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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.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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