There is a lot of evidence to support the benefits of working from home including reduced stress, better mental health and enhanced productivity. Building a home office in your garden could be the ideal solution as it puts more than just a door between domestic and work life and provides a dedicated space, only a short commute from your house.
A popular alternative to commissioning a bespoke office is choosing one in kit form, in October this year (2020) we launched a range of five Oak Framed Home Office Kits each designed to provide an exemplary working environment to help support the growing army of home workers looking for a dedicated home office space.
Part of a home office kit’s appeal is its speed of installation and flexibility, choosing an ‘off the peg’ design not only saves money on design costs, but provides you with an instant blueprint so you can start finding the ideal garden location and planning the interior. There are further opportunities for cost savings if you are able to do some of the work yourself.
As a family run business the Mitre Oak Team has well over a decade of experience handcrafting oak framed kits. We have a genuine passion for what we do – handcrafting timber and producing beautiful oak framed buildings. I want to take you through the process of building a home office in your garden as well as make some sense of the choice of materials and options for installation, hopefully these practical considerations will enable you to achieve your perfect home working space.
HOW MUCH TO SPEND:
When considering how much to spend on your office the natural starting point is to think about your personal requirements and amount of usage, although I believe that a well thought through garden office could be a wise investment for the future.
According to research, the percentage of workers around the world permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021*, so it’s likely that a good quality, attractive, fully functional home office will be moving up the home buyers list of requirements. Additionally an enduring structure can be repurposed to a gym, den or garden room for example thereby delivering a multifunctional space that appeals to a much wider public.
*Report by US-based Enterprise Technology Research, Oct-20
Don’t be put off by the term ‘self-build’, this doesn’t mean you have to do all the work yourself, but does give the scope to do as much or as little as you like. This flexibility can provide an opportunity to ‘shop around’ on materials and labour.
If you do decide to tackle the installation yourself be pragmatic, talk through the stages of the build with your kit supplier, they should be able to advise you on the skill level needed. We recommend that our customers have some knowledge of joinery, strong practical build experience and at least another set of strong hands available to help, we are always available on the end of a phone line to provide practical advice where needed.
For those happier to bypass the installation process altogether – and that’s probably quite a few of you, look for turnkey installation services. We frequently find ourselves taking care of every aspect of the build through to completion, this way our customer is presented with a finished home office structure ready for finishing touches and interior decoration/kitting out. I would advise you to make sure you are clear on the level of finish agreed with your installer so you are ready to hit the ground running when they hand your building over to you.
Don’t underestimate the outward appearance of your office, particularly if it is overlooked by your house, a visually appealing office inside and out is one of the ingredients of a happy, productive working environment. An element of visual appeal is linked to the quality of materials used in your kit, but the rest is down to design and personal preference. Office designs range from space-age pods to traditional builds with pitched roofs, some have additional features including covered outdoor areas or verandas. Many feature ceiling to floor glazing to maximise light and enhance views to the outdoors.
Contemporary builds, that tend to incorporate both modern materials and timber can make more of a visual statement and contrast with your home, just be sure that your design preference is practical. Much of the popularity of timber buildings is due to their softer profile that blends with the natural environment as well as both contemporary and traditional style homes, they may also include age-old joinery skills that are both attractive to look at and very strong. Our joiners handcraft the oak frame to ensure the perfect fit of Mortise and Tenon joints – historically one of the strongest joints used in timber framing.
Look for opportunities to bring an element of bespoke to you garden office build, if your kit supplier like us handcrafts their kits to order, slight tweaks to the standard kit design are possible, for example if you want to mirror the office design so that the door is on the opposite side of the structure or move a partition wall, maybe add a window. Why not choose roofing tiles to match your house or reflect back natural colours in your garden? This also gives your building a connection with your home or the outdoor environment.
When looking at where to locate your garden office it’s worth considering the following:
Aspect – particularly important if you plan to maximise glazing to bring in light and a view. Take note of where the sun tracks across the space, you won’t want the full glare of the midday sun on your computer screen, so it’s also important to envisage the location of furniture.
Distance from your home – remember if you don’t intend to plumb in a sink and loo you will still need to use your home amenities.
Distance from your neighbours – From a Planning Regulation perspective your home office must be a minimum of two metres away from your property boundary. You may need to seek additional planning permission if your work generates noise, smells or additional footfall that may disturb your neighbours.
A useful tip is to experiment with your office floor space and possible locations by marking it out on the ground, all you need is string, four tent pegs and a hammer, you can also mark out locations for your office furniture, sounds simple, it is!
Glazing – The use of glass in a garden office design can bring a sublime blurring of the transition from indoor to outdoor and all the benefits to mental health and productivity this brings, however if the correct type of glazing isn’t used it can create an environment that is too hot in the sun and too cold in the winter. Select the right glazing and you will also benefit from noise insulation, enhanced security and even fade protection for furnishings.
Look for climate control glazing that filters out the solar rays to avoid overheating, insulates against the cold and maximises heat retention in the winter, reducing energy bills. There are many different types of glass on the market but look for double glazed, Argon-filled e-glass if you have very large glazed areas. Climate control glass does come at a higher price tag, but it is critical to the creation of an office that will be comfortable and economical to work in 365 days of the year and for years to come. We use climate control glass as standard in all our oak framed buildings to ensure the functionality and aesthetic inside and out.
Insulation – Make sure your office has sufficient insulation in the ceiling and floor as well as the walls. Insulated board or panels are popular and can provide a strong, moisture resistant solution that isn’t bulky. As wood is a better insulator than metal, timber framed buildings with wooden doors and windows will provide less heat transfer through their structure.
A greener more beautiful home office building is at your fingertips, here’s how…
Natural building materials – Look for timber that is accredited by the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Timber buildings also play a part in mitigating climate change by holding ‘locked in’ greenhouse gases.
‘Reuse, Recycle or Repurpose’ – Perhaps we can learn from history, half-timbered buildings were favoured in the 16th Century because they were easy to build and dismantle, they were then rebuilt or the timber repurposed, many still stand today as testament to their strength.
Energy efficiency – Reduce your energy consumption through good insulation and glazing. Consider your options to bolster power supplies with green energy such as solar.
Paints – If you plan to paint your office, source environmentally friendly paints or choose build materials that have an inherent beauty and don’t need to be painted such as oak.
The security of your build will largely be down to the strength of the structure itself, the materials used therein including glazing. Look for insurance approved locks on doors and large windows.
Think about lighting, particularly if your office is not visible from your house. Installation of a PIR sensor light outside your office will help deter intruders and also benefit you on those dark mornings or if you work late.
Adding blinds or curtains to windows and large glazed areas will hide valuable items from view, you might want to consider installing an alarm system.
I hope that this BLOG has provided you with a little more information on what’s involved in not just building a home office but achieving the home office of your dreams. A home office isn’t just a space to work, it’s a space to live, create and achieve.
If you would like to find out more about our range of Oak Framed Home Office Kits, or have a totally bespoke office solution in mind, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d love to hear from you.
Mitre Oak Ltd, Tel: 01905 828139