Garden offices have become an increasingly popular option for extending a property. They are far flung from what you would get from a garden shed: most are built like small timber frame houses, with strong insulation included so that they can be used all year round. Many home offices are even built to include bathroom or kitchen facilities. They are also an economical alternative to renting office space, not only because of the relatively cheaper cost but also because of the potential tax benefits of running a business from a garden! As an extension they are also relatively easy to construct due to much more relaxed laws on planning permission: most garden offices fall within permitted development rights.
Generally speaking, when homeowners choose to build a garden office they usually go with either a pre-designed kit or a bespoke option. The former option tends to be much cheaper, with specialist companies offering kits that include enough electrical outlets and other utilities to comfortably support an office. They often have exact specifications, though some designs will let you choose a larger size, with different aesthetic options and upgrades available. The other option is to have a bespoke building designed. You will have a lot more creative freedom here, though this is also the more expensive option. You will usually need to hire an architectural designer in addition to your other tradesmen, and the work will likely take longer. However, at the end of it you will have a much more bespoke and personally satisfying product.
It is important to think carefully about what you want from your garden office. How many electrical outlets will you need it to have? Will you want enough space to be able to entertain clients? Will you be doing full working days in your garden office, and if so will it require bathroom facilities? This will help dictate whether or not you go with a pre-designed kit. Discuss your needs with a company selling kits or with a tradesman or architect.
They are also an economical alternative to renting office space, not only because of the relatively cheaper cost but also because of the potential tax benefits of running a business from a garden!
Building a garden office tends to be much simpler than other extensions because planning permission is not often required. A garden room is considered to be under permitted development if it is built not less than 2m from the property boundary and is no more than 2.5m, or one storey, high. A garden room to be placed more than 2m from the boundary can have a maximum eave height of 2.5m. However, the building cannot feature an antennae and can not be used as separate accommodation without getting planning permission. No more than 50% of the land around the ‘original house’ can be taken up by a garden building, and they cannot be built next to public roads. Most garden office kits are designed to fall within permitted development rights, but you should always take the time to make sure. You may still require planning permission, for example, if your property is a listed building or you live in a conservation area.
A typical one person office, fully wired and insulated, may cost around £6000. This is not including an installation fee: usually kits like these can be put together by a competent DIY enthusiast, though companies selling them will typically have fixed prices to install them, and will more than likely be able to do a better job. Installing a kit with a base included will usually cost an additional £4000 at least. If you are going with a garden office kit, ensure that all necessary materials are included in the delivery, including screws and fixings. You should also make sure that the installation comes with an appropriate guarantee: companies usually offer them for periods of between 10 and 50 years.
The cost of having a bespoke garden office built is much harder to determine. Some companies offer estimates of around £110 per square meter, but this is a base minimum. Buildings designed in certain shapes or from certain materials, and so on, will cost more. It is a good idea to look over previously completed projects for your tradesmen for ideas, or to discuss your wants with an architect, of course whilst having a firm budget in place. It is important not to scrimp on certain aspects of your office: to make sure it can be used comfortably all year round it will need adequate installation. Do not be worried about going with a pre-designed kit, particularly if your requirements are relatively simple; you could save yourself a lot of money.
If you are buying a garden office kit, the companies selling them usually offer an installation service with a fixed fee. Alternatively you could do the installation yourself, or hire a carpenter a handyman if you do not have the experience necessary. Whatever you choose, it is important to check the backgrounds of those installing your garden office. A specialist company will usually have information on the qualifications and experience of its installers, and an established tradesman should be able to provide this information easily. Any tradesmen you hire will need to have active Public Liability Insurance, and if you are using an architect they will need Professional Indemnity Insurance.
If you are hiring tradesmen for the job yourself, or if you want to organise a bespoke build, then it is important to check all of your options carefully. Plentific can help you do this with a number of obligation and cost free services. Firstly, the Plentific website can generate a bespoke contact list of the best tradesmen in your local area that offer the skills you need. Secondly, using Plentific will give you access to the profiles of each of your options, which include information on qualifications and past projects, as well as reviews from previous clientele. Finally the Plentific Guarantee, which can cover your entire project, will be available if you choose a 'verified' tradesman. With information on over 75,000 registered tradesmen across the UK, Plentific is dedicated to helping you find the right tradesmen for your job, whatever it may be.