare room big enough then you could place it all in there but we would suggest a ground floor room due to weights but if you don’t have that space a garden room is a great solution to creating a dedicated space for your workout goals. We have built a fair few garden rooms for our customers designed for gyms and we would usually suggest a pitched roof building as when you are lifting barbells and such weights above the head the extra room can facilitate that. Not only are the pitched roof buildings rather attractive if they are installed with gable end glazing they let in a wonderful amount of light allowing you to workout with nature around you. Here are a few examples below.







The Home Game, ITV

Yesterday our partners over at Granny Annexe had a building featured on the ITV show The Home Game, If you are considering accommodation in your garden you can have a great look at our building that is featured in the last quarter of The Home Game, aired 02/03/2017. Here is a link to the ITV hub where you should be able to view the episode.

Alternatively our marketer has put together a lovely walkthrough video featuring the annexe.

If you are interested in family accommodation for the garden, please click through to our partners website.


Planning or Permitted Development?!


When it comes to this subject of planning it can be a bit of a head scratcher, we would like to attempt to add a little clarity to this murky lake of confusion.


So you would like a Garden building but you are unsure as to whether you will need planning permission or not. Well you’ll be glad to hear that most of our buildings can be built under permitted development rights.  The exceptions come when you are looking to build above the 2.5 metre high restriction in a designated area and these items cause confusion!


Our buildings that exceed  2.5 metre are usually pitched roof Garden Lodges, this includes both dual and mono pitched designs. These buildings are ideal for use as gyms or artist studios as they have ample head room and allow in plenty of natural light. Now, they can be built under permitted development rights if they meet the following requirements: Their eaves height (eaves height: where the lowest part of the roof meets the outside wall) are under 2.5 metres and a dual pitch is no more than 4 metres and a mono pitched 3 metres, however here is the important detail! These buildings must be located 2 or more metres away from any boundary, if they are located within the 2 metres they will need planning approval. 


If the garden room lies within 2 metres of the boundary, the whole building should not exceed 2.5 metres in height.


The area of the proposed garden building and any other existing buildings within the garden (other than the original house) must not exceed 50% of the total area of the garden (excluding the footprint of the original house). This is typically called ‘curtilage’. In other words, only 50% of your garden can be given to additional buildings (including sheds, extensions and decking over 300mm in height).


The new garden studio or office cannot be a dwelling or be used  as self-contained living accommodation. It cannot be a residential space used for sleeping.


Flats and maisonettes do not have permitted development rights.


Planning would also be required if you live in a listed building, or in a designated area, i.e AONB, conservation area, etc. by doing a quick google of “do i live in a designated area” you should be able to confirm whether or not your property is in a designated area.


There are great resources that you can use to decipher whether or not you will need planning, the planning portal website provides a myriad of information that will aid your research. Click on the link here to go to the planning portals interactive page about Permitted Development. We also have a useful FAQ on our website relating to planning permission and permitted development, which you can find here.


Oxfordshire Case Study

This Oxfordshire lodge is situated just on the edge of the Thames. Large glass sliding doors allow the lodge to open up giving the owners a place to sit and relax while they look out onto the Oxfordshire countryside. This lodge has been beautifully finished internally, greys and whites give a minimalistic finish and the choice of lighting creates a welcoming feel. Casement windows to the lounge area not only let in light but really become a distinctive feature to this build. The same wall is also a feature wall with the jar light fittings and a simple but effective wallpaper. It almost seems like the greenery from outside is creeping through, it is a beautiful effect. The lodge is a large size, measuring 8.0m x 7.0m the lounge/kitchen area has an internal size of 20.94m2 giving plenty of room for movement, as you can see in the images, there is a lot of open space, the owner will be adding a coffee table to the living room which will fit nicely in front of the larger sofa.

Our Garden Lodges take just a few weeks to construct, weather permitting a build can be finished within a month from the start date, this is capable due to our construction method using SIPs panels. SIPs are a recognised building material used around the world, due to their construction they have great insulation and offer excellent airtightness values keeping the lodge cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Most lodges do not require planning permission as they can be constructed under permitted development, in certain circumstance planning may be required.

Garden Lodges finish the building i.e. finished in matt white emulsion, kitchen and shower fitted, downlighters. Garden Lodges also makes sure that the building is cleaned and the site is tidy, so it seems like the building has always been there. For our customers here it was the perfect template to put their own spin on the lodge and make it their own.


Luke, I am your FIRE (pit)!

Yes, everyone who’s watched Star Wars will be familiar with the proper line.

We saw these fire pits online and thought they were just so unique, we just had to share them, especially with all you Star Wars fans!

These individually handmade fire pits complement any Garden Lodge and make an ideal addition outside your Man Cave, making it a ‘Super’ Man Cave (or Super Villain Cave) . . .


The pits are the work of UK-based company (go UK!) Burned by Design, which is run by British welder Alex Dodson, who creates incredible one-off steel fire pits and burners with his bare hands. You can order your very own online from £270.

But the mask of Darth Vader is not the only infamous movie character you’ll recognise – try your hand at these!









We’re on the Green Art blog – ‘Trend-setting Garden Design’


From the Blog: Inside and out

The first is the merging of inside and outside; the flow from the house to the garden using the same materials to create an extension of the home outside. We’re seeing a real increase in demand for outdoor kitchens,garden gyms and garden offices as testament to this. Whether this involves new, purpose built buildings or dedicated open garden areas depends on the scope and ambition of the project (or client).

Not only new, but also older, existing re-purposed structures can form part of the extension of the home to outside. The Grottage is the latest conversion of the often redundant, cluttered garage into a garden room that can be a clever, low cost alternative to a purpose-built building.

Read the full Trend-setting Garden Design blog on the Green Art website.