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Technical advice

I need installation advice

  • Although it is not possible to answer every specific installation query in detail here, it is rarely necessary.
  • Over 90% of DIY installation queries are fully resolved with the general advice and tips set out below.
  • If you think your product cannot be assembled, you are probably wrong.
  • If you think that the components have been incorrectly cut or drilled in the wrong place, you are probably wrong.
  • We do not sell products which cannot be assembled.
  • Very occasionally components are faulty, but it is rare.
  • What is much more common is customers struggling to find the right way to assemble the components correctly.
  • DIY can be very frustrating. Try to stay calm. If you are stressed you will make mistakes or miss the obvious.
  • Be systematic and methodical. Try every possible way of joining two components in turn, until you find the correct combination. There are not many different combinations. Try every combination and avoid making any assumptions.
  • If you have never installed a similar product before be prepared for it to take a long time.
  • Do not attempt to assemble a product outside in windy weather.
  • Be careful at all times while handling glass or metal components with sharp edges.
  • Wear gloves throughout the assembly.
  • Wear goggles or glasses whenever there is a risk of flying debris.
  • Keep pets and children away during installation.
  • Read the instructions fully before you start.
  • It can save valuable time later if you know the next few steps and the order in which the assembly should be carried out.
  • Check that all components are present before starting the installation.
  • Keep all fixings and small components in a container so you cannot lose them.
  • Do not force the components into position.
  • Do not cut or drill any components without first consulting us.
  • Do not tighten the fixings until the end. The bolts should be finger tight until the assembly is complete. This ensures flexbility which you will need throughout the installation, especially at the end.
  • Assume that the components have been precisely and correctly made. Mistakes are rare. If the components do not fit together easily it is probably because you are holding one of the components inside out or upside down.
  • Assume that all of the components have been delivered. You just need to find them.
  • While problems with the components are rare, problems with the instructions and the labels are more common.
  • You should not blindly trust the instructions in every detail because occasionally typographical and numerical errors can occur.
  • You should also not blindly trust any adhesive labels on components because mistakes can occur. The labels can be incorrectly applied and also sticky labels are occasionally transfered onto a different component.
  • Do not throw away any packaging until the installation is complete.
  • If you are missing any fixings or small components check the packaging thoroughly.

I need baselaying advice

  • The minimum base size for most buildings is displayed on our website within the description of the product, alongside the other product details.
  • For most timber buildings including wooden sheds, summerhouses and log cabins the minimum base size is also the ideal base size, with no base overhang.
  • There are a few buildings which require a slightly oversize base, including concrete garages, greenhouses and metal sheds.
  • All buildings need a substantial base.
  • The base should be solid, square, flat and level to ensure the stability of your building.
  • Paving slabs or concrete are ideal.
  • A solid concrete base is more permanent and normally more expensive but it provides an excellent base, especially for a larger building. Concrete is normally poured over a compacted sub-base and restrained by strong timer shuttering around the perimetre.
  • Paving slabs are more practical and cost effective, especially for a smaller base at the far end of the garden. Slabs are normally laid on a bed of sand or dabs of mortar.
  • An eco-grid base is a practical solution for DIY customers who do not want to work with concrete or paving slabs. Eco-grids are tough and lightweight, made from recycled plastic. An eco-grid base cannot be laid over concrete or paving slabs.
  • An eco-paving base is a practical solution for DIY customers who do not want to work with concrete or paving slabs. Eco-pavers are tough and lightweight plastic. An eco-paving base can be laid over concrete or paving slabs.
  • Eco-grid and eco-paving bases need to be laid as carefully as concrete or paving and the finished base should be solid, flat and level. The larger the base the more difficut it is to lay a plastic base.
  • However well you lay your plastic base, installers are often sceptical about them. If your building will be professionally installed it is often easier to lay a concrete or paving base.
  • Before laying your chosen base you should clear any vegetation from the site including trees, shrubs, flowers and lawn.
  • You should also clear all roots from the site.
  • The finished base should be at least an inch or two higher than the surrounding ground.
  • The base should be no smaller than the floor size of the new building.
  • The base for any timber building should be no more than a few inches larger than the floor.

Does my wood need periodic treatment?

  • All wood benefits from periodic treatment if it is outside.
  • Untreated timber will gradually fade to a silvery grey.
  • If you do not want to treat your timber, cedar is the best option followed by pressure treated timber.
  • Unless it is pressure treated, whitewood or redwood will deteriorate if untreated.
  • Cedar is an oily and naturally resilient timber which does not deteriorate appreciably even under severe climatic changes.
  • Pressure treatment is a lifetime preservative treatment which is used in places where timber is exposed to water such as quay headings.
  • Even cedar and pressure treated timber benefit from periodic treatment.
  • If you want to keep your building dry inside, whatever timber it is made from, we recommend using a waxy waterproof coating at least once a year.
  • At some sites a waterproof coating may need more frequent application, especially to those timbers which are nearest to the ground.
  • If the external timber is treated with a good quality wood stain every year this will prolong the life of your building and improve the performance.
  • You can paint over a factory treated building at any time once the original treatment has dried. You may need multiple coats to cover some colours.
  • All major wood stain manufacturers offer suitable products in a choice of colours, available at any good hardware shop.
  • We recommend that you reglarly treat the top and bottom of the door leaves and the hidden hinge side. This will help to reduce swelling of the timber.
  • We also recommend that you regularly oil the door and window hinges as required to ensure continued smooth operation.

Can I install electricity in my garden building?

  • Although providing an electricity supply to a garden building is normally a straightforward task, for safety reasons we recommend that you consult an approved electrician first.
  • Since January 1st 2005 all electrical work must be completed in accordance with IEE wiring regulations and BS 7671.
  • Notifiable work must be either notified directly to the local building control department or completed by an operator who is approved under the Part P Electrical Competent Person Scheme.
  • Sockets, light fittings and appliances within most garden buildings should be external specification and IP rated.
  • It is normally possible to hide cables in buildings which are internally lined.
  • We recommend passing cables through the walls into your building and not through the floor.

How close can I build to a boundary?

  • Ideally your building should have a clear space at least 450mm or 18" wide on all sides, if possible. This ensures easy access for both installation and future maintenance. In reality this is often not practical and at many sites it is not needed.
  • A reduced clearance is often possible on one or two sides.
  • If you reduce the clearance too much you may be unable to carry out future maintenance or repairs if required.
  • If the clearance around your building is reduced remember to allow for any roof overhang.
  • You should cut back or remove any nearby shrubs and trees. Remember to allow for future growth.
  • All parts of your building including guttering, fascia boards and roof overhangs should be fully within your property and inside your boundary.
  • We recommend that you do not site your building on the boundary line as it may be subject to the provisions of the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

Do I need planning permission?

  • The majority of garden buildings do not require planning permission.
  • Planning permission is required for any building which covers over half the garden.
  • Planning permission is required for any building which is not for domestic use.
  • Planning permission is required for any pent roof building which is over 3 metres high.
  • Planning permission is required for any apex roof building which is over 4 metres high.
  • Planning permission is required for any apex roof building which is higher than the main dwelling.
  • Larger garden buildings which are within 2 metres of a boundary and over 2.5m high (8'2") require planning permission.
  • Some larger garden buildings with apex or hipped roof designs may be over 2.5m high.
  • Buildings with a pent roof are normally less than 2.5m high.
  • If required many of our apex and hipped roof buildings can be made with a lower roof height less than 2.5m high.
  • Planning permission may also be required for any building which is nearer to a public highway than the original dwelling unless it is at least 20m from the highway.
  • For planning purposes a public highway includes any road or footpath with a public right of way.
  • For planning purposes outbuildings within 5 metres of a dwelling are considered to be extensions.
  • For planning purposes extensions and outbuildings built prior to June 1948 are considered to be part of the original dwelling.
  • Permitted development rights allow householders to add extensions or outbuildings within 5 metres of the house without the need to obtain planning consent, subject to restrictions.
  • For most detached and semi detached houses the permitted development rights are 70 cubic metres which is about the same as a small double garage.
  • For town houses and terraced houses the permitted development rights are only 50 cubic metres.
  • For a few larger houses permitted development rights may be over 70 cubic metres.
  • Even the largest dwellings are subject to a maximum for permitted development rights of 115 cubic metres.
  • Permitted development rights are often suspended in high density housing estates, city centres and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Permitted development rights may not apply to houses in a conservation area or listed buildings.
  • If you live in a conservation area or a listed building permission may be required for any garden building over 10 cubic metres, which is the size of a typical 6x8 shed or greenhouse.
  • If you demolish an old building any replacement is considered as a new building even if it is similar in size and appearance.
  • Planning regulations apply to any building whether temporary or permanent including summerhouses, sheds, greenhouses, conservatories, gazebos, garages and carports.
  • This brief summary is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. Please contact us for further advice or contact your local planning authority.

Do I need approval under Building Regulations?

  • The majority of freestanding garden buildings do not require approval under the building regulations.
  • Approval is required for any garden building with an internal floor area of more than 30 square metres, for example a building which is larger than 20' x 16'6" or 6m x 5m.
  • Please note that the building regulations apply to any garden building with an internal floor area in excess of 30 square metres whether it is temporary or permanent including summerhouses, sheds, greenhouses, conservatories, gazebos, garages and carports.
  • The majority of conservatories do not require approval under the building regulations. However, approval is required for any conservatory with an internal floor area of more than 30 square metres.
  • Approval is also required if there is no door between the conservatory and the dwelling or if a heating system is installed in your conservatory which does not include separate controls.
  • Please note that different regulations apply in Scotland.

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