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A Home Office in Your Garden

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 17 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
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The idea of a home office can be very attractive. Working from home can slash the cost of petrol and transform your arduous commute into a short shuffle down the hall.

Between the development of technology and continuing globalisation, there's actually very little reason to travel to a centralised office any more. Teams collaborate online, and communication takes place over the Internet or via wireless phones.

The need to co-ordinate with clients abroad may necessitate odd working hours.

But what if you don't have room indoors? Or what if the indoor environment at your house isn't conducive to getting work done? The simple answer is a home office in your garden.

Garden Office Design

We're not suggesting that you take your laptop to the garden shed. Several traditional garden building designs actually make ideal home offices. A well-insulated summerhouse or log cabin can be easily turned into a year-round office work environment.

It will be your private space where you can toil uninterrupted by domestic activity. All you need to do is furnish it accordingly, whether you want to install home office furniture that looks professional, or office furniture that looks a little more in keeping with a homely environment.

So even though you'll be working in a garden building, you can equip it with all the comforts of a modern office. At the same time, you will be surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of your garden. Unfortunately, office comforts come with a price. Don't expect a garden building price for your garden office.

Location and Design

You have choices when setting up a home office in your garden. It is easy to quickly compile a lengthy list of garden office vendors. You can self-build if you're up to it, have a pre-fabricated office delivered in short order, or opt for something in between. Just be certain you can achieve the look and functionality that you desire.

Determining the best location for your garden office should be done with care. Take into account drainage patterns, access to utilities and distance from the house. Consider making it a focal part of your garden design, and how it can work with flowers and plants already in situ. You may have discovered an idyllic corner near the back of your garden, but after you've slogged through the muck four or five rainy days in a row, it might not seem quite like a haven any more.

Security of a home office in your garden should be a prime concern. Although garden tools and lawnmowers are expensive enough, keeping office equipment and business files in the garden takes it to a whole new level. Obviously, you need to protect against theft while you're away. But you should also be vigilant for unauthorised visitors if you step into the house for tea.

Permission & Regulations

Will the new home office in your garden need planning permission? It depends on several factors. Do you live in a conservation area or in a listed dwelling? How big is your new garden office? Where is it going to be located in relation to nearby public highways? There is no hard and fast rule regarding planning permission. A visit to the planning authority is always your best choice before the project moves very far along. Most garden buildings don't need planning permission as they are under 4 metres tall and are usually sited more than 5 metres from the house.

One other regulatory issue needs to be considered. When you work at or from home, you may be required to pay business rates for the home office. The rest of your house will remain liable to council tax. Again, determining how this will affect you is beyond the scope of this article. Your best bet is to contact your local planning authority and speak to the planning officer.

Having a home office in the garden could be a boon to your productivity and time management. However, just be certain you don't end up working even more. When your office is at home, it's easy to pop in for a minute and end up working all night. Establish some limits for yourself and stick to them.

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