Shed and garden offices can be designed online by Dorset man’s software

A WEB developer who created software to design his own garden office went on to turn it into a business which has won a national award.

Tony Fox of VisualConfig found himself honoured alongside the likes of DIY giant Wickes for his 3D visualisations of sheds, garden offices and playhouses.

He devised diysheds.co.uk as a way for people to create 3D plans of their garden buildings. It later spawned VisualConfig, a tool for manufacturers to host on their own websites.

Mr Fox said diysheds.co.uk arose out of his experience of looking for a garden shed to work from at his Christchurch home.

He could not find anything online that met his needs so decided to design and build his own.

He created software that would calculate the best use of materials rather than create waste. He added 3D visualisations and released the first version of the site at the end of that year.

“DIY Sheds now lets users create plans for sheds, garden offices and playhouses all for free. Users can design in real time using the online 3D software,” he said.

“They can then see the materials needed, cutting lists, plans as well as virtually walk around their design using augmented reality on a mobile phone.

“The site started getting traffic in March 2020, mainly due to lockdown and people having a new need to work from home. Since then, the site has been used to design more than 5,000 garden rooms.

“The materials used for these designs has a value of more than £18million based on high street DIY store pricing.”

He said he received a lot of interest from garden room manufacturers keen to use the technology on their websites. In January, he cut back on his freelance web development work and created VisualConfig Limited, allowing manufacturers to create a “configurator” for their sites, calculating pricing and collecting leads from customers.

It also produces all the manufacturing drawings needed.

The company won the Digital Investment award at the DIY Week awards, where it was shortlisted alongside Evergreen Garden Care and Sagittarius. It was a finalist in the Digital Innovation category, where it was competing with Wickes and Thorns DIY.

Mr Fox is looking at expanding into industries including kitchens, fitted wardrobes, decking and paving, fencing and cladding.

He said the original diysheds.co.uk site could be used to supply materials and kits to the users.