Studioni Loves May Hay Fever in Northern Ireland and Wales!

hay festival literary garden funThe 23 year-old Hay Festival is coming around again, set to kick off on 26th May in the small Welsh village. As a celebration of writing, it has attracted workshops and lectures by Alans (Bennett and Aldberg) and Stephens (Poliakoff and Fry) of fortune and fame.  This year, the celebration is expected to stretch its streamers and organic tendrils all the way to Belfast, quite the hub for poet laureates, novelists and illustrators, young and old. Attracting, “The most inquisitive, exacting and free-thinking”, crowds, according to the Sunday Times, how could one resist!

A writer’s working life tends to be a rather solitary existence. Researching, developing and forming the complexities of character, setting and plot takes as long as it takes – months, years, decades or a lifetime. I think of the many busy intelligences tapping away in their garden studios (no longer the crumbly wooden shed at the bottom of the garden); coming together for a wonderful week of sharing and general fun.

This year’s Hay heralds the sounds of Sir Bob Geldof and the Afro Celt Sound System; lectures by Philip Pullman, Iain M Banks and the Royal Society (From Here to Infinity).

For details:

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The Right Way for Garden Rooms?

I watched graceful Richard Moore, charity founder, businessman and peace ambassador illuminate a Dublin university stage to a standing ovation as he entered with the Dalai Lama. Amongst jibes and jokes, the message was eloquently woven to encourage kindness, forgiveness, compassion. Taking basic Buddhist principles further, corporate responsibility by business leaders is the focus of years of research by the spiritual leader.

In terms of business, one has a certain power in decision-making and with experience, the ripples of consequence become predictable. For instance, in our industry the latest vat rise was impressed by suppliers with an extra added price rise. Indeed, very lately, one supplier has increased their base price still further in response to their inflated costs. Such is the way as the supply chain of raw materials and manufacturers catches up with fuel cost increases and knocks on the impact.

Ultimately, if this cost rise is reflected in price increases to the consumer, this means fewer people will be able to afford the best quality product. So there is one consequence, directing the consumer towards a poor imitation garden room, which may show structural defects after 10 years and may fail to produce a return on the investment it represented to its owner. So by taking price changes and other decisions mindfully, one can keep value and quality as high as possible and prices lean and fair.

All people are heavily inter-dependent, with our global economy and environmental matters being obvious examples. Working with a conscious sense of responsibility in practice, means good waste management, anti-paper office and general waste management and digital media promotion. In this industry, it also means encouraging the excellent and very slick remote site-survey above travelling to visit clients.

With intelligence and a warm heart, working towards taking care of the well-being of others brings tremendous trust and friendship. Openly communicating with the consumer also aids co-operation and trust: transparent pricing, clear specification, nothing hidden, nothing underhand, no empty intimations of latest technology or high quality. So, with renewed determination, confidence and hard work we will collectively work through our country’s economic difficulties.

Garden rooms give families more opportunity to spend time together and with their valued friends. As garden offices, they succinctly help business owners consolidate and survive through hard times and with the new vat-free scheme* can prove to be business assets which keep on giving, year after year. My hope is that more and more business leaders will take this wholesome line rather than continuing their focus on their profit alone.

*Contact Julie for details at  Studioni Ltd: 02890 425538.

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Happiness Is … My Garden Room!

Rooms in Your GardenThis month, our office for national statistics will spend a considerable amount of time, money and effort assessing the happiness of 200,000 UK families.  However, Professor Martin Seligman, inspiration for a new commodity – gross domestic happiness, has changed his mind.

Searching for a better, more meaningful index the psychologist believes his original ideas have been watered down, devalued, and left bereft of the intended integrity by polititians. “Flourishing”, his new buzz word, consists of five components: positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

Not alone, many scientists are now showing genuine interest in the training of the mind, becoming more sensible people, putting value in the utilization of human intelligence to transform emotion.  They emphasize the achievement of inner peace for a better world and recognise its dependence upon giving happiness to get happiness. Following the banking crisis and subsequent fall-out, it is perhaps the time to challenge the major proportion of humanity that follows material values only.

In all our efforts, our charitable giving, our work time and family time, perhaps the easiest thing is to listen to each other, give loved ones our time and attention.  Helping them along the road to a healthy inner mental state; human happiness and genuine satisfaction cannot be bought with money or taken by force.  No wonder polititians are attempting to package it in these austere times.

I genuinely believe by providing a responsive service and high quality product to our clients, we are inducing positive emotion, encouraging engagement, space for positive relationships and well-being, a sense of meaning and accomplishment. How many other product based businesses out there have refined the balance between customer satisfaction / high quality products with the bottom line profit margin?    By and large, the effect reflects a happier and more satisfactory experience all round.

Tomorrow, His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama (by invitation from Children in Crossfire, Afri and will attract thousands of people together in Dublin for the POSSIBILITIES 2011 civic summit. It aims to inspire people, young and old, to become vocal and active in transforming our country and our planet for the better.

Honoured guest, His Holiness, said,“One can be very rich, materially, but deep inside: stressed, worried, insecure, lonely.  Not in a religious way, just share with your friends the value of an inner healthy mental state. Scientists emphasize achievement of inner peace and a better world is dependant upon giving happiness.  Everyone has the right to achieve a happy life.” Learn more about the NI charity, patroned by the Dalai Lama.

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How to Find the Best Garden Office Designs for Your Budget.

Garden StudioThere exists a comprehensive range of garden office designs on the UK market today.  From the lower price range bursts a variety of sheds with plastic window panes and pitched and flat roofed log cabins.  For under £8000 it is possible to achieve a space to work in reasonable summer comfort.  I like the colourfully painted sheds which sit very well into a cottage garden, highly planted with tall wallflowers, foxgloves, dalias and rambling roses.  In this way, landscaping around your shed with appropriate plants allows it to really fit in.

Middle price range garden offices tend to be constructed with polystyrene insulation sheets and clad with horizontal shiplap board, stained to your colour preference.  Windows may be PVC and double glazed for a little extra warmth in the autumn chill.  Traditional pitched roofs are common with this design, as is the popular feather-edged cladding for under £15,000.  This style holds its own in a rural setting and can be expanded into larger structures, suitable as farm shops or showrooms.

Best quality garden studioUpper range garden office designs are usually very contemporary.  Cedar cladding with aluminium or chrome trims and sharp boxy lines emanating from almost-flat roofs send this set of designs into the £22,000 – £40,000 bracket.  Some variation can be achieved with thermally broken aluminium glazing options and integral decks.  Best structure for this money has got to be BBA approved SIPs panels with professionally pressed polyurethane insulation:  rigorously tested for all year round comfort, cool summer working, warm winter comfort and the longest verifiable durability.

Glasshouses and oak framed buildings meet in this upper price range too and can easily exceed £40,000.  The building technology for oak frames tend to be traditional with a lower thermal performance than the SIPs structure mentioned.  The glasshouses need to be displaying very low u-values to be suitable as a working office.

garden office music roomIn conclusion, one can achieve a garden office from £8,000 to £40,000 and the price increase usually reflects an increase in quality.  Using this guide, you are justified in expecting certain quality standards for your money.  A wary word on SIPs panels – many companies claim to use the latest but make them in a poor back-yard fashion using polystyrene and various glues.  The result is an over priced product with shortened life and poorer insulation qualities.  Ask for a garden studio independent thermal value calculation or certificate number.

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10 Ways to Get Garden Office Discounts.

garden office discountsReally good quality garden offices will ensure that paperwork and electrical equipment is always kept dry.  Sheds and cabins and other kinds of garden buildings with scant floor and ceiling insulation will allow dampness to creep in and curl your invoices.  Studioni garden office rooms are bespoke, designed and structurally engineered to order, but the ultimate range are made with certified panels which offer excellent thermal efficiency.  That may sound like an expensive alternative but consider your running costs as well and it evens out and begins to turn into a better deal after a few electricity bills.  Regardless of who you choose to buy from, there are ways to lower the purchase price of your high quality dream office…

If you would like to reduce your costs by way of the following points, mention it when you call to fix your design meeting or survey.  You can view images showing more about garden office building by following the link. Some companies choose joinery, glazing and structural elements in combination to offer excellent thermal performance and will save you money on your energy bills.  In terms of being cost-effective, this is a long-term winner.

  1. Clear the route from the delivery point to the site where your office will be, including the area itself.  You may need to break up and take away an old garden shed, fill a skip with outgrown garden play equipment, move treasured plants, anything that might add work to the installer’s day and add cost to your job.
  2. Level the site.  For sites that are sloping, there may be additional cost to the job so digging to level the area yourself can also help keep the price tight.  Check your work with a metre spirit level of laser level system.
  3. Submit a planning application, if you need to.  Only some garden rooms need planning but if you know that yours will need it, you can save money by doing it yourself.  The scale drawings are the trickiest part, but don’t worry, some companies can help with that bit.
  4. Have temporary parking permits ready for the installer’s vehicles, if your council requires permits to be displayed on your street.
  5. Call on tradesmen you know for alternative quotations.  Companies like Studioni quote for connecting your electricity but you are  always free to have that work done by someone else, if you prefer.  Ask around for quotes, you may be able to find a keener price for second fix and connection.  Your installer likes to co-ordinate your projects so that it runs smoothly and will let you know when to book in your chosen tradesperson.
  6. If you need water and waste for a shower-room, kitchen sink or WC, try having that part of the project priced locally as well.   The groundworks for water, waste and electrical cabling must be in place before beginning the installation.
  7. You may choose to purchase your shower-room or kitchen fittings directly.  Just make sure they are delivered on time for fitting.  You will be given a delivery date when you place your order – that is ‘Day 1’ and your installation will begin immediately.  Ideally, installers like everything available on day one because the building is usually standing and ready to fit out on day two!
  8. Your second fix plumbing and tiling can also be priced separately or you may have the experience and time to tackle it yourself.
  9. How are your decoration skills?  If you would like to reduce your costs slightly by painting the studio interior yourself, just let your installer know and you can begin after the finished floor and skirting boards are in place.
  10. Sometimes it may be possible to benefit from a significant discount if foundations are not required.  This very much depends on the state of the ground (for example, there may be a pre-existing concrete raft) and a company with varied experience can talk you through this possibility.  You want your new office to be secure, safe and durable. Making sure the base is sufficient and fit for purpose is crucial.

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George Clarke writes on Choosing a Garden Studio, for The English Garden.

With the current fashion for garden studios reflecting lifestyle aspirations, garden studio rooms can transform the way you use your home by providing extra, detached living space.

Needing a contemporary design company to contrast the extensive traditional options for their readers, The English Garden magazine contacted Studioni about inclusion in a feature written by the architect George Clarke, from ‘Restoration Man’ on Channel 4 and author of ‘Home Bible’, published by The Orion.

George advises clients to consider with care the detailing, proportions, scale and integrity of their proposed garden studio as it reflects their personal taste and views on traditional or modern design.  When dealing with garden studio specialists, he writes, ‘The design consultation will often be part of the service, and it gives you some peace of mind that the company has a record of delivery and build, so it will come in on time and on budget.”

Ecologically, few companies have really embraced the concepts of sustainable buildings but there are more eco elements coming through in terms of options for clients and public details on how environmentally the companies operations actually are.  PU SIPs structures provide strong, durable FSC timber studios but some companies compromise on glazing and frame quality to compensate for the expense of the SIPs panel.  Depending on your ground conditions, tiny concrete pads are usually a sufficient foundation, but have it properly assessed by an experienced groundworker on behalf of the company.  Damp-prone sites may require a raft foundation.  Some pre-formed concrete feet foundations have to protrude beyond the edges of the room and remain a permanent visible sore all around your studio, difficult to disguise.  Other systems allow your studio to be neatly and directly finished to the ground with cedar plinths.

Enhancing the surroundings must be a consideration when choosing a design or having a design made up just for you.  The appeal for working closely with a design from scratch is that it will be the only one in the land, with your own ideas incorporated.  An exceptionally well designed and made garden studio can be life enhancing and are worth the investment when uncompromised, ready for return when you come to sell.

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Which garden studio is most cost effective?

Comparing the quality of garden studio buildings is a tricky process, especially when companies withhold their u-values or only publish some of their better ratings. Studios that are cost effective to run have lowest u-values. In other words, they keep warm with ease in winter and stay cool in summer, costing you less money and energy to heat and cool the space. If you want a garden room without the need for planning permission, it needs to be less than 30m2 and under 2.5m high. (There are other parameters but for the sake of argument, let’s keep it reasonably simple to reflect the bulk of our clientelle).
The height limit is where the panel size becomes important. Many other companies expand their roof and floor panels to offer a reasonable U-value but then encounter a height problem because their panels are too bulky to comply with the 2.5m maximum height rule. This problem is regularly tackled by imposing extra ground works on clients: digging the building into the ground at extra expense, effort and mess or removing the design finesse of recessed ceiling lights and recessed window blind systems.

Needless to say, we never have those problems as our panels are slim and extremely thermally efficient. As you can see from the comparison table, we can out-perform building regulation standards, between our excellent glazing and high performance structures, even though we do not have to comply with most detached garden studio projects. In the circumstance where the standards must be met, we easily exceed them.  All projects have the option of upgrading their insulation to the maximum.  So your Studioni garden studio actually is better than a new build home after all. For comparison with other companies, check out the independent survey by the garden room guide.

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