Gingerbread lodge - our cabin in the woods!

We have learned a few things having been the route of full Planning and Building Regs, the latter still to be signed off, but along the way have carefully selected products (some I had not heard of before) that we have found to be eminently suitable for use with Quick Garden Cabin products.

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For the exterior, I did a lot of research on the Internet, and came up with products from Berrattine, initially a Wood Preserver and stain (Green tin, not the brown one) which with two coats has given a very good overall colour to the cabin in medium brown. This has been followed up with a product from the same company, Berrattine Decking and Log Cabin waterproofer, which is a clear waterproofing wax finish, the combination being voiced as likely to last for five years (opinions from Trade blog pages).

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For the interior, we faced the issue of fireproofing with the requirement as a minimum to treat the Lounge / Kitchen / Diner. I discovered that there are undercoat or topcoat treatments the latter needing regular servicing by re-application. With the approval of Building Regs Surveyors, we used a product on the inside called "HR Prof", which whilst requiring 3 coats initially, didn't need any recoating for the future. This is a clear liquid and is applied in any way you like, and reacts against flame producing a foam that prevents the wood from catching fire, and limits damage to scorching. Having decided on this, when we received it and looked carefully through the guidance sheets, we confirmed our suspicions that all over coats would need to be water based, no solvent or wax ingredients.

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To overcoat, we used a new product on the market, Ronseal Knot Block, and applied two coats which provided a superb and easily applied base for normal Dulux matt topcoat - we are keeping all walls in white. Our choice for the beams and doors was to use a medium brown varnish to give contrast and create a feature of the beams. When we tried to apply this, we had problems with the HR Prof, which clogged the tip of the brush with what you would imagine was fine sandpaper dust. This Varnish was water based, no wax, and no obvious reason to react or cause a problem. We contacted the HR Prof technical team, who offered support to get a solution to the issue. This turned out to be a very weak PVA / water mix in a bucket of mildly warm water, applied from a sponge almost wrung dry wiped once over the beams. The varnish has now been applied without any further issues, and the outcome is a very pleasing effect of contrasts.

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Work is now continuing with electrical and plumbing installations, ready for the great sign off by Building Regs, and being able to occupy the Cabin.

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Getting to this stage has been a long hard plod, from having a dilapidated wooden structure over a sunken swimming pool; deciding to get rid of the pool in favour of all-year round accommodation for our Son and Daughter in Law; Planning permission through South Downs National Park; The need for a structural Engineer to design the footings over the old pool; and initial contact with Buildingg Regs, time taken two and a half years!! Changes of design to get planning approval, subsequent adjustments in anticipation of Building Regs, and finally we have a floor plan. The excitement when the time came and we were able to place an order! Through all of this time, we always felt supported by Quick Garden staff and designers, without whose help we might well have walked away from the project in pure exasperation. Our requirements were definitely at the top end of specifications, we went for a design which incorporated marginally more insulation that mandatory, our thoughts being why skimp at this stage on cold weather comfort for the sake of a few millimetres extra insulation. We decided, 135mm underfloor and in the roof, 100mm with a membrane solid fill in the walls. We chose to specify Celotex for two reasons, firstly they were very helpful during our sorting out of requirements for compliance, and secondly we wanted a mineral insulation, not poly plastic type products, a good choice in view of the Grenfell Tower incident. Our cabin was designed around all of this, we agreed the plans from Quick Garden, and cost, and paid the 50% deposit. 12 meter by 6 meter cabin ordered, by which time we had already incurred some considerable costs with fees and agents for planning, a structural engineers report of our ground and subsequent design of a very bespoke base. Can you imagine the excitement when the expected delivery date arrived, we paid the rest of the money, and a very helpful driver from Lambert Brothers turned up with seven and a half tonnes of wood in 7 x 7meter long pallets, and a couple of normal pallets. These were craned into the garden, luckily we had foreseen this need and had our Oak Tree trimmed in advance

gb9Having been put in touch with a cabin owner in Dorset, and our chats on all matters relating to said project, I was talked out of erecting the cabin myself, and we had chosen to have Quick Garden Team do that work for us. What a good choice, when the team of five arrived, they spent the whole of first day unpacking the pallets, and stacking in piles for the walls, roof, bearers etc., something I had not contemplated. Our lawn was a large woodyard, but the excitement when by day two we had this in out garden.

Hey forgot about that, another lorry with threequarters of the insulation, the rest following the next day! The guys from Quick Garden made it look oh so simple, and perhaps for them it was. The key to success definitely lies in the sortation process when unpacking, and they had a clear way of working which meant every time you looked out, the view had changed. However, it had confirmed my decision not to do it myself, perhaps if it had been a smaller model, but as they knew what was where, and how to do it, we had a waterproof cabin in a week! Any ideas how long it takes to paint a Log Cabin. With knotting, two coats of this, three coats of that, a couple of day’s rain, it’s a LONG time! But then how much is your total project going to cost, we had some exceptionals:- £11,800 builders bill for steelwork, groundwork and concreting over the pool area; Structural Engineer; Planning Agent; fees for Planning and Building Regs; Electricity, Plumbing, fixtures and fittings for Bathroom etc. Our total project coming out at around £45,000.00. The cabin costing more than half of the final outlay. This accounted for my care in looking for the products we used for preserving and weatherproofing the outside, and used inside. We paid more than local DIY prices, but have achieved the best possible protection for our investment, I was however very lucky in my choice of supplier from the Internet. And would highly recommend them to anyone. We did find problems sourcing our chosen products locally, which was the reason for us not using normal trade outlets but going online.. We are still working, but delighted with each stage as we can now see the conclusion of the project on the horizon, the journey is well worth it! Happy Bunnies - Ralph and Debbie Smith at Gingerbread Cottage, Arundel, West Sussex. November 2017.

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