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By Amy Hanlon on 25 Jul 2023

What’s The Smallest Size Of Garden Office I Can Build?


You’re done with home working. It doesn’t feel like working from home anymore. It feels like living at work. Everywhere you look there are reminders of all the work you could be doing. But your garden space is limited. You need to find out one important thing: what’s the smallest garden office I can build?

Building a garden office is a great way to separate work and home, while still avoiding the stress of commuting. You may not have space inside your house for a dedicated room for your office, but you’ve been eyeing up your garden…

Fulfil your garden office fantasy AND reduce the amount of grass that needs cut? Living the dream!

Do I need planning permission for a garden office?

Here’s an important place to start. Most garden buildings don’t need planning permission because they’re considered permitted development. These rules allow you to make certain changes to your home and garden without needing planning permission. But of course, there are exceptions to these rules.

There’s one really crucial factor in your garden office planning. Any garden building that takes up more than 50% of the land around your house will need planning permission. 

This land is referred to as curtilage in official regulations. Curtilage includes all of the land around your house that belongs to your property. Paths, driveways, lawns, patios, gardens – all of these are included, provided you don’t share them with your neighbours. 

To avoid planning permission applications, start by working out the largest garden office you can build, and work back from there. 

What type of building can I use for a garden office?

Can you use a shed as a garden office? What about a summerhouse? Do you have to buy an all-singing, all-dancing garden room to work from home?

The not-so-simple answer to this question is that it depends on how comfortable you need to be, and what your budget is.

Can I use a shed as a garden office?

An 8'x6' apex shed painted dark grey. The shed stands on a sandstone slabbed base and has two rectangular windows.

If working from the kitchen table is ruining your life and wrecking your head, you may be willing to endure a little discomfort to find the peace and quiet you need. In this case, a timber shed with a few additional amenities could do the trick. You’ll have to wrap up warmly in the winter and your heating bills will get scary, but if needs must, it’s definitely possible.

A shed garden office is the most affordable option because it’s the least comfortable, and even with a sleeping bag, it’s probably not really feasible in the winter. For year-round use, a single-skinned shed isn’t a great option for a garden office.

However, there are sheds and there are sheds. Our 3-Tier Sheds use the same wall specification as our Garages, and with a power source, you can use these buildings all year round with no problems!

Can I use a summerhouse as a garden office?

The photo shows a corner of a summerhouse. There are large windows that let in plenty of light. There is a desk covered in art materials and a small speaker on the desk.

A summerhouse could be a candidate for a garden office (or art studio, as you can see here!) as long as you’re aware of its limitations.

The additional windows provide more natural light than in the average shed, making it a more pleasant prospect for home working in the summer. But even a lined and insulated summerhouse with an electrical supply will be pretty chilly in the colder months.

Summerhouses are more expensive than sheds, and lining, insulation and electricity will add to the cost of the building. However, like a shed office, a summerhouse office is only really usable when it’s warm outside. Summerhouses aren’t designed for year-round use.

Can I use a garden room as a garden office?

All-singing, all-dancing is right! A well-built garden room is a permanent, year-round building. Whether you’re looking for a smaller U12m2 Radiata Garden Room or a larger Building Control-compliant Blackstone Garden Room, we can build you business premises in your garden that you can use all year round without ever compromising on comfort.

The only difference between our Blackstone Garden Rooms and a home extension is that a garden room is separate from the rest of your home, providing the peace and quiet that you need to work comfortably from your garden. The smaller Radiata Garden Rooms allow for a modified specification that combines luxury features and great performance with a smaller price tag.

Garden rooms are the most expensive building category we’ll discuss here. They’re also entirely customizable and can be designed to suit your needs.

Are all garden rooms built the same way?

Life would be so much easier if this was the case!

There has been a proliferation of garden room companies popping up over the past five years or so, and some of these buildings are advertised as garden offices. However, the construction method of a garden room is the difference between a freezing cold plastic prefab building and a cosy well-insulated timber haven.

We’re not fans of composite cladding around here, and while both cement and polymer examples are touted as long-lasting, maintenance-free options, their thermal efficiency means that composite buildings may not be suitable for comfortable and economical year-round use.

Then there are garden rooms built from SIPS – prefabricated panels of OSB and insulation that are often used for modular buildings.

SIPS are hugely trendy in the construction industry right now, because they’re cheap, can be bought in conveniently and are relatively easy to install. However, whatever has been glued together will eventually come apart, and we don’t trust the durability of SIPS. They’re also extremely prone to moisture damage, rot and mould because of their use of OSB.

A cheap garden room made of prefabricated materials is highly unlikely to be a year-round structure that you can comfortably use as an office once the nights start drawing in.

How small can a garden building be?

If you need to put a desk and chair in a building and not much else, an 8’ x 6’/2.4m x 1.8m garden office will be snug, but manageable. Anything smaller than this will likely come down to your personal preference and maybe even personal size! If you’re 6’7″ a teeny wee office won’t be too comfortable!

This is a standard size for garden sheds and some summerhouses. Most garden room manufacturers advertise larger buildings than this, but if you’re dealing with a custom manufacturer it’s definitely worth enquiring.

Garden rooms also have thicker walls than a shed or summerhouse. Building measurements take into account the whole building rather than the interior space, so bear in mind that an 8’ x 6’ garden room will actually have an internal space of 7’ x 5’. This would be a pretty compact space for one person, but it does come down to your individual needs.

How do I work out what size of garden office I need?

The photo shows a rectangular summerhouse with a canopy. There are three steps up to a grey-coloured deck, which the summerhouse is sitting on.

Any design project is a balancing act between what you’d like, what your budget covers, and what’s possible.

If you’re willing to make the best of a situation that may not be ideal, or may not suit you all year round, you have far more options than if you’re not willing to compromise on comfort. If you have unlimited money to spend, you have far more options than if you’re on a tight budget.

The main questions to ask are:

  • How much space do I have to build on?
  • What furniture and equipment do I need in my garden office?
  • How comfortable do I have to be?
  • What can I afford?

The most helpful thing you can do is talk to a reputable garden building company with experience installing garden offices. They should spend time with you asking these questions, and their experience will inform you about the best choices. 

Don’t feel under pressure to buy just because you’ve spoken to a sales rep. There’s no obligation – they should give you transparent information and a quote that you fully understand. 

We always recommend buying from manufacturers rather than suppliers, whatever type of timber building you’re looking for. This means that if there are any issues with your garden office, you’re going straight to the people who made the building rather than having to deal with a third party.

Can I have a garden office if my garden is small?

Don’t give up on your garden office dreams, Sheddies! If your garden (or your budget) is small, it may impact your options, but if you can muster up 8′ x 6′ of space there’s no reason why you can’t live that sweet homeworking life. We have examples of all three buildings in our Show Area here in Errol, where we use three of our buildings as offices. Come on down and take a look!

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