Garden offices and pods

Working from home is on the increase due to the coronavirus pandemic and garden offices could the answer to your space problems.

With employees working from home more often in the future, not having a proper workspace could be causing health problems. As well as physical pain from sitting on sofas or at kitchen tables with a laptop, your mental health could also be affected.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, you should designate a place to work. Ideally, you could add an extension to provide a home office, as we considered in a blog at the start of the lockdown.

But in many modern houses with smaller rooms, that can be difficult, especially if you haven’t any spare rooms.

You may not have the funds or space available to add an extension and the need to apply for planning permission in some cases leads to delays. Even extensions that can be added under ‘permitted development rights’ need regulation approval, which can slow your progress, as we mentioned in a recent blog.

The answer might just lie in your garden. Garden offices are becoming popular across the North East and the rest of the UK. Offices such as garden pods provide the space you need for your home office – and best of all, you can leave it all behind for the weekend.

If you are considering a garden office for your home, here’s all you need to know.

Size it up

You may feel that you need a small garden office or pod will be enough! Or you may think a large building with all the bells and whistles will be best – until you realise your children can no longer use their paddling pool!

Think carefully about what you really need. Ideally, choose a garden office that’s no bigger than 50% of your garden’s size.

To avoid needing planning permission, the eaves should be no higher than 2.5 metres and the maximum elevation should be no higher than 3 meters. If the office is within 5 metres from your house, you can build without planning permission as part of your ‘permissible development’. But you must make sure the building isn’t visible from the front of your property.

And make sure you think about the design. Don’t just ‘plonk’ an office in your garden only to regret it later!

Material options for garden offices

You can build a garden office or pod with a range of materials, depending on your plans and what your budget can stretch to. Timber is the best option for smaller budgets and is perfect for garden office pods. Remember, that you will need to carefully maintain the timber to keep it weatherproof. Failing to do so could lead to a leaky and damp office space in a few years.

For those with more space and more to spend, block or brick buildings will be more suitable. Maintenance costs will be lower, so it may end up being more cost effective in the long run. Composite offices are a great option, so make sure you explore all possibilities.

Feel the heat

Most garden offices or garden pods don’t include heating. Unless you’re only using the office in the height of summer, you will need to add heating!

There are different ways to heat your office, which we’ll look at in detail in a future blog. But the choices include:

  • Oil filled radiator
  • Underfloor heating
  • Air conditioning
  • Infrared heating
  • Central heating
  • Wood burners
  • Convector heating

If your office is well insulated and uses double glazing, it will make it more efficient. It also helps determine the best heating for your office. Like most building projects, the answer lies in what your budget can afford.

Windows and doors

As we mentioned, windows and doors are important. It’s not just about how much heat they allow in or out of your office that matters. Think about how much light you need? Natural light is essential, so consider adding an extra window. Don’t forget that you will need window coverings when the sun is at its brightest as it could affect the view of your computer screen.

Electrics and connections

A garden office or pod without electrics or broadband connections is a shed! Don’t forget to include this in your budget. We can help you find a good, qualified electrician to connect your office to the mains. It doesn’t have to be too expensive to add electrics to outside buildings.

Remember to work out how many sockets you will need. Don’t forget printers, kettles and other devices may need power too and running extensions around the office could be a trip hazard as well as an electrical one.

As well as the electrical cables, the ducting that is installed will need to include any connection cables, such as ethernet for broadband. If you’re lucky, you may be close enough to connect to your wi-fi. A booster may help if not. If that fails, you will need to add broadband so make sure you try it out to avoid extra hassle once the ducting is in place.

If you would like to know more about office pods and garden offices you can contact us today. We are based in County Durham but work across the North East.