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Buyer Beware- Buying Guide When Buying a 12×7 Summer House.
Garden buildings and timber summerhouse are reasonably straightforward buildings consisting of four walls, a roof and, usually from the better manufacturers, a solid substantial floor. The height will vary – maybe just enough room to walk in on the sheds but definitely good head clearance on the summer buildings as this will make it more comfortable to work in. Size again varies greatly from maybe as small as 4 ft x 3 ft for a little storage unit and up to 20 ft x 12 ft for a fully functioning, all singing summerhouse. A summer building 12×7 is a good choice as far as size is concerned. Add in the different styles of roof and you can see there is a building to suit everyone including you.
There is normally a choice of summerhouse doors which will reflect the usage of the building. As standard there would be a single hinged door but maybe double doors on the larger buildings. Stable doors will allow the door to be open but allow air in the top half. These doors would also allow the building to be used for your animals. Doors with glass in is another variation, and is normal on 12×7 summer buildings, and also allows light into the building and for you to see out whilst keeping you warm and dry from the weather.
A standard shed door would be ledged and braced for strength. This means on each door there will be three horizontal timber and two diagonals bracing bars. The planks of wood for the door would be nailed onto them. It is VERY important that a door has the diagonal braces because without then the door will start to drop very quickly after assembly making the opening and closing of the door difficult. Heavy duty summerhouse doors tend to be much sturdier with a jointed timber frame and this allows for a mortise lock to be included for a more secure building.
Garden buildings can come with or without windows depending on the use of it. On most of the cheaper buildings horticultural glass is used. This glass is likely to have imperfections in it but it’s OK as you can see out. The far better option is to have windows which utilise toughened glass as standard. This is far safer for your family, especially where children are involved, as it is specially treated to ensure that IF it breaks it will break into small granules of glass rather that jagged shards which horticultural will do. Other options include laminated or wired glass. Rather more expensive and would not normally be required except in high risk areas. As a breath of fresh air both the Diamond and Platinum range of buildings come complete with toughened glass as standard.
There are many choices of cladding such as feather edge or boarding. On these the boards overlap each other to make them weatherproof however it’s important to ensure there is at least ¾ in to 1 in (20 – 28 mm) overlap. You will often find much less that this and when the boards shrink in the warmer weather gaps will appear. The better option is shiplap or loglap. Ideally this needs to be T&G (tongue and grooved) as this will give the building added strength. Minimum thickness should be no less than ½ in (12mm) so don’t risk your building with any thinner.
Ensuring the right material used for the roof is essential as this will take the brunt of the British weather so ensure full consideration is given. On most of the ‘cheap’ summerhouse and workshops the businesses selling cheap buildings you will find they use chipboard or OSB (oriental strand board) for their roofs as this is a cheap and inferior material to use. However, my experience has proved that, these types of material are not suitable due to the fact as soon as they get wet they will swell and start to disintegrate allowing rain and the weather into your structure. Sneakingly these cheap summerbuildings are described as having ‘sheet material’ roofs to hide the fact they are using unsuitable chipboard and OSB, etc. Be very wary and ask what the roof is being made from. It should only be made from ‘proper’ timber boards. Don’t regret not checking.
The floor is very important as this is what you will be walking on so always ensure it’s at least 12mm (½ in) thick. Ideally thicker. Also needs to have solid floor joists to take the weight and these should be no more that 40 cm (16 in) apart. Be wary of the cheap summer building companies where you may have to build the floor yourself by nailing the floor boards (often sheet materials – see above) onto a few thin floor joists.
The above basic considerations are very important even though the basic style remains the same. In essence the humble garden building is a structure designed to function and to serve its purpose. You don’t need an architect to design them – just a company with good sense and a good logical approach to building them. The combination of sensibility and the above general guidelines will ensure any building you purchase will last you for many, many years. At 1st Choice Leisure Buildings their experience over 40 years in the business and their great customer feedback ensures that they are worth considering for your new building.
Take a look at our 12ft x 7ft Diamond summerbuildings as well as the 12ft x 7ft Platinum summer rooms.