Home Lifestyle A Place in the Sun’s Ben Hillman shares tips on how to...

A Place in the Sun’s Ben Hillman shares tips on how to create a garden studio on a budget


A Place in the Sun presenter and property developer/designer, Ben Hillman has been keeping himself busy during lockdown working on a garden build. Between homeschooling his children and the British weather, Ben has managed to design and start building his own design studio. The structure, which is also known as a piece of microarchitecture, will be used as Ben’s own personal studio but will also include a shed section.

The property expert conducted a lot of research by watching YouTube videos and reading articles before creating his own design and beginning the project.

He estimated that buying the finished product from a company would cost around £25,000, while building the structure himself has cost just £6,000.

He said: “That’s a massive saving, and I’m trying to convince people to invest in tools because in the long-run you’re saving money.”

And if building a garden room or design studio may sound challenging, Ben has assured us, “it’s so easy”.

He explained: “Essentially, what I’m building is a timber frame house. But it’s got a flat roof so that’s super simple.

“You have to break this kind of project down into lots of mini DIY jobs.

“The first thing is to dig a few holes – we can all do that!

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“The second thing is to buy your bags of ready mixed concrete, add some water and pour it in the holes to get it level. That’s really simple .

“Then, it’s building the timber frame. All the timber frame is, is cutting straight lines of wood into whatever dimensions and putting two nails into it.

“It is really, really simple but it’s just about constantly making sure things are level.”

Rather than let the structure take up loads of space, Ben decided to build the structure where his old shed used to be.

He explained that although it may be tempting to allow your new build to take up space, you just need enough space to be practical.

Ben said one of the biggest challenges he has faced during construction is finding the right materials.

He said: “The difficult thing for me has been trying to get materials when I want them because everywhere is sold out.

“And it’s not just materials but tools as well. I keep going to different stores and they’re like ‘we can’t get hold of them’.


Ben said the groundwork took about three or four weeks while homeschooling is children.

However, the timber base took him just a day along with the shed section.

In total, he thinks the whole timber frame will take him just a week.

Then, he has three weeks to make the structure “weather-tight”.


Ben’s designs have evolved as the project has progressed further down the line.

Originally, Ben was planning to have blue cladding but he has replaced this with burnt orange for a more “striking” finish.

“All the windows and all the trims are black aluminium and then the interior is going to be completely birch ply head to toe with a really beautiful turquoise rubber floor.”

Rather than shell out loads on finishes like light switches, Ben said he has decided to keep it more utilitarian using black plastic.

Not only is this cheaper but it can make a space look more stylish and on-trend.

“That’s one of the things I want to encourage; design doesn’t have to be expensive, you can use basic building materials and it can look absolutely amazing,” he added.

The most unusual aspect of Ben’s design is the cladding which is called “rainscreen cladding”.

The cladding is made up of vertical boards but there are gaps in between them which allows you to see what’s behind it.

It can also be used to cover the roof so you won’t be able to see a roof line or guttering.

“It’s just this really crisp timber and that’s going to be painted burnt orange,” he added.

Not many people use rainscreen cladding in the UK, so Ben has had to dig deep in his research to try and work out how to construct it.

Ben will finish off his studio with underfloor heating.

He will be sharing his cladding tips and tricks in a video on his YouTube channel.

The A Place in the Sun presenter also has a project planned with home improvement retailer and garden centre, Wickes.

Ben added: “I’ve been working with Wickes on this over the last couple of months and have some exciting things planned for the next few weeks too.

“Next month, we have a new campaign launching to celebrate the working from home spaces people across the nation have been creating over the past year.”

A Place in the Sun broadcasts weekdays at 3pm on Channel 4


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