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After the havoc caused by Storm Babet, Storm Ciaran was hot on her heels, and now Storm Debi is hovering on the horizon. Did your summerhouse survive the weather, or are you ankle-deep in flood water?

While Scotland isn’t known for its dry sunny weather, this year really has been awful. It feels as though we haven’t seen sunlight for weeks, and your heart goes out to the poor folk affected by flooding and water damage. 

Here at Shedquarters we’re being asked for advice about insurance claims, we’re replacing storm-damaged buildings, and as always, we have plenty of advice in our Learning Centre about how to protect your summerhouse from the worst that the Scottish climate can throw at us. 

But we’ve also made some massive changes, and the weather has had a part to play. 

Because we’re always striving to make our buildings as good as they can be. You want solid, watertight buildings that will stand up to the crazy weather we get around here. We’re committed to providing you with exactly that. We hate hearing that your buildings have succumbed to a storm, or that there’s water getting in. 

But with the best will in the world, we can’t predict how wild the weather is going to be. What we can do is ensure that our buildings are as sturdy and watertight as possible, so that you don’t end up disappointed while we all endure the entire alphabet of storms

Why does the weather affect summerhouses?

Summerhouses are outdoor buildings, exposed to the elements all year round. Whatever they’re made of, it needs to be solid stuff to survive the weather.

For more than 30 years, we’ve built summerhouses out of sturdy Scandinavian Redwood. Sometimes we’ve added insulation and lining to extend the use of these buildings into the colder months. 

But unless you’re committed to losing heat through the windows and doors and wrapping up really really warmly, there’s a limit to how comfortable you can be in even a top-quality G&M summerhouse. 

And then there’s the water.

What is water ingress?

The inside of a timber shed, with signs of water ingress on the outer frame.
Signs of water ingress in a single-skinned building. There is no obvious point where rainfall is gaining access.

Water ingress is one of the quirks of a timber building. Whether your cladding is 5mm thick or 40mm thick, there’s still the potential for water ingress.

While this term can refer generally to water getting into a building, it has a particular meaning when applied to timber buildings. 

Water ingress isn’t a leak. It’s not caused by holes in your building that aren’t supposed to be there. Water ingress in timber buildings is caused by moisture soaking through the walls. 

Timber is a porous material that takes in water. While this natural property is really useful for dealing with condensation, just as summerhouse walls will transport water from the inside out, they will also transport water from the outside in. This happens in single-skinned buildings where the external wall is also the internal wall. 

For most of the year, water ingress won’t be a problem. Your assiduous application of Sadolin will help protect it. The timber will absorb some moisture from the air (or the rainfall) outside but will dry out before it causes any problems inside your building. Issues start to happen when there is excessive moisture. 

Repeat after me: excessive moisture creates problems with water ingress.

If you’ve been outside over the past few years, you’re no stranger to excessive moisture. Climate predictions say that in future, Scotland will experience warmer, wetter winters, with more intense rainfall events.

Is my summerhouse doomed? 

A photo of a green Rannoch summerhouse, with glazed double doors and two windows either side of the doors. It sits on a slabbed base on grass. Some trees are visible in the background.

Does this mean that your pride and joy summerhouse is destined to fall apart in the next storm, whatever it’s called?

Absolutely not. Our single-skinned summerhouse specification has been honed and perfected over the past thirty years. These are still solid, durable buildings. But let’s be realistic about our expectations.

Because the real dealbreaker when it comes to keeping your summerhouse solid and mould-free is maintenance. 

Are you willing to inspect your summerhouse regularly for any signs of water ingress? Do you air the building each time there’s heavy rainfall? Have you given the building a fresh coat of paint every few years? Maybe you’ve even insulated and lined the building to keep the heat in as best you can.

If so, you’re doing everything you can to minimise water ingress and make sure your summerhouse will be in top condition for decades to come. While we can’t predict when the next storm is coming, we can assure you that your careful maintenance is crucial to keeping the building in good health. 

You’ll get years and years and years of seasonal use, provided you’re willing to put in the time and effort to maintain the building.

Do low-maintenance summerhouses exist?

But what if you feel like this maintenance is a step too far? Maybe you’re too busy to keep an eye on the weather report and air your summerhouse accordingly. What if you can’t stand painting? 

If you have a single-skinned timber building and you’re not willing to put in the maintenance it needs, you won’t get the best performance from your building. It’s that simple.

Single-skinned buildings need your attention. They need to be checked to make sure that their doors don’t stick. They will develop problems with water ingress if you shut them up between August and April and pretend they don’t exist. Then you’re left disappointed and annoyed that the building you invested in needs a ton of work to be useable.

But there is a solution…

What’s the alternative to single-skinned buildings?

A diagram of the Gillies & Mackay U12m2 Garden Room specification, showing all three layers.

Layers. 

We know this well, as it’s the solution we used to weatherproof our garages when water ingress became an issue. We developed a layered wall construction that keeps water out, even in the feistiest storms. This is exactly what we’ve done to our former summerhouses.

But if the building has layers, is it even a summerhouse anymore?

Traditionally summerhouses are single-skinned and designed for seasonal use. But let’s face it; good timber buildings of any sort aren’t cheap. If you want a return on your investment, seasonal use only might feel like a bit of a letdown. But as we’ve discussed, single-skinned buildings aren’t really suitable for year-round use.

Enter the Garden Room.

With a layered construction, double-glazed doors and windows, and top-quality ThermoWood cladding, our U12m2 Garden Rooms aren’t designed for summer use only. 

They’re all-season sanctuaries, suitable for a snooze in the summer sun, but also for curling up with a good book while the snow falls outside. You can kit them out with electric heating, a wood burner, or whatever cosy comforts you want!

Are Garden Rooms more expensive than a summerhouse?

Just as there are different types of summerhouses available, there are different types of Garden Rooms available. It’s possible to buy a small Garden Room for less than the cost of a top-quality single-skinned summerhouse, but like the summerhouse, it won’t be suitable for year-round use. 

Our new specification Garden Rooms are more expensive than our summerhouses were. That’s because they’re completely different buildings, engineered for a completely different purpose. Like every G&M building, they’re designed to last a lifetime. 

Will a summerhouse survive the weather?

For seasonal use, with appropriate maintenance, a single-skinned summerhouse will do the job. Remember that it may not stay bone dry inside because water ingress is always possible in a single-skinned building, especially during heavy rainfall.

But if you want a low-maintenance, all-season garden building that will keep the moisture out, check out our brand-new range of small Garden Rooms. 

From mid-November, you’ll be able to see these buildings in the flesh at our Show Area. Come on down and take a look!

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