More tips for that alternative extension to your house- the humble garden shed grows up....
We continue our tips and ideas into the alternative extension, if you missed the previous blog click here to get all the initial information from last week.
The look of the building is very important. If it clashes with the house then it will stick out like a sore thumb when it comes time to sell. There are many materials to choose from – wood and glass being the most common. Wood need not look like Grandpa’s shed! Traditional wooden structures can be painted or if you like the natural look, make sure you use a good quality wood preserver. Wood can also look extremely modern when mixed with glass walls and steel supports. Ensure the wood comes from sustainable sources, the FSC certification and seal should be “de rigueur”.
Remember that an all-glass structure is very visible to all, so ensure you have allowed for adequate storage in an office room otherwise the mess will be there for all to see.
Folding or concertina doors are great for multi-function rooms; you can open up or divide the space with minimal fuss and disruption.
An outdoor room might need insulation if you intend to use it in all types of weather. A cold office is not conducive to work and likewise if it is for children to play in you need to ensure it is comfortable and safe. Wooden sheds are far better at minimising moisture and condensation than concrete buildings, but either way, dampness and mould will ruin your furnishings and contents faster than anything else. You may want to consider at the very least running a dehumidifier overnight on a low setting. For general heating an electric heater for a small room is often sufficient, or you can push the boat out and install electric under floor heating. Conversely too much glass or poor ventilation can make the room unbearably hot in summer, so think blinds for glass windows and doors. Portable air conditioning systems are relatively cheap and a godsend for both days of summer…
Path and wall lighting in the garden is an important element that can add the finishing touch to your project. Not only does it allow you to see where you are going but it can also make your new building feel part of the garden. Used to good effect, well chosen garden lighting will allow the garden and your outside room to be enjoyed long after the sun has fallen, maximizing the return on your investment.
OK, so you’ve created your ideal gym, office, chill out room - and stuffed it full of all those expensive electronic gadgets so essential to modern life. Don’t forget to install locks on all windows and doors and movement detectors connected to lights either inside or outside the building. In general sheds are an easier target than most homes and, being at the end of the garden, thieves are less likely to be disturbed and have an easier getaway.
You don’t want to be walking across slippery, muddy, wet grass to get to your new room. A nice new path is highly recommended, or the existence of an existing pathway is also a major ‘plus’ when deciding where to put your new building.
A paved area is perfect for sitting out and enjoying the views but also serves an important function by ensuring you don’t bring the garden detritus inside the room! If you intend to have visitors for your business you may want to consider a separate, direct access from the road.
Lastly you need to think about services to the outside room – do you need electricity, plumbing, telephone services and even a toilet? Dashing back to the loo is not always great when you are working in your garden office.
BESPOKE OR OFF THE PEG?
You can have your dream garden room designed by an architect according to your taste, requirements and budget. It should be designed to integrate seamlessly with the style of your house and link visually with the main structure.Off the peg is a cheaper option and there are many companies out there who manufacture a wide variety of designs for all budgets. Some companies offer a turn-key service, from providing the structure, to applying for planning and getting the services installed for you. Whoever you chose make sure you ask for references of previous installations, and even check them with the local trading standards office before parting with your cash. Bespoke structure right by ‘Ecospace – architecture, naturally.’ photo Andy Spain
The smallest wooden structures will not require traditional dug foundations, but will need a concrete base or bearers of bricks and blocks. Larger structures will require foundations. The company you are buying from will advise what type of foundation or base is required.
Most structures come as prefabricated panels and so smaller room can be up and decorated within a week or so. If you need them insulated, plastered and plumbed with services (electricity and phone) it can take upwards of 3 weeks depending on size. Running power cables for electricity and internet and phone lines should be included in the quote. Plumbing for toilet and sink usually is not but can be negotiated with the supplier and need not be complicated. Macerator toilets such as the Saniflo system (saniflo.co.uk) are great and use narrow gauge pipes which means even less hassle to install. Running plumbing and electricity into the outdoor office will increase your options and is definitely something you need to think about with care – think long term use and re-sale.
Concrete bases can cost anything from £800 upwards, dependent on size. Make sure you leave enough time for the concrete slab to dry, a mistake many people make. Ask your builder who is installing this for advice.
Usually structures will include such items as guttering, windows (can be double glazed), door(s), locks, window furniture, roof finish (tiles, asphalt etc.). Flooring such as carpets or nice wooden flooring is not usually included. As a general rule of thumb expect to pay anything from £1000 per square metre (including delivery and installation) upwards, depending on spec., location and type of construction.
Of course the usual shed from any DIY store can cost much less than that, but remember that you will need to install a base, erect it and insulate, decorate and lay all services yourself.
A GOOD DEAL?
According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a garden room is a good investment. Apparently even small sheds can add up to 5% to a property’s value. In this current market a quick and easy way to add value is definitely food for thought.
Working smart means working effectively. Next time we look at how to convert a room into a home office.
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