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What kind of summerhouse can I get for £2000?

Everyone has their areas of expertise, right?

Whether it’s Married At First Sight Australia, cybersecurity, the life cycle of a salmon, or the complete works of Taylor Swift, there are things that we know more about and things that we know nothing about.

Maybe you have absolutely no idea what kind of summerhouse you can buy for £2000.

We can’t know everything about everything. There’s not enough time, and frankly, some things just don’t interest us. We learn the things we need to know, and until you start looking for a summerhouse, you may not know what you’re looking for. But why should you?

Why would you know about timber buildings?

How could you know what to look for as a marker of quality or which materials are best to use?

Why should you have the faintest idea about which features will withstand the whims of the Scottish climate, and which will result in a soggy summerhouse?

That’s where we come in. We have been making summerhouses in Scotland, for Scotland, for over 30 years. We know exactly what sort of summerhouse you can buy for £2000, and what sort you should avoid.

Let’s take a look at two summerhouses that come in under £2000. Using our handy Summerhouse Buyer’s Checklist, we’ll be able to see which is the best value for money.

What do I need to know to buy a good summerhouse?

summerhouse buying checklist

Open a bigger version of the checklist here…

You can read more about any of these topics in our Learning Centre, but today I’ll apply this list to two different summerhouses to see which is the better buy.

Our checklist looks at several different factors that make the difference between a quality summerhouse that will last you a good ten years, and a poor-quality summerhouse that may blow away in a strong gale.

The next time you’re looking for a summerhouse you can use the same method to find one that suits your budget and your needs.

Can I buy a summerhouse on a budget (for under £2000)?

Of course! There are so many different options available. It’s worth pointing out that buying a summerhouse doesn’t just involve the cost of the building. Getting your base right is a crucial part of the process that adds to the cost of the whole project.

Today we’re looking at buildings that cost roughly £2000. Let’s crack on!

Can I buy a decent summerhouse from B&Q for £2000?

I’ve chosen the Shire Hampton 7’ x 7’ Pent Shiplap Wooden Summer house from B&Q to try out our checklist. In order to answer the questions and find my Sheddie Score, I’ll need the specifications of the building.

Here’s what B&Q have to say about the building:

Is the summerhouse made of Scandinavian redwood?

There are so many different types of timber you can use to build a summerhouse. Tons of them! But if your summerhouse is sitting in a Scottish garden, it should be made of Scandinavian redwood. 

That whole description is important. 

Scandinavian timber is NOT Scandinavian redwood. Neither is European softwood, European timber, or any of the other sneaky descriptors that are used in online listings.

If a summerhouse is made of Scandinavian redwood, the listing will tell you this, because it’s a high-quality, durable material. There would be absolutely no reason not to proclaim this as your timber of choice. So if there’s no timber type listed, assume that it’s NOT Scandinavian redwood.

This Shire summerhouse lists “Scandinavian softwood” as its building material.

Sheddie Score so far? Zero.

Is the cladding tongue & groove?

Just like timber, there are tons of cladding profiles. Make sure you go for tongue & groove. Anything else and the water is going to get in.

Now, where this gets complicated is that shiplap tongue and groove cladding exists. Let’s not get complicated: tongue & groove is what you need.

The B&Q summerhouse doesn’t mention that key, all-important phrase. Therefore, no point.

Sheddie Score: Still zero.

Is the cladding AT LEAST 16mm thick?

A.K.A – how thick are the walls? This is important stuff, and in Scotland, a land of wind, rain, and temperature changes galore, you need at least 16mm cladding.

If you’re seriously on a budget, get as close to 16mm as you can, but honestly, I’d be concerned about the lifespan of that building.

B&Q cladding – 12mm. Once again, no point.

Sheddie Score: Still zero.

Is the framing AT LEAST 40mm x 50mm?

Budget summerhouses often scrimp on framing. The frame is what holds your building together. It’s important! A beautiful summerhouse that falls over is no use to anyone.

As with the cladding, look for something that is as close to this minimum as possible. 38mm x 50mm isn’t the end of the world, but 35mm x 50mm is too flimsy to last long round these parts.

Beware of specifications that don’t list framing thickness. This detail is often hidden, and it’s a crucial factor. 

The Shire summerhouse specification once again doesn’t give details of the framing thickness. RED. FLAG.

Sheddie Score: Seriously, lads? This is worse than Eurovision. Nil points.

Is the framing pressure-treated?

How technical do you want to get here? Probably not very. Take it from me, pressure-treated/tanalised framing is the way to go. 

As a side note, cheaper summerhouses often list “pressure-treated cladding” and use this as the basis for their claims of a 10-year guarantee. This isn’t the whole story AT ALL.

Tanalisation/pressure treatment protects timber from insects and wood rot. It DOES NOT guarantee against water ingress. In fact, at G&M we no longer use pressure-treated timber on the outside of single-skinned buildings because it is more likely to cause problems with water ingress. Wood that doesn’t rot is all very well, but not if it lets water in!

Pressure-treating framing, however, is a great way to ensure that the timber stays solid, strong, and resistant to rot and insects. Since water isn’t directly hitting the frame, pressure treatment is a great option.

Since the Shire summerhouse has nothing to say about framing at all, no point here.

Sheddie Score: A slightly embarrassing zero.

Is the roof made of timber?

What am I on about? Surely the roof will be made of timber – it’s a summerhouse!

But this may not be the case. The top thing to watch out for is an OSB roof. This is nae use if it gets wet. And, if it’s covered in roofing felt, there’s a reasonable chance it could get wet. Once this happens your summerhouse roof is knackered. Wet OSB swells, cracks, and generally wrecks things. Steer clear of it.

At this price point, you’ll almost certainly be looking at roofing felt for the outside of the roof, but don’t forget to check what’s underneath.

Sheddie Score: You’ll be SHOCKED to see that the Shire summerhouse doesn’t mention the roofing material. Still no points.

Are you buying from the manufacturer?

There are summerhouse-manufacturing companies, and there are summerhouse-supplying companies. We’d always recommend buying from a company that makes your summerhouse. That way, if there are any issues, you’re dealing directly with the people who built it. They’ll know best about how to resolve any problems.

B&Q, like most companies who offer more than ten or so summerhouse models, are suppliers rather than manufacturers. No point.

Sheddie Score: Are you as excited as I am to see if this summerhouse gets ANY points at all? Still nothing so far.

Will it be assembled by experts?

Do you know how to square a building? This is the crucial question involved in assembling a summerhouse or shed that has any chance of staying watertight. 

Here’s what you need to know to square a building. You need to cast your mind back to school Maths and dredge up that old “the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the square on the other two sides” affair. You need to know which parts need to be levelled, and how you go about achieving that level without knocking everything else off.

If you have already switched off because that’s QUITE enough Maths, thanks, you probably shouldn’t be building a summerhouse. 

If you’re a joiner, or a builder, or some other job that gives you tons of experience at squaring buildings, crack on. But even a seriously high-spec summerhouse can turn into a leaky disaster if it isn’t assembled properly.

Hurray! The Shire Summerhouse finally scores! “This summerhouse will be professionally installed in your garden by an approved team.”

Sheddie Score: 1!

Is there any aftercare/service/a clear guarantee?

Oh man. I HATE when shed and summerhouse listings say this:

“10 years Manufacturer’s anti-rot guarantee applicable if care instructions have been followed.”

10 years? Sounds good. Must be legit. 

Once again for the people in the back! Anti-rot treatment has very little to do with the watertight integrity of your summerhouse. This is a slimy, dishonest, cheat of a guarantee.

Also, we’ve got a big IF here. What are the care instructions? What do I have to do to make sure my guarantee is applicable?

Look for a clearly stated guarantee. Make sure you know what level of service you can expect, and whether or not there’s any aftercare. I’m definitely not giving this summerhouse a point for a lousy anti-rot guarantee.

Final Sheddie Score: 1/9.

But can I buy a decent summerhouse for £2000?

Don’t give up hope, Sheddies. The woeful performance of the Shire summerhouse doesn’t mean that your summerhouse dream is dead in the water. There are much better buildings out there, and our checklist will make it super-easy to find them.

Onward to our second summerhouse!

I reviewed Central Fife Sheds last week, and (spoiler alert) I voted them the best summerhouse manufacturer that Fife had to offer. So let’s see how their 8’ x 8’ Woodland summerhouse stacks up against B&Q’s Shire. 

This summerhouse is priced at £1809. Two things to note straightaway:

  • 1) This summerhouse is bigger than the first one, and
  • 2) it’s slightly cheaper.

Let’s put our checklist to work!

Is it made of Scandinavian redwood?

This listing just says redwood, which might raise a concern, but Central Fife Sheds state elsewhere on their website that they use Scandinavian redwood. It’s a wee bit annoying to have to search for it, but the information is there. Scores on the board!

Sheddie Score: 1.

Is the cladding tongue & groove?

Yep – it’s right there on the listing. T&G = tongue & groove.

Sheddie Score: 2.

Is the cladding AT LEAST 16mm?

Your sharp eyes may well have noticed that this listing has 15mm cladding. However, Central offer an upgrade to 19mm, and the price of £1809 includes this upgrade. That’s another point for Central Fife Sheds.

Sheddie Score: 3.

Is the roof made of timber?

15mm redwood T&G roof and floor. It’s pretty standard for your roof sarking to be thinner than your cladding because it then has a roofing material placed on top. Timber rather than OSB – yet another point.

Sheddie Score: 4.

Is the framing at least 50mm x 40mm?

Awww! I thought we might have a clean sweep here! But the Woodland summerhouse comes in under our recommended minimum. At 33mm x 45mm we’re a bit concerned about the solidity of this building, especially with the extra weight of the upgraded cladding. However, at this price point specifications like this are to be expected. 

Sheddie Score: Still 4.

Is the framing pressure treated?

Unclear. Central’s website mentions that their buildings are treated inside and out with a water-resistant coating, but there’s no more information available than that. This would definitely be something to ask the sales team, but looking just at their website this means no point.

Sheddie Score: Still 4.

Are you buying from the manufacturer?

Central Fife Sheds make all their buildings at their workshop in Glenrothes. Another big tick!

Sheddie Score: 5.

Will it be assembled by experts?

Their website states, “As part of our service, one of our experienced teams will deliver and install your building on-site.” They just keep racking up the points!

Sheddie Score: 6.

Is there a clear guarantee, service and aftercare?

Like the pressure-treated framing, there are hints about this, but nothing clear and concrete. I’d definitely want to discuss this with someone before committing to buy. There may well be a great guarantee, but I can’t give a point without being sure.

Final Sheddie Score: 6/9

Which Summerhouse should I buy?

It’s pretty clear from these scores that if you have £2000 to spend on a summerhouse, the Woodland from Central Fife Sheds is a much better investment than the Shire from B&Q. It’s bigger, it costs less, and its specification is much better.

To be absolutely sure, there’s a second part to our Summerhouse Buyer’s Checklist. While most of these questions are the direct opposite of the first section, it’s worth checking out.

The Shire summerhouse has a Shoddy Score of 5/7, compared to the Woodland’s Shoddy Score of 1/7. Once again it’s clear that the Woodland summerhouse is a much better buy.

How do I know if a summerhouse is good quality?

Use the checklist! A high Sheddie Score plus a low Shoddy Score means that your building has a decent specification, whatever your budget is.

Just like our sample summerhouses, you may not find a building with a perfect score every time. If you’re working on a tight budget you might have to compromise a little. But a high Sheddie Score and a low Shoddy Score will add up to the best summerhouse that you can get for your money.

How was this checklist created?

It’s based on years of experience building sheds, summerhouses, garages and garden rooms specifically designed to withstand the Scottish climate. We want Shedlife to be available to anyone who wants it, whatever their budget. Most of all, we want timber buildings to be long-lasting, solid, and a real asset to your garden. 

Further reading:

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