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Garden building home offices

2
Jun

Garden building home offices

Following on from our previous two blogs on creating home office spaces, when we discussed converting your garage or cellar, in this blog we look at the rules around garden home offices and how they can be a practical and cost-effective solution.

A garden home office has the added advantage over converting part of your existing home as they generally don’t need planning permission, building work should have minimal impact on yours (and your neighbours’) lifestyle and the buildings themselves are quick, relatively inexpensive and convenient to erect - often less than a week.  You also get to enjoy the peace and quiet of your garden every work day whilst hopefully maintaining that important home/work life balance.

The main disadvantages are that you lose some garden space - however if you plan carefully this should have minimal impact.  Also remember that a garden office will generally be a depreciating asset if it is a timber structure. As no matter how well looked after it is, it will deteriorate over time.  The more expensive alternative is to build in brick or rendered block which will be more hardwearing and weather resistant.

Planning permission isn’t usually needed
Garden offices generally don’t need planning permission as they fall under permitted development, but you should check here on the planning portal and if you are still unsure contact your local planning department.  An exempt garden building must:

  • Be single storey and no higher than 2.5m and a maximum overall height of 4m for a dual pitched roof or 3m for any other type of roof
  • Not have any balconies or veranda
  • Not take up more than 50% of your garden (you can include your front and side garden for this calculation
  • Be sited in your back garden. (You will need to apply for planning permission if you want to build your office in your front garden or if you want to build in your side garden which fronts a highway.)

If you are in a conservation area broadly similar rules apply but check with your planning department first.  If you live in a listed building you will however need to apply for planning permission to install a garden building.  Also, if you live in a maisonette or converted house the rules are slightly different too.

What about building regulations?
A garden home office is normally only a daytime structure and won’t usually need building regulations so won’t be fitted with fire safety devices. But remember, garden buildings are often timber structures and you may want to include a fire extinguisher or smoke detector for your own peace of mind.

If you decide to splash out and go for an office with an internal floor area of more than 15m you may need to make a building regulations applications to building control before you start the work. This is dependent on how close to the boundary you build and what materials you use. Take a look at the information here on the Planning Portal and if you are still unsure please get in contact with us.

Electrical work and Part P certification
Even if your office doesn’t come under the building regulations, any electrical work you carry out, such as installing lighting and power sockets, must be carried out by a Part P competent electrician who is able to self-certify his own work and notify the local authority building control team. If you are going to be running a new electricity supply to your garden office, you could consider installing a dedicated ethernet cable at the same time. This is likely to be the best option for getting a good signal and an armoured ethernet cable will be more resistant to damage as well as offering less interference.

If your electrician is not Part P certified, make sure your put in a building notice application to us before work is started so that we can arrange to check their electrical work meets the regulations.

What will building control want to look at?
If you do need to submit an application, building control will check and approve any plans within ten working days of receipt of your full application and fee. Your builder should then contact us so that we can make inspections at various stages and work with you both, offering on-going advice and helping to ensure your finished project is compliant, safe and well-built. 

Typical things we will want to check include the foundations and type of soil the building will sit on and whether this might affect any other structures nearby.  If there are trees nearby we will consider their impact on the building and any drains and sewers that may be nearby.  The floor of your office will need to be checked for structural integrity and the windows and insulation looked at to make sure the room will be warm enough.

And don’t forget, if you work from home and are self-employed you may be able to claim tax relief towards the cost of equipping and furnishing your new office (chairs/book cases etc).  Visit HMRC for the latest information.

We hope you found this blog useful and if you have been inspired to build your own garden office which will need building regulations please give us a call on 0330 024 9355 to discuss this with us.

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