When we all started working from home, it didn’t take long for the kitchen table to become a fought-over space – especially for those without a separate desk area or home office. If you have some spare outdoor space and can justify the cost (you may well make it back if you own and come to sell the property) there could be an obvious solution. That’s right – we’re talking a garden office, and this is what to know if you’re considering one…
It’s a fast and cost-effective way to add value to your home. Not only can a garden room be erected relatively quickly, from a matter of hours to a couple of weeks, it'll probably cost the region of £10-12,000. While that might sound expensive to some, experts agree it's considerably cheaper than other projects. “Whereas a loft conversion or basement is an expensive, long-term building project, a garden room can be erected in a short time and at a low cost,” agrees Rachel Wichall from eDEN Garden Rooms. Many companies will take care of making the space ready too, either creating a concrete platform on which the structure will sit or preparing the ground before using screw piles ready for the foundations.
You don’t need planning permission. Installing a garden office falls under permitted development regulations in most cases, but you’ll still need to call in the professionals to check the site specifications, for example, the size of the garden, access requirements and the direction of the sunlight. “The most important factor is the space available,” says Michelle Lord from Pod Space. “That will usually govern the size of the building that can be installed. All of our Pods are compliant from a permitted development perspective, however there are site specific details which need checking.” Meanwhile, bear in mind that companies using a modular design will create panels off-site – so access to your garden might affect how big these can be – while others will build everything from scratch on location.
Prices can change due to various factors. The size of the space will influence how many materials are needed. A modular design will cost less than a bespoke design, and the finishes (doors, windows, cladding) will also impact the price. “Scandinavian redwood is included in our price, for example, but clients can upgrade to cedar or composite if they prefer,” explains James Fox of Green Retreats. Other features can also influence the final total – bifold doors, double glazing and air conditioning – and It’s also worth noting garden offices tend to come without electricity and water. Adding these will equate to an extra cost, but can be supplied by the manufacture or your own electrician or plumber.
It’s worth investing in a proper structure. “Converting an existing garden shed won't provide you with a year-round, weather-proof garden office, because it isn’t properly insulated,” warns Sarah Rumbles from Crane Garden Buildings. A normal shed will be freezing in winter, damp and drafty on a rainy day and sweltering in a heatwave. The market varies, but even an entry-level garden office should at least come with basic insulation. More expensive options will include wall-mounted radiators, underfloor heating and air-conditioning units. Plug sockets and lighting are generally included, but you’ll need to arrange for an external power source and WiFi.
There are solutions for every budget. With more people than ever working from home, eDen Garden Rooms has introduced a compact, one-person office called The Hub, starting from £10,999. But bigger, more spacious designs to fit multiple desks will cost more. Meanwhile, Pod Space have a Lite Pod model to comfortably accommodate two people, starting from £29,980.
Whatever your style, there’s plenty of choice. If you want a traditional summerhouse look, Crane Garden Buildings have a vast range of stylish, attractive options, while you'll find more contemporary styles through Green Retreats and The Garden Office. Elsewhere, eDen Garden Rooms offers bespoke configurations of their modern signature styles with wraparound decking, and Pod Space offers sleek, ecological designs.