The Garden House Topic


We have a pretty large garden and look to build an holiday home / garden office / care house / guest house in the garden. We currently have a terrible garage and it will be on that spot. The budget is about 100k Euros.

Going into this process, I struggle with the balance to spread the funds.

How much in % would you spend on a good architect?

Personally I would be totally happy to spend 30k for a good architect if this guarantees me that what we get is really what we want. I have a feeling that if I order a prefab building and drop it in the garden, that I might regret it.

Any advice or shared experiences, warnings etc … welcome!

I find myself mostly on sites like archdaily dot com

Within 2 years I’ll post the results of this process …

I stayed in a number of prefabricated holiday cottages and would have no hesitation in going down that route if it suited my needs. Depending on planning requirements the money could easily be eaten up by being forced to use air or ground source heat pumps etc?, without the help of an architect to consume the funds.

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We took 10 years off and on planning a loft conversion, what got us finally moving was an architect who listened to us, improved our ideas, and really took the time to measure some critical dimensions of our property. We had 4 or 5 prior attempts!

I’d say worth looking for someone you can work with, and who pays attention to the details.

Is 30k a typo though? I think our final bill came to c. £1500.

Sounds exciting though, don’t forget to spec a dedicated mains spur for the hifi install in it :smiley:

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If it’s not contradictory, we also looked at garden rooms specifically. There are quite a few places offering prefab garden offices etc. They come in much below a €100k budget, and like @Gazza says, I’d be more than happy with one in the garden if it was appropriate. Not sure what prefab option would hit 100k, just curious what sort of thing that would be?


Interesting topic, so many things to consider from services, materials and insulation to name three. As a rule of thumb, architect’s fees should be around 10% of the total building budget. Then of course are the planning permission / building’s regulations costs - if they are applicable.
Two ideas I’ve looked at in the past are timber kit houses from Latvia, and converted containers.


For this, without electricity / kitchen / running water, I got quoted over 80k. Bizarre in my opinion. Sounds as a total rip-off.

I guess i was think if there were strict rules and need green heating, triple glazing etc. Can it be connected to the local sewerage system , or does it need a septic tank…siting of those close to local ditches etc can be difficult and more expensive. But ultimately all doable and a great project.

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Thanks Camphuw. I have looked in converted containers, but I have significant domestic resistance! I’ll checkout the Latvian timberkit houses.

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The plug and play garden offices, in the UK at least, count as temporary structures, so typically no planning, IIRC some building regs applied

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Yeah, that’s significantly nicer than the home offices (ok, sheds :wink: ) we looked at X)

I assume he is in Europe, hence the euro’s?

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Yeah, I assumed too, not sure what regs apply in EU :confused:

Its quite similar. No planning, but some building regs are applicable. We cannot build over 100m2, the roof must start at 3.3 metres, and the top of the roof should not be higher than 5 metres or so.

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The loft conversion we did ended up being exactly what we wanted, a decent part of that was having a friendly architect. We spent £1500 on the architect, loft was c. £60k. The architect meant the difference between assuming a half tread stair case was needed and fitting in a full tread stair case. Amongst other things.

As part of the same work we also had a kitchen remodeled. Again we took our initial ideas to a kitchen planner, they helped refine those plans for a more user friendly one.

If I was putting in a 20k garden office/room I think I’d go pre fab. Given the budget I think I would at least find out what an architect would offer. I’d also put some of my plans on paper to discuss with them. That’s quite a lot of fun to do too :slight_smile:

30k sounds like a typo though?

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Yes and no. I got a quote for about 10k, but this is the design, not support during execution of the building phase et cetera. The architect I got a quote from is well recognized in his world.

I see engaging an architect as the ‘software’ and the actual building as the ‘hardware’. We all know that a well designed (software) lower spec device (hardware) can function better than a high spec device (hardware) which is not thought thru (software).

I struggle to find the right balance.

Another aspect to mention, we plan to live in this house until dead us part, therefore I need to live with the garden house to my final moments, it better be good!


Given the intent of your project I would start discussion with an architect and ask for an estimate of costs to complete his/ her part of the project. 30K sounds high unless you are going for a completely new design from scratch or from your own pencil sketch.

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And pentagonally shaped with a sloped roof :slight_smile:

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Interesting thread because I’m at the initial planning stage for som biolding modification work. In my case house extension, some substantial internal modification, and possibly a loft conversion.

We have a clear idea of what we want, though would certainly be open to suggestions/ideas and adaptations for what may or may not be possible from professionals. We thought the simplest thing to do would be knock up some decent sketches of layout and send those to some builders asking for an initial rough estimate of cost (to know if we can afford it!) From that we’d pick maybe three with whom to have more detailed discussions with a view to picking one to proceed with. The first thing we found is most builders have either not interested or too busy to get interested. The second thing we found Is that unless the builder provides a design and build approach, they’re not really interested you can’t give even an estimate without proper drawings including things like beam calculations. So that tells us we need to either go with a design and build business, or we have to find an architect / architectural designer / surveyor-draughtsman or some such to get to the first stage before we even know what we’re letting ourselves in for! (Other than the very crude £X to £Y per unit floor area, which doesn’t necessarily bear much relationship to the true final cost.)

Then of course there’s the question of how to find one that is a reasonable cost, competent and reliable… And if not design-and-build, the same would come later re choosing a builder (and past experience fills me with with dread not confidence!)

Incidentally, from our initial tentative trawl about 3 months ago, before we had finalised thoughts so just picking the loft extension as a discrete indicative element, the only place that was prepared to give a rough estimate (design and build) was about twice tge vague thought of price we’d anticipated based on some of the recent UK TV programmes on home modifications.

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Our architect had a ‘recommended’ builder, they project managed it between them. I think we’re talking very different architects though, ours was (still is!) local, good, but a general architect. They would not be appearing on Grand Designs anytime soon :slight_smile:

As for “until dead us part” - that’s exactly what we said. We spent 10 years planning it, a year living with all the dust and disruption. 2 years later we moved, 2 minute walk away. Turns out even though the loft was everything we wanted, the other rooms in the house weren’t X)

The new place has a barn that we’re planning on converting for the same things you call out above ( though not for a good few years till we save the money to do so!) , so will keep an eye on this with interest. Right now we’re planning on using our old architect and builder, but will definitely sketch out some ideas first. I found the combination of our own ideas, reviewed and modified by the experts, worked really well. You know your habits, the architects know a bit about flow, ergonomics, etc. etc. so can modify your plans to make them work better. I don’t know if I’d personally spend > 10% of my budget on it though. There are probably guidelines somewhere!?

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If I had sufficient freedom of design that would indeed be my listening room, Ideally we wanted land, to have something built, and I was sKetching trying to work around a pentagon of adequate size… unfortunately no Suitable land has come available in the 3 years we’ve been looking, so It will be conversion of an existing bungalow, and with more money tied up in the purchase there is nowhere near enough to demolish and start again. (It seems that any plot of 1/4 - 1/3 acre has planning permission for 3-6 houses or flats, priced accordingly!)