Many of us have long, narrow gardens, the end of which lends itself as the plot for a garden office. The thing is when choosing a site like this; you have three boundaries to consider when designing your building. With thought and planning, this needn’t mean you can’t maximise the space for your office.
To maximise the space, you have between the three boundaries you will want to try and position your office as close as possible to the fence, wall or hedge. Doing this has two benefits: firstly you will be maximising the size of your new office space, secondly, by building tight to the boundary you will avoid creating ‘dead space’ alongside the office. This space would have little use and be difficult to maintain.
There are rules about building tight to the boundaries
If you are planning to build under the Permitted Development rules and want to site your office within 2 meters of any boundary of your garden, the office must be no taller than 2.5 meters. If you wanted to build a taller building, you would need to make a planning application.
You also need to consider Building Regulations when building a garden office tight to a boundary. Building Regulations will not normally apply if your office is less than 15 square meters in footprint, and it is not going to be used as sleeping accommodation. If you plan to sleep in your office, even only occassionally, you will need to ensure it complies with Building Regulations. Buildings sized between 15 and 30 square meters need to be sited at least 1 meter from each boundary or be constructed substantially with non-combustible materials.Take a moment to read the regulations for yourself on the Planning Portal.
You need to be aware that not all garden office suppliers will adapt their standard specification to make the building Building Regulation Compliant, so if you are planning to build within three boundaries, you will need to talk your options through with various suppliers before making your final decision of who to work with.
Examples of garden offices built between 3 boundaries
Thought needs to be given to the materials used when building close to the boundary
Some garden offices are designed in a way that they require at least 400mm around each side of the building so that the installation team can construct the building. This isn’t ideal if you are trying to maximise space, as this 400mm around the perimeter of the building can become ‘dead space’.
Many companies, however, can adapt their installation process so that the walls can be moved into place without the space around the perimeter. When building in this way, the walls are lifted into place with the exterior cladding already fitted, this limits the type of cladding that can be used, both in terms of weight and making the cladding weathertight. In these cases, designers often make use of sheet materials.
Also, you need to consider maintenance when choosing your external finishes. Because you don’t have the space between the building and the boundary to access and maintain the cladding, you need to ensure you choose a durable finish. It is not unusual for designers to offer a different cladding finish for these virtually unseen and inaccessible walls to what they suggest for the front wall. Often we see Cedar used on the front elevation and a low maintenance composite product on the side walls.
Another option is to use composite cladding on all the elevations. Cladding boards like the cement based Cedral Weatherboarding need little ongoing maintenance so are ideal where access is a problem and can be used as part of a Building Regulation compliant build-up, so they are worth considering.
Think about natural light too
Often when building between 3 boundaries, you end up with a deep building to compensate for the lack of width you have. This layout will mean you are focusing your glazing on the front elevation. There is nothing wrong with this, and your office should be flooded with natural light. However, some designers will suggest that you include a window in the roof of the building. Top level light like this is very useful, and can ensure that the back of the office is as well lit as the front.