Special Report
A special report is content that is edited and produced by the special reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report but do not have editorial control.

A garden room is not just a shed with notions

Many garden rooms boast all the creature comforts of the main house and are fitted out to a similar level of comfort

The garden room concept has gone mainstream, with the smallest of outdoor spaces now boasting a refuge, however small, where one could work or escape family life.

Some are simply sheds with notions, wired for light and wifi but little else, but for many, many more the room description is taken very literally and they boast all the creature comforts of the main house and are fitted out to a similar level of creature comfort.

A Terenure design, inspired by a Japanese tea house and designed by DMVF architects, extends into the garden while remaining connected to the main house. It has a zinc roof and timber glass screens, glazing that looks like windows but doesn’t open to make the frames look as slim as possible, says Lisa McVeigh.

Its extended eaves give shade from the sun for it enjoys south and western aspects and is surrounded by sun terraces. Forming part of a sizeable six-figure sum refurbishment and extension it’s one way to work the garden room idea.


Eddie Nelson did something similar but took a DIY approach. He runs Metalcraft, a welding and metal fabricator, and used his expertise to build an octaganol-shaped gazebo on to his home during the summer lockdown. Inspired by a pergola and accessed via a set of Crittal-style doors, he put a polycarbonate corrugated roof on it and liked it so much that he enclosed it using steel glass screens to use in winter, installing a wood-burning stove to warm it. To fabricate the panels for a similarly sized 18sq m space will cost from about €37,000, ex VAT and labour.

John Sherry of Garden Rooms says about a quarter of his clients use the space as a home office. A further 30 per cent concede the space to the teens in their home as a recreational room far enough away to turn the music or gaming up without driving parents utterly nuts. They can also have friends round and enjoy a sense of distance from the mothership.

For another 30 per cent the investment is as a multi-purpose space that multi-tasks as a yoga studio, a home gym, a home office, a music room or an artist’s studio. There are also lots of bars.

For his designs Sherry uses timber frames which are set on concrete pads and insulated using earth wool and foil-backed insulation on the walls. The sub-floor is laid with OSB board which is then topped with foil-backed insulation, all of which offer acoustic dampening too, helpful if someone in your home likes to play the drums.

Prices range from about €30,000 to €65,000. The latter will give you a fully-finished, turnkey 15sq m of space that has electrics and broadband connected back to the house. However, none of these prices include plumbing. About 40 per cent of his clients request a shower and/or guest w.c and this will drive up costs.

Kevin Dennis is a Bloom gold medal-winning landscape gardener who also offers a garden room service. He recently launched a range of modular rooms that you can buy from his company Zen Space. These steel-framed structures have composite cladding and range in price from €20,000 to €40,000, but it is his bespoke work that best demonstrates how having the same talent to design the garden room and the surrounding planting makes for a much more cohesive end result, especially in larger suburban spaces.

In a Malahide garden of about 70sq m he installed an abode clad in fashionable blackened larch. Extending to about 16sq m with triple glazing and underfloor heating, he estimates it cost about €20,000. while the surrounding garden design cost a further €28,000.

Across the city in Foxrock, in a large garden of about 300sq m, he built a beguiling structure of about 24 sq m plus a covered over outdoor cooking area another 5.5 metres, which he surrounded with about 25sq m of decking.

Something similarly-sized will cost about €45,000, he says, while the surrounding substantial planting, design and landscaping will be a further €80,000.

The options vary depending on size and level of creature comforts, but does a garden room actually add value to your home?

Yes, says Andrew Foran of Quillsen estate agents. “A lot of buyers are looking for an ancillary space to work from home, even on a hybrid basis. They primarily want to use it as a home office or as room for teens that doesn’t spill into the main house. Quantifying that value is more difficult, but this year the market is stronger even than last year. In homes worth more than €500,000 you should be getting your money back but it will depend on your location.”

Dmvf.ie; gardenrooms.ie; metalcraft.ie; zenspace.ie

Alanna Gallagher

Alanna Gallagher

Alanna Gallagher is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in property and interiors