The pandemic has forced thousands of office workers to work from home.
But what better setup could you ask for than a comfortable spot at the bottom of your garden.
An isolated garden office could add value to your property too, according to experts.
If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space at your disposal, then it’s an easy way to help bump up your house price value by five per cent, says DIY retailer MyToolShed.
And the investment will make your life a lot easier in the meantime by having a relaxing place to work.
If you’re a confident DIYer, then you don’t have to spend 20K on a swanky purpose-built outhouse either.
“If you don’t have the option financially to buy an outbuilding, and you have the time, then building one can be a great way to improve your garden and increase the value of your home,” says Ross Goodwin, managing director of MyToolShed.
“Building your own garden building has the advantage of you being able to design it exactly the way you want, for it to complement your garden and surroundings perfectly too.”
Here’s how to get started…
How to build a garden office
Step 1: Get permission
You may need to apply for householder planning permission to erect a garden building if it affects your neighbours, so it’s a good idea to check the UK planning portal (planningportal.co.uk) before you get started.
You’ll be able to check any restrictions and make sure you’re falling within legal guidelines – otherwise you risk your new office being taken down before you’ve even had a chance to use it.
Step 2: Level off the ground
Once you have the green light, it’s time to roll up your sleeves. You’ll need to level and prepare the site, choosing a dry patch of grass that avoids swampy areas and steep grades.
“We recommend you level your garden shed on paving slabs, tarmac and or concrete,” says Goodwin.
“Many people can make the mistake of thinking that because their lawn is flat they do not need a base, but when the rain comes it will soon start to lift.”
Step 3: Add base framing and decking
It’s now time to add some more support to ensure your foundation is as sturdy as possible. A joist network that sits directly on a base of concrete is your best option, and you can directly deck over the top.
Luke Spear, MyToolShed’s garden office ambassador, stresses you shouldn’t skimp on joists, and that you should use timber that’s strong enough to support plenty of weight.
He says: “Get the timber merchant to pre-cut as much as possible. Longer lengths have higher per-metre cost, so make sure to factor this into your budget.”
Step 4: Raise the wall frame
This is a two-person job says Spear, so plan to have someone from your household or bubble ready to lend a hand.
You’ll need to work out the height of the shed structure and cut your lengths of timbre for the wall frames, if your timber merchant hasn’t cut them to size.
Spear suggests using reverse angled screws on your poles to hold them in place whilst fixing them to an OSB base (a type of engineered wood that forms the walls) and to each other.
Step 5: Lay the roof
A roof with a decent-sized overhang will provide more protection from heavy rain than a smaller one, and a flat roof is the simplest construction option for beginners.
“Consider using a membrane around your roof before adding steel sheets,” says Spear.
“The wrap will stop any water that gets through the steel from wetting the OSB sheathing below.”
Step 6: Add windows, doors and cladding
If you’ve decided to install a window in your shed, you’ll need to cut a hole for it in the siding and frame around it with sturdy timber.
“Although windows can be an expensive part of this process we recommend you don’t cut costs on this as keeping the air circulated in the shed is important to ensure the shed is well ventilated,” says Goodwin.
Step 7: Consider electrics
A home office needs a decent wi-fi connection, but we’d always recommend leaving electrics to the experts. Spear estimates that contracting a professional will cost around £500.
Step 8: Cover the roof
“You should always look to buy a roof covering with ridges to ensure water can be dispersed and the roof is protected from potential leaks,” says Spear.
The best place to cut metal roofing is on the grass and you’ll need to be confident using a steel grinder if you’re doing this at home. Get a local tradesman to cut the roofing to size if you don’t have the necessary experience or equipment.
Step 9: Add insulation and a vapour barrier
An office without any insulation is going to be very cold in the winter months, so think carefully about adding some in.
Spear says: “Fibreglass is a cost effective option for insulation, but you should consider wearing a mask when working with it, as direct contact with fiberglass or breathing airborne dust may irritate the nose and throat.”
Depending on your local climate you may also want to consider a vapour barrier to reduce the risk of condensation issues and to maximise heat retention.
Step 10: Set to work on plaster boarding and plastering
“You are going to want to get a decent trowel, a plastering hook as well as a plaster mixer for this step,” says Goodwin.
“And before doing any plastering, check to see if your walls are high suction. If they are, then you need to dampen the walls before plastering to avoid the wall and plaster from crumbling.”
Step 11: Lay the flooring
Hiring a professional for this stage can often double your flooring budget, so Spear recommends shopping around for a deal on laminate flooring.
He estimates that you should be able to pick some up for around £6-£8 per square metre and skirting for about £1 a metre.
You can lay laminate floors since it doesn’t have to be glued down and doesn’t involve grout or mortar – but you will need to measure and cut your planks with a hand saw, circular saw or flooring cutter.
Once the structure is ready, you can then work to make your office a work-from-home oasis by hanging some pictures and by adding some indoor plants – which studies show reduce stress.
Come Monday morning, it’ll feel great to get out of the house and enjoy a cuppa over emails in your new outdoor work area.