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Lawsons are the largest independent timber, building & fencing merchants in London and the South East of England. Established in 1921 Lawsons now have a number of branches offering the complete range of building.

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Garden-Buildings

Turn Your Log Cabin into a Garden Office

More and more people throughout the UK are working from home – whether you’re self-employed or telecommuting, you can face a huge range of distractions if you don’t have a set space dedicated to work. Homeowners can turn to loft conversions and house extensions as a way to create more space at home, but a log cabin is a much more cost-effective way to create a work space that separates business and pleasure.

Planning Permission for Your New Office

Most log cabins can be installed and turned into garden offices without the need for planning permission applications. The Town and Country Planning Rules for Permitted Developments do allow for garden buildings to be added to your garden, but you will need to ensure that your log cabin is within the guidelines. For example, the eaves of the building cannot be higher than a maximum of 2500mm, the height of the building overall can’t exceed 2500mm or be within 2000mm of a boundary, and you can’t build the log cabin on a raised platform.

Full details of Permitted Development requirements can be found on the government’s Planning Portal website.

Tax Relief for Home Workers

If you run your own business, you may be able to claim some of the costs as business expenses and get corporate tax relief through the annual investment allowance. Costs you can claim back include office and computer equipment, electrical systems, lighting, air conditioning (which is a good idea in summer), heating and water systems, and insulation (to keep your log cabin warm in the winter months).

VAT registered businesses can also reclaim VAT on all costs if invoices are made out to your company.

However, if your garden office is separate from your home and exclusively used for business, it is possible that your local council may want to charge business rates for running a company from the building. This is at the discretion of your local council.

Tailor the Cabin to Fit Your Needs

Buying your log cabin is just the first stage – tailoring it to your specific needs is essential to a successful garden office. Lawsons offers alterations on larger units if you need some changes made, but adding internet, electricity, and other details to your cabin will need to be done when it is already installed.

Internet is surprisingly easy to extend to your shed; rather than relying on a Wi-Fi connection, extend a Cat 6 cable from your home in a buried pipe (to keep it safe from the elements) through to your cabin. Electricity can be supplied in the same way, to power your technology and keep the cabin cool, warm, or power your kettle. Once you have internet and power, you can even install a VoIP telephone so you can have a landline number attached to your home business, rather than just using your mobile phone. 

The interior is entirely down to you – if you just need a desk and comfortable chair, you can create your dream set up. If your business has other requirements, such as storage, workspace, or even a small meeting area this can easily be arranged.

Many of our clients say that they enjoy their log cabins the most in summer, when they can work with the doors open and enjoy the outdoors and wonderful weather. Even in autumn and winter, a well-insulated log cabin is cosy and perfect for getting deals done and concentrating on work before the world’s shortest commute back home. 

DIY Weekend Project – A Raised Seating Area

At Lawsons, our staff are just as creative as our clients. Working around building materials every day means that a lot of our staff start thinking about how they can use our timber, decking, or railway sleepers and how they can improve their homes.

One of our drivers from the Romford branch decided to do just that when he built a raised seating area in an unused area of his garden. The weekend project required lengths of timber, some fencing supplies, and decking, as well as gravel for the planted area on the side of the platform.

As you can see the sloped area of the garden was fairly disused – these areas are perfect for improvement. Projects like this can even make your garden seem bigger, since you get more use out of a larger area of your home.

Installing some posts was an essential first step to ensure that the platform was level – adding some joists in provided more structure to build on. If you’d like to make our own raised platform, it’s important that you take the time to ensure that the structure is level – all of the other stages rely on this being sound.

Once that’s done, you just need to add some closeboard panels around the edge and decking to the top to complete the platform and create a level, inviting space to spend your evenings or weekends. Once that’s done, you can add some plants and seating then pour yourself a drink to celebrate a job well done.

If you have a weekend project you’d like to show off, just send it to us at info@lawsons.co.uk or tag us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest @LawsonsUK. We’d love to see what you’ve been up to and what you’ve created using Lawsons’ timber and building supplies. 

Maintenance for Wooden Garden Sheds, Summerhouses and Log Cabins

As with most products the lifespan of garden buildings can be dramatically prolonged by taking a bit of time throughout the year to look after the building and tend to any repairs before they become more serious.

To help you get the best out of your buildings we have prepared a list of some of the key requirements in maintaining your garden buildings and a list of equipment you will need.

Tools you will need

  • Paint Brushes – to apply preservative, make sure to cover those awkward corners.
  • Paint Kettle – save spilling and wastage.
  • Sandpaper – remove any flaking or rough splinters.
  • Dust Sheets – cover ground area to prevent any splashing, especially if on paving
  • PPE – Goggles to prevent splashing preservative in your eyes, Gloves to protect hands.

How to maintain your Wooden Garden Sheds, Summerhouses and Log Cabins

  1. Check your base: With most wooden sheds and structures the key to maintaining the building is ensuring that it remains on a firm and level base and protected against moisture penetration, monitor this regularly. Any movement of the base under the building can lead to twisting of the timber or dropping of the doors.
  2. Seal your windows: It is essential that all windows are sealed inside and out as soon as is possible after assembly. This could be achieved via the application of silicone, timber beading or any other suitable ‘water tight’ solution at your own preference.
  3. Treat your building annually: Although it may come with a factory basecoat you should treat your new garden building shortly after installation with a good quality water resistant treatment. This process should then be repeated annually with care taken to brush the treatment into all wooden components involved within the construction of the building, inside and out.
  4. Ensure nothing is in contact with your building: Any overhanging tree or hedge growth poses a threat to your garden building and should be cut back at regular intervals. If a tree branch makes contact with your building it may pierce the roofing felt and encourage water ingress.
  5. Check and replace any damaged felt: If you do find any damage sustained to your roofing felt over time it is essential that you act upon this without delay. Should you discover a rip or tear in the felt it is recommended that this area be stripped from the roof and a new covering of high grade, heavy duty, mineral felt (which can be purchased from all our branches) be affixed immediately.
  6. Ventilation: It is important to ensure adequate ventilation to your garden building as this will help to prevent condensation which could lead to deteriation of the timber, this is highly necessary when using as a workshop and may be advisable to fit an air vent.
  7. Lubrication: All hinges and locks should be lubricated with suitable oil to ensure continued ease of use.
  8. Conclusion: Our tips and advice offered above should help you keep that Garden Building in tip top condition and add value to any property.

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How to Build Your Own Pergola

Pergolas are a beautiful addition to any back garden, offering shelter and shade in the summer months as well as an attractive frame for vines and climbing plants. Hiring a professional is the simplest way to make this addition to your home, but building your own can save you hundreds of pounds and offers a relatively simple and rewarding DIY project for experienced enthusiasts. Ideally, you should have at least one other person to work with when building and installing your pergola so that you can complete the project safely.

Plan the Space

The first step is deciding where you want the pergola to go – if the area isn’t already paved or decked it’s best to do that part before you start the pergola project so that you have a sound foundation. Your space will define the size, shape, and the style of your pergola so it’s important that you get this part right before you start measuring up. Moving one is harder than it seems!

Your pergola should be built away from major tree roots and buried underground utilities.

Find Your Perfect Design

Once you’ve decided where the pergola should go, it’s time to choose a design and start planning. Here are just a few considerations you should look at before making a decision:

  • Do you want a slatted roof or a completely covered one?
  • Do you want climbing plants on the pergola? If so, will you want to put planters at the base?
  • Will it be a wall-leaning pergola?

Sketch or Use a Plan

If you’re buying timber rather than using a kit, it’s important to figure out your plan before you buy anything to ensure you have everything that you need. This is one of the most comprehensive plans we’ve seen online (from Popular Mechanics).

Your location will determine whether you dig holes for the posts or secure your posts using base anchors. Base anchors will take less time to add but your terrain and position should be the deciding factors rather than time spent on the project.

Buy Materials

Your sketch/plan will offer information on the sizing and details for your materials. We recommend using treated carcassing timber because it ages well and resists decay. You can apply a stain/sealer to suit your home and other garden buildings.

Install Your Posts

Depending on your area, this will either involve digging post holes or installing base anchors. If you are digging holes, make sure that you have called the local utility companies to find out whether there are any underground services you may disturb. Mark your post locations with stakes and verify that the positions are accurate by measuring diagonally from corner to corner on both sides – the measurements should be identical. You can dig the holes with a Fencers Grafting Tool, Power Auger, or a Post Hole Digger, and the depth of the holes should be around a quarter of the height of the post. Once you have placed the posts in their respective holes, temporarily shore it up with stakes set at 45 degrees to the ground so that the posts stay still while the concrete sets.

If you are using post-base anchors, lay out the positions and measure them diagonally to ensure that they’re accurate. You can bore holes with a hammer drill before using screws or expanding bolts to fix the bases in place. Once you have the base anchors secured in place, hold each post plumb and drive nails through the anchors.

Add the Crossbeams and Rafters

Once your post concrete has set or the bases are properly anchored, you can assemble the crossbeams. Sandwich each corner post between two 47 x 200mm timbers (or whatever your plan requires) and set it at your preferred height (remember that your rafters will add height to your pergola once they’re installed). You may need a centre splice if your crossbeams aren’t long enough. It’s best to add an inner and outer beam for stability.

Measure and mark your positions with a circular saw and use a level to make sure the posts are at the same height. Secure each beam to the top outside face of the post with two 100mm (4 inch) screws to temporarily hold them in place – once all of them are in position secure the beams with your bolts. Then you can add your rafters, whether they’re at 300mm (one-foot) intervals or grouped together in two’s or three’s.

Once everything is perfectly in position, permanently secure the beams and posts using 200mm (8 inch) galvanized bolts.

If you would like decorative ends on your rafters it’s important that you cut this before you install them.

Finish Up

If you would like to add climbing plants to your pergola, you can run twine around the sides and wave vines around the twine until they’re mature enough to grow up to the rafters.

Once that’s done, all you need to do is pour yourself a drink and enjoy your new space. 

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Install a Timber Plank Wall at Home

DIY plank walls are an increasingly popular trend – whether you just want to add some texture to your walls or want to follow the reclaimed wood trend, adding a plank wall to your home is an easy project that’ll really transform the entire room.

MDF Plank Walls

If you just want the boards rather than the full wood texture, MDF is a cheap material that will achieve the effect you want. Before you even buy your materials, measure your wall and decide how thick you’d like all of the boards to be. That way, you can get your MDF cut to size in-store to reduce the amount of work you need to do.

Remember that your ceiling line may not be perfectly level, so check your angles with a spirit level before you add the first plank to your wall. Once you have that perfectly level, you can use pennies as spacers and just follow the first plank so the rest should be a lot faster to put up.

Once you’ve nailed all of your planks down, don’t forget to use some filler over the nails. Sand it all down before painting so you have a perfectly even finish to your plank wall.

You may want to use adhesive instead of nails, but this won’t hold warped boards to the wall so you will need to compromise and at least use nails on the boards that won’t sit flush with the wall.

Distressed-Look Timber Walls

Part of the charm of timber walls is the texture of the wood itself. Reclaimed wood is a major trend in 2016, but buying reclaimed boards can be expensive (and difficult if you don’t have an architecture salvage yard nearby). Luckily, you can fake it with stains and brand new timber. You can even use a few different stains to get a variety of colours to use together on your wall.

If you would just like a stain, it’s a relatively simply process of painting your stain onto the wood and waiting for it to dry. If you’d also like a distressed texture to the wood, you can achieve that in a variety of ways – hitting it with chains, sanding it, drilling small holes (to create fake termite holes), scratching the wood with a chisel tip, or using steel wool with vinegar to age the wood.

 

Image credits: Thank you to Design-Milk, Brooklyntowest.blogspot.com, and Home DZine for the images. 

Summer Houses, Man Caves and She Sheds

Just about everyone needs a little time out for themselves don’t they? No matter how large or small your home, no matter how many or how few people there are in it, we just sometimes need to get out and spend some quality alone-time.

The rise of the “Man Cave” in recent years was swiftly followed by the “She Shed”; the woman’s answer to the Man Cave is an artfully decorated feminine hideaway where women can disappear from time to time and indulge in reading, surfing the net, eating chocolate, or pursuing hobbies.

She Sheds are no different to Man Caves in their purpose, the only real difference is that the feminine versions tend towards the shabby chic or super-stylish in their décor whilst the masculine, towards the contemporary styled or vintage-cosy in theirs.

Summer houses make perfect Man Caves or She Sheds and if your household sometimes feels the strain of too much quality time together, then maybe you need to consider investing in the extra space a summer house can offer?

If you’re not in the market for a fully-glazed or partially-glazed summer house, then a standard garden shed can make just as fantastic a hideout and at less cost. It’s all about how you choose to decorate your Man Cave or She Shed and where you place it!

If you’re fortunate enough to have a large garden at your disposal, then you’ve probably got a few areas to choose from in terms of placement. A word to the wise though, never place your precious hideout beneath a tree. While it might look pretty, there will be issues with leaves dropping onto your roof and also with birds doing what birds do.

Find a sheltered area that ideally isn’t overlooked and is far enough away from the main house that you can really feel a little privacy – the last thing you need when you’re enjoying your Man Cave or She Shed is constant interruptions.

Once your hideout is up and ready to decorate, it’s time to go to town on accessories, soft furnishings, paint, and even carpet!

Many people choose hard wearing floor coverings for their Man Caves or She Sheds; laminate style flooring off the roll is a good choice as it’s easy to clean and won’t mind being close to nature. You can add a lovely, large rug to cosy things up a little and during the winter months this can be stored indoors.

That’s not to say people don’t enjoy their cubby houses in the winter because they certainly do! A heater can be safely used within your summer house as long as you’re present at all times and as long as it conforms to safety standards.

Let’s face it, what could possibly be more comforting than sitting in your private Man Cave or She Shed, with a mug of hot chocolate or something a little stronger, while watching the trees sway in the wind outside and listening to the rain fall on the roof?

There’s something undeniably special about a little home from home in the garden and once you look at the wide range of summer houses, log cabins and sheds on offer at Lawsons you’ll be a convert in no time.

Keeping Your Garden Organised All Year Round with Garden Storage

Gardening enthusiasts will know the frustration of keeping their beloved green space tidy and beautiful no matter what the time of year. In the UK, the weather alone causes some serious challenges – add to that the frustration of Autumn and wildlife and you’ve got a real issue.

Falling leaves which either dry up and blow into every nook and cranny or get wet and soggy, draping themselves over surfaces, tools, equipment and plant pots…gardens are home to lots of bits and pieces and detritus which can ruin the look of your careful gardening, but there is something you can do about it.

Garden storage has come a long way in recent years and there’s a wide range to choose from no matter how large or small your garden is. Even those with tiny courtyards can benefit from a good storage facility.

Keeping everything in its place is vital and most people want to avoid cramming their garden shed full of lawnmowers, cycles, rakes, and pots all at the same time. That generally just results in an impassable shed and a frustrated gardener who can’t reach what he wants!

Storage to keep your garden pretty

Some items might be very necessary in a garden but that doesn’t mean they’re attractive. Bins, cycles and children’s toys can all ruin the general ambience of a carefully planned space in one fell swoop.

Dedicated bin storage can make a world of difference to how attractive and organised your garden looks and specially designed binstores are the perfect solution to not only the look of the corner in which you keep your bin but also to the smell.

Binstores have a latched gate at the front to enable easy access when it’s time to put the bins out and a hinged lid to ensure ease of usage on a daily basis.

On a less unattractive front, children’s toys might not be as offensive as rubbish bins but they’re certainly not going to add to the atmosphere of your garden party or barbeque when they’re strewn across your otherwise perfect lawn.

This is why garden storage chests are a good idea; they’re great for hiding away balls, skittles, skipping ropes and larger toys such as swing-ball sets and even goal posts if they’re collapsible. You can tuck the paddling pool away rather than have it cluttering up the shed or permanently out on the lawn making your grass turn yellow!

For your own odds and ends such as lawnmowers or smaller tools like shears and clippers, you might find that a wallshed offers just the right amount of extra storage but without taking up the amount of space a second shed would.

Wallsheds are also a great option for keen gardeners to keep their composts and fertilisers in; they’re lockable and secure so you know that your potentially dangerous chemicals can’t get into the wrong hands.

Lawsons have a very wide selection of garden storage available and most options come in multiple sizes so you can tailor your ideal storage to your own garden.

Log Cabins – Providing More Space for Growing Families

As house prices rise and more and more families find that the idea of moving to a larger property is simply out of their reach, so innovative space-saving ideas move to the fore with many people thinking out of the box when it comes to finding new ways in which to fit the family in.

While some people are in a position to commission loft conversions or extensions as a way of providing an extra room for their growing family, others are not.

Loft conversions and extensions cost many thousands of pounds and of course not all houses are suitable for them.

If you work from home as a growing number of people do, then it’s highly likely you’ve got an ‘office’ at the kitchen table or even under the stairs.

People cram work desks into the most unlikely places; their bedrooms, their dining rooms, kitchens and even cupboards which are for obvious reasons quite far from ideal.

But if your income relies on the work you do at home, then it is vital that you give yourself a decent and dedicated workspace. Somewhere which is quiet and which won’t put you in the middle of the action which so many family homes seem to see on a regular basis!

A log cabin could be what you need

Log cabins are eminently affordable; especially when compared to loft conversions! Cheaper than your average family holiday, a solid log cabin can look beautiful and make a great home office.

There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t kit out a log cabin with not only shelving and a desk and chair, but also underfloor heating or a plug in heater to ensure you’re comfortable during the colder months.

You can also insulate your log cabin and lay carpet; just make sure that you don’t leave electrical equipment on whilst unattended (this goes for any home office!) and bring in your computer at night because of security.

A teen hangout

As your children grow, they take up more space…a lot more space! Many people with a few teens at home report feeling as though they’re guests in their own homes with looming young men and women gathering day and night to socialise (and eat you out of house and home!).

Kitting out a decently sized log cabin is a great idea if you feel your teens would appreciate their own space. You can lay rugs, add soft, outdoor beanbags (they’re tougher and will withstand rough treatment) and even a mini-fridge for those snacking sessions!

A log cabin makes a fabulous addition to any garden, providing an extra room without breaking the bank!

Why you Need a Workshop

A garden workshop is a must have if you have any hobbies, passions or even fledgling business ideas.

Adding what essentially boils down to an extra room to your home is as simple as purchasing a ready-manufactured workshop and installing it in a suitable area.

With workshops available in a wide variety of sizes, you will be able to find the right one for your needs.

Garden workshops make the perfect hideaway for those times when you just need to spend some time alone as well as the perfect base from which to perfect your skills in whatever pastimes you enjoy.

Garden workshops make great spaces for many pastimes including the following;

  • Woodwork
  • Mechanics
  • Art
  • Needlework or crafts
  • Home office
  • Jewellery
  • Storage for fishing equipment

 

Whatever you love to do in your spare time, why not invest in some dedicated space in which to do it?

Lawsons have a brilliant range of workshops available and they also offer a professional installation service.

 

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