Turn Your Garden Building Into A Home Office
Could you work from your garden building?
With more and more people working from home for much of the week, many British people have developed a need for a home office. However, not everyone has a spare room in their house. Working from a living room or bedroom gets old rather quickly.
If you already have a garden or timber building on your property, consider converting it into an office. It takes time and effort to complete the project, but having your own space, outside your home, is hugely beneficial to your mental health.
To turn your garden building or shed into a home office, follow the following steps. Many of them are optional, so we offer cheaper DIY solutions for each step.
Damp-proof The Building
Dampness can damage wall decorations and even lead to breeding of mosquitoes. So before you start with the conversion, do as much as you can to prevent it.
It is recommended to use good quality pressure treated timber, this avoids the need to paint or stain your building. If using an existing building, make sure you fill in any gaps in the window and door frames with foam filler or liquid wood. If your garden building has a concrete base, make sure there is a damp-proof membrane. Finally, plan for adequate ventilation and heating.
Plumb In Water
At this point, if you want to have running water, you’ll need to decide whether to plumb it in or not. If you need potable water, installing new water pipes connected to the mains is the only option. To do this, you’ll likely need to employ a plumber. If the building is quite far from the house, it can be a costly addition.
Alternatively, you can install guttering and a water butt. You could bring over drinking water in a flask or big bottle from the house and use the water collected by the system to clean the garden office and water the plants.
Find A Heating Solution
The building will need to be heated, so you can sit at your desk for long spells of time throughout the year.
There are many options to heat up a small space. Some, like underfloor heating, are quite expensive to install and repair. Others, such as portable radiators, convection heaters, electric radiators, and tube heaters rely on having electricity and or plumbing fitted.
A wood stove, on the other hand, is economical to buy and fit, produces greener heat, and does not require water or power.
Whatever you choose, bear in mind that if you only warm up one side of the garden office, you may have dampness issues. Adding a couple of fans throughout the studio will help keep dampness at bay.
Install A Bathroom
Would you like to have a loo in your garden office? A traditional toilet is quite expensive to fit, as it needs to be connected to the existing water supply and sewage system. However, you could opt for a composting loo, which is inexpensive and requires almost no installation. This is a dry WC, which treats human waste by a biological process called composting. It’s much more eco-friendly than a traditional loo.
You can put the composting toilet in at a later stage; however, you'll need to install a few partition walls and a door to create a bathroom before you complete your garden studio. Don’t forget to fit a fan in the room.
Fit The Garden Building With Electricity
If you work on a computer, you will probably need power. You could either hire a certified electrician to install the wiring, or fit a solar or wind power system DIY. It all depends on how much electricity you need and how reliable you want the system to be. Double check your consumption estimate if you opt for solar or wind power - on cloudy or windless days, panels and turbines don’t produce as much energy.
Do you plan to use the garden office only occasionally and have a laptop with a long-lasting battery? You could just charge the laptop in the house and take it with you. Battery-powered lights and windows would provide light.
Another alternative to installing the wiring is buying a good-sized rechargeable battery - those you can take on long camping trips. Charge the battery at home or via solar panels and then use it to power your electronics for a number of hours. Checking the battery specs thoroughly is vital here.
Adding insulation to the floors, walls, and ceiling will be a game changer. Your garden office will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Plus, if you live in a noisy neighbourhood, reducing the noise coming into the garden office from outside is important.
To help keep dampness at bay, add a breathable membrane to the insulation.
Over the floor insulation, you’ll need to either lay carpet, tile, hardwood, resin, or laminate flooring.
For a quick and easy DIY solution, opt for a good-quality laminate. Remember that you’ll be coming into the studio from your garden, so your shoes may get muddy or wet on the way.
To cover the insulation on the walls, install drywall and paint it. It’s an easy and quick job to do - you’ll find plasterboard sheets in your local DIY store.
If you want your garden office to look more refined, add baseboards, crown moulding, and window casing. You can add these in at a later stage. One neat alternative is to timber line your office with either reclaimed wood or a plank such as cedar.
Think About Security
Unless you plan to take your valuables with you when you go back to the house, you’ll want to implement one or more security measures. Consider installing an alarm, security lights, locks, reinforced doors, or secure hinges. Is the building noticeable from the street? How easy is it to get into your garden from the street? It’s worth thinking about security before you move in.
Turning an outdoor timber building into a garden office is easily achievable, even on a budget. Before you start heading to the DIY store or booking an appointment with an electrician, make a detailed plan of your garden studio. Attention to detail will pay off. Doing things in the right order is a lot easier and more efficient.
Make It Work
So easily forgotten in all this planning, the end building needs to work for you. How about a covered veranda to move outside in summer but shaded from the sun, a southerly aspect to get the maximum winter sun? Where will your desk go, do you want a view outside or do you need to look at the wall to avoid distraction. This is a unique chance to shape and create your own work space.
Editors note - You are probably thinking we have skipped the important point of - How much does it cost to convert a garden building to home office?
This is very much a question of taste and personal comfort. One key factor is starting from a good building base. If you have a newly installed pressure treated timber office with good quality roof, then some of the points above are already covered in the build. Equally the life expectancy of your building is such that spending a little more to a have a comfortable office that will last years is worth while.
On the flip side if you are faced with a slightly more tired base building some of the budget really does need to be assigned to making sure you are water and damp proof before starting on a fit out. A log burner which offers nice dry heat can really help with damp situations but so does ventilation. A few years ago we looked at the cost saving of avoiding the commute, you can read that blog here it may focus your mind as to where to spend money.
If you would like help or advice on a new garden building office explore the Olson Garden Studio page, if you are converting an older building, enjoy - and remember, it is your own space and a great chance to make personal choices.