I am so close to completing my new home fully treated recording studio that was originally a humble timber garden cabin previously used as a builder’s workshop. A month of planning went into the entire soundproofing project. One option that I didn't initially consider before planning the studio build was to demolish the garden cabin and build something new completely from the ground up. It took a few YouTube comments questioning my decision to build my studio inside the garden cabin that made me realise that I needed to consider every option. That way, I would know in my heart of hearts that I was about to embark on the right choice. I had to research alternatives to garden cabin studio idea before I did anything else.
The Required Space
What I wanted was a larger studio. My previous studio was 3.30m by 3m. This time around I wanted to fit my drum kit in the studio and have extra height in the ceilings. Internally, the highest point of the cabin was 2.8m, down to 2.4m at the lowest point. The floor area was 5.6m x 3.8m. In terms of the footprint, the cabin was almost perfect in size. If I demolished the cabin I would have had a very different set of challenges let me tell you.
If The Garden Cabin Was Demolished
The cost of demolishing the garden cabin wouldn't be in labour as I would have done that myself on the weekends, the cost would be in hiring skips to remove the waste. A cabin this size has a lot of timber in it. I estimated £1,200 for three skips, but I believe I would have needed more though.
Foundations & Landscaping
The previous owner of the house was a builder. He personally built the cabin and laid the concrete base. Typically a garden cabin only requires a 1ft deep base, this is a 2ft base. A brick wall with damp course surrounds 80% of the perimeter.
This wall also holds back the rear of the garden earth that is slightly raised compared to the front of the cabin. If the cabin was demolished this wall would have had to stay in place or a serious garden landscaping project would have needed to be undertaken just to get enough flat land to build on.
Garden Cabin Alternatives
Building a brick structure was off the table, in my opinion, as planning permission would have been needed from my local council. I’ve been down the planning permission process before - it’s not fun, it’s not easy - it’s not a certainty either. If the cabin was demolished, I would have needed an alternative purpose build garden structure capable of being soundproofed, and that sounded like a tall order until I found Green Retreats.
Green Retreats design, manufacture and install garden rooms that require do not require traditional concrete foundations that many garden cabins need. Instead, these rooms sit of concrete pills that are set deep into the earth. These rooms also require no UK planning permission. Green Retreats take roughly 12 weeks to deliver and 2 weeks to install and claim to be very energy efficient and perform very well in the soundproofing department - watch their promotional video below of a full band playing in one of their rooms to hear how well these room appear to keep sound in.
The Green Retreats website features a very useful 3D configurator that enables potential customers to design their Green Retreat and specify add-on options. An Acoustic Pack option is available that claims to reduce noise up to 45dB - From the video, it does seem as though it performs rather well.
The Bottom Line - Budget
After specifying a 3.5m by 5m room with a single door, plenty of electric sockets and the Acoustic Pack the total came to just under £25,000. Sounded like a great deal but that was my entire budget. I still needed to get my air con fitted and an expensive electrical job getting power from the house, up the garden and to the studio. After crunching the numbers this option was sadly not going to happen as the final costs including demolition and disposal of the original cabin, electrical/air con services and the Green Retreat build blew my budget. The cost of converting the garden cabin was estimated at between £18,000 - £20,000, within my £25,000 budget meaning money would be available for unexpected costs - which in building projects happen, and did happen in my garden cabin build.
As I said at the start of this article I am just weeks away from finishing my garden cabin soundproofed recording studio. The soundproofing is installed, from early tests the performance of noise reduction is amazing. Did I compromise by not going Green Retreats? No, it was an alternative that I most likely would have chosen if my budget was higher. If my garden didn't already have a very solid garden cabin structure and foundation in place then a Green Retreat studio would have been a good option for my home soundproofed recording studio in the garden.