Whether you work from home, you run an independent business, or you occasionally take work home with you, trying to complete even the simplest of tasks away from the office can be difficult at times.
Home life is full of distractions; the presence of the TV, family members and other non-work paraphernalia acts as a constant reminder of the stuff we enjoy outside of the office, and its allure can often be too hard to resist.
Here at Garden Street, we understand how challenging it can be to get work finished, that’s why we’re on hand to offer a solution, a place of respite, where you can be more productive away from distracting temptations. A garden office. The best part is, your existing shed, summer house, garden room or cabin can be transformed into a garden office in no time, depending on the size of your garden and your budget.
If a garden building is something you’re considering, or you want to learn more, here are a few reasons a garden office is the best investment you can make:
1. A garden office means you can have a better work-life balance. Fewer distractions mean higher productivity rates, which results in more time to be spent with the family, enjoying your hobbies, or maintaining your house. The more time you take out for yourself the more fulfilled you feel.
2. A home office could mean shared space. Creating a dedicated workspace in a garden room keeps things tidy and organised just for you. A garden room keeps things separate, so there’s less clutter and gives your brain a mental rest. Seeing piles of work in your relaxing home environment can just cause unnecessary stress
3. A garden office allows you to separate home and work. It can be easy to get absorbed into everyday tasks, such as laundry or housework, when you’re working from home. A little separation is great, laundry and housework can wait – whatever you wouldn’t complete in a normal working day, don’t.
4. Affordability. Garden buildings are cheaper than a house extention and are much easier to plan. A garden office can be built and accessorised within the time it takes to file a planning application – and can be done at a much more affordable cost.
5. If you’re self-employed or run a small business the installation and maintenance costs of a garden office in comparison to a rented office or room, is much less.
6. If you work from home, the cost for heating your whole house in contrast to a small snug small space during the day could save you a fortune in energy bills. We will explore just how you can heat your space further in this guide.
7. A garden cabin has the versatile benefit of being a multipurpose space. While it makes a great office during the week, a garden office can be doubled up as a leisure space or workshop on a weekend, whether that’s a gym, workshop or hobby room, the choice is yours.
8. While saving money, saving time and keeping work separate from your home are all massively advantagious, creating and designing your own space can be very fulfilling. Having your own space close to nature, with all the comforts of indoors, can really improve your productivity rate.
Garden buildings do not require planning permission if they fall under the permitted development guidelines. A garden room must be classed as an ‘outbuilding’ under these rules. This means it must contain no sleeping accommodation and be single storey high (maximum eaves of 2.5m).
A garden office, however, does require a little more thought so you don’t upset your neighbours or your local council. Don’t worry, this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Getting planning permission is very straight forward, and in some cases may be unnecessary.
First of all, there are two factors you need to address:
The maximum height of a garden office without planning permission has been developed in order to cater to your neighbour’s needs. These factors could be shading, loss of light, or the distance from the fence which separates your houses. Just like your standard garden room, a garden office should be single-storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof, or three metres for any other roof.
If you work remotely with no social interactions then you need to check you follow outbuilding guidelines.
How you’ll be using your garden office depends on what your business entails. You could be a beauty therapist who has clients coming and going during the day, or you could be completely computer-based and work independently throughout the week.
If you fit into the client-focused category it could be worth checking with your neighbours and the local planning department. This will cover your back and reduce the chances of neighbourly complaints due to noise or comings and goings of outside visitors.
Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development and won’t require planning permission if they meet the following restrictions:
Planning permission is the responsibility of the householder, so it’s always wise to check before you make any plans, especially if you want to install heating and electricity. You may not even need permission, or if you do, you are highly likely to get it. This normally takes 8 weeks to process, but it will worth it in the long haul.
When people choose to extend their home, it’s generally because they want more space, and they want to add more value to their property. Extensions can be a huge, overwhelming project that can cause your bank account to take a massive hit. If you’re unsure about making that investment, a great alternative could be a garden building or summerhouse. You may be wondering if this will add value to your home? Yes, it will. While it might not be as high as permanent bricks and mortar, it can be a brilliant addition when it comes to selling your home.
One of the key aspects that attract a buyer to a house is floor space. Buyers are loving open-plan spaces and any extra additional space for entertaining, working or leisure. Even if you currently use the space as an office, buyers can see a vision of how they would potentially use the space to suit their own personal needs.
Showcasing a garden office that is separate from the main living area could be seen as a huge advantage to small business owners, or even those who have keen hobbies. They see it as a space they can work and not be disturbed. It also means they can save money by not travelling or searching for office premises. Business owners are more willing to spend that little bit more for this additional convenience.
Whatever the size, style or appeal of your garden building, it can enhance your outdoor space. A garden office will immediately catch the eye of a potential buyer and it’s likely they will be debating its potential for them, and that’s before they’ve even finished the viewing.
Garden rooms add an extra touch of pizazz, which will make your home stand out against houses of a similar size and price on the market. Houses with a garden building tend to have a higher number of viewings, which tips the odds more in your favour.
You can’t put an exact figure on how much money a garden room will add to your property, as this can vary depending on location, size and the current market. In most cases a garden room adds approximately 5% to the value of a property. This is more than enough to cover the price of installing your garden office. Of course, your garden room needs to be of high-quality, otherwise, it may put potential buyers off.
If you’re going to be using your garden building or shed as an office then you’re going to need to install electricity in order to function as a well established working office.
The two main aspects you need to consider are:
The installation and wiring of sockets and switches within the garden building.
Providing a supply of electricity from the house/property to the garden building itself.
An armoured cable must be used to connect directly from your main house to your garden building. This should be underground and hooked up by a consumer unit installed in the garden building. Unless you are a qualified electrician, this is something you should never attempt to do yourself. A professional who has technical knowledge and expertise must install this in order to correctly calculate resistance and adhere to the specification of Part P Electrical Safety work regulations. While this may sound daunting and perhaps a bit complex, it’s not time-consuming, so shouldn’t cost you much to complete.
If you want to keep the installation or maintenance costs down, you can mention to the electrician that you are prepared to dig the trench yourself so it is ready for installation. Running an armoured cable requires a 600mm trench, this is the most time-intensive part of the job, so in turn one of the most costly.
If you do dig the trench yourself then the work can begin straight away. You may need a few additions to your fuse box in order to hold the additional power. This means a residual break (RCB) might be added just for extra safety. Your new cable will be wired into the central fuse box in your house and then positioned into the trench, then hooked and wired up to the sub-panel in your garden office.
The price of the job will vary depending on the distance the cable needs to cover between your house and your garden building, so this is something you may want to consider when choosing a position for your new office, especially if you have a large garden.
Once the job is complete, you must obtain a Certificate of Work. This highlights any work that’s been completed and ensures that the job has been completed by qualified personnel. If you come to sell your house then this Certificate of Work acts as your P certification for legal purposes. If you undertake any uncertified electrical work of this nature then this can result in a fine of up to £5,000 in some cases.
Once your garden office is set up you could be concerned about how your indoor Wi-Fi source is going to reach your new working space. First of all, we know there is nothing more frustrating than slow connectivity, or worse, no connectivity at all. You may be wondering how to boost your wifi so that it can reach you in your garden building, this is when you need to decide how you want your internet to be connected – cabled or wireless.
Price range: £20 - £50
Before you start to make adjustments to your internet connection, try moving your router to the closest place in your house to your garden office. If this doesn’t work, then you will need a wifi extender, these are known as ‘Wi-Fi boosters’ which you can purchase for a reasonable price. A Wi-Fi booster will extend the reach of your connection but won’t make your internet any faster.
Price range: £20 (cable) + £100- £200 installation.
If wireless internet isn’t an option, or you prefer a cabled alternative, then you will need to connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable.
An Ethernet cable is a wire you need to run from your home to your garden building. It’s a reliable and secure method of achieving internet connection.
A Wi-Fi booster connects to your existing Wi-Fi network and extends the signal. This creates a bridge or hotspot between your home and garden building. The process is very simple, you plug the extender into the mains of your home, this bounces the signal and creates an additional Wi-Fi network connection which will reach your garden office. Wi-Fi boosters are only effective in a relatively short range, so you may require more than one if the distance is more than 30m away. You could place another in your garden office so that the signal can bounce from one to the other. If your garden office is a considerable distance away from your home, this may not be the best option for you.
We would recommend having your Ethernet cable laid with your power cables when they are being installed. Of course, you can have your Ethernet cable installed separately, however, makes sense to have both jobs done together.
Once your cable is installed you won’t require an IT professional to set it up for you. You can plug this cable into a Wi-Fi router or device with an Ethernet port, such as a laptop or PC.
A garden office is not just for the summer, it’s a wonderful investment for the whole year. While the unpredictable British weather can’t ensure we stay warm and cosy, even during the summer months, you’re going to need a heating source that can even see you through the depths of winter. How you heat your garden office depends on your power sources, the size of your garden building and your budget.
Electric radiators are available in a whole host of styles and designs. They work just the same as your central heating and are mounted to the wall.
They take a little longer to heat up than your indoor radiators but can be still linked up to timers and thermostats so you can control the temperature prior to working.
Electric convection heaters can be free-standing or wall-mounted and are a great addition to a garden office as they heat the air quickly. They can preheat your garden office and can be easily switched off when not needed. They are affordable and easy to install. A benefit is they don’t require a separate energy source if you have an electric supply already.
Wood burners make an attractive addition to your home office. They warm quickly and retain heat for long periods of time. Wood burners must be professionally installed by a HETAS engineer in order to ensure your safety. Wood burners can be carbon-neutral if you use a sustainable local fuel store, however, some forward-thinking is required before installation as they can be quite expensive and time-consuming when it comes to maintenance.
Underfloor heating is a great heating source. Not only does it feel wonderful under your feet but frees up wall space, meaning you’ve got more room to be creative. When it comes to garden rooms, underfloor heating comprises a mesh element that is cut to size and fitted below the floor. This particular heating source, however, is more expensive to install than electric heaters and if you do have any maintenance issues the floor will need to be lifted.
Air conditioning is a good choice if your garden building is in direct sunlight for most of the day, as it can flow both heat and cool in the air in order to maintain a constant temperature and humidity level. Your garden office is likely to store items such as paper or fabric, air conditioning protects these from heat and damp. These days you can get slimline, wall mounted units which are relatively cheap to run.
Infrared is one of the most economical and effective ways to heat your garden office as it provides heat for the person, not the surrounding air.
This nevertheless, is only effective if you have the scope to design your space so you are in line with the heating system.
Adding a solar heating system to your garden office is likely to consist of a collector that will provide one single radiator with warmed water. It can be an expensive option, but there are several DIY alternatives people have tried using rubber hosing, drink cans and old used radiators. Of course, it’s a case of trial and error and seeing what works for you, but do bear in mind that most solar space-heating systems are the most effective when you need it least.
Think about where you are positioning your garden office, especially if your chosen garden building has lots of windows. South-facing windows can attract a lot of natural sunlight, and heat, while dark furnishings will retain this. You’re going to be using your garden office all year round, so ensure you choose a garden building with double glazing, and draught-proof windows and doors.
Ultimately, how you choose to heat your garden office is down to personal preference, requirements and budget. Here at Garden Street, our first choice would be electric radiators or conventional heaters. They are easy to install and convenient, as they offer remote control timers and are fitted with a thermostat so you can control and adjust your heating levels all year long.
A home office may be sounding like a brilliant choice for you, but if your concern for your valuables is making you sceptical about making your next steps, here at Garden Street we’ve got you covered. You can rest assured that our garden buildings come equipped with security features to ensure valuable items in your garden building are protected.
This ultimately comes down to personal preference and what the space could be used for. Here are some of our top picks that may help you make the right decision for you.