Many of us are spending more time at home these days and those of us lucky enough to have a decent sized garden, at least, are looking at ways of utilizing this space to its full extent.
Traditionally, a shed or greenhouse were the obvious choices but since outdoor living has become more common then more work and family-friendly options have become available. Which is best will depend upon your individual circumstances although each solution will have its own advantages and drawbacks.
Generally, you don’t need planning permission for these kinds of outbuildings but please refer to the planning portal links below for more information since there are exceptions. Structures such as concrete bases and electrical installations will also need to comply with the relevant Building Regulations.
If you’re using an outbuilding as an office for your own business you should also get professional advice regards the tax implications for when you eventually sell your home.
The most popular way of adding extra space to your home without the hassle and expense of building a proper extension. Conservatories can be significantly cheaper than an extension, they also need only basic foundations and can be connected to existing electrical services and plumbing for heat and light.
Many people find that a conservatory isn’t ideal for spending long periods of time in though since they tend to over heat in summer months and can be difficult and expensive to heat comfortably through the winter. Both issues can be mitigated, to an extent, with custom blinds and a central heating connection though.
A conservatory will often add to the value of your house so the initial cost can usually be recovered in the long run,
A wooden shed will often be the cheapest option and simplest to erect. Some come ready assembled and those that don’t are easy enough to put together. Sheds are ideal for providing extra storage but are not normally what you’d call a liveable space.
In a busy household though, a shed at the bottom of the garden can provide a welcome refuge from the stresses of family living and you can never have too much storage space.
A step-up from a shed and sharing the same basic construction, a summer house offers a lot more in the way of space, additional lighting from extra windows and the option to connect electrical services if you want to use it as an office.
Summer houses don’t usually have much in the way of insulation though so are not suitable for all-year-round usage.
Garden Rooms & Offices
Ideal if you have the budget, a garden room or office can be a self-contained building that offers the advantage of a quiet space for relaxing, reading or working that’s close enough to home but without all the distractions.
To use all year round though it will need to be well insulated and, at the very least, have its own electricity supply and, if to be used as an office, a dedicated internet connection.
In many cases, you will need to provide a reinforced concrete base which is an added cost you may not have anticipated but, the good news is that the assembly of the actual studio is usually included in the price and takes no more than a couple of days.
Like a conservatory, a properly constructed garden office can add significant value to your home so much of the cost is recoverable long term. You may also be able to claim certain allowances against tax if you are using your studio as a work-space.
Pods offer an all-round solution for each use case, they come ready-assembled, don’t need complex foundations and can be connected to an existing electricity supply.
In terms of size they may be a bit limited for family use but as an escape from everyday chaos or as a home working solution a garden pod could be ideal.
Useful Information from the Planning Portal
- Conservatories – Planning Permission & Building Regulations
- Conservatories – Mini Guide
- Outbuildings – Planning Permission & Building Regulations
- Outbuildings – Mini Guide
- Working from Home