Ask These Questions BEFORE Buying a Summerhouse For Your Garden
1/ Will It Suit You?
It’s important before you buy a new summerhouse or timber cabin that you do a little legwork to ensure that your new garden building will suit you and your needs. This is because there are so many companies selling on the internet so it can be confusing and hard to make the right choice.
By following this guide you can ask the right questions. It does involve a little work but it will be well worth your time. You will find that the majority of companies are open, upfront and totally transparent about their products, unfortunately, there are many which try to mislead or hide information from potential customers and relying on you buying on price alone. I think we all have been warned ‘if it sounds too good to be true, then it normally is so ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘buyer beware’. A comparison would be like comparing a bottom of the range car with a Mercedes car which is two different things. Both are cars but wildly different in specification. The same applies to summer buildings.
2/ Can You See The Building Beforehand?
It’s vitally important to have the opportunity to view any potential building before buying and by doing so YOU can decide whether the price you are paying reflects your expectation of what you feel you will be getting. This will allow you to know that the quality is right and also give you the reassurance that you are not dealing with a ‘fly by night’ or ‘rogue trader’. Even if you are unable to get to a display site to view the fact that a company has their buildings on view to be scrutinised by customers should be reassuring to you. This hopefully, will give you the confidence to deal with them. When you are expected to rely on just a leaflet, brochure or web site it can be a little risky.
3/ What Quality Timber is Used
The grade of timber used on many summer houses or timber buildings accounts for a large amount of the cost, however, this cost is well worth paying if you can buy a building which will stand the test of time. The building made from good quality timber will have a much longer life than one made from the cheapest timber (or made DOWN to a price). You will normally find that the cheaper timber is normally used on cheap furniture for use indoors and where it is out of sight and away from any damp. It’s not a good match using cheap timber outside if you want a reasonable life out of it.
3/ Is Redwood or Whitewood Used?
Essentially most summerbuildings and summer houses are made from softwood timber, either redwood or whitewood deal. You will find that decent garden buildings are made using redwood deal and the reason for this is that it is slower growing. This ensures the timber has a much tighter grain and also retains some of the sap in the wood giving it a slightly waxy feel. Cheaper buildings are normally made from whitewood deal which grows very quickly and this means the grain to more open. It is also prone to dryness and the possibility of little knots dropping out. Redwood is more expensive to buy but much better in the long term. You can find more on this page by the Forest Stewardship Council
4/ Are The Floor and Roofs Made from ‘Proper’ Timber
You will find on most of the cheap summer buildings that the floors and roofs are made using OSB (oriental strand board), wafer board, chipboard or cheap plywood and this is totally to do with cost. However, all of these materials are unsuitable for any areas where they may get wet – and outdoors there is a great chance of this happening. As soon as the boards get wet they will absorb the moisture and this will cause the board to swell and disintegrate. Which is no good at all for you as your building will come to a premature end. You will also find that most of these cheap companies describe their floors and roofs as ‘solid sheet material’ as they don’t want you to know what they are using. Sounds far better than chipboard but all they are doing is hiding (misleading) the facts and that they are using these cheap unsuitable materials.
5/ Do You Have The Choice of Size or Style?
You will find that most garden building companies offer a range of set sizes and styles and, whilst, you may find one which ‘will do’ surely it’s better to have a building to suit YOUR needs and your location. A building where the door and windows can go where you would like, the size to suit and a style which will appeal to you. Most web-based companies don’t offer this option for you and only supply in a few set sizes and styles. A company such as 1st Choice Leisure Buildings offer more or less any size to suit and any styles as well. so the question is – why compromise?
6/ Do You Have To Pay Extra For Assembly?
It can be quite hard work erecting a garden house and it’s not everybody’s ‘cup of tea’. And you will find that the cheap building companies claim that it’s easy to build it yourself. But it’s not. You will be involved in moving large heavy timber panels about as well as being responsible for making your new building watertight against the elements. It is true that a good DIY’er would be able to assemble a building, and may enjoy doing so, but it’s vital it is done correctly. For an instant – if the roof leaks then that is down to you and not the company you bought it from. All of * 1st Choice Leisure Buildings’ Platinum and Diamond summerhouses are assembled free (that is the price includes assembly) and, to me, is the best option.
7/ How Thick is the Framing?
Crucial to the strength of your new garden building is the size of the timber framing so you need to ensure it’s of a good size. In an ideal world, you should go for at least 2in x 2in (47mm x 47mm) internal vertical frame size. This will ensure your new building can stand up to the worse of what ‘Mother Nature’ throws at it. Many cheap building manufacturers use timber frame which is only 1in x 1in (25mm x 25mm) one-quarter of the recommended size. Do you want to take that risk when the winter storms blow in?
8/ How Tall is Your Proposed New Building?
Before buying always check the height of any building you are interested in and check whether they are INTERNAL or EXTERNAL SIZES, which can vary by up to 6in (150mm) as some companies are a little misleading about this. Decent summerhouse or workshops manufacturers will always supply buildings with a good internal height. So don’t risk becoming ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ check beforehand.
9/ What Conditions are Attached to Guarantees?
Normally with a summerhouse, as well as garden sheds or garden workshops, there will be a standard warranty of at least 12 months, however, you will find some web companies offering 10-year warranties, which sound great. Peace of mind included – that’s got to be good. But like most things ‘if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is’. And it’s in the detail where these 10 years warranties fall down. You will find that you have to treat your new building every year being the main condition. Any garden building treated every year will last more or less indefinitely so treat these 10 years warranties with a ‘pinch of salt’. And where will you find these conditions on their websites – your guess is as good as mine because they don’t want you to see them?
10/ Are The Buildings Made in the UK or Stockpiled?
When wooden building are made in the UK for each customer the quality can be controlled but if they are shipped in from abroad or stockpiled in open yards then they could be damaged when being moved about. This may keep the price a little lower but surely it’s good to know the building has been made for YOU and will arrive in perfect condition.
11/ Conclusion and Advice?
It can be quite exciting to buy a new garden summer house, potting shed to share with your family or a timber workshop for your hobby, however, it’s important to ask questions beforehand. By using this guide you can ask the right questions and, by doing so, are likely to be happy with your new building and not to be regretting it and thinking – why did I not check.
Hi, I'm Robin Antill, founder of 1st Choice Leisure Buildings, and I use my expertise gained over 42 years in the garden buildings industry to understand that each customer is different. With my manufacturing, retailing and customer service experience my articles help people choose their ideal shed, garden workshop, summerhouse, log cabin or garden office needs to suit their requirement and that is key to satisfaction. And what do I do when I'm not writing? You may find me following Grimsby Town Football Club or riding roller coasters - so plenty of 'ups and downs' in my life.