Homeworking has been thrown into the spotlight recently thanks to the novel Coronavirus.
Thousands of workers across the country have been told to work from home until the threat has passed, many for the first time.
The trend for remote working has been growing over the past two decades and, according to the CIPD, it shows no sign of slowing down.
Whether you’re setting up your own business, already run your own successful company or are expecting more flexibility from your boss, building a purpose-built home office can give you a quiet and functional space, away from the distractions of home life.
Here are some top tips from the log cabin experts at Eurodita on how to design and build your dream home office…
Do I need planning permission?
This is an important question to ask, as failing to comply with planning laws could land you in trouble with the council and your neighbours.
Essentially, outbuildings like sheds, cabins, greenhouses and garages don’t need planning permission if they meet the following guidelines:
- It is single story with roof eaves no higher than 2.5 metres
- Covers no more than half the area of land around the original house
- It will only be used by members of the household
- It is not used as living accommodation
- It is made from timber
However, rules can vary between councils and they are tighter in designated areas, like Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or if you own a listed building.
If you’re unsure, speak to your local planning office before you start any construction. It’s also polite to let your neighbours know even if you don’t need permission.
Where is the best place for a home office?
Think about how the new outbuilding could impact the view from your house, and whether it will block light or limit the functionality of your outdoor space. The same goes for your office space – what do you want to look out on? And how can you maximise light?
Often, people place their home office at the end of their garden to tick both boxes. It’s far away enough to feel like a separate space and means you aren’t sacrificing too much of your garden either.
Garden structures are best built on level ground with concrete piles, so avoid sloping areas or parts of your garden that get water-logged after heavy rainfall. A south-facing office will also benefit from more natural light throughout the day.
Should I choose bespoke or ready-to-build?
Unless you’re a builder by trade or an expert DIYer, get the help of an expert company to realise your home office dream. Most suppliers will also offer a supply-only packaging, allowing you to choose a local building contractor to help you construct it.
There are self-assembly kits available on the market, but these are often the most basic of designs and have limited functionality. If you have more complex needs for your garden office or grand design goals, a bespoke supplier can help create your perfect structure which fits in with your home’s architecture, but bear in mind it will take longer to arrive and install…and of course, cost more.
If you don’t have external access to your garden, always check how materials will arrive at your property to make sure it’s feasible. It also depends on your budget; home offices can range from a couple of thousand up to £30K+.
How can I keep my home office warm in winter?
You’ll likely be using your home office all year round, so it’s important the space is easily heated in the colder months and stays cool as temperatures rise.
40mm or thicker walls with double glazed windows will help retain the heat in the winter, so too will underfloor and roof insulation. Most garden offices on the market have insulation already incorporated. Laying rugs and soft furnishing can also make the space feel cosier and warmer.
Timber structures are naturally highly insulated and have good ventilation too which help keep them cool in the summer. In particularly cold snaps, install an electric heater which attaches to the mains supply to keep your working space at an ambient temperature.
Are home offices safe from burglars?
Garden offices are a prime target for burglars, being empty at night and often filled with expensive equipment. But there are extra security measures you can put in place.
If you can, at the end of the day bring in any portable devices and sensitive documents to your house to reduce the risk.
There are also many deterrents you can install to stop thieves in their tracks, including motion sensor security lights above the entrance door, blinds to block their view of the inside, and a gravel pathway leading up to your office that makes a noise underfoot.
Most garden offices will have window and door locks pre-installed which meet recommended security standards, so check with your supplier.
Make sure to update your home insurer when you have a garden office built and check to see if they have any additional security requirements. That way, you’ll be covered if the worst does happen.