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Shed office: Six steps to take before taking the plunge

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What do you find to be the hardest part about working from home?

Perhaps it is the distractions created by your family, or the fact that you can’t stop helping yourself to the contents of your fridge when it is just a few yards away from you. 

Or maybe, without your usual commute, you find it hard to switch out of work mode at the end of the day. 

If you’re trying to find a solution to one of these problems – and you have the luxury of a garden – then it might be time to invest in a ‘shoffice’. 

A shed office structure is allowed if it does not take up more than half of the outside space

A shed office structure is allowed if it does not take up more than half of the outside space

With almost a third of the UK workforce now working remotely according to the Office of National Statistics, ‘shed offices’ – or work spaces built in the garden – have become something of a craze for homeowners. 

Given the uncertain future ahead, the trend may well be here to stay.

1. What is a shed office?

As the name suggests, they are a cross between an office and garden shed.

But these modern super-sheds are a far cry from the moss-covered, cobweb infested, rusty tool stores of the past.

In some cases, homeowners are fitting them with every modern convenience, from insulated walls and underfloor heating to high-speed wifi and luxury bathrooms.

‘In our experience, they are favoured by people who have decorated their homes beautifully and now want a bespoke space in their gardens – or owners of traditional houses who crave a more contemporary space to style and enjoy time in,’ says Rachel Oliver, marketing manager at Malvern Garden Buildings.

2. How long do they take to build and how much do they cost?

As you might imagine, the cost and construction time depends on the type of outbuilding you go for.

The typical cost can be anything from £5,000 to £25,000 depending on the design and materials used.

The cheaper, more basic models are usually around 2.4metres by 1.8metres, whereas the more expensive installations measure up to 5metres by 3metres.

The build time can also vary widely depending on whether you would prefer your shed office to be built from scratch on site, or to purchase a pre-fabricated one which can then be delivered and put together in a matter of days.

‘If using a pre-fabricated structure, this could be ready for use once delivered to your home within a few days – but as with anything, you will likely pay a small premium for this luxury,’ says Conrad Cherniavsky, an architect at CVC Architecture.

‘Alternatively, using a more traditional on-site construction process you are likely looking at around 6-9 weeks depending on the size and complexity.’

3. Do I need planning permission?

Typically you won’t need to have planning permission, as the majority of garden offices would fall under the scope of what is known as permitted development.

However, within these rules there are certain limitations that it is useful to be aware of.

First, the eaves of the building must be no higher than 2.5metres, whilst the highest point must be no more than 4 metres if it has a dual pitched roof, or three metres for any other type of roof.

Pre-fabricated shed offices often only take a matter of days to erect once delivered

Pre-fabricated shed offices often only take a matter of days to erect once delivered 

Second, the floor area must not exceed 15 square metres – otherwise you will require building control sign-off to show the structure fits within building regulations. 

Third, a garden office cannot contain a sleeping area and must not be used as a separate dwelling unit.

Fourth, if you need to connect your new workspace to the mains utilities you will need permission from building control. 

Finally, it must not take up more than 50 per cent of the outside space surrounding the original house.

The original house refers to your property as it was first built, or as it stood on 1 July 1948 if it was constructed before that date.

This means that you would be wise to check whether your property has been extended by a former owner – in case that compromises the amount of space you can build on.

You can use your garden office as you wish - as long as you don't have a stream of visitors that could disrupt your neighbours and you don't intend to sleep overnight in it

You can use your garden office as you wish – as long as you don’t have a stream of visitors that could disrupt your neighbours and you don’t intend to sleep overnight in it

Furthermore, if you live in a national park, a listed building or a conservation area, you will need to seek specific permission from the local planning authority.

‘Strictly speaking, a garden shed can be erected without planning permission as it falls under permitted development,’ says Cherniavsky.

‘But if you’re forking out £15,000, you may prefer consulting a professional in order to secure a lawful development certificate prior to construction in order to give you peace of mind.’

4. Will it impact my home insurance?

One aspect that homeowners might forget to consider is home and contents insurance.

‘Make sure you update your insurance provider, as it could increase the rebuild cost of your home,’ says Jessica Willock, home insurance expert at Confused.com.

‘Not doing this could invalidate the policy if you need to make a claim in the future.’

Some insurance providers will not offer full cover for items in any outbuildings as part of their standard policy.

A homeowner would be wise to check the exact wording of their home insurance policy to understand to what extent they are covered.

‘It’s important they consider the insurance implications of storing items in external buildings,’ says Adam Holland, head of technical and development underwriting at AXA Insurance.

‘Although items stored in outbuildings can often be covered by a standard home contents insurance policy, there is usually a limit of around £2,500 – but it can be lower.

‘Exclusions also often apply to items such as valuables, money, business tools, bicycles, keys and locks.’

5. Is a garden office a good investment?

Improving the saleability of your home is often a key consideration when making improvements.

With many predicting home working to be a feature of our lives in a post lockdown world, a garden office can be expected to appeal to buyers in the future.

‘They certainly do add to the value of the property, as the initial £15,000 – £25,000 outlay will usually be matched by the increase in value of your home on a pound per square foot basis,’ says Grant Bates, director at estate agent Hamptons International in Islington.

‘The only caveat is that the build quality must be good, ideally using sustainable materials and having running water and electricity – making it an extension of the house as opposed to a glorified shed.’

Not all insurance companies will offer cover for items in the garden or in outbuildings

Not all insurance companies will offer cover for items in the garden or in outbuildings

It is also important to consider whether your new office compromises the existing garden space – this could mean you might put off some future buyers where a larger garden is a priority.

”Shoffices’ are a smart investment, not only for the longevity of you living at the property, but also for purchasers seeking a property with this functionality,’ says Henry Longton, senior chartered building surveyor at Knight Frank.

‘However, it’s worth homeowners considering the other side of the coin, whereby the size of your garden could be compromised. It is reasons such as this that make it difficult to conclude whether this home improvement would directly add value to a home.’

6. What else should I consider before building one?

First and foremost, you’ll need to work out what you’ll actually be using it for.

‘How the room is going to be used will have major implications on the size required and what facilities need to be accommodated,’ says Cherniavsky.

‘Bathrooms or a utility space will need a water supply and plumbing which will add to the overall cost, as well as likely adding limitations to where the building can be positioned.’

Next, you’ll need to consider the style, design and features that are important for you.

‘We’d always advise people to go for a double-skinned and insulated building so that it’s a comfortable space to work all year round,’ says Oliver.

‘Consider what size of building best suits your needs, and what you would like it to look like – do you want traditional or modern?

‘Also think about where you would like to place doors and windows, whether you would like it painted or unpainted, and which style of roof you prefer as well as considering how it will suit the kind of work you’ll be doing.’

The popularity of the Shoffice has been fuelled by the home working trend since March 2020 with people looking to move their office out of the house into a completely separate space

The popularity of the Shoffice has been fuelled by the home working trend since March 2020 with people looking to move their office out of the house into a completely separate space

Finally, consider the orientation of your shed office: whether it is north or south-facing could make an enormous difference to how you design it and use it.

Quite often, a garden office will only have windows facing in one direction, because they are typically tucked away at the end of a garden.

‘Natural light and orientation plays a critical role in creating a good working space,’ explains Cherniavsky.

‘For example, an artist would specifically want a north facing studio so that they avoid any direct sun and have softer ambient light throughout the day.’

‘Others will want a south facing structure, with extensive glazing to maximise natural light, but will then quite often suffer from overheating in the summer, therefore requiring some element of shading to be incorporated into the design.’

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Social Democrats activists consider deferring request on leadership contest

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A group of Social Democrats activists who want to see a leadership election in the party is looking at deferring their request to consider such a contest until after a new general secretary is appointed to the party.

A draft letter to the party’s national executive, signed by two councillors and 14 others, seeking the leadership contest emerged on Friday evening.

The letter, which has not been sent to party authorities, requested the national executive meet to hold a vote to call a leadership election.

It pays tribute to the party’s current co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall, who it states “have done exceptional work”, but adds that “it is now time to move to the next stage”.

The party released a statement later the same evening saying its TDs are “united behind co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall”. This statement was shared on Twitter by all six of the party’s Dáil Deputies.

One of the councillors who signed the draft letter, Kildare representative Chris Pender, responded with his own social media post saying: “Anyone who’s read the letter will know it states we don’t have an issue with the leaders, but we believe in the democratic right to vote for that/those leaders.

“A leadership contest would give members the opportunity to show support for the current leaders, if that’s what they want.”

Cllr Cat O’Driscoll, who sits on Dublin City Council, was the other public representative who signed the draft letter.

Motivations

Sources insisted the motivations behind seeking a contest include giving the Social Democrats’ membership a say in who leads the party, as well as an issue of timing. They say with no general election expected imminently, it would give the next leader time to prepare.

It was also revealed on Friday that Brian Sheehan, a former director of the Yes Equality campaign, is to step down from his role as Social Democrats general secretary in early September. The decision is not connected with the call for a leadership election and those behind the draft letter were unaware of Mr Sheehan’s decision to leave the job.

However, it has prompted a rethink of the request for a leadership contest.

The Irish Times understands the activists are considering a new version of the letter that takes Mr Sheehan’s departure into account and would not seek a discussion about a leadership contest until after his successor is in place and has had some time in the job. A source suggested the approach with any new letter would be “a bit more cautious”.

On Monday, a party spokeswoman ruled out any contest for the leadership, either before or after the appointment of a new general secretary.

“The rules of the party state any leader must be a TD and all of our TDs are united in their support for the party leadership. The general secretary position is entirely unrelated to the party leadership,” she said.

Ms Murphy and Ms Shortall have jointly led the Social Democrats since its establishment in 2015.


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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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