Many people refer to working in a garden office as ‘working in the shed’. Its a fun way to explain that you work in a garden building. As a result many people ask us about turning a shed into a garden office.
Actually this question makes our blood run cold as a shed and garden office are two very different types of building.
Garden sheds were never designed to be used as offices
One has to remember when contemplating transforming your garden shed into an office, that it was never intended to be anything more than a basic shelter for tools, bikes etc. Because of this intended use the structure of a garden shed is quite simple – basic framework, cladding, small window for light and basic locks to protect your contents.
This structure is more than sufficient for housing your bikes and lawnmower.
Garden sheds haven’t been designed to be used day in day out, in summer or winter as professional workspace.
A garden office on the other hand is designed to be like a room in a house
The garden office designs we feature on this site have all been specifically designed to be comfortable to work from every day of the year – no matter what the weather.
When designing their garden offices the suppliers on this site took inspiration from housebuilding, and have used the systems and materials used in housebuilding as the starting point for their designs rather than a garden shed.
When working in a garden office you will find it as comfortable to work from as you would working in a dedicated office in your house. This is thanks to the high levels of insulation incorporated into a garden offices core structure, and the layers of durable materials that make up a garden offices framework.
With a dedicated garden office design you can plug in all your electrical equipment and connect to the rest of the world over Wi-fi as the necessary cabling is all incorporated into a garden offices structure.
Whatever type of work you plan to do in your office you will probably be housing valuable equipment and files, you will want to ensure these are kept secure, and dry. This is not a problem with a dedicated garden office design as insurance approved security levels are designed in as standard. In addition thanks to the high levels of insulation and heating in a garden office you can be assured that paperwork and soft furnishings won’t get damp – you can’t ensure this with a modified shed!
Okay, but is it possible to convert a shed into a garden office?
Theroetically you could create a garden office from a shed – with a lot of work. Over the years we have thought about the steps involved a lot and questioned ways of achieving a transformation successfully. However we have never come up with a solution.
A garden office is made up of several layers of material, each one of these layers plays an important part in the ultimate success of the building. When working with the initial structure of a garden shed it would be very difficult to incorporate these layers.
For instance an important part of a garden offices structure is the breather membrane. This membrane sits on the outside of the framework, underneath the cladding. If you are using a shed as the basis of your project how do you incorporate this layer without stripping back all the cladding?
In addition to the breather membrane a garden office often features a layer of sheathing behind the membrane which considerably strengthens the frame and stops it twisting – again how would you add this without stripping off all the cladding.
The external cladding of a garden office is normally fitted onto battens which create an airspace between the exterior finish and the core structure – how would you achieve this without first stripping back the sheds cladding? In addition the cladding used on a garden shed is usually not top quality, softwood cladding is used to keep prices low when buying a garden shed. With a garden office you will want a material that has a long maintenance free life span.
Insulation plays a major role in a garden offices build up ensuring the room is warm in winter and cool in summer. Peoples first thought is that its as simple as fixing it between the framework of a shed. In reality the framework of a garden shed is very thin, often less than 50mm deep – how do you successfully incorporate and support the insulation without first building up the core framework? When working with an existing building you also need to consider how you will deal with ‘cold spots’ i.e. areas of the structure which aren’t sufficiently insulated. When working with a shed you will find it difficult to insulate the corners of the building where the frames join, so cold spots are inevitable.
The windows found in a garden shed are no good for a garden office. They are often just sheets of acrylic pinned into a position. Garden offices on the other hand use the same doors and windows as are used in housebuilding. If you try to fit these into a garden shed you are going to have problems. For instance the framework of the shed will be considerably narrower than the profile of a house quality window and the framework hasn’t been designed to take the weight of a double glazed window. Short of reinforcing the framework its going to be a tricky job and not have a good aesthetic result.
We could go on about the foundations, roof covering and incorporating electrics and internal fittings, but we think you’ll by now get the gist that as shed does not make a good starting point for building a garden office. If you are going to the lengths of making all the necessary modifications mentioned above you might as well have started from scratch – and you probably won’t have saved yourself any money!
Our advice to you is to start from scratch and buy or build a garden office that has been designed specifically for use as a home office. The suppliers on this site will all be more than happy to talk you through your options. If you like the idea of building your own garden office pick up a copy of our self build guide which highlights the different elements of garden office construction.
Please resist the urge to transform a shed into a garden office, you’ll be pleased you did in the long term!