We’ve been involved in the garden office industry for nearly two decades now. During this time we have designed and built many garden offices and for the last few years we have been behind the largest buyers guides on the subject. Why are we telling you this? Well, this experience has shown us what the most important part of the buying process is…
…its a site visit
Reading sites like this and then clicking through to suppliers websites will give you a good idea of the styles of garden office available. You will get an idea of the options suppliers offer for you to tailor their designs to your tastes, and you will probably get an idea of price.
If you are serious about buying a garden office you will need more information than this, to base your final decisions on. After all a garden office is an expensive purchase, so you want to get your choices right – first time!
The way to ensure this is to request a site visit from one or more garden office suppliers.
How many companies should I ask to do a site visit?
We quite regularly get emails asking us “how many companies should I ask to do a site visit?” we always email back and say that you need to narrow your search down to between 3 and 5 garden office suppliers and then ask them to come along for a site visit.
With around 100 companies building garden offices it can see quite daunting to create a short list of 5 suppliers. It is important to narrow down your search as you will end up getting confused by all the options.
Buy inviting at least three suppliers you will soon get an idea of what you will get for different amounts of money. You will also get a good idea of what is a fair price for the building you want to achieve.
Decide if you want a cross section of the market or to compare like with like
A couple weeks ago we had an email from a chap saying that he had had 3 garden office suppliers come along for a site visit. He was looking to build a 4 meter x 3 meter garden office.
After the site visits, each company sent him a quote for the building. They came in at £11,500, £13,500 and £23,000.
The chap was shocked at how the prices differed between the three suppliers for what he thought was the same building. He sent us the specifications and asked us for our opinion.
It was immediately clear to us that he wasn’t comparing like with like here. He had chosen three suppliers from different tiers of the market (a new supplier who didn’t have VAT to factor in, a mass market supplier and a bespoke garden office supplier) each one using a very different building system. It was inevitable that there would be a disparity in the prices he received.
There is nothing wrong with asking a cross section of the market for a site visit, in fact it will give you a clear idea of what you will get for your money.
If however, you have a clear idea of what you are looking to build, for example you know you want a garden office built on a SIP’s core. Then you are better to invite a few suppliers who use this system for a site visit. You will find that you will get more comparable quotes.
A site visit is a two way conversation
A site visit is a two way conversation between you and the supplier. It is your best opportunity to express what you are trying to achieve with your garden office. This is your chance to express your preferences for the features you want in your building and to get an idea for your choices regarding finishes and layout.
It is also a very important part of the buying process for the supplier. Their aim is to create your perfect garden office, and the site visit is their main way of learning about how you will use the office and what you want it to look like. They will then use this information as the basis for their design.
The site visit is also a hugely valuable opportunity to look at the site itself. Measurements and photos of the site will be taken and the site will be assessed in regards to the type of foundation used. The surveyor will also assess obstacles around the site and the access to it from the road.
Whilst it is ultimately your responsibility to ascertain if Planning Permission is required to build a garden office, the surveyor will be able to advise you on your position during the site visit.
Am I obligated if I request a site visit?
No. Garden office suppliers will be aware that you will be getting more than one supplier along to talk to you – in fact many of them will encourage you to do this.
There shouldn’t be any charge for a supplier to visit you – in fact we would question it if there was these days.
After the site visit you will get a pack with some designs based on what you discussed, a specification and a quote for the work to be undertaken. Its then up to you to decide if you want to proceed further.
Take a look at the work of these suppliers who will all be happy to visit you to discuss your garden office ideas.
Do all garden office suppliers offer a site visit?
No they don’t. We will go into this in our next article.