The other day there was an article on the BBC website which explored the growing trend of homeowners investing in sheds during lockdown. Calling them sheds was a bit of a dumbing down of the product. A shed is brown rickety thing at the bottom of your garden. What we’re talking about here are grand living spaces used as bars or offices. And this is a market that is booming.
What do you do when your local is closed and you no longer work in an office? You build your own! In the aforementioned BBC article, they talk about a shed company called Waltons. The owner, Terry Waldron, says that demand for his product has risen 300% as people seek spaces to recreate a work environment or social space like a bar or pub. You can read the article in full here. It’s worth a few minutes of your time as this is an area our industry needs to be seriously looking at.
The article also says that this is providing a boost for the UK as most of the sheds made here are sold here, therefore supporting the sector. As with most crises, if you look carefully enough there are always new opportunities that spring up and this is one of them.
I hate calling them sheds. That’s not what they are. Garden rooms are the more applicable words to use. Solidly built structures that are double glazed, packed with insulation, with a proper roof and fancier features such as downlighters and roof canopies. Spend enough money and you can create rooms in your garden that are better than the lounge in your actual home.
Lots of homeowners have been using these garden rooms to replace the environments they would usually be in. Offices, pubs, bars, spas. During the pandemic, I have seen some truly stunning rooms people have created. Some now have better in-home pubs than pubs themselves! I have also seen some belting office spaces. Big airy rooms, plenty of light, space and peace and quiet to do what you need to do. Its this new dynamic that may well cause long term changes to the way we work, to office buildings and even our drinking habits.
But as the pandemic and the measures required to combat it change how we live our lives, there is an opportunity here for our sector to make the most of what is clearly a wide-open, booming new market. And with homeowners now reportedly sitting on more saved cash than ever, to not make the most of this new business opportunity would be madness.
Garden rooms and fenestration were made for each other. They’re simply an extension of conservatories or solid roof extensions, except separate from the house. Indeed, some companies have been selling them for a while, but thanks to the pandemic the demand for these often pre-fabricated structures has gone vertical.
I have noticed quite a few installations companies adding these products to their portfolios as they seek to provide homeowners with more options and open up new revenue streams.
Major manufacturers are now making big moves into this emerging market. Eurocell, for example, have their Kyube garden room product:
With two types of build, timber and steel, and sizes going up to as large as 3m x 6m these create stylish additional living spaces that double-up as entertaining spaces. I spoke to the guys at Eurocell who told me that thanks to wild demand their network quoted millions of pounds worth of the product last year. Forecasts for this year look almost certain to beat last year as homeowners seek to adapt their spaces further.
The potential of this new market is huge. With tens of millions of gardens around the country now in use way more than they used to be, and homeowners sitting on saved cash unable to spend on their usual things, this for me is an open goal for the sector to take advantage of.
This for me is also a long term trend that I think could be emerging. Over the last year, I would say we have fallen back in love with our gardens. The summer we had last year blessed us with endless BBQs, sunbathing, beer and cocktails outside. It made us look at our gardens and rethink how we use them. We have decided to spend the money we have saved in making them better. Whether that is through landscaping them or adding to them through the use of garden rooms. Even when life returns to some level of normal, our new appreciation of our gardens is going to be long lasting, with garden rooms providing an attractive and upmarket option for people wanting to entertain family and friends, unwind on a night, or to provide a high-end workspace.
What’s more, installation doesn’t take all that long. A few days at the most for some of the prefabricated models. For installers that can launch effective marketing and get to grips with the installation side of the product, I think some companies could be wildly successful with garden rooms in the years to come.
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