Thinking about expanding your home? Investing in a garden room is a big purchase for most customers. Whether planning to incorporate the garden room into a new build home or use the project in place of a loft conversion or extension, there will always be a budget in mind.
With such a diversity of choice out there, here are 10 concise questions to explore which will guide you towards the best value and quality currently available in Ireland.
1.”How are your buildings constructed?” Conventional timber stud walls are still used by major garden room companies in Ireland because they are cheap to produce but they allow thermal bridging which renders the finished room hard to heat and prone to drafts. With the superior SIPS system (structurally Insulated Panels) growing increasingly popular amongst UK garden room suppliers, it’s worth noting the differences between the two main types available. Polyurethane panels offer 40% greater thermally efficiency than polystyrene panels. One could flip that fact to say that the better polyurethane building costs 40% less to heat. Polyurethane sips also provide better eco sense than using rockwool or other types of insulation as it takes less carbon and cost to heat and cool the building throughout its lifetime and does not infringe on the internal floorspace as much as the alternatives. Polystyrene panels can be bulked up to provide better thermal performance.
2. “Do you have BBA approval?” This ensures your room will be fire safe, energy efficient and well made, compliant with construction industry standards and built to last for decades, if not a lifetime. If not, how long will you guarantee my room for and is that insurance-backed?
3. “Is the glass safety standard?” Door glass closer than 1500mm to the floor needs to be special safety glass as does window glass closer than 800mm to the finished floor level. Also, consider maximising natural light to reduce the need for artificial light with plenty of high quality ceiling to floor glazing.
4. “Is the guarantee insurance backed?” Company warranties are worthless if the company goes into administration, especially if the company is not limited or vat registered. Insurance backed guarantees protect the customer’s purchase for the full term, regardless of circumstances.
5. “Do you provide an electrical certificate?” A Compliance Certificate proves it meets standards of UK Building Regulations Part P and will be more than sufficient for your needs.
6. “Can you design one-off projects and is that design service free?” You’re testing their experience here and architectural ability to create a design which complements your site. Bespoke jobs are not every company’s forte as they have invested in mass producing certain models only. Those who can, generally do it well and do it free.
7. “What’s your experience and qualification in this field?” Getting to know who you are potentially doing business with will either boost confidence or send you elsewhere. It’s reassuring to know that you are doing business with a competent company who will be proficient at producing your design, completing your building and advising you correctly. Limited Companies with VAT registration have to be more accountable therefore tend to be more reliable than the sole trader.
8. “Do I need planning permission or building regulations?” Depending on your precise property and location, the rules vary. Some garden rooms suppliers will be able to guide you through the rules for your property, however the onus will always rest on the home owner so it would be prudent to double check for yourself. Some garden room companies will complete the application for you, free of charge. The absolute maximum you are allowed will be 40m2.
9. “Do prices include VAT and do you quote a fixed price for the complete job?” Once a written quotation is in your hand, that is your price for the specified work and rather like a contract between both parties so there can be no extra charges for the quoted work. Estimates are just that – an estimated price which could go up. Check the delivery charge as it may not be included. Many Irish companies exclude electrical work so ask them how your building will get connected.
10. “Do you have any special offers or discounts?” There’s no harm in asking and you may be pleasantly surprised! Happy shopping.