Category Archives: Blog

Garden office buildings

What is a garden office building and what is it used for?

Strange question really.  A garden office building is a building in a garden that is normally used by home workers, self employed and small business’s.  Generally speaking a garden office building is  a detached garden room or office sited in your garden or driveway subject to local planning regulations.

There are many garden office building styles, variations and models available, constructed out of timber frame, structural insulated panels or even brick, although the latter is quite rare due to cost.

Working from home has become the new “normal” for over 5 million people.  It makes sense not to be stuck in traffic, bus or train ques when you can make a 10 second commute to your own, individually designed office in your garden.

This is what Gail from Torchlight Coaching told me when I spoke to her recently

“I see people shine when they move their start-up business from the back bedroom or dining room table into their own professional workspace. There’s also something quite profound about guilt-free time spent working at home, the space is separated by dedicated professional focus that you step in and out of, and the best thing is – you’re home in a blink with none of your value time stolen to traffic queues and long journeys”

Gail – Torchlight Coaching

There are more benefits than you think……..

  • No daily commute
  • Savings on travel and work expenses on average £161 a month
  • Much less than office rental and you own it
  • Perfect work, life balance
  • Invite your clients with confidence
  • Add up to 15% to your house value
  • Your own office space with no distractions
  • Paying monthly can offset work expenses

There are many examples of why someone would choose to work from their very own garden office building especially when modern garden rooms offer a luxury not afforded by an insulated posh shed.

That brings me to another point.  Did you know that you can buy a garden shed, insulate it and hey presto you have a garden room or office?  Yes you can, but it will always be a shed with a limited lifespan and a warranty of no more than 12 months.  First strong wind that comes along and you could be in the market for a new one before you know where you are.

A good quality garden office building will be structurally sound, meet building regulations, have super insulation, have maintenance free exterior cladding, be warm, comfortable and have no thermal bridging.

That’s another thing.  Thermal bridging occurs when part of a structure is significantly less insulated than the remainder of the building.  Just like on a timber framed garden office building where it’s insulated only between the noggins.  That’s why some companies fit a vapour trap so you don’t get condensation on the walls.  The only real way to avoid thermal bridging and condensation is to buy a garden room made from structural insulated panels (SIPs).

So there you have it.  A garden office building is a building erected in a garden or drive which is used for working from home.  To find out more about costs and designs please click here







What is a garden studio

What is a garden studio?

Following on from my research into what makes the best garden office I started looking around for other misconceptions within this fast growing industry.  I asked myself a question, “what is a garden studio?” At first I struggled to come up with a description that anyone could understand.  Do people think that a garden studio is somewhere people would take photos, paint or act?  Or maybe it’s a place where students do their homework or people just go to chill out.

I Googled it and found many differing descriptions.

It’s a………

  • Place where photographers work
  • Where artists and sculptures work
  • To describe an apartment

The best was “A garden studio is a separate room in your garden not connected to your house where you can work, live, relax, keep fit, watch tv, listen to music and so on.

A garden studio can be anything you want it to be.  You could call it a garden room, a garden office or even a garden pod.  A bit like a vacuum really, some people call it a Hoover or a Dyson but what I do know is this, people perceive a garden studio to be contemporary in design and look so a better way one would be to call it a contemporary garden studio.

A contemporary garden studio would normally have quite a lot of glass in the design to give it an airy, open feel.  When considering a design it’s important to understand that the more glass you have the less efficient it could be.  If you’re considering this type of garden building ensure that the correct glass is fitted.  If you install standard double glazing you would generally use more energy to keep it warm and comfortable.  Conversely, you may need fans or open the doors and windows in summer months to stay cool especially if you have computers.

A garden room studio is another apt description.  It’s a studio and a room in your garden so all apply.

Personally I think it’s quite a modern way to describe a garden building or posh garden shed.  When you tell people you have a garden room or room in your garden it doesn’t exactly conjure up images of grandeur.  But tell them you have a contemporary garden studio at the bottom of your garden it gives it the wow factor.  You can see the envy on their faces.

So what is a garden studio?

It’s a separate building in your garden that’s modern in design, where you could live, keep fit, watch television, listen to music, paint, relax or work.

Do you have any more  applications you can tell me about?




What makes the best garden office?

What makes the Best Garden Office?

When I started looking around for the best garden office post I was amazed at how many fell short of my expectations.  You would expect that the best garden office suppliers would fall over themselves to put pen to paper or more likely finger to keypad to let the world know about their products but there is little out there that inspired me.

And so I decided to do my own research into finding out what makes the best garden office?  Lots of things is one answer that comes to mind but generally it’s all down to the perception and opinion of each customer.  There are plenty of suppliers and designers of good garden offices but how many are great or can be deemed the best?

During my research I spoke with many garden office suppliers and owners and from the data that I gathered I came to some very interesting conclusions.  One being that most people are very happy with their garden building without being “wowed”.  So do you think I did next?  I went round to look at some contemporary garden offices and some classic or retro garden offices.

I was quite surprised and encouraged by what I found.  I was surprised by what I found when I went to showrooms of some suppliers.  In most cases the main construction was made from timber frame with insulation infill which is good but not great.  Good for a posh garden shed but not great for a garden office for all year round use.  What would be great is if the main building fabric was made from structural insulated panels that eliminates cold bridging.

Do you know what cold bridging is?  It happens when condensation is attracted to material that has less insulation than itself.  For instance a window will attract condensation because it’s colder than a wall.  A timber frame building that is insulated between the wood noggins will attract condensation to the wood noggins, cold bridging.

Back to my research on what makes the best garden office.  I said I was surprised and encouraged by my finding.  I’m still surprised.  Surprised that the customers of the garden office suppliers I visited could have any exterior cladding they wanted as long as it was Western Red Cedar.  In other words Hobsons choice.

This is the encouraging bit.  There are garden office manufacturers out there that understand what cold bridging is and how important it is to give the customer choice.  Almost all of the people I researched were very happy with their garden room and would recommend their supplier.  Good but not great

So what makes the best garden office great?

  • A building fabric that is strong, energy efficient, well insulated, air tight and no thermal bridging
  • Custom designed and built
  • A choice of interior finish and exterior cladding
  • Professional design and build
  • Good customer care
  • Customer perception of quality, comfort and features

There you have it, the best garden office is out there just add the above ingredients and go get it.






How working from home can make you successful

How working from home can make you successful 

“I used to rent a serviced office in Leeds costing me £860 every month.  Then there was the cost of commuting not to mention wasted time sat in traffic jams.  Then I started thinking could I be successful  working from home?

After all working from home could be a fantastic option for corporate staff as well as the self employed. I started to drill down into the benefits of home working and was quite surprised   –  there’s no daily commute, there’s no two hour chunk at the start and end of each day before you get productive: It’s get up shower, dress, eat and you are good to go.

You are in charge of your environment. You can organize your workspace, the only disruption you are going to have is the phone ringing.

Working at home would enable many people to focus and be far more productive. Modern cloud computing and communication systems mean that you can be as connected to the main office as if you were there.

I recently went to see a client at his busy office. He’d just moved into new premises and was having new CCTV fitted  – where are the staff? Well they were all able to login from their home office and have their calls re-routed while the work was being carried out. Simples.

Homeworking is a great opportunity to increase the productivity of people and organizations. For the self employed there is often no choice while businesses are starting and growing there is sometimes no choice!  However there are a few thing you need to think about:

Mixing home and work needs to be done carefully to avoid these seven deadly homeworking sins!

Work life pollution!

I’ve seen it I’ve Done it I’m guilty and I know its wrong!

Even people in jobs like teaching and the public sector are terrible at this – piles of books papers, laptops etc. all over the living room, dining room and even the kitchen! Yes you are getting your work done and its nice and comfy and while you are working late you can be around other people. BUT this means your home office is full of work stuff and this has a big negative impact on your ability to switch off. Unless you can separate work and home life you’ll never switch off and as a result you are far less productive! You need boundaries between work and home to  maintain your productivity.

Its just not right sometimes.

If you are used to working in a corporate environment then it’s a real clash of culture to impose that culture into even the spare bedroom. You’ll struggle to get into corporate mode if you are working from your laptop balanced on the breakfast bar. You need an environment which supports your way of thinking and working.

Yes we’ll meet up at my, erm, office at the Costa.

That’s what they’re for and without a home office that’s exactly where you end up trying to develop client relationships. And how good do you look!

You cannot be serious!

If you are serious about your work and your career you need to fess up and do something about it. Getting your own premises says that and does that. If you are serious then get serious and make a statement.

There’s plenty of space at home to spread out.

Yes and that’s just the problem. Everything spreads out. Sometimes you need a space you can ring-fence so that you can be as constructive as possible.

Yes, er, this is my new member of staff and she’ll be her thirty hours a week.

I do know people who have done this and it worked for them, but not for long. Building capacity for growing your business is important and you need to plan for that from the moment you start. If your business is going to grow you need to factor that in from the start.

A dedicated separate home working space is the ideal way to provide a creative supportive environment to allow you to focus, be as productive as possible, get away from distractions, offer a professional service to your clients, and it makes a statement of intent about your seriousness. Taking control and constructing your own ideal environment is the ideal way to achieve this.

Home working is a great opportunity for many people to save money and be successful.  Working from home is not everyone’s cup of tea and you really do have to discipline yourself.

Then I started drilling down even further.  I have space in my garden where I could build my own dedicated home working space.  

Would a home working office be practical?

It would keep my hands out of the fridge, I could have my files in order and I could invite my clients for meetings.  I love coffee so bitter sweet here is no more Costa coffee meetings.  I could walk 10 seconds to work and when I’m done lock the door and walk 10 seconds home.  No distractions, more productivity and hopefully more leisure time.  So yes it would be practical

Would buying my own home office be cost effective? 

I’m paying £600 a month for a small serviced office so as long as a new garden office works out less I’m in business.

I almost forgot to mention, I recently checked with the Office of National Statistics on how much it costs someone on average to go to work.  It costs a worker on average £161 a month to go to work.  That’s broken down into travel costs, parking, dinners, coffee breaks and clothing.

A nice little bonus to add to my potential £860 a month office rental saving if I switched to working from home.

To answer my own question “would working from my own home office be cost effective?” 

A resounding yes!

Do garden rooms need planning permission

Do garden rooms need planning permission? The most common garden room query of all.   This is what people want to know because the last thing they want to happen following the installation of their new garden room building is for someone from planning coming along asking, no telling them to remove their new garden room.   The answer in most cases is very simple and I’ll get to that in a minute but first you will need to ask yourself some questions.

  • Why do I want a garden room?
  • Where will It be sited?
  • How big is my garden?
  • What garden room dimensions do I need?
  • What height do I need?
  • Do I want a garden room extension?
  • Do I want a garden room office?
  • Will it be inhabited?

It’s very important at this stage to mention the importance of working with a reputable garden room manufacturer because despite what many suppliers say on their websites “ No Planning Permission Required” this statement is both true and false.  It’s true because in certain circumstances you will require garden room planning permission, but in other circumstances you won’t.  There are instances where installers have erected a new garden building only to realise after completion that it was above the Permittable height.  It had to be dismantled and the base lowered.

You see the answer to my original question “do garden rooms require planning permission” is both simple and complex.  Often what is overlooked is the intended use.

  • Will it be used for work, leisure or maybe to live in?
  • If used for work will people be coming and going?
  • Will it have a bathroom and toilet or a sink?

The last question raises another extremely but just as important point and that is will my garden room require building regulations?  There are certain conditions where building control may need to inspect your structure at the garden room foundation stage and periodically throughout the build.  Where you choose an approved company this will hold no barriers or problems and should be straight forward but it is something that you should be aware of.

I told you in my first paragraph that I’d answer the question in a minute, and I will.  I said that you would need to ask yourself some questions to ascertain if you will require planning permission for a garden room.  I also said that the answer could be true or false, simple or complex.  I would love the give you the answer here and now, but before I do you need to tell me the answers to the questions above right HERE.