Style and Design
The Shire Hobby is a nice little wooden playhouse of traditional style and construction with a covered, balustraded area to the front, fixed front windows and a pretty diamond feature peephole in the door. There are some attractive trimmings too with decorative roof finials to the front and rear and antique style door hinges with a ring style handle.
The Hobby is constructed in 12mm tongue and groove cladding on a 35 x 35mm frame. The floor too is 12mm tongue and groove while the roof comprises 11mm osb solid sheet finished in roofing felt. The windows are glazed in virtually unshatterable perspex.
The dimensions of the playhouse are 6' x 4' (1.79 x 1.19m) which are increased to an overall 6' x 6' (1.79 x 1.79m) when the front canopy is taken into account. The height is 4'8'' (1.41m) at the eaves up to 5'11'' (1.81m) at the highest point of the ridge. The door opening width is 1'10'' (57cm) and the height 4' (123cm).
A factory basecoat is applied to the Hobby prior to delivery. A final preservative/decorative coat will require to be applied at the time of assembly and maintained as required thereafter.
Some sellers offer assembly and top coat options at additional cost.
The playhouse is delivered flat packed in pre-formed panels with full instructions for home assembly. You can download the assembly instructions here (opens in a new window).
See the details of sellers and prices given above.
Shire's Hobby wooden playhouse is a nicely designed little building with a simple structure which nevertheless exudes a certain charm guaranteed to delight younger children. The design is essentially a stripped down version of the Shire Den without the Den's verandah floor, scalloped fascia boards and opening side windows. You don't get the optional window boxes or mock shutters with the Hobby either - but you will save yourself quite a few pounds. Although we can't fault the design we do prefer the Den's opening side windows both for additional light and ventilation. The Hobby is fitted with two useful small vents in the rear panels but it's always good to be able to open a window on a hot summer's day. The extra windows also make it easier to supervise children playing inside without being too obtrusive.
We've no issue with the standard of construction. The 12mm cladding will do the job well and the 35 x 35mm framing is a better specification than sometimes found on other models. We like the tongue and groove flooring which is always more desirable than osb solid sheet in terms of strength and durability. The roof is solid sheet though so you'll need to make sure you apply the roofing felt properly in accordance with the instructions to provide adequate protection from damage by the elements. Styrene glazing is always good from a safety point of view. The only point we'd really take up is the style of door catch - child friendly yes - but we feel the roller catch style is liable to be knocked askew during play and that a good magnetic catch would have been preferable. If you experience any problems in this respect it shouldn't be too difficult a job to install a magnetic type catch in place of the one supplied.
Assembly is relatively straightforward. You'll need a few basic tools but there's nothing involved that would be beyond the abilities of the average diy'er. Have a good look at the instructions which you can see here (opens in a new window) and you'll easily be able to work out what's involved and what you'll need. And remember that unless you've bought your Hobby playhouse with a top coat already applied (and that option looks a little expensive to us) you'll need to remember to apply a suitable preservative/decorative finish to protect your purchase from the elements. We suggest you carry out this essential task before you assemble the building. If you do that you'll find you're able to reach areas such as the underside of the floor that would would be difficult or impossible to get at once the playhouse is up. It's a good idea too to turn the pre-formed panels upside down when applying the finish to make sure it penetrates fully to the tongue and groove joints.
Properly treated and assembled there's little doubt the Hobby will provide you with a solid, dependable playhouse which should last many years. You'll have to attend to the finish on a regular basis but that's true of any outdoor wooden building. On the whole we prefer the extras that can be had with the Hobby's stablemate the Shire Den - but the Den is a little more expensive and if you're on a limited budget the Hobby shouldn't let you down. If budget is a consideration though we'd suggest you also have a look at the comparable Honeysuckle, Pixie, Cubby and Woodbury which you might be able to source at a lower price than the Hobby. You'd have to sacrifice the wooden floor with the Honeysuckle and the Woodbury though. Taking everything into account we've awarded the Shire Hobby 3.5 wooden playhouse stars.