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Is DIY Cheaper? Analysing the True Cost of Building a Garden Room

Is DIY Cheaper? Analysing the True Cost of Building a Garden RoomPhoto from Unsplash

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These days, we’re all looking for ways to cut financial corners. DIY, when done right, can certainly save you money while also acquiring some skills that will serve you for the rest of your life.

But if you are looking to build your own garden room, it’s more than just whether you have the skills to do it or the raw materials; there are a number of different factors at play. Is it cheaper to build your own garden room?

It is possible and can be cheaper. However, to give you a clearer picture, you need to understand the pros and cons of building a garden room yourself versus buying a pre-built garden room. Let’s dive in.

Is DIY (Self Build) Cheaper Than Buying A Prebuilt Garden Room

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Self Build a Garden Room – The Pros

Cost Savings

One of the primary benefits of building a garden room yourself is the potential for saving money. The main areas you could save money on are many:

  • You can opt for a cost-effective and efficient design in terms of the materials and the construction, such as the frame, insulation, cladding and exterior finishes, doors and windows, and interior finishes (such as plywood or MDF).
  • Self-build kits that come with pre-cut materials and detailed instructions can be incredibly friendly on your budget.
  • You can select widely available and more cost-effective materials—for example, construction timber for the frame or plywood for the interior.
  • You could also look for second-hand materials or reclaimed items that can be repurposed for your garden room, for example, reclaimed windows or doors.
  • Taking on the construction tasks yourself will save on labour costs. You can also take the time to compare prices and look for discounts on building materials that can keep the overall costs low.

The Opportunity to Customise

If you want to build your own garden room, you can design the space to meet your specific needs, which might be more limited when purchasing a pre-built garden room:

  • When you are building a garden room yourself, you have control over the overall configuration of the space, including the size and the shape.
  • You can play with the purpose and the usage. For example, you can tailor it to be an entertainment area, art studio, or garden office, which brings a whole heap of advantages when doing it yourself.
  • You can select the appropriate insulation, heating, and even electrical and plumbing features for your garden room, which all bring unique benefits.
  • You can choose the materials and finishes for both the interior and exterior to create a specific look that complements your home and your personal style.
  • Additionally, you can create a garden room with one eye towards the future. As your needs change over time, you can modify or expand the space as you wish.

It Increases Your Property’s Value

A well-designed and built garden room can add significant value to your property and potentially provide a return on your investment over time. Estimates suggest a garden room can add a minimum of 5% to the value of a home, which means that on a property valued at £300,000, this could be anywhere from £15,000 upwards. However, the exact increase can depend on many factors, including:

  • Size.
  • Quality.
  • Location of the garden room.
  • The overall property’s value.Garden rooms are seen as a desirable feature that can attract buyers and make a property more appealing on the market because of the versatility of the space and the fact it’s an extra room.

A Feeling of Achievement

One of the main benefits isn’t to do with money, but actually, a significant sense of accomplishment comes with completing a DIY project like building your own garden room. Knowing you’ve created something functional and tangible for your own home is a big part of the glory that comes with any DIY project.

Energy Efficient Fully Insulated Garden Rooms


The Cons of Building a Garden Room

The Time It Takes

Building your garden room can be time-consuming for a few key reasons:

  • If you don’t have extensive DIY experience, building a garden office from the ground up can take significantly longer because you’ve got to learn many skills and techniques.
  • Building a garden room involves many different steps like constructing the frame, laying the foundations, cladding, finishing the interiors, and more, each requiring time and care to complete correctly.
  • DIY projects can often come with many unexpected issues or problems that need troubleshooting and resolving, extending the overall time frame.
  • Depending on the size and location of the garden room, you may need to obtain planning permission. While in most cases, the garden room falls under permitted development rules in the UK, if you intend to either use the garden room as a separate living space for commercial purposes or exceed the criteria of being a single-story structure with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and an overall height of 4 metres (for a dual-pitched roof) or 3 metres (for other roof types), planning permission will be required.
  • Researching, sourcing, and procuring all the necessary materials and tools can be time-consuming, especially when looking for more cost-effective options. The cost of raw materials can vary significantly depending on what you want. It’s important to carefully budget and account for all the necessary materials, especially as bargain prices can inflate into something far beyond your financial capabilities. Many building specialists have been moaning about the price rises of some raw materials, and you need to consider this, especially concerning your overall skillset.

Ultimately, buying a pre-built garden room from a specialist company can be a much quicker process because the construction and installation are handled by professionals, and the time and effort required to do it yourself can be removed. Building a garden room is a time-consuming process that you need to fit around your work, family, and/or other commitments, which can make the process far more drawn out.

What is Your Skillset?

Building anything requires a certain level of DIY knowledge, but it’s more than just this. The key skill requirements can include:

  • An understanding of construction techniques like cladding, insulation, and framing.
  • Competence in power tools and hand tools.
  • The ability to read and follow construction plans and instructions.
  • Ensuring the garden room construction and design comply with the relevant regulations and potentially obtaining a lawful development certificate if the garden room does not fall under permitted development.
  • There are also various project management skills that many people underestimate, for example, sourcing all necessary tools and materials, managing the construction timeline, and coordinating the project while also having problem-solving skills to address any unexpected challenges that arise.

A Poor Quality Finish

Unless you are a skilled tradesperson, achieving the same standard of quality for your garden room might be difficult. This might mean a garden room that is either not aesthetically pleasing or structurally unsound, not to mention the risk of accidents during the construction process. Without professional guidance, there’s a higher chance of making mistakes that could compromise the appearance or integrity of that garden room.

Hidden Costs

DIY projects often come with unexpected expenses. If you attempt to make a garden room yourself, the potential hidden costs could occur in some of the following areas:

  • Materials.
  • Tools.
  • Corrections if you make any mistakes.

A general rule of thumb when building your own garden room is to add a contingency buffer to your overall budget to account for costs, typically 10% to 20%. This means that the hidden costs can become more than we realise.

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Sadolin ‘Blue Grey’ Wood Stain  Sadolin ‘Hidcote Green’ Stain  Sadolin ‘Polynedia White’ Paint  Sadolin ‘White’ Wood Stain  Please note that all colour shown are indicative only and will vary depending upon the light on the day the photo was taken. Additionally all screens will display the image differently. If exact colour is essential then please order a sample pot.

The Pros of Buying a Pre-Built Garden Room

Minimal Work on Your Part

Building your own garden room is no easy task because it requires a lot of physical effort and time, which can be physically, mentally, and financially draining.
In contrast, buying a pre-built garden room requires no work and is relatively stress-free because all you need to do is make sure you’ve cleared space where the garden room will be. After that, everything is done by the professionals.
When you consider this convenience compared to a DIY approach, the homeowner is not responsible for every task. Buying a pre-built garden room is less stressful as there’s no need to coordinate the construction process in any way.

Professional Involvement

When you purchase a pre-built garden room, you are working with professionals who bring experience and expertise, meaning the garden room will be constructed properly and safely.
When you work with a professional company that can help you tailor the garden room to meet your requirements, this level of professional involvement ensures you are getting a garden room built to a high standard and that you can easily solve any potential problems because the experts have done and seen it all before.

Convenient Installation Methods

After arriving at the site, the company manages the entire installation process. It requires minimal effort from the homeowner, meaning that you will benefit in many different ways. You don’t have to worry about the various aspects of construction, but you can also get peace of mind and a faster turnaround. Typically, it is completed the same day, meaning very minimal disruption to your routine.

Quality Assurance

If there’s one significant benefit of having a pre-built garden room, it’s that every aspect of it is of a high standard. Pre-built garden rooms are built with high quality and precision, allowing for better quality control compared to a DIY approach. Most reputable pre-built garden room suppliers offer a warranty on their pre-built garden rooms covering structural issues and components. This provides peace of mind for any homeowner and is an excellent reason for anyone who is weighing up the budget of doing it themselves.

When we look at the costs of making our own garden room, there can be a warranty on some parts, but we’ve got to factor in how much extra time this will take to rectify. When you start to put a value on how much time it takes to fix particular issues, it can be far less hassle to go with a professional company that provides pre-built garden rooms.

The Cons of Buying a Pre-Built Garden Room

Is There Less Flexibility?

When you build a garden room, you can do it just as you want, including the materials, colour, size, and shape. When buying a garden room, there can certainly be limited creativity and flexibility. Still, most garden rooms have a set range of sizes and designs, so you may need to have a very particular vision of what you want from your garden room to build one yourself.

However, at 1st Choice, we will make a building to your specifuc requirements, whether it’s size, cladding, design, position of doors ands windows and many other options to suit you.

That being said, a pre-built garden room comes in various sizes and product ranges. If you find an ideal garden room but it’s not in the right colour or there’s something ever so slightly missing, you can take the time to customise these components yourself, especially as all of the hard work has been done for you.

The (Potential) Higher Cost

While buying a pre-built garden room is generally more convenient and free from hassle, the upfront cost could be higher than the materials and the DIY labour costs of building it yourself. However, the DIY approach can mean some hidden costs that offset the initial savings, making the pre-build option a more viable choice overall.

Which is the More Viable Option?

Learning how to build a garden room yourself can offer significant cost savings because you’re avoiding labour costs, but there are many hidden challenges and costs that can offset these.

When you purchase a pre-built garden room from a specialist company such as us, you are guaranteeing professional-grade construction quality and expertise, which can be difficult to match when you are even the most skilled DIY enthusiast. Building a garden room requires substantial time and specific instruction skills, which a typical homeowner may need to possess; this can lead to several quality issues and further costs to rectify any mistakes.

Ultimately, you must be a skilled tradesperson with experience building similar structures to get the same results as purchasing a professionally built garden room from a reputable company like us. So contact us today, and let’s see how we can help you. All of our garden rooms and offices are made to suit your needs. Also, free installation is included as standard, so why consider doing it yourself?

Latest Customer Comments

We don’t ‘SELL’ garden buildings. We listen to you and advise you what is best for YOU.
Susan Tester – January 21st 2024
Very knowledgeable and helpful sales staff. Good product. Delivery on time and building quick and efficient. Reasonably priced. All in all very satisfied.

Amarjit Cheema – January 22nd 2024
Happy with the range of summerhouses seen on site. Quality and pricing is good. It was easy to view and did not feel pressured into buying. Our queries were answered and we went ahead with our purchase, The summerhouse was installed on the date given. No issues. A good shopping experience.

Richard Hay – February 1st 2024
Very positive. The sales person was attentive, informed, patient and ready to find solutions. Deadlines were respected, so that the shed was erected on time. It seems to be serving it’s purpose well.

Mark Constable – February 17th 2024
Excellent. I visited three firms and set out my requirements. First Choice Buildings listened carefully, were patient with my changes and I now have a splendid garden office from one of your stock, quality sheds. Perfect.

Mark Watts – February 28th 2024
Very satisfied. Steph was very knowledgeable and we didn’t feel under any pressure to buy. She explained thoroughly what our options were (which were many) and accommodated our changes. The process from having the base created to the installation of the building to the installation of the electrics was very slick and everyone turned up when they said they would. The work was carried out to a high standard and was extremely good value for money. We are very happy with the finished result

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