The Outdoor-Space Super-Project
Beyond Home Improvement
It looks like 2024 will be the year of the outdoor-space super-project – and we’re as excited as those with BIG plans!
I overheard a couple walking around our Nottingham show site full of Garden Rooms, Hot Tubs & Swim Spas - their enthusiasm for an upcoming project was infectious.
They jotted down notes into a pocketbook, frequently unrolled plans they had brought of their garden, and thoughtfully compared the measurements of their spaces on the ‘blueprints’ with those of our buildings. I could almost hear Nick Knowles narrating!
After an hour or so of browsing (we won’t pester you, take all the time you need to look around), following much busy scribbling and happy planning, they approached us for advice. I asked about their home and their plans. Sally and Steve’s story is one that is becoming increasingly common: they had been hoping to move but with house prices dropping, they had decided to stay where they are, ‘steal’ some of the more audacious ideas from homes they’d viewed and in doing so increase the value of their home even more when prices rallied.
A Swim Spa set within its own bespoke, made-to-measure patio building; an ice plunge pool set in a Nordic hut; and a space for entertaining (and feeding) guests whatever the season and whatever the weather were on Sally and Steve’s shopping list when they entered the show site - a man cave, bar and a space for friends to stay over had been added during their visit. That’s the beauty of our little village of dressed garden buildings, it rather feeds your imagination.
Sally and Steve aren’t the only ones with big plans, the era of the excitement sparking, home embellishment project, it seems, is upon us.
ENDING THE TREND OF HOUSE PRICE / HOME IMPROVEMENT EQUIVALENCE
Traditionally, there has been a degree of parity between house prices and spend on home improvements. A boom in house prices tends to go hand-in-hand with the DIY sheds reporting a spike in profits. Powered Now estimated £110m was spent on home improvements when house prices leapt by 10.2% between March 2020 and March 2021, for instance.
However, with some UK banks predicting a slump in house prices likely to last into 2025, and Nationwide reporting a 3.3% fall in house prices (October 2022-October2023), it’s interesting that Kingfisher (owners of DIY chains B&Q and Screwfix) are reporting a 1.7% increase in sales.
Over recent months, several visitors have shared with us ambitions that echo those of Sally and Steve. Many are deciding to not just improve their home with a lick of paint here and there but make their living space amazing, and those who have turned their attention outdoors, are thinking beyond a pond, rockery and a bit landscaping – they are considering big projects that will transform their outdoor areas into separate and yet integrated living spaces.
As one visitor, Alan, told us, these are projects that give you “excited butterflies in your tummy.”
While for Sally and Steve it’s a dip in the housing market that’s prompted a rethink of their outdoor living space, for Alan it’s geo-politics and climate that have led to a newly found passion for super-projects back home.
During Covid, Alan spent a lot of money on new garden furniture, a new barbecue, and created a haven where, as restrictions eased, family and friends could also come to relax and feel safe. “That first lockdown summer was beautifully sunny,” Alan recalls.
Post covid, Alan and his wife Helen, started to spread their wings a little further again, but discovered that things were not the same.
“Recent holidays to Europe have either been a faff at the airport or seaport, or we’ve sweltered in uncomfortable heat or, our last holiday we actually feared getting caught up in a wildfire on the other side of the island, throw in unrest in various regions and we started to have had a rethink.”
“We’d made the garden more of a sanctuary, a space where we could feel like we’re on holiday, so we decided to holiday at home last year. That backfired somewhat with the inclement summer we had so this year we’ve been looking at garden buildings to make it a space for all weathers.”
To be truthful, Alan’s project is a little more ambitious than “looking at garden buildings”, he was looking for a hot tub and a timber building for it to live in – the perfect opportunity for an Arctic Cabins and Hydropool collaboration – if ever I’ve heard one!
However, while on our show-site Alan chatted with Anne-Marie from our Cabins For Schools division about installations they had done within school grounds. One project in particular caught Alan’s imagination, an educational facility had taken a 10m² and a 14m² log cabin with extensions to create a number of distinct spaces (a sensory room, a games room, a soft playroom and a Forest School Cabin with central BBQ grill). This idea inspired a similar installation that would allow Alan and Helen to enjoy their dream hot tub, set beside a log cabin, connected by a spacious lounge area (complete with bar) to a BBQ hut, allowing the couple to emerge from the warm soothing bubbles of their hot tub and step Inside to the barbecue, picking up a cocktail on the way, without a care for what the weather was doing!
As far as projects go, truly “excited butterflies in your tummy” territory.
HYBRID WORKING IS HERE TO STAY
A number of garden building super-projects are being built around the need to create a comfortable working environment at home.
COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of remote work and many companies, having found that it could be successfully integrated into their operations, have decided to maintain some degree of hybrid working. Advances in technology have made remote collaboration more efficient, enabling teams to work seamlessly from different locations – even your garden! And let’s face it, many of us love the flexibility and work-life balance that hybrid work provides, fewer long commutes, more control over our schedules – what’s not to love?
You want your work from home days to be as effective as heading into the office, and those of us pursuing a longer-term hybrid work life moved our thinking away from the kitchen table or even a desk in the corner of a bedroom or dining room a long time ago. We’ve helped many create a work-from-home space that is separate-from-home, a workplace you can commute to (even if it is just down the garden path)!
Visitors to Cabin Master and Arctic Cabins are now expressing a desire to go even further though. They’re factoring other facilities and opportunities that they miss when working from home and are looking to incorporate home versions of these. For instance, Chris is missing the pre-work swim so is creating a garden room with a swim spa with an office attached (Cabin Master garden rooms can be partitioned, with different sections accessible by their own lockable door).
You are more likely to be productive and creative when you have a good work environment, a workspace garden room super-project is an investment in your productivity!
Finally, some good news…
SUPER-PROJECT PLANS ON HOLD DUE TO REPORTED TRADESPEOPLE SHORTAGES?
Several customers looking to take on an outdoor building project have told us that they had previously been put off by a reported shortage of tradespeople.
According to research, again by B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher, the UK has a current shortage of tradespeople to the tune of an estimated 166,000 and things are not going to be getting much better any time soon, the same study predicts that, by 2030, the shortage could be a quarter of a million (250,000) tradespeople.
It’s an issue that is often raised by those planning a timber building project, happily when you trust Cabin Master or Arctic Cabins with your garden room ambitions you don’t have to worry about firing up Check-a-Trade!
With us, everything is carried out by our own people, in-house, from design to you taking the key. This means that the fitters who attend to install your building are employed by us, they only install Cabin Master garden rooms and Arctic Cabins huts (so really know how to build them). They’ll turn up on the day they say they will and complete the work within the timeframe promised.
We are so confident in our craftsmanship, right the way from manufacture in our purpose-built Derbyshire factory to construction in your garden, that we offer a 10-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
SO … WHAT’S YOUR PROJECT?
When you come for a browse around our show sites, either in Nottingham or Studley, you’ll see how the various products from our family of companies can dovetail together to create a super-project. From a hot tub and a gazebo, to a garden room with a gym and a swim spa, to an ice plunge pool and a Scandinavian timber sauna or BBQ cabin … we’d love to help with whatever super-project you have in mind.