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By Cara Mackay on 29 Jan 2023

Garden Office: Business Expenses, Business Rates and Planning Permission


You’ve made the decision! It’s goodbye to the in-town office block, costing more than a 3-bed flat, and you’re all in on the Garden Home Office dream.

You’re a busy professional, you’ve got an enterprise to build and all of it: the Garden Office, the Fixtures and Fittings, can be paid for through your business. 

I am NattyShedGirl – I’ll be answering everything to do with Garden Office Business Expenses, Business Rates and Planning Permission.

The intention of this article is to give you the confidence to know what is legit and that investing in a Garden Office is by far the best decision you can make for yourself and your business. 

Right now, I’m having my garden re-designed and foundations put in for my Garden Office. I’m the CEO of G&M and my business will be paying for my office and all the additional expenses that become of it. 

Is a Garden Office a Business Expense?

Is this legit?

Absolutely.  There’s a lot of content out there that talks specifically about ‘Tax Relief’, the Accountancy term for Business Expense, and how a Garden Office would be categorised in your accounting.

However, we’re not accountants and the intricacies of where the Garden Office goes on the balance sheet aren’t what we’re asking, we’re asking:

Can my business pay for a Garden Office?

And yes, it can. 

A Garden Office is a structure so it would be classed as a capital expenditure and not as an expense that can be offset against your profits.

And that’s absolutely fine, other Capital Ex items can be things like; computers, plant and machinery, fixtures and fittings. So, when you read that a Garden Office isn’t a business expense, remember they’re talking in accountancy terms, not in real-world terms of “can my business pay for my garden room”.

The sole purpose of your Garden Office is to have a designated place to work and to do your best work and your business can and will pay for the building. We all need permission sometimes, so here goes… 

The Benefits of Getting a Garden Office for Business…

It’s easy to associate the idea of a Garden Office as too much of a luxury for a workplace. We are conditioned to the rat race and that work isn’t meant to be enjoyable, it’s certainly not allowed to be comfortable.

However, if there was one thing that COVID gave us, it was the appreciation for the fact that how we ‘go to work’ is actually bullshit. 

There are instant benefits for the business and yourself personally that come from a Garden Office, here’s a little permission for you to dream…

home office garden room

This Garden Office omits the need to commute and pay for fuel/transport to do so. This Garden Office is owned by YOUR business, so instead of paying rent for office space, you’re investing in your own asset. 

By having a clear boundary between work and home, you don’t take your work into the house, which increases the quality of the time you spend with your family or loved ones. That quality time settles you, giving you a better night’s sleep that increases your ability to focus and be productive the next day.

That productivity gives you a sense of accomplishment and uplifts the self-belief that encourages you to strive for more aspirational goals.

Those goals turn into growth for your business. 

So if you’re looking for permission – there you go, you’ve got it.

Do you pay Business Rates for a Garden Office? 

Business Rates for Garden Offices, it is a thing and if you choose to declare it 😎 for those who had declared it back in 2020, they got a nice wee grant from the council, those who hadn’t didn’t so… Y’know.

For the declarers – there are Bonus Schemes that will relate to you. It’s specific to council districts so I’ll talk about Dundee City Council in this bit, however, it’s likely very similar across the board. 

Scottish Gov stipulation for applying for relief from these rates.

You can get non-domestic rates relief through the Small Business Bonus Scheme if:

  • the combined rateable value of all your business premises is £35,000 or less
  • and, the rateable value of individual premises is £18,000 or less
  • the property is actively occupied
  • It’s free to apply for rates relief, including the Small Business Bonus Scheme. You should be wary of anyone who proposes to apply on your behalf for a fee.

What is my Garden Office Rateable Value? 

Okay, but what is your Garden Office rateable value?

How is that calculated?

Great question friend.

I will use my own home area (not address, watch out for the scammy bams) to get an idea for a rateable Value. Ultimately, you will need to be assessed for this and the Valuation Board will ask you for random information for them to assess you accurately.

However, for now, we’re looking for an idea so we can decipher the cost implications. 

We have three alternatives here and because I’m local I know what each of them are. The first one is a Yard Space literally used as a car park.

The second is a Nursery, quite sizeable, with large Gardens and a private U drive.

And the third is an entire townhouse with a market value of around £350,000.00. So a nice wee variety of different property types. 

If we take the Yard Space as the lowest end of the Rateable Scale it gives a starting point. The Rose Lodge is possibly a good indicator of value, so assuming the Garden Office is say a £35,000.00 building, it’s effectively 10% of Rose Lodge. 

Let’s take 10% of Rose Lodge’s Rate (£15,200.00)  = £1,520.00 

I believe this is a fair assumption and the rate is more than the Yard Space rate – which would be approx 5 times bigger than the proposed Garden Office – so we’re erring on the side of caution for our estimate here. 

Does your Garden Office Qualify for Small Business Bonus?

OKAY!!

Gosh, this isn’t Standard Grade Maths mate, we’re just wanting to know how much and if we qualify for the Small Business Bonus?

Aye you do. You’ll need to apply for it, but ultimately it’s very VERY unlikely your quaint little Garden Office will exceed the Rateable Value of £15k and therefore you qualify for the relief. 

ScotGov – at it again: 

Based on the total (cumulative) rateable value of all your non-domestic premises, the following relief is available:

Total rateable value up to £15,000 – 100% relief (no rates payable) on each individual property. You apply for your Garden Office rate relief through your own council and it’s really straightforward. Happy days. 

Do I need Planning Permission for a Garden Office?

Sing it with me!! 

What… (what) Is… (is, is, is) Permitted… (Promiscuous) Development (Dev, Dev, Dev, Dev…) 

WELL. Let me tell you, if there’s one thing I love more than life itself, it’s adhering to permitted development and ensuring all our Garden Offices are compliant. I know right, ROCK and ROLL. 

Planning Permission is about aesthetics and how whatever it is you’re constructing or changing affects the surrounding environment. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding on where to put your little Garden Office beauty!!

Best Place to Site Your Garden Office 

  • Think about boundaries between you and your neighbours
  • Think about visibility in terms of roadsides/public paths 
  • Consider size in comparison to the rest of your garden 
  • Consider heights 

It’s likely you’ll come to your own sensible conclusion about what is fitting for the space you have. The next step is to complete a “do I need planning permission” checklist. Every council should have one and they’re all roughly the same – however, we have a blog for that (obvs) 

➡️Do I need Planning Permission

This checklist is great if you are able to answer NO to all the questions and be deemed as Permitted Development for your Garden Office.

But what if you answer yes?

Welp, that’s what we’re here for pal. We’ll help you. And so should any reputable Garden Room Company. You should expect at the least, they are knowledgeable in terms of permitted development for ancillary buildings.

A better result would be that they offer a service to help you design and site your Garden Office within permitted regulations or, they offer a planning application service in the case that you don’t.

To conclude, all Garden Offices can be compliant, however, your own Garden is the deciding factor of whether or not you require planning permission.  

Top 5 Garden Office Planning Tips 

  1. Do not exceed more than 50% of your Garden Area 
  2. Do not exceed more than 30m2 Why??
    This is Building Control territory and we ain’t got time for that… next blog 😉 
  3. Keep yourself at least a metre from your boundaries (i.e. neighbours fence) when the overall height is higher than 2.5mtrs 
  4. The building is going in your back Garden or to the side of your house but not in front or past the front line of your house. 
  5. You are not in a restricted area I.E. Conservation or Shared Tenement/Flats 

Ready to Build Your Own Garden Office?

Well, soon to be a Garden Office type of person, you’re welcome – I hope you’ve gotten all the permission you need to make the change and upgrade your working life.

It’s such a wonderful existence and so, so smug. 

If you fancy your very own Garden Office then get yourself a consultation booked and start your own blissful working life.

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