Build your own garden office for better work and home life balance

Got the garden space? We've got the guide to building your garden office.

Garden office

by Eleanor Weaver |

Chances are if you're reading this, you, or someone you live with, has had to adapt to working from home or hybrid working. And while working from home has its perks, we've found it can be difficult to separate home and work life, especially if your working from home setup isn't ideal. You might be working up to the dining room table, from a desk in clear view from the sofa, or struggling with the distractions of home life.

If you want to create an idyllic working from home environment and have the space to do so, a garden office can help restore balance to your work and home life, as well as give you the privacy you need, and increase your home value.

We've provided a complete guide to building your own garden office with everything you need to know in one place to make this dream a reality, as quickly as possible.

Are garden offices a good investment?

The average cost to create a garden office can vary between £5,000 and £25,000 and while that might seem pretty hefty, it comes with some incredible benefits:

• In the long run, a garden office can add huge value to your home - between five and seven per cent to be exact

• It’ll provide you with a dedicated space to work at home, saving you time, money, and effort having to commute to the office everyday, and save you from working in less than ideal ‘work stations’ in the home.

• Working in a garden office creates a better space to concentrate away from distractions, whether that’s loud gossip at work or the noises of home life.

• It also helps to create better work and home balance with separate spaces for each. Sometimes when working from home, it can feel like ‘living at work’ with the constant view of office equipment making it difficult to detach and relax. Having to exit your home and walk to your garden office helps to separate the two.

• Nothing will aid productivity more than having natural light, and being stationed in the garden, you’ll be surrounded by it.

Garden office
©Getty Images

Do you need planning permission for a garden office?

It’s really important to check this before investing in your new garden office – if you don’t, you could risk spending a lot of money for it just to be taken down.

According to the Planning Portal website, outbuildings are considered to be permitted developments (i.e. they don’t require planning permission), provided certain conditions are met. These include:

• Your office can’t be built beyond the front wall of your house – not an issue for a back garden

• Your garden office must be single-storey with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and a maximum overall height of four meters with a dual pitched roof.

• If you want to place your garden office within two metres of your garden boundary, the maximum overall height must be no taller than 2.5 metres.

• You can’t have verandas, balconies, or raised platforms – decking is allowed assuming it is no more than 30cm above the ground and together with the garden office, covers no more than 50 per cent of the garden.

Similar conditions apply for building regulations too: “If you want to put up small-detached buildings such as a garden shed or summerhouse in your garden, building regulations will not normally apply if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and contains NO sleeping accommodation.

“If the floor area of the building is between 15 square metres and 30 square metres, you will not normally be required to apply for building regulations approval providing that the building contains NO sleeping accommodation and is either at least one metre from any boundary or it is constructed substantially of non-combustible materials.”

You will need to get planning permission and building regulations if your garden office plans exceed these conditions, or if you live a Listed Building, within a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Beauty, The Broads, or a World Heritage site. However, outside of these areas, you’re always recommended to check with your local planning authority to check in case there are local restrictions in place.

Now the boring stuff is out the way, here’s a guide to building your own garden office.

Garden office
©Getty Images

Building a garden office

First comes the hardest and most expensive task, building an office in your garden.

For those who have a family member or friend who is in the building trade or knows someone who is, shopping local for construction business can not only help support local businesses but save you money too.

As for the basic materials that are needed at this stage, such as concrete plates, bricks, and other materials for the frame of the structure, make sure to have a look around for the most cost-effective suppliers. The likes of Gumtree and Facebook marketplace are a good place to start!

Read next: Garden Designs | “I Turned An Old Allotment Into My Dream Garden”

However, if you’re looking for a simpler solution, you can choose a pre-made garden room from one of the following. Just make sure to measure your allocated garden space before buying and have the foundations ready, whether that’s a level paved patio or an area of concrete for a sturdy base. When buying your garden office building, the manufacturer will often list the required foundations needed.

Garden pods

Super chic and perfect for blending into your garden, a garden pod creates a near-instant extra living space in your garden. Rounded and mostly made from tinted but transparent polycarbonate, these striking beauties are happy to take centre stage so you can work inside, sheltered from the elements, while enjoying a 360-degree view of your gorgeous garden.

They come fully equipped with heating, lighting, and optional USB points, so they make a useful garden office from the get-go. Their versatile circular shape is easy to position and with a range of sizes available, they can sit comfortably in the smallest of plots. The base for your garden pod will need to be around 30cm deep and roughly 60cm wider on all sides than the base, but make sure to check the manufacturer’s product specification as measurements may vary.

Due to the glazed, transparent exterior and built-in furnishings, you’ll be limited on your options for decoration, but you can still personalise the stylish sphere with cushions, throws, and table centrepieces.

Here’s a selection of garden pods to buy, but you can check out these and more by reading our garden pod buyers guide.

Farmer's Cottage Oval Garden Summerhouse Pod

Farmer's Cottage Oval Garden Summerhouse Pod
©John Lewis

Farmer's Cottage Oval Garden Summerhouse Pod

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This pod gives you everything you'll need from a garden office; 360-degree panoramic views of your beautiful garden, ambient interior lighting, 700W heater, electric socket, and an adjustable coffee-to-dining table with luxurious seating, ideal for working in comfort.

In fact, this pod seats up to eight guests, so if you end up going back to the office, you can use this pod for garden parties and entertaining. This futuristic pod is designed with spruce timber arcs and a stainless steel exterior that will deflect the summer heat - no greenhouse effect here - and is fully waterproof and stain and mould resistant.

Dimensions: H2.2m x W2.9m x D2.4m, Base diameter: 2.1m 10-year guarantee

Farmer's Cottage Medium Garden Summerhouse Pod

Farmer's Cottage Medium Garden Summerhouse Pod
©John Lewis

Farmer's Cottage Medium Garden Summerhouse Pod

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If you're after a pod with a little more space that's not just dedicated to seating, the Farmer's Cottage Medium Garden Summerhouse Pod packs all the benefits of the Farmer's Cottage Oval Garden Summerhouse Pod, and more! This pod can seat up to 10 guests, comes with a 1200W heater, electric socket and Bluetooth speaker, and fully adjustable table that can become a small tabletop, coffee table, and larger tabletop ideal for a large working from home setup.

An added perk of this pod too, is the ability to create your own interior. With the supplier's design team, you can customise the colour of the interior seating to match your own preferences.

Dimensions: H2.3m x W2.98m x D2.98m, Overall diameter: 3m 10-year guarantee

Ornate Garden Large Oval House Garden Pod

Ornate Garden Large Oval House Garden Pod
©Cuckooland

Ornate Garden Large Oval House Garden Pod

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Looking for larger again or an office space for multiple people to work? With space for up to 14 guests, the Ornate Garden Large Oval House Garden Pod comes with comfy cushioned sofas (customisable with a choice of six colours) and two separate tables at each end.

As well as offering more space, it also provides home workers with embedded ceiling LED lights, an electric socket, heating and Bluetooth connectivity, and lockable French doors so you can keep your files and office equipment safely stored under lock and key. Plus, you can slide up and over five of the polycarbonate windows, perfect if you want to enjoy the garden more in the summer months.

Dimensions: H2.2m x W4.6m x D2.4m

Ornate Garden Grande Deluxe Chic Garden Pod

Ornate Garden Grande Deluxe Chic Garden Pod
©Cuckooland

Ornate Garden Grande Deluxe Chic Garden Pod

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For a seriously chic garden office, look no further than the Ornate Garden Grande Deluxe Chic Garden Pod. It's not as large as the Ornate Garden Large Oval House Garden Pod but it does have large, sumptuous sofas for seating up to 12 guests that you can personalise to your taste with a choice of 17 colours.

It comes with the lockable French doors, Bluetooth, ambient interior lighting, and adjustable tabletop, but if you have the money to splash, you can upgrade your pod to include remote table adjustments, infinity lighting, and add quilted stitching to your cushions for extra comfy working. As one reviewer said, "Brilliant, perfect product, quality out of this world, staff brilliant".

Dimensions: H2.5m x W3.35m x D3.35m

Garden rooms

For something a little more traditional, you can buy prefabricated garden offices with a choice of sizes, shapes, and specs available to meet your budget and needs. The top-quality garden rooms are often built with modern pressure-treated wooden slates, designed to withstand the elements and reduce the likelihood of rot. They can also have fixtures and fittings, double glazing, uPVC windows and doors, full insulation, locking systems, and lengthy guarantees that make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

The only downside of a ready-made garden office is the expense, especially if you don’t want to build it yourself. If an assembly option is available, and you don’t trust yourself with the DIY, this can add quite a bit extra to the overall cost but it will give you the peace of mind that it’s definitely been built properly!

BillyOh Studi Insulated Garden Room

BillyOh Studi Insulated Garden Room
©Garden Buildings Direct

https://www.gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk/garden-offices/studi-insulated-garden-room/30788

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This garden room can be used year-round thanks to the full insulation of the double-skin insulated walls, floor, and roof. It's stylish, energy-efficient, and low maintenance, the perfect combination, with a rot-resistant composite finish, double glazing, multi-point locking, and pre-primed interior walls for you to decorate as you wish. Not only that, but you can choose the colour of the exterior to match your garden aesthetic and it promises to be easy to install with the handy pre-assembled wall panels.

Dimensions: H2.28m x W4.13m x D2.96m 10-year guarantee

Crane Garden Buildings The Hub Outdoor Left-Hand Corner Studio

Crane Garden Buildings 3 x 3.6m The Hub Outdoor Left-Hand Corner Studio
©John Lewis

Crane Garden Buildings 3 x 3.6m The Hub Outdoor Left-Hand Corner Studio

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If you want to fit your office neatly in a corner of your garden, this studio will make sure you can optimise the views of your garden and natural light with the floor-to-ceiling, double-glazed, toughened glass panels on two sides. This attractive, contemporary design is fully insulated and lined, and the exterior is coated in an attractive micro-porous paint to protect the wood throughout the seasons.

Dimensions: H2.27m x W3.36m x D3m

Forest Garden Xtend 4 Plus Insulated Garden Building

Forest Garden Xtend 4 Plus Insulated Garden Building
©Cuckooland

Forest Garden Xtend 4 Plus Insulated Garden Building

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Create a garden office with the Forest Garden Xtend 4 Plus Insulated Garden Building for a contemporary space made from high-quality, energy-efficient materials that are completely weatherproof and fully insulated.

It has multiple options to hook up some electrics including the ability to route electrical wiring and recess roof lights internally. The double-glazed windows will help to insulate your little cabin during the winter months, or you can open these windows and the double doors for a refreshing breeze when the weather is warmer.

Dimensions: H2.5m x W4.04m x D3.42m 15-year structural guarantee

BillyOh Kent Garden Office

BillyOh Kent Garden Office
©Garden Buildings Direct

BillyOh Kent Garden Office

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If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, the BillyOh Kent Garden Office provides a secure and strong construction that'll definitely do the job. It's a little simpler in design and more aligned with the appearance of a summerhouse, but it still gives you plenty of headroom, double doors and opening windows, and a notice lock system to keep your office hardware safe.

For a little extra, you can choose to have the exterior painted from a choice of 17 colours, add larger Tongue and Groove roof and floorboards, upgrade your windows to double-glazing, pressure treat the wood, and upgrade the wall thickness.

Dimensions: H2.03m x W4.18m x D3.19m 10-year guarantee

Summerhouses

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative and don’t mind putting in the extra work, you can buy or convert a summerhouse you may already have in your garden. However, you’ll need to consider the extra costs involved to renovate it into a truly manageable office space if you want to use it all year long. Depending on what it has, you may need to add extra insulation, heating, electricity, security, and a WiFi extender so you can connect to your network in the office – an absolute must!

BillyOh Carmen Log Cabin Summerhouse

BillyOh Carmen Log Cabin Summerhouse
©Garden Buildings Direct

BillyOh Carmen Log Cabin Summerhouse

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Much like the BillyOh Kent Garden Office, this summerhouse is quite basic with plenty of options to customise and upgrade the build for improved strength, durability, and style with 12 colours to choose from.

This summerhouse comes in a pent roof design which makes it a stylish addition to any garden while offering excellent head height and versatile use option without taking up too much valuable garden space. It also has wide double doors, shatterproof glazing on the full span windows, and strong Tongue and Groove construction for high-quality weather protection.

Dimensions: H1.84m x W3.61m x D2.41m 10-year guarantee

Crane Garden Buildings Round Pavilion Summerhouse

Crane Garden Buildings 3 x 3m Round Pavilion Summerhouse
©John Lewis

Crane Garden Buildings 3 x 3m Round Pavilion Summerhouse

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How beautiful is this summerhouse? A quintessential addition to an English country garden, this round pavilion summerhouse will provide a tranquil and spacious working space away from the hubbub of home life.

The leaded glass windows and doors allow natural sunlight to flood into the building for a light, airy feel, as well as adding more of a view. The Scandinavian Redwood exterior is coated in an attractive choice of Cream, Sage, Flint or Willow in microporous paint that protects the wood throughout the seasons, and we love that this particular summerhouse comes with security in the double door Mortice Lock.

Dimensions: H3.35m x W3m x D3m

Mercia Premium Helios Summerhouse

Mercia Premium Helios Summerhouse
©Robert Dyas

Mercia Premium Helios Summerhouse

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This sturdy and strong summerhouse is constructed from robust timber and joints giving you a long-lasting and resilient structure. Perfect for DIY-enthusiasts, this summerhouse gives you the chance to customise it how you want; Paint, stain or leave it natural.

As with most builds, this is self-assembly and a two-person job, but should be a manageable without any professional help needed. All assembly instructions are included, as well as a Mortice Lock for added home office security. One reviewer said: "Very pleased with my purchase of the Helios Summerhouse. So straightforward to put up and feels good quality. Comes with instructions but well worth watching the Youtube video before erecting as well."

Dimensions: H2.14m x W3.03m x D2.93m

Shire Hampton Double Door Corner Summerhouse

Shire Hampton Double Door Corner Summerhouse
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Shire Hampton Double Door Corner Summerhouse

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Designed primarily for a corner location, this 7x7ft summerhouse will sit snugly in your garden and make an attractive feature. It's worth keeping in mind that this summerhouse is supplied unpainted, ready for your choice of paint or stain.

With easy and sturdy Tongue and Groove construction, this build has a smart pent roof design, toughened glass and double doors with Georgian style joinery. All fixings and instructions included and you can have an assembly service added at no extra cost.

Dimensions: H2.2m x W2.05m x D2.05m

Garden office interiors

Now’s the time to let your imagination run wild! Just because your office isn’t connected to the main house, doesn’t mean you can’t style up your home office to make it functional and inviting. Since it's your own personal space, you can decorate it how you like, or stick to a specific theme. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, according to the commercial property experts at SavoyStewart.co.uk, the biggest office design trends on Pinterest for 2022 are:

• Minimalist: With no clutter, a minimalist office provides an airy environment, perfect for focusing.

• Classic: Whilst some might find it outdated, classic offices with solid wooden furniture are making a comeback in 2022.

• Scandinavian: Similar to the minimalist style, a Scandinavian-styled office provides a clean-looking environment with touches of nature.

Scandinavian style office
©Getty Images

• Modern: Usually achieved by choosing cool colours, simple designs, and smooth textures.

• Smart office: perfect for the tech savvy employees who prefer letting technology simplify their lives.

• Colourful: With vibrant pops of colour, you can create a bright, energising office space that adds some fun to your working day.

• Art deco: Using the mid-century accents that resurged in popularity last year, the modern art deco styled office incorporates these timeless features with rich colours, geometric patterns, and luxe fabrics.

• Eco: Created with organic, natural element and a touch of greenery, an eco-friendly office is exactly what the planet

• Loft office: This doesn’t just mean an attic office - It is a modern urban style, characterized by an abundance of open space and industrial elements in décor.

When decorating the interior, here are some pieces you’ll want to consider:

Lighting

Alongside the natural light you’ll be able to enjoy in your garden room, you’ll want to get some interior lights to help open up your space and brighten it in the darker months.

Furniture

It goes without saying, but a desk and an ergonomic office chair are a must for your garden office. But, depending on the size of the garden room, you don’t need to be limited to just that. Add some handy shelving and storage, or even a lovely armchair or small sofa so you can use the office on your down-days to relax.

If you want to really make the most of the natural light in your garden office, leading interior designers Whinnie Williams and Kierra Campbell of Poodle & Blonde recommend choosing light-coloured walls and furniture to help reflect the natural light from your windows, creating a lighter, brighter space to work in.

Home office
©Getty Images

Curtains or blinds

Opting for curtains or blinds across your garden office windows isn’t a must, but we’d definitely recommend. They can add some privacy for that important meeting, keep you from being distracted by the family waving from the kitchen window come deadline day, or just help block out the greyer, less inspiring weather.

Décor

Whether it’s a small trinket on the desk, a vase on a side table, a beautiful cushion, or your own hand-knitted throw, little decorative touches like this are a great way to inject personality into the space and bring it to life. If you do choose to style surfaces with décor pieces, Poodle & Blonde recommend styling surfaces always in odd numbers. A trio of products is a great start and feels exciting on the eye.

Prints

If you have the space and aren’t using a garden pod as your office, prints on the wall are an easy way to add personality and stylistic flair to your office without spending a fortune. You can buy prints online, or choose to frame wallpaper, a poster, or even your own artwork. Plus, if you get bored, you can easily swap these out.

If you want to cut costs during the interior design stage, you could always search for second-hand pieces, or try your hand at DIY. Platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest are full of easy-to-follow guides on how to DIY everything from building a desk to making an entirely new room. Of course, some work might require the help of a professional depending on what it is but assessing what could be done yourself will help to save money.

Finishing touches

After the main interior work is done, the exteriors of your garden office can also be enhanced with some creative flair to help prevent it from sticking out like a sore thumb.

Framing your garden room with an array of vibrant flowers and plants can help bring your space to life. Moreover, you could also purchase a variety of solar-powered lights suitable for outdoor use and create a cute and cosy night-time setting to relax in after work. This can be a relatively inexpensive task too. All you need is a few garden tools and some seeds for your chosen flowers and shrubs.

Compost Direct has a handy soil calculator, which can help you figure out just how much soil you’ll need for the borders around your garden room.

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