How to Convert Your Shed into an Office
For many of us, the days of commuting to the office are behind us, especially as business owners and staff realise the many benefits of working from home. It’s cheaper, more sustainable and with the advent of Zoom you don’t even need to dial back on face-to-face time with clients or colleagues. This is why many homeowners are now looking to create a dedicated working space of their own.
The Benefits of a Garden Office
In recent years, even before the tumultuous events of 2020, freelancing and working remotely were becoming increasingly common. This resulted in a golden age of home office conversions. They provide a private, personal space in the household where you can organise your thoughts and focus on being productive. However, as many of us have experienced, without a spare room available for conversion, working from home often occurs at the kitchen table, or even worse – in bed!
This is where the humble garden shed comes in. Offering what could be the perfect opportunity for a well-separated home working area, your shed could be a highly effective choice for a home office. What’s more, a well looked-after and decently sized garden shed is the feature of a garden that adds the most value to a property.
Questions to Ask Before You Get Started
Before you begin, it’s important to take a step back and do your due diligence before you take action. Depending on where you’re starting from, creating a home office out of your garden shed could be a pretty big job with a lot to consider. How big is your shed right now? Is it safe and comfortable to spend time in? What equipment will you need to buy? The list of boxes to tick can seem endless and will be unique to your particular project. Not to worry though, as our nine-point guide will get you well on your way to that dream garden office.
Check the Size of Your Shed
The first thing you’ll need to consider is how big your shed is. As a bare minimum, your garden shed will need to be big enough to fit a desk, chair and maybe a chest of drawers. This means that if your shed is smaller than 6’ x 6’, it’s likely that it won’t be suitable as an office space. The absolute minimum we’d recommend would be an 8’ x 6’ shed. Of course, for those with more specialised equipment such as photographers, artists, or architects, you may require a shed all the way up to 20’ x 10’. This size of garden shed should provide more than enough space to comfortably accommodate your tripods, easels, and draft boards with plenty of room left over for a lounge area, perfect for meetings with prospective clients.
If your garden shed isn’t big enough for your requirements, you have two options: first, to shop around until you find a brand-new garden shed that does. The benefit to this choice is that you’ll enjoy peace of mind, knowing the garden shed you buy will be a long-lasting and durable structure, with many suppliers also offering 10-year guarantees. The second option is to build your own. Whilst this will likely be far more economical, we’d only recommend doing so if you’re highly confident in your DIY skills, as building a shed from scratch is no mean feat. Be sure to do plenty of research before you begin.
Check if You Need Planning Permission
Depending on the size and scope of your project, you may need to get planning permission from your local planning authority before you begin. In most circumstances, simple home improvement projects fall under ‘permitted development rights’, meaning you won’t need any permission. However, if you believe that your work will affect your neighbours, the environment or you are planning to run any electrical wires, it is always worth checking with the planning authority before beginning. Beyond granting planning permission, they can also provide guidance on any necessary building regulations that your conversion will have to meet.
How to Weatherproof Your Shed
Whether you are converting your current shed or need to source something new, reliability and longevity will be two of your primary concerns. Ensuring that your shed is well protected from the elements will not only keep you and your possessions safe, it will also make it a far more comfortable space to work and spend time in.
Begin by looking for any signs of structural weakness or damage that your shed may have already accrued and repair/replace, as necessary. Things to look out for include leaks, damp, and sagging roofs. Treating the external timber with a quality preservative is one part of weatherproofing your shed, but there are other things to consider too. You should ensure that your shed roof is completely free from damage, as this is the part of your shed that takes the biggest battering from the elements. Ideal shed roof coverings for a home office include metal roofing sheets, cedar wood shingles or EPDM rubber roofing for those with flat roofs. Installing a guttering system is another great way to keep rainwater away from your shed, which can cause many kinds of structural damage.
For more information, take a look at our guide to garden office roofing.
How to Install New Windows and Doors
Fitting new doors and windows is vital not only for that “office” feeling, but also the safety and security of the valuables stored in your shed. Naturally, as your new home working space, the value of what’s inside your shed is likely to increase greatly, so you need to keep it safe.
Once you’ve measured up and ordered your new door, it’s recommended to first install a small ledger board about 1” below your shed floor. Normally used for decks, this can be a great help when putting your door in position. If your door does not come with pre-installed hinges, these should be screwed in place before carefully setting your door on the ledger board and securing it to the door frame. Be sure to also fit a strong lock for that added safety and security.
When replacing or installing a new window in your shed, you should always keep insulation in mind. Single-glazed windows will do little to prevent heat from escaping, and so upgrading to something more substantial will work wonders for efficiency and making your shed a more comfortable workspace. When fitting your new window, remember to ensure that it sits level in the frame, and any gaps around the edges are securely sealed.
How to Get Mains Power to Your Shed
This is of course a job that will need to be carried out by a certified electrician. Not only is this much safer, but it’s also a requirement set by building. You’ll need to give notice before any work begins, and have it signed off by a Part P compliant professional after completion. You can do some bits yourself however, such as marking out where you’d like sockets and lights to be. This will help when discussing your project with an electrician, as well as giving you a better idea of your office layout.
For an option that’s kinder to the environment, solar panels could also provide you with the electricity you need. When considering this approach, it’s important to think about how much power you’ll need, as relying entirely on solar power may not be feasible depending on your requirements. This is especially true if your garden shed is on the smaller side or is positioned somewhere that doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight.
How to Install Insulation in Your Shed
Even if you’re only going to spend a few hours per day in your new garden office, you’ll want to make it as comfortable an environment as possible. The best way to ensure a consistent temperature all year-round is by fitting insulation in the walls, roof and if possible, the base of your shed. There are many options to choose from here, which include:
Multifoil is crafted from multiple sheets of foil and insulative wadding. Not only is this material incredibly versatile and easy to install, it can even be used in combination with other forms of insulation.
Most notably manufactured by brands Kingspan and Celotex, insulation boards made from PIR are widely used across the construction industry. Available in a range of materials and thicknesses, they are easy to push into place between the framing of a garden shed.
Mineral Wool Insulation
The most effective acoustic insulator, rolls or slabs of mineral wool insulation can be packed between your shed’s frames. Whilst offering exceptional performance, this material is highly irritating, and should be handled and installed wearing the proper PPE.
Sheep’s Wool Insulation
The most environmentally friendly option, insulation made from sheep’s wool also offers fantastic thermal and acoustic performance. Plus, as sheep’s wool naturally draws moisture from the air, it will further combat nightmare issues that plague sheds such as damp.
Whatever type of insulation you choose, always refer to the manufacturer’s guide before installing. You may also need to fit additional roof battens if the space between your pre-existing ones is too large, but this isn’t too difficult to do. When fitting insulation to your shed’s roof, ensure that you leave a 2” gap between the insulation and the roof deck, which will help moisture to escape.
Walls, Floors and Ceilings
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make any garden shed look and feel more professional is to spruce up the walls and ceiling with some plasterboard. Not only is the material lightweight and easy to handle, it’s also extremely thin, minimising loss of internal space. Simply measure, cut-to-size and screw onto the battens/noggins. The joints can then be sealed with suitable joining tape and plaster jointing filler. Once this is done, your flooring can be finished with hardwood, laminate or even carpet.
Order New Furniture
With all of the more utilitarian tasks out of the way, it’s time to think about furnishing your new office space. Start by creating a mock floor plan and working out the size of furniture you’ll need. This will help you to make the best use of your floor space while still leaving room to move around comfortably. You should also use this opportunity to really make this garden office your own, thinking about decorative elements such as curtains or wall art.
With the furniture out for delivery, it’s time to make the final touches. These include simple elements such as baseboards and window casings which will add that clean, professional finish to your home office project. Once the structure of your shed is completed, you could also think about painting it. Remember when painting over plasterboard, first apply a mist coat (4 parts paint to 1 part water), and prime the boards and joints before the final coat. Once the paint has dried, it’s time to move in your furniture, connect up your PC and get cracking!