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21 Feb

What we’ve learned about building garden room extensions

A few things we learned from over 30 years of designing and building glazed garden room extensions...

When our clients visit us at our showroom and joinery workshop in Essex, they get an inside look into how our design team functions and how we craft our bespoke timber garden room extensions. There’s a lot to see, and our clients always tell us how impressed they are after their tour, but of course, we didn’t build everything overnight. Over the years, we’ve invested in our business and discovered the importance of taking care of our employees. We’ve seen trends come and go and integrated new materials and machinery into our production process. Ultimately, every experience we’ve had has allowed us to grow.

Our founder Jonathan Hey started as a self-taught builder renovating houses in the 1980s. The idea to specialise in garden rooms came from a personal project when he built a glazed conservatory for his mother, who used a wheelchair. The project allowed her to enjoy her garden’s beauty all-year-round from within a comfortable and relaxing living space. 

Since then, we’ve become renowned for our architectural-led designs, exceptional quality and attention to detail. In 2011, we changed our name from Westbury Conservatories to Westbury Garden Rooms and purchased a new factory and office complex. 

In 2016, we added a London showroom to our portfolio in Lambeth Walk. In 2017, we invested in new machinery, new vehicles and software to ensure all aspects of the company benefit from cutting-edge technology. Even in the past year, the pandemic brought even more lessons to our team, with clients using their homes differently during the lockdowns and our staff working remotely. 

Today, we’re sharing a few of the things that we’ve learned:

Garden room extensions and orangeries are the new conservatories

The higher density of glass in conservatories can cause soaring temperatures in the summer, often leaving them empty and unused in the warmer months. Also, consumers have become increasingly savvy in their searches for a functional living space that adds value to their property. As a result, most of our business moved away from the conventional fully glazed conservatories to more bespoke garden rooms, which are much better suited to the UK climate and make more of a visual impact on a property. 

interior-of-large-orangery

Open-plan living is the way forward

Homeowners have increasingly wanted to open up their homes, often choose larger, open spaces over several smaller rooms. Whether it’s a kitchen-diner or a multifunctional living room, expansive areas that can cater for a range of activities are high in demand. With people working from home more than ever, a garden room is a perfect work and homeschooling space.

Dedicated to quality

Using premium materials is an essential aspect of our process and something that we’ve learned a lot about over the years. We build all our garden rooms and orangeries from an engineered timber that includes an external layer of Accoya wood. It is a highly durable, lightweight and stable timber material that absorbs hardly any water, meaning that the extension is protected from movement, cracking and decay. Accoya is produced from PEFC and FSC certified Radiata Pine grown in a sustainably managed plantation in New Zealand. Radiata grows incredibly fast compared to other trees, making it a highly sustainable and renewable resource. 

Once the structure is ready to be painted, we use a microporous water-based system from Teknos, which acts as an additional protective barrier over the Accoya frame. In our factory, we spray-apply the timber with three coats, equivalent to 12 hand-painted brush strokes (120 microns, to be precise). The paint dries into a perfectly finished coating that resists weathering by rain, UV-light, and temperature extremes.

 

The art of achieving longevity

Accoya and Teknos are a dream combination. Independent testers in the Netherlands conducted a comprehensive paint experiment on Accoya, which achieved a better coating performance and coating adhesion in wet and dry conditions. Some experiments even used black paint, which has a bad reputation as heat absorbed from sunlight always used to cause cracking and peeling. Providing you give your garden room or orangery surfaces a gentle wash down twice a year, you won’t need to repaint it for 12 years or more. 

Overall, Accoya’s durable properties outperform tropical hardwoods, making it ideal for garden room extensions. Due to its dimensionally stable qualities, the timber structure will not move or bend. Joints remain tight, and doors or windows never get stuck in warmer weather. Accoya might be a more expensive material, but it has a lower lifetime cost than PVC, aluminium, pine and hardwood, lower maintenance costs and extended durability. With Accoya and Teknos combined, your garden room will not need replacing for 50 years or more. 

We manufacture garden room extensions to a standard – not a budget

Our manufacturing process combines the latest modern technologies with traditional craftsmanship. Our specialists hand-finishing every product with unrivalled attention to detail, and we’ve invested in the newest joinery profiling machinery. What’s more, we’re always focused on improving efficiency and increasing capacity whilst minimising energy usage and reducing our carbon footprint.

Looking after our people

Clients quickly get a sense of the kind of people we employ and what our company is all about. We believe the attitudes of our team defines who we are and what we do. We get the best creations from them by appreciating and developing their unique skills and creating a workplace culture that everyone wants to be a part of. 

Between May – June 2019, Investors in People audited our company through anonymous online assessments completed by all our employees and face-to-face interviews with a selection of 12 people across the business. The investigator observed how our teams interacted during their time spent on-site and at our factory and looked at our workplace culture. Investors in People awarded us with a Gold Award accreditation, upgrading the Silver Award we have held for the last few years. The award was an outstanding achievement, giving us recognition as a progressive, forward-thinking employer.

Our designers and craftsmen have a reputation for building well-designed, exceptional and beautiful garden rooms and orangeries. Contact us today to discuss your ideas in more detail, or you can also arrange a time to visit our showrooms in Essex or London.

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