So, you're thinking of buying a garden office. It's a significant investment and you want to know 'what's what'! This is an excellent position to be in, and our main piece of advice for prospective garden office buyers, like you, is to research your options thoroughly.
Well, you're making a good start by reading this website, and we have designed it to walk you through the key elements of gaining design ideas, planning your project and learning about the different construction systems used.
We have spent a lot of time putting the Garden Office Guide together so that it provides detailed information on the different aspects of buying a garden office. We advise you read it thoroughly, but this website should only be the starting point of your search.
Do you need Planning Permission
We go into depth about garden office Planning Permission in our planning guide, and its really the first thing you should think about. It's not enough to go by suppliers websites that say 'Planning Permission not required'. Because whether you will need to apply should be judged on a case by case basis, and will depend on where you live, the shape of the building you are planning, where you are positioning it and what sort of work you will be doing in the garden office.
In many cases, a garden office can be built under the Permitted Development rules, without the need for Planning Permission. It is a good idea to check your position before you go too far down the buying process.
Research the ways of buying a garden office
When buying a garden office you generally deal directly with the supplier of the building, this cuts out middlemen and gives you the customer a lot of control over the finished product.
Garden offices come in three 'flavours' standard, modular and bespoke. With standard designs, you have limited options over the positioning of doors and windows, and the palette of finishes. But, you can buy a garden office quickly at a great price point.
Modular garden offices offer the benefits of standard designs but with the flexibility of positioning doors and windows, and mixing and matching other design elements. Creating a building tailored to your needs.
The third way is to commission a bespoke design, here you start with a blank sheet of paper and every element of the design and build is designed around your needs and tastes.
It's worth looking at all three ways of buying a garden office to see which one works best for your needs and budget.
Research the different styles of garden office
Garden offices come in all shapes and sizes, and it's worth narrowing down the design elements that you like, and those you don't. Our design ideas section looks at different aspects of the build and showcases options offered by different companies. There are some inspiring examples, so take a look.
It's worth noting down as you look at images of garden offices the features you do like, such as floor to ceiling glazing, coloured cladding etc. You can then use this list as a reference when talking to the suppliers, to see if they can fulfil your requirements with their designs.
Research how garden offices are built
We quote more than once on this website that garden offices are built using the same materials and building techniques as modern houses. Like building a house from scratch, you have a lot of choices when it comes to the materials and finishes used in your garden office. These choices will influence the performance, look and feel of your building, so it's worth making yourself aware of all your options.
The construction section of this guide goes into depth about each element of a garden offices construction. From explaining your options for the foundations to the different finishes used for the interior of the room. Reading this section of the Garden Office Guide will allow you to go through supplier specifications with authority.
Work with a garden office expert
It can be argued that a garden office is just like any other garden room building. Yes, they are the same building, but some companies have a greater understanding of the needs of someone looking to create a workspace.
When buying a garden office, it pays to work with a specialist company who has experience creating workspaces. You want to work with a designer who will take the time to understand how you work, and tailor the layout and specification to your needs.
We have dealt with the companies we feature on this site for many years and know that they have specialist insight into the unique needs of the garden office buyer. We suggest you talk to these garden office experts.
Visit garden office suppliers websites
Most garden office suppliers have a presence on the internet, and while these websites vary in the amount of information they provide, they are a good starting point for your research and will give you an initial feel for the supplier.
When visiting suppliers websites, the portfolios of past work, specification and pricing pages are particularity important to visit. Portfolios give you an idea of how experienced a supplier is, lots of photos of different builds indicate that they have built a lot of garden offices, websites with one building photographed from different angles or computer generated images suggests that a supplier has limited experience.
A brochure will generally give you more insight into a suppliers work than a suppliers website. Many suppliers have catalogues that you can download while others will send you a glossy brochure in the post.
See before you buy
It's always a good idea to see a garden office before you buy, this will give you a clear idea of the quality and feel of the building. Several suppliers have show buildings at their headquarters which you can generally visit by appointment. Other suppliers have arrangements with former customers that allow you to visit their buildings.
Many suppliers exhibit their work at home and garden shows such as Grand Designs Live, or the Chelsea Flower Show and this is an excellent opportunity to meet the supplier in an informal environment and to look around a garden office, you may also pick up a show offer! Keep an eye on The Garden Room Guide where we publish details of upcoming shows where garden offices will be exhibited.
Once you have narrowed your search down to a handful of suppliers, site visits are the final piece of research you should undertake. Not all suppliers offer site visits; they say their building systems are so flexible they're not needed. They then say by removing them from the buying process; they can keep the costs down.
They rely on you to tell them about the site and access. They ask you to send drawings, measurements and photos of your site and work from these. This is a good starting point but can put a lot of onus on you, the customer, if there are any problems with access or the site later on.
We are advocates of a physical site visit as this allows you to get a feel for the company you will be dealing with, and for the supplier, it's a vital opportunity to assess the site, test the soil to design the foundation system and get an idea of your expectations for the building.