I recently purchased my own BillyOh log cabin / garden office for our garden and I’d like to document the build process to share with you. I’m also going to review the log cabin to point out what I think is great and where I think BillyOh could improve. If you’re thinking of buying your own, my in depth, step by step build guide will help you prepare for your own log cabin. What tools you’ll need, groundwork and base preparation, along with what to expect in terms of your skill levels.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a BillyOh log cabin, summerhouse, shed, garden office or workshop then this BillyOh log cabin review and build guide should provide you with a little foresight into the quality or their products and how to prepare for the flat pack delivery. I chose the BillyOh Kent log cabin.
If you’re looking for a log cabin in the UK then BillyOh is a good option. I’ve built my own garden sheds and garden offices in the past so this was an exciting project to take on in our new property. If you have a few DIY skills and like the idea of building your own log cabin, garden office or garden room then read on to find out how. The total cost for everything in this built was just about £5.7k. That includes the building, insulation, plastering, electrics, decking and all finishings. (excludes furniture)
You can use the following links to skip to sections of this post
- Planning permission – Will I require planning permission for my garden building?
- Tools – What tools will I need to complete my BillyOh garden building?
- Skill level / time required – What skills do I need to build this log cabin and how long will it take?
- Building a base – What base do I need for my garden office building?
- Log cabin build – Step by step instructions how to build a BillyOh log cabin.
- The decking – How to complete the decking area around the building.
- Conclusion – What did I like and what could be improved with the BillyOh log cabin?
Log cabin buying guide – Garden log cabins
Finding the right building for your needs is the first step in the process. What is the garden building be used for? For us, we wanted an additional work space that was separate from the rest of the house. A place we could go for some peace and quiet away from the children, so we could focus on our work. As we are both self employed and work from home 90% of the time this was an important factor for us. We also wanted a small space for a home gym. Nothing extravagant, just a treadmill, bike and maybe some weights.
The size of the actual building is an important factor also. How much space do you have available in your garden? And how large does the building need to be? Only you can decide this. We have a relatively small garden, measuring about 13m X 10m, so we didn’t want to overcrowd the area with a large building. We finally agreed on a 4m X 3m log cabin. The BillyOh Kent Garden Office. We liked the design, layout, construction and the custom options available. The BillyOh website made things very easy to choose and customise our desired building.
IMPORTANT – BillyOh have just announced an imminent price increase this spring/summer due to rising timber costs. If you’re considering buying one of their buildings then I’d recommend doing so soon! (This update was posted on 15th March 2022)
BillyOh garden buildings
You can buy a BillyOh garden buildings from these two sites:
Both websites are essentially the same business under the name Kybotech Ltd. A family run business since 2000 based in Worksop in the UK. As you will see from their websites, it’s not just garden offices they sell. You can choose from a vast range of garden buildings, furniture, gates and more.
Kybotech offer free delivery throughout most of England and Wales. There will however be a charge if you’re further afield in the UK. Check their delivery page for more details.
Who is the BillyOh building range for?
If like me, you like getting hands on with your home and garden projects then BillyOh is a great product at a reasonable price. Yes, you can hire someone else to build it for you but I think the process of building it yourself is all part of the fun.
I particularly like the BillyOh sheds range. I actually purchased one a few years back. You can read all about my experiences with this build on my other post here.
You can view the BillyOh sheds range here: https://www.gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk/garden-sheds
Log cabin kits UK
These log cabin kits are ideal for DIY assembly and suitable for most people to construct on their own or with a little help. There is a great selection of log cabins UK and cabin kits available on the BillyOh website so you’re bound to find something suitable for your back garden.
Building restrictions and Planning Permission
Before you buy your perfect garden office or log cabin there are a few restrictions you need to be aware of. Have a read of the Outbuildings Permitted Development guide on the UK Planning Portal to ensure your building meets the legal requirements. If it doesn’t and you decide to build it anyway you could be forced to take it down. (It does happen and will cost you ££££)
I think the key points to take away from this is the height restrictions, especially if you are building within 2 meters of your boundary. The over height of the building must not be more than 2.5m (250cm).
Luckily, the BillyOh Kent Garden Office has an overall height of 2.49m which is just under the legal requirement. I just had to ensure my base was as low as possible, ensuring no additional height was added.
If you’re planning to build a log cabin as separate living accommodation then you’ll need to apply for planning permission. Please read the above document thoroughly before making your purchase.
Tools required to build your log cabin
You might already have a decent arsenal of tools at your disposal but if you don’t then check out my recommendations below. You won’t necessarily need all of the tools in this list but it will make the build process far quicker and easier.
- Cordless combi drill and impact driver – Dewalt drill and driver set
- Drill bits – Dewalt drill bit set
- Tape measure – Stanley 5m tape measure
- Hand saw – Irwin panel saw 10 tpi
- Pencil – HB carpenter pencil
- Set square – Magnusson 7″ Rafter square
- Chisel – Irwin chisel set
- Hammer – Claw hammer
- Rubber mallet – 32oz rubber mallet
- Sliding Mitre saw – Evolution 255mm sliding mitre saw
- Jigsaw – DeWalt 18V Cordless Jigsaw DCS331N
You may want to consider the following items to help with the construction process. I completed my build in November/December so the weather wasn’t on my side. To help with this I purchased a 3x3m gazebo and a 5x4m tarpaulin. These would aid in keeping the wood and other materials dry during the build process.
I went for double glazing on my log cabin but if you opt for single glazing then you will need sealant for the window and door frames. They don’t come pre-sealed like the double glazing.
Skill level and time required to build this log cabin
I have a fair bit of experience constructing garden buildings but this was something completely new to me. The construction style was very difference from what I was used to in the past. Having said that, this build was relatively straight forward. If you follow the instructions carefully there isn’t much that can go wrong. I would certainly say that most people out there can build this garden office. Previous experience using power tools is a bonus but not essential.
If you are unsure whether you would be able to complete this by yourself then you always have the option of hiring someone to do it for you. (BillyOh do not offer this service) Just beware it could take someone up to two weeks to complete by themselves, so factor this into your costs. I constructed mine, by myself in about 7 full days. (including the base and with intermittent bad weather) The main structure of the building can be completed within 2-3 days. Then finishing and painting can take 2-3 more.
Building the log cabin base
You can’t build a garden office, log cabin, workshop, summerhouse or garden shed without a suitable base. There are normally three options for a base:
- A solid concrete base
- A patio style base
- A wooden frame base
- A solid concrete base will give a strong, level and permanent foundation for your log cabin. You will have a lot of ground works to complete and will need to mix up lots of cement to achieve a good footing. This is probably the best option for a reasonably level site location. If you are planning on building on uneven ground then a wooden frame should be considered. (Depending on the size of your garden office.)
- A patio style base is another good option, similar to the concrete base. Ideally suited to level areas it will provide a good strong, level building platform.
- A wooden frame base may best suit those who are building on an uneven surface. For example, my base is in this style because my garden slopes upwards. The frame allows for minimal ground works and can give a nice level surface in all location. It might not be as long lasting as a solid base but if well treated and maintained will last for 20 + years. It’s also the most cost effective method.
Garden Buildings Direct have a great resource for building bases here.
I decided to save money and build a wooden frame base. Here is how I did it.
My wooden frame log cabin base build
Firstly, I had to remove the existing shed from the garden. Underneath was an existing wooden frame and a small patio area.
You can also see to the right of the shed we have a fair bit of Bamboo. For the new garden office to fit I needed to clear a bit of this. This was one of the hardest parts of the build. Bamboo is very tough and the roots are very difficult to dig out. Luckily bamboo roots don’t go that deep, otherwise I would have considered a small excavator.
The existing wooden frame was in great condition so I decided to keep it, saving myself a little time and effort. I removed the patio slabs but decided to leave the concrete foundations of the patio area. (Whilst this caused a small issue, I had an idea to work around this.)
The size of the base
Making sure the base is big enough for the garden office is an important factor. You can’t have any overhanging walls. The BillyOh garden office I purchased was the Kent, measuring 3m x 4m. The actual size was a little bigger than this – 418.4cm x 319.1cm. Always check the technical details of the building you are purchasing.
To keep things simple I ordered timber carcassing at 4.2m and 3.6m. This would give me enough space for a little decking area at the front of the building.
You can see here I have started building the frame off the existing frame. This now marks out the area for the four corner posts which will be dug into the ground. I have removed soil around the joist to level it out. You’ll need to ensure all of the wooden frame is lifted off the ground and there is sufficient drainage. You don’t want stagnant water sat on the wood. It will rot within months.
Next it was time to dig holes for the support posts. I started with the four corner posts. Using a spade I dug a 50cm deep hole. I then poured about 15cm worth of 20mm gravel into the hole. Using one of the posts I bashed the gravel down to make a good solid platform at the bottom of the hole. The gravel will provide a hard foundation and will allow water to drain, preventing stagnant water to build up around the wooden post.
Time to add the support posts. You can cut the post before or after setting the post. Sometimes it’s easier after as you can then adjust the height of the joists to ensure a level base. I covered my posts in two layers of Creocote before installation. This will help the wood last much longer.
Have a spirit level at the ready, place the post into the hole and then pour 1/3 water into the hole. Then pour the Postcrete mix to fill the rest of the hole. Mix this with a stick. Use the spirit level to ensure the post is nice and straight. The Postcrete should set quickly. Normally within 5-10 minutes.
With the four corner posts set I then screwed together the frame. I added a further two posts to the middle of the longer sides. Further support for the frame was provided with breeze blocks. I have spaced the joists out by about 500mm each which is sufficient to support the weight of the building.
Using a spirit level and adding more joists I completed the frame.
You can see below I had to rip some of the joists to fit over the previous solid patio base. I’ve also added some joist bridges for additional strength and stability.
All the joists were joined using 100mm x 5mm screws. You could also use joist hangers if you wish.
I then covered the whole frame with a weed protective barrier. I simply used a staple gun to fix this on.
Here’s a list of materials I used:
Garden building base materials
- C24 Kiln Dried Regularised Sawn Treated Timber 47mm x 150mm x 4.8m
- C16 Kiln Dried Regularised Sawn Treated Timber 47mm x 150mm x 3.6m
- Bullet Gold Wood Screw 5.0 x 100mm Box of 200
- Treated Incised UC4 Fence Post Green 100mm x 100mm
- Blue Circle Ready to Use Postcrete 20kg
- Gravel and Shingle Trade Pack 20mm
- 4Trade Creocote Dark Brown 4L
BillyOh log cabin assembly instructions
Read on to follow my step by step build guide for the BillyOh Kent Garden office
With the base complete it was time to get started on the BillOh Kent garden office. Build your own log cabin with these simple instructions.
Make sure you familiarise yourself with the assembly instructions before you start building. Try and get a good understanding of the building and the elements required.
My delivery came quite late in the day during winter (November), so it was dark and cold. Not ideal as everything had to be hand balled off the truck (van). There was only one person on the delivery so it took a little while. Delivery is curb side only, although the delivery guy did offer to help carry the bits round to the back of the house. This was a kind offer but I decided to stack everything on the drive first. This would allow me to see everything and organise before I took it to the build location.
I then carried all the pieces around the back of the house where I neatly stacked them under the temporary gazebo I’d setup. I stacked all the same size pieces together to help with the build process later on.
Build day one – Organising the materials
My first task was to organise the piles of wood I’d had delivered. Most of it was in size order from the previous day. I was a little limited on space which made things a little difficult.
The next task was to locate all the fixings and instructions. Garden Buildings Direct had already sent me and email with a link to the instructions. This however didn’t include the technical drawings of the build. These were supplied in the delivery.
BillyOh log cabin assembly instructions (Kent – 4m x 3m & 4m x 4m)
To complete the build you will need both the Assembly Guide and the Technical Details. This is because the assembly guide does not include the detailed dimensions for each piece required. So it can be a little frustrating having to check two documents throughout the construction.
One other slightly annoying aspect was that all the fixing came together in one big bag. I think BillyOh could separate these into individual bags to make things easier. I spend the first 20 minutes finding screws for the first part of the build.
Bearers and lower walls
The first task was the lay the bearers length ways across the base. Just roughly to begin with as I need the fist wall pieces to find the outer frame.
You can see above I have laid the first wall sections and screwed them to the bearers. It’s important to check the measurements between the doorway here and make sure all the walls and squared up.
Use the technical detail drawings for this. (as above) If you don’t get this right now you’ll be in big trouble later on through the build. So be accurate!
I continued adding to the walls piece by piece. Each time I used a rubber mallet to tap each section into place. A few of the pieces were machined poorly so I had to widen the slots slightly. A little annoying but thankfully it was only a handful of the smaller pieces.
Once I’d reached 6 pieces high at the front (5.5 at the side) it was time to add the smaller sections for the windows. It doesn’t detail this in the assembly instructions so you will need to refer to the technical details for this.
The walls go up pretty quickly, especially when you have all your boards organised into sizes.
I stopped build the walls at this point so that I can now focus on the floor.
I’d now reached a point where I could start adding the floorboards. Because I didn’t have a solid base I wanted to strengthen the floor a little first. To do this I decided to double up on the number of bearers. I purchased some more 35mm treated wood for this purpose.
When purchasing the BillyOh office I ordered the 19mm floorboards.
I’ve used a layer of insulation before screwing the floorboards down. The reflective insulation roll seen in the below picture can be found here at B&Q. It adds and extra layer of insulation to help keep the building warmer during the colder months.
The floorboards simply slot together with tongue and groove and are then nailed into place. I started on the left hand side of the cabin and worked my way down.
To avoid creaky boards, I ensured all the bearers were level and had been secured to the base. I simply screwed the bearers into the joists and checked for any movement. (You wont need to secure them to a solid base.)
One of the boards had to be cut around the interior wall. I simply laid the board down next to the wall, marked it out with a pencil and tape measure and used a jigsaw to cut it out.
I also have power running into the log cabin. Luckily this had previously been installed into the existing shed. The armoured cable runs underneath the the wooden frame. I cut a hole in one of the floorboards to feed the cable into the building.
The last floorboard will likely be too wide to fit into place. Simply cut this down using a jigsaw or table saw if you have one.
This now makes things a little easier moving forwards. No more balancing on bearers and joists to build the walls and roof.
Back to the walls and window frames
It’s best to add the window frames when there are 4 boards above the bottom of the window. The window frames slot down over the walls. I used a mallet and spirit level to tap them into place evenly.
If the frames are a little tight you can place a piece of wood on top of the frame and give it a bash. Just be careful not to damage the frame. I found one of the frames fit nicely and the other was a little bit tight.
With the windows frames securely in place I went back to building up the walls.
I found some of the longer boards were a little warped but this is to be expected with this building material. With a little wiggling and tapping with the rubber mallet they soon went into place.
It was very useful referring to the technical details for this section.
The next section of the build was to fit the gable ends and secure them to the walls with screws. This then provides the platform to fix the purlins for the roof. It’s important to measure the purlins stick out equal lengths at each end. This will matter when fixing the facia boards later on.
Fitting the roof
The roof was straight forward to fit. Again, I purchased the 19mm boards for the roof. I wanted extra strength and insulation. The first few were screwed to the walls and purlins using a ladder. Once I had enough to stand on I found it easier to fit the boards whilst on the roof itself.
I first added a layer of the same insulation as the floor before adding the roof boards.
With the roof boards all in place I added tarpaulin as a temporary waterproof solution. This would give me time to complete the windows and doors before adding the felt.
Fitting the windows and doors
I bought the double glazing windows and doors which come pre-installed into their frames. If you buy the single glazing then you will need some sealant to fit the glass.
The door frame needed to be fitted first. This is easy but make sure the sides and top section are perfectly level and square. If they are out by more than a couple of millimeters then the doors aren’t going to fit.
Fitting the hinges, handles and casement stays are all explained in detail in a separate document. Fitting can be a little fiddly but if you take your time and be precise there shouldn’t be any issues. It took me half a day to fit two windows and two doors.
The hinges allow for some fine adjustments once the windows and doors are in place so there’s no need to worry if they aren’t perfect the first time.
The door furniture was a little tricky to get on. I have previous experience fitting doors so I knew what to do. The doors do have pre drilled holes for the handles and locking mechanisms but it was a bit untidy. I simply cleaned these up using a chisel.
If you are unsure how to do this then there are plenty of videos on Youtube to show you how.
Interior of the log cabin
Now it’s time to go back to the interior and seal the corners of the room. Using the correct timber I screwed them into place around the floor, walls and roof. These would close any small gaps and secure the wall boards into place.
I’ve also wired in the lighting so that I can continue to work whilst it’s dark.
Update – June 2022 – I have now fitted electrical sockets and insulated my BillyOh garden office log cabin. Click the link to see the step-by-step guide to insulate your BillyOh garden office. Here is a quick image of the insulation process.
Exterior finishing on the log cabin
Adding the facia barge boards was one of the last jobs of the build. I had to make a small adjustment to the facia board for a clean fit but then they simply nailed onto the sides of the building. I painted these prior to fitting to make things a little easier.
Treating the log cabin
Treating your garden office / log cabin should be a priority once it has been built. I purchased the untreated timber so this was high on my priority list once the main structure was up. I went for untreated timber to save a little money, but I would advise buying the pressure treated timber if you can. It costs an additional £604 for this size building but will add years of life the the building.
You can read more about pressure treated wood on the BillyOh website here
I have painted my log cabin with a Ronseal Fence life plus Midnight blue Matt Fence & shed Treatment. It should give 5 years worth of protection. One 5L tub of paint should be enough to cover the whole building. It required about 4 coats to get a good finish.
It was tricky painting around all the hinges and handles on the doors and windows. Some might find it easier to paint these items before fitting.
I’ve touched up the facia boards and barge boards with another lay of paint.
The decking area
I wanted a small decking area at the front of my garden office which would present a reasonable walkway through the double doors and also somewhere to sit and enjoy the sun during the warmer months.
I used a 32mm thick decking board which gives a nice secure footing between the 500mm gaps on the joists. These boards were available in 4.2m and 3.6m lengths which were perfect for this build.
I cut the boards to length using a mitre saw and a hand saw. Some of the boards were cut lengthways with a jigsaw. I used decking screws to secure the boards to the joists underneath.
As the decking boards were a similar thickness to the bearers they slid underneath the walls nicely.
I finished off the front of the decking with another (upside down) decking board to hide the joists and weed protection barrier. I also poured some 20mm gravel into the gaps to leave a nice finish.
The finished unit looks great. I’ve also added extra storage onto the side for all my tools and bits.
If you want to build a garden office on a budget then a BillyOh garden building is a great option. Hiring a professional garden office company to build your outdoor workspace will take away a lot of the stress from you but it will cost somewhere between £15k and £35k (depending on the size). With a BillyOh you can easily achieve this for a fraction of the price. Mine has cost me about £4k so far. (£3617 for the BillyOh Kent building + the base, insulation and electrics)
You’re not limited to one use for your BillyOh garden building. They have multiple purposes and can easily be adapted to suit your requirements. Whilst you are only buying a shell from BillyOh, with a little imagination you can then turn the building into a guest house, granny annex, office, studio, salon, gallery, hot tub house, cinema, home office, man cave, bar, gaming room, summerhouse, gym, workshop, hobby room, playroom and more.
By adding plumbing, insulation, plasterboard walls, electricity and heating the possibilities are endless. Take a look at the blog on both Garden Building Direct and the BillyOh website for more inspiration on what is possible.
Where could BillyOh improve?
I’ve mentioned these point above but here is a quick bullet point list of things I think BillyOh could further improve their product:
- Make sure the wood machinist is cutting the wood correctly. All the lengths were fine on my building but there were a few pieces where the notches weren’t quite wide enough. This made slotting them together difficult and I had to widen a few pieces myself with a hand saw. This added time to the build.
- Separate all the different size screws and nails into individual bags and label each. This would save loads of time on the build and make it far easier to find the correct screw/nail for the task.
- Include the part number and piece size in the assembly instructions. I spent a lot of time flicking through pages on 2 different documents to try and work out which piece was required. If the part number and size was all in one place it would have made life a lot easier.
- A two man delivery service would have been preferred to speed things up.
What did I love about the BillyOh product and service?
Overall I was very happy with my purchase. Here is why:
- Everything was there. No missing pieces. What a relief. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a piece of a puzzle that isn’t there and with a puzzle this size it was nice to find everything was included in the delivery. I did have a couple of head scratching moments during the build where I thought something was missing but after carefully examining the documentation I found what I needed.
- The materials were good quality and the overall finish of the product is good. It might only be spruce wood but I didn’t have any concerns about the strength or durability. The overall construction is sturdy and I expect it will last a long time if kept maintained.
- I love the design of the Kent garden office. The tongue and groove walls fit together nicely and leave a tidy log cabin feel to the building. I like the double doors which are set back slightly into the building and the overhanging roof provides a little protection against rain.
- I love how the building can be completely customised. Either by BillyOh or after the build process yourself. You can make it exactly how you want it. Colour, roofing style, insulation and many more options.
If you like the look of the BillyOh range of products then you can see more on either of their websites here:
I personally preferred the Garden Buildings Direct website but it’s up to you which you buy from. The pricing is the same. Why do they have two websites? I don’t really know but assume it’s to do with increasing their visibility on the internet.
Before and after
This has been an impartial review of the BillyOh Kent Garden Office 3m x 4m (28mm). I was not paid to write this review but I may receive a small commission if you buy one of their products via one of my links. If you have found this review useful and are looking to buy a BillyOh product then please support me by buying via one of my links.
Jobs left to do on the log cabin
It’s now December 2021 and Christmas is fast approaching. I’m running out of time this year to complete my log cabin build. Stay tuned for more update in the new year. I will be taking on the following jobs:
Staining the decking area
- Adding some guttering and water butt
Adding electrical sockets inside(and maybe outside)
- Outside lighting
Insulating the roof, walls and floor Adding flooring Decorating the interior Adding furniture
UPDATE – JUNE 2022: I have recently ticked off some of the items on the above list. As you can see some have been crossed off. Here is my latest post with all the relevant details. Read how to insulate the BillyOh Kent garden office here.
Many thanks for reading. If you do have any further question I’d be happy to try and answer them. Please leave a comment in the section below and I will respond as soon as I can.
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