This is how you expand your home with a garden room or an office

Just over two years ago, working from home was largely reserved for the self-employed.

It’s now the norm for many, and even with restrictions lifted and a return to the office, some will still remain in their home offices and some others are already engaged in what we now call hybrid working.

The changes over the last two years have resulted in an increasing demand for garden rooms, studios, gazebos and pods. Image: iStock

Out of this change has come an increasing demand for garden rooms, studios, pavilions and cottages where the home worker can attend to work in peace and escape the hustle and bustle of home life, and we seem to be buying into them big time.

Kara Kramp, Director of Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland, based in Dublin, saw a 200% increase in sales for garden studios for home office use in 2020 and 2021.

“A one-person office starts at €17.5,000 and goes up to €60,000 for a complete living extension with bathroom and kitchen,” she says. “This would have up to four different zones inside. Pricing is turnkey with foundations, delivery and installation all included in the price.” Disruption is kept to a minimum as the unit is fabricated off-site and then installed, which Kara says, “One day for our smaller units: the the longest time we spent on site was five days.”

From rustic to modern, Big Man Tiny Homes structures can be designed in any style you choose to suit your taste and location.
From rustic to modern, Big Man Tiny Homes structures can be designed in any style you choose to suit your taste and location.

To get an idea of ​​the processes involved, depending on the provider, services can include project management, from initial surveying, design and CAD drawings through to fabrication, construction, foundation, installation, electrical and plumbing.

“We aim for the units to resemble a customer’s own home, with heating, lighting, outlets, USB ports and WiFi capability all standard,” says Kara. “Smart home functionality can be added to all of our rooms and pods.”

Digital plans for custom designed studios ensure interior design is fit for purpose, allowing for power outlet locations, desk and lamp locations, and space for other furniture.

However, one of the most appealing aspects of these structures is that they are low maintenance or even maintenance free.

“Our units are built to last,” says Kara, “with 25 years maintenance free and 50 year EPDM roofs. We have highly insulated EcoTherm in all walls, roof and ceiling, with low A rated Ecoat high security windows and doors as standard.

Big Man Tiny Homes romantic chalet designs create bespoke year-round outdoor spaces.
Big Man Tiny Homes romantic chalet designs create bespoke year-round outdoor spaces.

But to begin with there are some practical issues for the buyer to consider, with high on the list being the need to determine if there is enough space in the back garden to accommodate the structure of your choice and still meet the legally required amount Installation to leave on garden area.

PJ Simpson runs Big Man Tiny Homes based in Bandon, Co Cork which manufacture bespoke garden rooms and chalets to suit your taste, whether rustic or ultra modern.

In terms of price, he describes his structures as high-end. “A 25 square meter unit with a bathroom and kitchenette would cost between 60,000 and 70,000 euros,” he says.

MOA's garden studios offer a variety of finishes to fit the intended purpose, whether it's a home office or an additional living and chill-out area.
MOA’s garden studios offer a variety of finishes to fit the intended purpose, whether it’s a home office or an additional living and chill-out area.

“An entry-level 15-sqm unit would cost around €35,000.” He also stresses the importance of assessing your yard to ensure you have enough space to meet the legal requirements for this type of structure . “After installing the garden office, there must still be 25 square meters of garden space left,” he says.

“A building permit is not required if the building is not larger than 25 square meters and is not inhabited.”

But at a time when sustainability is key for any new structure and we are dealing with rising energy prices, JP adds: “All our units are built with a BER rating of at least A3. A 25 square meter unit with a kitchen and electric underfloor heating would use around 150 euros of electricity per year. The heating would only need to be used on the coldest days.”

To get the most from your investment, JP suggests using it for more than just an office function, allowing the space to be a gathering place for kids in the evenings or weekends, or an extra bedroom for guests, but he stresses that planning permission is required is when the device is to be used as a place to sleep.

Stephen Kelly of MOA Garden Rooms in Westmeath saw an opportunity to develop a garden studio range early in the pandemic and sees the market continuing to grow, particularly with new legislation giving workers the right to apply for remote work.

“Due to the pandemic, more and more people are making it their goal to balance work and private life,” he says. “Our clients have found the introduction of a separate studio space very rewarding from that point of view.”

This three person office structure doubles as a home gym, by Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland.
Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland’s three-person office structure doubles as a home gym.

Beyond the practical considerations, Stephen encourages his clients to think about how their garden might develop in the medium to long term.

“We make sure the garden studio is in the most appropriate spot in the garden and that its orientation is maximized,” he explains.

“Our studios complement elements of the garden that are already in place and we work with our clients to ensure they fit seamlessly.”

When it comes to pricing, he cites options.

MOA wants its garden studios to fit seamlessly into the space, complementing existing structures and future plans for the remaining garden.
MOA wants its garden studios to fit seamlessly into the space, complementing existing structures and future plans for the remaining garden.

“Our smallest studio, MOA 15, starts at €27,500 plus VAT,” he says. “As with all of our studios there is a choice of wood exterior paneling, flooring and a choice of finishes for sockets and switches. Our largest studio, MOA Platinum, starts at €47,500 excluding VAT. This is the largest structure you can put up in a backyard without planning permission.”

It’s still a significant amount of money for anyone to spend. So to get the most out of your investment and really deserve the space, Stephen says, “Many of our clients find it easy to adapt their studios to become a gym, a yoga retreat, a simple chill out space or a music studio and home theater.

“Especially families have the opportunity to use it as a multifunctional space where the parents use the space as an office during the day and as a home cinema for the children in the evening.”

checklist

  • See what’s included in the price besides the structure. electrics? Heating? Installation? Work?
  • Measure your garden. After installation, at least 25 m² of space must remain.
  • A studio over 25sqm requires a building permit.
  • Use of the studio for living or guest accommodation requires planning permission.
  • Look at the waiting time from order to completion. Current material shortages and high demand for studios can lead to delays.
  • Check the duration of the installation. It can be anything from one day.
  • With energy prices rising, check BER ratings and probable energy consumption.
  • Check exterior paint details to determine likely maintenance levels.
  • Plan to clear the site prior to installation. Some studio manufacturers/installers offer this additional work if required. If a bathroom is included, where is the access to the existing plumbing?

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