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Ground Screws vs Slabbed Base: Which is best for a shed or summerhouse? 


Choosing a shed or summerhouse base can be challenging and in this current climate price is everything.

Over the last few months, you and I have watched the prices increase on everything. My Steven just told me a tin of Heinz Tomato Soup is now £1.80 – WHHHAAAT! I’m stuck in a loop – still expecting the good ol’ 80p – and I bet some of you know it cheaper. 

I know landscaping costs have increased quite a lot and depending on your budget, you might be thinking about ground screws – but what the hell are they?

And are ground screws better than a slabbed base?

I’m here to guide you in this blog and help you decide which base is best for you.

Why do you need a base for your shed or summerhouse?

If we say it once, we’ll say it again. I have to start here. Foundations are EVERYTHING when it comes to the longevity of your shed or summerhouse.

The right foundations built correctly keep your building square over its lifetime and stop your building from moving. When it moves, so does the timber and you end up having issues with leaking (leading to quick rot), warping timbers, jammed doors and windows.

My gran’s house has a big crack down the middle of it because it wasn’t built on strong foundations. Same principle with your shed or summerhouse.

What kind of base do I need for my shed or summerhouse? 

The best type of base for your shed or summerhouse is a slabbed base or more recently ground screws. So, let’s look into each of these a little more…

Slabbed Base

Slabbed bases have been around for G&M since we started – done right they are strong and lifetime-worthy. We always recommend a slab base because we know they are reliable.

A photo of a slabbed base for a summerhouse. Four by seven concrete slabs are surrounded by slate chips and a low timber fence.

If your landscaper follows our instructions and plans – you’ll have comfort knowing the right base is in place.

Learn more: 

However, slabbed base prices have increased over the last few years. Material costs and labour costs are going up. For a high-end landscaper to complete your base – you can expect the costs to be around 30-50% of your building cost (and I’ve seen more).

It’s becoming a squeeze for sheddies on the overall project cost side of things.

Note: These costs will be dependent on various factors on the amount of work required for the job.

You can find more cost-friendly options in landscapers or builders – they tend to be self-employed. If you have a reliable and skilled handyman/lady in your pocket – then ask them.

Please follow our instructions. We have offered options for landscapers in our Buyer’s Prep Guide. They cater to different ranges of budgets and locations.

So, a slabbed base is super reliable but becoming more costly.

Ground Screws: The Alternative Base for a Shed or Summerhouse

In the last few years a new competitor for timber building bases has emerged …ground screws.

But how good an alternative are they?

A timber frame base sitting on galvanised steel ground screws. The base is a few inches above the ground. there is grass in the background.

What are Ground Screws? 

Ground Screws are essentially large galvanised steel screws that screw into your ground. Attached to the top of these is a timber frame on which your building will sit on.

They are suitable for Sheds, Summerhouses and even Garden Rooms. These babies can hold a tonne of weight and more. 

Our pals Ground Screws Scotland has a great description on their website of what they entail.

Ground Screw Pros

So, why might you choose to get ground screws over a slabbed base?

Less damaging to the environment

There is much less upheaval to your landscape with ground screws. With a slabbed or concreted base, there’s a lot of digging work involved to allow for this base.

With screws, this does not need to happen. The screws are simply entered into the ground – landscape intact.

Value for money

You know what to roughly expect for a slabbed base. The ground screw alternative is cheaper than a slabbed base. There’s less work and material involved to install the screws.

Less hassle

As described in the environment section – there is less upheaval. The screws are efficiently installed and can be done in less than a day. If you’re like me and like things done fast with the least amount of hassle as possible. Ground Screws are likely to fit well for your personality. 

Easier for sloping landscapes

If your landscape is sloping – the amount of work involved to flatten this out can be A LOT. For a slabbed base – there’s going to have to be a tonne of digging done plus it increases the costs.

There is no need for this kind of work with ground screws. They simply pop the screws in and level them out and voila – you have a base. It’s building up, rather than digging down.

Ground Screw Cons

Of course, it can’t all be good. There are some downsides in comparison to a slabbed base.

Aesthetics

This is specifically to do with sloping landscapes. Although a pro for simplicity it can be a con on aesthetics. Why? You’re going to see them. Depending on how sloped your landscape is – it can look like a big gap underneath. 

A timber frame base sitting on 18 galvanised steel ground screws. the screws are screwed into a slope, but the timber frame is level.

I spoke to Calum, our delivery manager, about this recently and he suggested the best way to hide them is to build a wall around it. It could be brickwork or timberwork, which is another job to consider. 

Planning Permission

You HAVE to be careful with this one. Because your building is sitting on top of a timber frame and screws it increases the overall finishing height of your building.

Planning Rule Limerick courtesy of Natty:

“If the 1 metre boundary is crossed

Then the trick is to keep your Shed bossed

Below 2.5 metres

The height is a keeper

And the planning permission form’s tossed!”

Your building must remain under 2.5m in height if within a 1m boundary of your neighbours. Some of the peaks on our buildings can go to 2.5m – like the Deuchny Summerhouse for example. Adding ground screws will take it over the height limit.

If you plan to get ground screws, and you can create a gap between your building and the boundary of 1m – do that.

Always notify us if you plan to get ground screws and we’ll guide you.

Learn more: Do I need planning permission?

Step In

The timber frame increases the height of your building. This means the step – into your shed or summerhouse is going to be larger. A higher step to enter. If you have mobility challenges and require ease of access – this option may not be suitable for you in the long term. However, that isn’t to suggest there aren’t options to overcome this – like installing a ramp.

Here’s an example where you can see a step has been added to allow access:

A photo of the side profile of a cream-coloured summer house in a grassy garden. The summer house has four rectangular windows and glazed double doors. There is a small timber step up to the doors.

Slabbed Base or Ground Screws: Which is best?

Slabbed bases are the best foundation solution for your shed or summerhouse. Although more costly and more upheaval – they are reliable, long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing.

Ground Screws is a more recent alternative on the market that is gaining traction and we like them. We’ve had plenty of Sheddies opt for this alternative with great results. And if it eases the project and saves you money in the long run – they are a perfect solution.

We’re working with Ground Screws Scotland if this is the base you’d like to consider. Gary will be on hand to help you.

And if you’re not quite sure about how this base will work in your landscape – get in touch at: info@gilliesandmackay.com and we’ll keep you right.

Learn more: 

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