The Garden Office

Sections in this Article:

Post-Mortem and Conclusions

Finding a good builder appears to be a hit and miss affair these days. Despite our best efforts to do as many checks as possible, our last two experiences (NESW Building Services and now Donovan Clive Elliott and his team at GardenRoom.Space or whatever company he has now set-up), only reinforced our feeling that good tradesmen that take pride in what they do, are rare! It’s important to keep on top of what they do, as we found out, if given half a chance, they’ll bodge or cut corners whenever they can to save themselves pennies and/or time.

We initially disregarded building our own garden office due to lack of time and confidence in doing the building work. With a young family and a fulltime job, the lack of time was certainly top of the list, but having had to step in to fix the bodges and design and complete the build myself, the lack of confidence was merely an obstacle that was overcome by doing the job backed up with plenty of research!

Having the correct materials is half the battle. I believe Donovan and his team initially set out to complete the job [most likely not to the quality for the premium prices they charged], but greed, penny pinching and a degree of incompetence meant they compromised the build by using incorrect materials or the cheapest materials that could be sourced. This was further compounded by the use of cheap labour that didn’t particularly take pride in what they did, or have the necessary skills or aptitude to do a good job!

It also significantly helped to have the right tools and the confidence to use them. At the start, this was something that I lacked, but as it increasingly looked like I was going to finish the build, and being in a position where I could afford to purchase some the tools, that obstacle was overcome. Some of the best tools purchased, were the cheapest – the most notable and most useful, a pair of Irwin Quick Grips. These were basically a second pair of hands, exceptionally useful when I was doing the work by myself, often suspended from a ladder while trying to screw battens to the side of the building!


While we are now very happy with the build, some of the issues were not resolved to our satisfaction, mostly due to the cost and destruction to remedy. The most notable was the roof which had an inadequate runoff and is prone to ponding. The EPDM roof rubber that is installed is supposed to be good for flat roofs, so fingers crossed it will stay waterproofed for the next 10 years, even if puddles will sit on it!

Some of the windows frames had also been damaged by the original builders and a chunk of the aluminium frame of the bi-fold doors had been cut out [I've no idea why]. These issues are there if you look for them, but I've masked them as best I can.

Legal Matters and Donovan

Then there’s the issue with Donovan and his team. At time of writing legal proceedings are continuing [concluded 20 Dec 2021] as we attempt to get some of our money back [we did in the end!]. While I am not hopeful of success, as I’m sure he’ll simply dissolve the company and start up again, it is my intention to publicise his work ethics so any future would be victims are well informed before engaging with him; something that I must strongly discourage people from! If anyone reading this has had experience with Donovan or any of his building companies, good or bad, please let me know in the comments below.

A New Living Space

The primary objective of the build was to extract the Mrs from the bedroom, which due to the Covid lockdowns had become an impromptu office by day. After second-hand furniture was purchased, a very comfortable office was established. The inclusion of a TV on the wall, equipped with a collection of media streaming services [and a PlayStation to follow later?] and a comfortable corner sofa drew the children to this new space like animals to a watering hole. Looking back at the primary home from this new space, you can almost feel the sadness of the house in the knowledge that it may have been replaced!

The Future

I have to say, there is something very rewarding about building something like this – it’s a very different type of work to what I normally do [sat in front of a computer 40+ hours a week], but I certainly got something from this that I haven’t had from work in a long time! I’ve been asked would I do this professionally and for a moment, I paused to consider! Who knows what the future will bring, either way, I wouldn’t be averse to building the whole thing from start to finish!

Then there’s the question of, was it worth it? That’s a tricky one to answer. Its purpose was to create a home office, at home, but not in the home. Covid-19 and the associated working from home was really the driver behind this project and that of the entire garden overhaul. With the home office now the norm, then yes, with this new space, it was certainly worth it. Has it added value to the property? We would imagine yes as there is certainly an appeal with a space like this, be it for a home office or a separate business run from home – we are currently considering a market appraisal for the house to ascertain this.

For the moment, with holidays likely to be at least another year away, we will be content utilising this space to its full potential.