The Garden Office

Sections in this Article:

The Vanishings of Garden Room Space?

Weekend Nosey

Over the weekend and after a quick nosey around a few issues emerged. First observation was the top frame of the bi-fold doors had significant movement, particularly when the doors are open. Closer inspection revealed that the top frame of the bi-fold doors had not been secured to the building and there was at least a 2cm gap above the bi-fold doors.

On the outside, the cedar cladding did not appear to be long enough in some places and was unable to reach from the floor to the roof, this might be by design, so we are interested to see how this will be finished.

Wonky Cladding

On the inside, evidence of damp in the top rear corner; this may be because the recent painting had not yet fully dried. On the outside, the general finish of the cedar wasn’t great, with cuts not lining up and the shorter cuts under the bi-folds not secured fully vertical [a slight twist as only secured with one nail]. The cut of the cedar around the door and window frames was also not very accurate and while this may be covered later with edging, the general quality was not filling us with confidence.

Cedar Cutting

The side window did not appear to be a good fit either, with an extra block of wood now supporting the bottom of the window and the window looking as if it has been installed slightly skewed.

The plastic clad installed at the rear of the office had also not been cut to the correct length leaving a significant gap where the two edges meet. This may well be covered by an edge trim later, so we will wait to see...

After photographs were shared and discussion with Donovan, we were informed that a different team would be on site next week [week 7]. There was a no show on the Monday and again on Tuesday despite assurances. With no glass in the window and a gaping hole where a door should be, the inside had been left open to the elements and fortuitously, only a light drizzle arrived on Monday afternoon and evening.


The local cats had shown interest in this new piece of territory, so we are eager to have it secured soon...


By Wednesday, another no show from the Garden Room Space team. Things were bordering on unprofessional. Despite having had reassurances the team would be on site at the start of the week, and having reached Wednesday evening with little to no communication from Garden Room Space, we began to chase. We had expected to be in the office by December and with what looked like a significant amount of work to be completed and a snag list that increased with each inspection, it had begun to look doubtful if we’d be in before Christmas!

We expressed our displeasure to Donovan and he reassured us we’d have an update by Thursday. Something had clearly gone wrong or the team were focussed on other jobs but either way, it was assumed from that comment that no one would be on site Thursday morning!

In the meantime we began to compile a snag list while the rubbish left on a now vacant build site, began to blow around the garden. Most of the loose pieces I collected and disposed of, but it will just be a matter of time before something lands in a neighbour's garden and an inevitable complaint follows!

Day 11 : 5 Dec 2020 : Electrics and Floor

After what seemed like a week of being strung along, the team were back on site by lunchtime Saturday. The presence of Donovan’s brother confirmed that the electrics would be done. First, we had to locate a piece of paper he had left us over a month ago with measurements and locations of the cables hidden under the plastered walls. It was quickly located and work began.

When Donovan arrived, the snag list was shared and glass for the side windows arrived. The side door was now a window again; despite the door/window decision ping-ponging back and forth on Facebook messenger! Blocks of insulating foam to go under the floor were also delivered and the team began working around the electrician cutting the foam and laying under the floor before cutting fresh OSB boards to create a new floor base.

Day 11 : Electrics and Flooring

By the end of a long day (gone 7pm), the electric was on, but not fully completed. The floor base down, but squeaky in places [another item for the snag list], so not quite ready to receive laminate flooring. Disappointingly, the glass hadn’t been installed despite being on site; so once again, the garden office was exposed to the elements. There had been a problem with one of the spot lights so they remained dangling from the ceiling and the HDMI cables dangled out of the wall through a hole. I’ve ordered some HDMI wall sockets as the dangling HDMI cables are not acceptable.

With no confirmation of when the team would be back, we assumed Monday, they packed up. On Sunday, we had a call from Donovan suggesting that he had some making up to do but again, no confirmation when the team would return.

The week that followed, a reduced team were back on site around noon on Monday for what we hoped would be a continuation of momentum towards completion of the build. The glass was installed on the large side window, but the smaller window remained open to the elements. With no electrician, there was no further progress with the electrics and the remaining team focussed on edging the EPDM roof, installation of guttering and general touching up of the inside décor.

While appreciating it is still a work in progress, the guttering, EPDM edging, and roof rubber looked wrong with the EPDM roof rubber just drooping into the gutter [no drip strip]. There is currently nothing installed to prevent the rubber from blowing backward which I am sure, overtime, would result in a gradual peeling back and premature failure of the roof.

Day 12: Roofing

By Monday evening, Donovan requested a further payment and advised us the team would not be on site Tuesday. With some more minor issues arising and only 2 site days since we last made a significant payment, we pushed back on the request preferring to see more progress before any further payments are made.

Sadly, that was the last we’d see of the team until Saturday morning when a local company visited to address the issue with the bi-fold doors; they were surprised by the simplicity of the fix and drilled and bolted the bi-fold door frame to secure the top. This at least cleared an item from the snag list and paved the way for the inside to be completed.

A bit later, Donovan himself turned up to inspect the build. I think seeing some of the issues for himself helped and he assured us that a different electrician would be with us on Monday to complete the electrics and hinted that the rest of the team would follow after [we’ll see]...

With the Garden Room Space team located in London and London likely to be placed under Tier 3 Covid restrictions on the 16 December, we were hopeful to see some progress before this happened. Initially we were told an electrician would be with us on Monday, but this was quickly revised to Wednesday. By Wednesday and as expected, London was placed into Tier 3 and later that morning we received a short message from Donovan to let us know the electrician would now be with us on Thursday. This had now become a rolling joke and we started to take bets on the likelihood of a Thursday show! It didn't come as a surprise when Saturday arrived and there was still no sign of an electrician.

Having had time to have a proper look around, the real problem with the electrics emerged. Holes for the spotlights were clearly in the wrong place with the middle row of spotlights running alongside the ceiling joist. The manufacturer's installation instructions clearly state the minimum distance from a joist is 5cm, so two spot lights would be installed alongside the joist and the third... in a joist! Quite clearly this was a problem and I suspect Donovan's brother knew this hence his lack of willingness to return to the site.

Spot Light Hole

Week 10 : Rain

Another week had passed and still no more progress. The side window still had no glass and after a period of wet weather, I popped out to check on the office only to find water had blown in through the window opening, down the wall and into one of the electrical sockets beneath. I switched off the electric supply then tried to weatherproof the window as best as I could.

By Wednesday there was an unexpected knock at the front door. Upon opening I was greeted by two men informing me that they were here to sign off the electrical work. I first chuckled to myself then asked if Donovan had sent them to which they acknowledged. I then explained the situation to them and as they approached the office, they could see for themselves that the electrics were far from complete, let alone ready for an electrical inspection. After an initial inspection they made contact with Donovan saying pretty much what I had told him two weeks earlier. They then informed us they had not come equipped to do what was required [hardly surprising considering what they had been told]. They promised to return within two weeks to complete the electrics, I’m sure after agreeing with Donovan [we’ll see - but that was the last we'd see of them too!].

Continue on reading to Donovan the Con Man!...