Mark Chamberlain is the Managing Director of Grand Spaces, we interviewed him about the unique buildings.
Unlike other garden rooms on the market, Grand Spaces are pretty unique in repurposing shipping containers. Can you tell us some of the benefits of this approach?
The biggest benefit is that you are starting with a really strong and robust structure. The containers are designed to cope with rough treatment and are made of solid corten steel. Being so rigid means they don’t require any costly or time consuming footings to be dug, generally they don’t even need a concrete pad laying. Therefore all of the customers budget goes into making their usable space unique, rather than into something hidden under the floor. The steel structure easily adapts to various designs and different configurations, meaning that the only limit really is the client’s imagination.
One of the main benefits of a Grand Space is that every building you produce is bespoke. Do you find that customers come to you with a clear idea of what they want, or is it a more collaborative approach to the design?
Customers often assume that they will have to use a pre-existing design or pattern, but we work closely with them to take their ideas, suggestions and needs into consideration. Designing something to suit each client’s specific needs is our first priority. With complete freedom of where doors and windows are situated, how the internal space is divided, where services are installed, and how it is all finished and decorated, our clients receive a unique service.
Corten steel is very popular as a structural and decorative element in gardens, would it be possible to have that exposed on a Grand Spaces building?
Yes, we are able to expose the bare corten steel and either let it weather naturally or accelerate the process until the desired look is achieved and seal the surface to maintain its appearance. Corten steel is a fantastic material because it is highly corrosion resistant, once the surface layer has oxidised it won’t go any deeper. It is increasingly being used in landscaping as a structural element.
How easy is it to get one of these buildings into a garden?
The completed building is taken to the client’s garden and then lifted into place. Even where at first access may seem to be restricted there are generally various options available for craning units into position. We always check out all of the possibilities available. Groundworks are kept simple as we do not usually require a full concrete base, this can all be taken care of by our own in house operatives. Another huge plus point is that planning permission is often not necessary – and again we advise our clients on this for their particular installation.
Are they economical to heat?
The buildings are insulated with closed cell spray foam insulation which gives the best form of insulation for this type of structure. We use many different types of heating, depending on the use and frequency of use, such as underfloor electric heating or energy efficient panel heaters. Air conditioning units can be installed to provide heating and cooling benefits.
How about using Grand Spaces for businesses, they don’t have to go in a garden do they?
Absolutely, these structures are ideal for offices, rental accommodation, classrooms etc. We recently installed a classroom space for a local school and have installed units for small businesses as combined retail and work spaces. one of the huge benefits in these instances is that they can be moved very easily if the business itself moves, or simply if space has to be rearranged.
That classroom Grand Space for a local school involved joining containers together – could this be done for a domestic build if a customer wanted a really large space?
Yes of course, we have joined units to create larger spaces for domestic builds. Two units or more joined together give a really nice usable space for hobbies, home workshops, offices, studios etc. Units can also be offset to create alternative layouts, they don’t have to be joined side to side.
So from an environmental point of view, the containers have quite a low impact – they are being repurposed, and there is rarely a need for a concrete slab below them?
Less energy is directly consumed in the build of a Grand Space. Where a site allows us to completely avoid having to lay any concrete we can simply utilise a reclaimed railway sleeper foundation. Then there is the fact that Grand Spaces have a really long life expectancy, the core structure will last for decades, and any wooden cladding will only require retreating or painting every few years. There’s no fear of woodworm or damp affecting these structures, so compared to a wooden building there is less maintenance with a longer lifespan.
How long does it take to make a Grand Space?
Our build times are usually 6-8 weeks from final design and order confirmation. Obviously this can vary depending on the complexity of the space required.
If someone moves house, can they take it with them?
Yes! our buildings remain fully transportable and can be moved very easily from one location to another.