Sh-office or shed-quarters? Whatever we call it, that place you use when working from home is going to be a big part of post-pandemic life.
According to the Office for National Statistics, at the end of May 2021, 37% of employed adults in the UK had worked from home on at least one day in the previous seven.
No wonder so many people are putting a permanent home-based workplace in their garden as a comfortable long-term alternative to the dining table!
But what are the rules surrounding erecting a suitable outbuilding? In this article we’ll explain the dos and don’ts — starting with the good news: creating a garden office needn’t be complicated.
Do I need to apply for planning permission?
Details vary across the UK and different local authorities, but, in broad terms, sheds, summerhouses and other outbuildings are classed as permitted developments. That means you do NOT need planning permission for your garden office as long as:
- The building is a single storey and separate from the house.
- It covers less than half the garden area.
- The overall area is under 30 square metres.
- The eaves height is no more than 2.5 metres.
- The overall height of the building is no more than 4 metres if it has a dual-pitched roof or 3 metres for other roof types.
- It’s at least 2 metres from the property line — the legal boundary of your property.
- It’s not used to run a business, and no employees are working there.
- Your property is not a listed building or in a conservation area.
- It’s not used as a separate home.
- There’s no veranda or balcony.
- Any raised platform or decking is no more than 300mm high.
What is the eaves’ height?
Most people define the eaves’ height as the distance from the natural ground level at the base of the external wall to the lowest point at which the roof meets the outside wall. The overall height can be greater than the eaves height — up to 4 metres without requiring planning permission.
What is planning permission?
If your new garden office does not meet any of these conditions, you’ll probably need planning permission. That means contacting the local planning authority via your local council. Full details of applying for planning permission in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are available here.
The golden rule is this: only go ahead and build without planning permission if you are confident you don’t need it. Always ask the local authority for advice if there’s even the slightest doubt; it’s a lot less painful than having to demolish your new pride and joy!
Is planning permission different from building regulations?
Building regulations approval is entirely separate from planning permission, and you may need both. It covers the construction and extension of buildings and exists to ensure that the property is constructed to an acceptable standard.
However, building regulations approval is NOT needed for an outbuilding, such as a garden office, as long as:
- It is detached from the house.
- The floor area is under 15 square metres.
- The floor area is between 15 square metres and 30 square metres, provided the building is at least one metre from any boundary, or it is constructed substantially of non-combustible materials.
“If there’s any doubt, find out” is once again the golden rule. You can find full details of applying for building regulations permission at the England and Wales Planning Portal, mygov.scot and building control Northern Ireland.
What kind of building’s best for a home office, and how much will it cost?
According to The Guardian, one million people put a dedicated home office in their garden even before lockdown began, and the average size was 6 square metres.
However, in many cases, basic outbuildings aren’t suitable workplaces. Nobody can perform at their best sitting in a cold and draughty hut for hours, and that’s usually the case in the winter months. But fully insulated and double-glazed sheds, huts and garden rooms can be built for as little as £6,000. You can, of course, pay far more and bask in true luxury.
Will a garden office add value to my house?
The simple truth is that any home or garden improvement is likely to enhance your property’s value, and you can find out more about this in another HSS article.
But, unless you’re considering selling, your home’s actual value is as a place to enjoy living (and working). So, the best reason for choosing your new addition with care is that it will enhance your quality of life. Your garden office can double as a gym, den or hobby room, for example.
For the same reason, it’s wise to keep your garden well-maintained and stocked with beautiful plants, making it attractive to the birds and bees. You might as well make your working conditions as desirable as possible — if nothing more than to make colleagues jealous!
Need equipment to get your garden looking great? There’s no need to spend a fortune when hiring from HSS is so easy and affordable. Please take a look at our fantastic range of garden tools and landscaping equipment here. You’ll find everything from excavators to rotavators to wheelbarrows.
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