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Maintaining Garden Offices and Similar Buildings

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 10 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
Garden Buildings Wooden Block Brick Damp

Working at home is becoming more common these days and garden offices are a relatively cheap way of adding the office space a home needs.

Year Round Garden Buildings

Many businesses start out in the corner of the lounge, on the landing, or in a spare bedroom but garden offices offer the space a business needs. They also give that essential degree of separation from home life that home working needs, unless you are very disciplined.

But an office space does need a proper building, with insulation, lighting, power and proper damp-proofing if it’s not to become somewhere that people are reluctant to go in the winter. The same goes for other buildings with year-round usage, like studios or garden buildings used as guest accommodation.

Construction Methods for Garden Offices

Garden buildings such as these tend to be either wooden or built from blocks or bricks. If they are wooden then they will be more than a shed, they will have a thicker double-skinned wall, with insulation between the skins. They are more likely to be on a proper foundation or at least a concrete slab, whereas a wooden garden shed can sit happily on a few paving slabs.

A block or brick building can be built on a concrete pad but is more likely to have proper foundations. With both wooden and block-built garden buildings the main enemy in the UK is damp, and proper damp-proof courses are essential.

Keeping Water Out

The major maintenance tasks are all about making sure that damp can’t get into the fabric of the office or studio. At the same time it’s important to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation for damp to escape from the inside.

Annual checks should be made around the base of the building to make sure that the damp proof course is still intact. This prevents water coming up from the wet ground below and getting into the wood. If the garden office is block or brick built then the water can’t damage the fabric so much, but it will get drawn into the insulation in between the two layers. This will encourage mould growth that will spread to the inside, causing odours and, in extreme cases, health problems.

Mould inside the office or studio is also the main enemy if ventilation isn’t up to scratch. Moisture in the air condenses on cold surfaces like windows and walls. It’s easy to see on windows but will be seeping into walls unseen. Make sure that gaps at the eaves are not blocked up and if there is condensation build up, consider opening a window, even if it is cold.

Guttering and Drainage

The final area to keep an eye on is the guttering. If you don’t have any it’s well worth putting guttering and drainpipes on as they channel rain water away from the walls. Water that runs down the walls and soaks into them will cause the same problems inside a garden building; although in this case it is called penetrating damp.

You don’t necessarily need to connect the guttering to the drainage system. You can lead the water to a soakaway or a water butt. Or simply lead it a few feet away from the building to a spot that drains well. It depends on the layout of your garden.

Constant Checking

As with so many other gardening jobs, constant checking is the way to go. It doesn’t need to be frequent, just once or twice a year. Go carefully round the building, inside and out, cleaning and touching up if necessary.

This way you’ll catch any problems while they are still molehills, before they become mountains.

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@Lynne. You should try and get the builder to rectify his work...ask at Trading Standards for help with this. Your other option is to find an alternative builder to rectify the poor workmanship and then try and recoup the costs via the small claims court.
AGardenBuilding - 12-Jan-15 @ 2:45 PM
Please help. Single mum paying tradesmen through nose for jobs getting fobbed off!! Latest job garden wooden building with green wavy large lengths screwed to roof and insulated with boards then filled again with fibreglass insulation. The trouble I have is when electrician came to put fan in roof he said the fibreglass was soakin wet!!! Called builder he came out and said doesn't need ventilation because of breathable felt and it will dry in time, the screws that hold the roof on have poppedand thee is no edging around edge of roof. The cost was £9000 for the build which was finished week before Xmas. Please advise anybody?!?!?
Lynne - 10-Jan-15 @ 12:15 PM
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