Families resort to building pubs in their homes and gardens

Families resort to building pubs in their homes and gardens

February 17, 2021

Lockdown landlords! Families build pubs in their homes and gardens after their local boozers are forced to close amid Covid-19 – complete with pool tables, draught beer and dart boards

  • Families across the UK have got creative and built pubs and bars in their homes 
  • John O’Grady, from Birmingham, made a Las Vegas themed bar in back garden 
  • Darren Field-Thomas, from Derbyshire, spent £18,000 on his own boozer

With the nation staying at home amid the Covid-19 lockdown and pubs forced to shut, some families decided to get creative and build their own in their homes and gardens. 

The impressive designs have everything you’d find if you took a trip to your local – including dartboards, jukeboxes, bar snacks, Sky Sports and even a fruit machine. 

With prices ranging from £400 up to a whopping £18, 000, FEMAIL takes a look at some of the best home pubs getting the country through the pandemic…

Carpenter John O’Grady, 46, from Birmingham, has forked out around £50,000 creating the ultimate DIY boozer with the help of relatives. Pictured from the outside

Viva las Solihull! – Creative father builds Las Vegas themed bar in his family’s back garden  

A creative family who were missing weekends down the pub during lockdown have built a stunning Las Vegas-themed sports bar in their back garden.

Carpenter John O’Grady, 46, from Birmingham, forked out around £50,000 creating the ultimate DIY boozer with the help of relatives – complete with a jukebox, pool table and huge TVs.

The father-of-four came up with the ingenious way to beat lockdown boredom after the family business came to a standstill during the pandemic.

So John decided to make his life-long dream come true and built his own fully-functioning bar from scratch – with all nine family members chipping in.

John O’Grady (far right) with his family in ‘O’Grady’s Bar’ that they built at the end of their garden

Inspired by Las Vegas and other places they have visited, it has draught beer pumps, a fully-stocked bar, jukebox, pool table (pictured), darts board and three TVs

The incredible homemade pub took just over four months to complete with the O’Grady’s starting the project mid May and finishing in late September.

Inspired by Las Vegas and other places they have visited, it has draught beer pumps, a fully-stocked bar, jukebox, pool table, darts board and three TVs.

They also enlisted the help of a graffiti artist friend, who has decorated the whole 12m (39ft) x 6m (19ft) outbuilding with stunning murals of Vegas landmarks.

O’Grady’s Bar boasts two smartly decked-out sitting areas where they can enjoy a game of poker or a few drinks while watching football on the TV.

There’s also Wifi, a toilet with plumbed in Saniflow system, neon lighting, running water, central heating and is fully insulated.

The family-of-nine includes John’s four kids, his son’s girlfriend and his mother and father who all live together in Solihull, in the West Midlands.

The incredible homemade pub took just over four months to complete with the O’Grady’s starting the project mid May and finishing in late September (the family are pictured) 

They said building the state-of-the-art bar had kept them busy over the past few months and had been an ideal way to cheer them all up during lockdown. 

‘I’d always wanted one of those pub sheds but I thought we’d take it to the next level and just build a pub from scratch,’ explained John. ‘We just wanted a room where we could all just go and relax with a drink and enjoy playing pool or darts.

‘I have always wanted to do it but we had just been so busy with work as we run a small little family business. We just never got around to it so when the pandemic started we had some time on our hands.

‘We decided then to build what we had always wanted down the bottom of the garden – our very own bar. We’re quite proud of it but no one has seen it in person. We have been stunned by the reaction from people who have seen pictures. They just can’t believe it.

‘I have got friends who have built them and now I feel awful when they compare it to ours. But everyone is excited now to come and have a look.

John’s children Alex, 23, Thomas, 17, Alfie, 13, and eight-year-old Scarlett and wife Shell, 46, all got fully involved in the project (pictured together) 

‘We’re looking forward to spending time there with our friends once this is all over. I can’t see us going to the pub much anymore though now we have our very own at the end of the garden.’

John’s children Alex, 23, Thomas, 17, Alfie, 13, and eight-year-old Scarlett and wife Shell, 46, all got fully involved in the project.

His mother Margaret, 67, and father Tom, 71, have also lived with the family for the last 10 years along with eldest son’s Alex’s partner 26-year-old Jade.

John added: ‘It has all been one big family effort and has created brilliant memories and we know we are very lucky as we understand people have had it very tough.

‘We’ve possibly spent around £40,000 to £50,000 on it all when you add it up. A friend of ours called David Brown, who’s a graffiti artist from Birmingham, said he could do some walls for us.

O’Grady’s Bar boasts two smartly decked-out sitting areas where they can enjoy a game of poker or a few drinks while watching football on the TV

‘He knew we loved America and Vegas in particular and had a bit of memorabilia so that’s how the theme all started really.

‘It’s got a projector in there now and three different TVs and it has CCTV up and around the back of the house.

‘There are also fully functioning beer taps and Carling is our favourite lager so we’ve got barrels of Carling which we get from a local brewery. The lighting is controlled by apps, it is also fully insulated and has central heating so it’s good to go in any weather.

He continued: ‘Last week when it was freezing we were down there till around 11pm and it was red hot so the cold is no problem at all. The walls are also painted with UV paints on some of them so when we turn the lights off everything comes alive in there and it looks totally different.

‘We just thought we wouldn’t be going out for a few months, we just didn’t realise it was going to last for this long.’ 

Pints are on me! Father builds garden pub complete with Sky Sports and a fruit machine for just £400  

This father transformed a few wooden pallets into an incredible garden pub complete with Sky Sports, a dartboard, and a fruit machine – all for just £400.

Marc Lee says even his kids love spending time at ‘The Boozy Bear’ at their home in Kingstanding, Birmingham. 

Initially, he said he put together a bit of a ‘make do’ bar without a roof in a spot in his garden that never got used.

The project was added to over time and now he loves spending every weekend in the DIY pub with his partner and two kids, aged 14 and 11.

Marc Lee, from Birmingham, transformed a few wooden pallets into an incredible garden pub complete with Sky Sports, a dartboard, and a fruit machine – all for just £400 (pictured from the outside)

Marc says even his kids love spending time at ‘The Boozy Bear’ at their home in Kingstanding. Pictured is the fruit machine 

Marc, who works in putting together exhibitions, said: ‘It just grew from nothing really.

‘We had a small dirt track beside the garage so I made a bit of an outside bar out of pallets with no roof.

‘Working in exhibitions, there’s normally a lot of bits of timber and plastic that just gets thrown away and I wondered if I could do something with it.’

At the start of the third lockdown, he installed a corrugated roof and PVC skimmed it to make it watertight.

He added electricity, atmospheric strip lighting, and a Heineken Blade beer machine so that he can enjoy draught pints.

The project was added to over time and now he loves spending every weekend in the DIY pub with his partner and two kids, aged 14 and 11. Pictured are the bar snacks available 

He gets the beer supplied from O’Neill’s Brewing Company, based at The Barn Pub & Restaurant in Willey, Warwickshire.

Marc added: ‘It’s turned into one of those hobbies that you don’t stop spending money on. I think the total cost is around £400 and mostly recycled from exhibition waste materials.

‘Now there’s a dartboard, Sky Sports TV, WiFi and a fruit machine. We have a bar and bar stools. It can seat around eight to 10 people.

‘My partner and kids love it. We all go in there every weekend, especially in the summer.

The bar, which has a stylish glass frontage and is around three metres by three metres, has been named ‘The Boozy Bear’ (pictured) 

Marc gets his beer supplied from O’Neill’s Brewing Company, based at The Barn Pub & Restaurant in Willey, Warwickshire

The pub features neon signs, bar snacks and even a dart board for Marc to entertain guests with after lockdown

‘It’s been a godsend when we’ve not been able to go out due to lockdown. We’re all big [Aston] Villa fans so we like to sit and watch the football in there.’

The bar, which has a stylish glass frontage and is around three metres by three metres, has been named ‘The Boozy Bear’.

‘The name is a bit of a long story,’ explained Marc. ‘I used to be called “the Bear” at work so it’s kind of come from there. I’m really pleased with how the bar has turned out. It’s in a space that we couldn’t use for anything else so it’s been great.’

Mark O’Neill supplies the draught beer for ‘The Boozy Bear’ and said he’d seen a surge of home bars being built across the Midlands.

Mr O’Neill said: ‘Since March, we have supplied about 150 home bars across the Midlands with full size beer kegs and have since started stocking smaller kegs for blade machines.’ 

Cheers to that! Father splashes out £18,000 on his own boozer in the back garden     

This father claims he doesn’t need pubs to reopen – as he splashed £18,000 on building his own boozer in his back garden – complete with a bespoke bar, beer pumps and industrial chillers.

Darren Field-Thomas, from Derbyshire, had a light-bulb moment last year when faced with the prospect of being forced to stay indoors through the pandemic, so built the ultimate man-cave to escape to.

The father-of-five spent six months building the giant 21ft by 17ft space but says the eye-watering sum was ‘worth every penny’ as he recreated a full-scale pub in his back yard.

Like all good boozers, the 60-year-old’s man-cave features a 7ft signature pool table, karaoke machine, a 65inch plasma TV and even a ‘last orders’ bell.

Darren Field-Thomas, 60, from Derbyshire, splashed out £18,000 on his own boozer in the back garden (pictured from the outside)

The father-of-five spent six months building the giant 21ft by 17ft space but says the eye-watering sum was ‘worth every penny’

It even has a giant Sky Sports pub banner reading ‘Watch live football here’ – with relatives ‘booking’ it to watch games when lockdown allowed.

The operations manager shared footage of the ‘one big fun area’ in all its glory on LinkedIn and it amassed more than 180,000 likes, comments and views.

Darren, from Ilkeston, said: ‘It truly is amazing – I’m glad I did it. I haven’t skimped on anything – it’s absolutely been worth every penny.

‘It was absolutely fantastic when it was all finished – I can just walk down my pathway if I’ve got nothing to do and go in there, play pool and put the music on – it’s just great.

‘It’s quite amazing how many people have said ‘why would anyone want to go to the pub when you can come here?’.

The pub is pictured here under construction at the bottom of Darren’s garden

Like all good boozers, the 60-year-old’s man-cave features a 7ft signature pool table (pictured), karaoke machine, a 65inch plasma TV and even a ‘last orders’ bell


Left: There is also a TV for watching sports. Right: A top of the range mixer can be found in the pub too

It was completed and furnished to a high spec by August, including bespoke bi-fold doors (pictured) to let in the sunlight

‘Once lockdown’s finished you don’t need to go to a pub.’

Building on the man cave began last February as Darren watched nervously as the pandemic began racing across Europe, with the main build being completed within a month.

It was completed and furnished to a high spec by August, including bespoke bi-fold doors that let in the all important sunshine during the summer months, as well as a top of the range mixer.

Darren said: ‘I thought if we’re in lockdown and can’t go out, I’m going to build a mancave.

‘We started hearing these rumours [about a lockdown] and I thought ‘what am I going to do to keep the family together? Where am I going to go if we can’t go out?’


The pub features a bespoke bar, beer pumps and industrial chillers. Right is the jukebox with 15,000 music videos on it 

The pub even has a ‘last orders’ bell as well as a wide range of beers, spirits and soft drinks available 

‘Keeping the family together, that’s my main aim. I thought I’d have somewhere to go to where I can play pool, put the music and karaoke on.’

Darren also plans on kitting the ‘fantastic’ space out with an ice machine, microwave, beer kegs and chiller pumps as well as wrap around furniture for the outdoor area.

What’s in the pub?

  • Bifold doors
  • Dart board
  • Decorative signs and beer mats
  • Electric guitar
  • Four large Ramsa speakers
  • Top of the range mixer
  • Four professional microphones
  • Two industrial chillers full of beer which holds 500 330ml cans or bottles
  • Karaoke machine with one million songs
  • 65 inch smart TV
  • Bespoke Bar
  • Juke box with 15,000 music videos
  • 7ft customised signature pool table
  • Laminated flooring

The operations manager, who loves hosting, said that as soon as restrictions allow he hopes to use the mancave for team meetings and also ‘can’t wait’ to throw a works do too.

Darren said: ‘I think they’ll thoroughly enjoy it as we’ve been locked down for so long – I’ve already got at least 40-50 people who’ve already accepted the invite, it’s going to be massive.

‘I love being behind that bar – I love singing and mixing with people – I love everything like that.

‘When people come around we’re going to have a BBQ outside, karaoke parties in the garden with chefs doing all the cooking – it’s just one great big fun area.

‘I’ve got a load of pumps in there, most of them are for show, but there will be larger and cider hooked up once we’re out of lockdown – I can’t wait to pour a pint for 30 people.’

The 60-year-old’s incredible project has gone viral and he’s been inundated with messages from admirers across the globe who’ve all been commenting on how amazing his creation is.

Darren said: ‘I just wanted to put it on there [LinkedIn] for my work colleagues to see – and it’s just soared.

‘So many people have asked where I got stuff from and if I’ve got any papers with all the design, construction and architecture.

‘It was just a dream in my head and I told the builders what I wanted – I had a vision of what it was going to look like and got it built – there was no plans or nothing.

‘From something I wanted to do for many different reasons, it’s blown into a fantastic area and I can’t wait for the summer.’ 

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