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Taking the office into the garden Posted On 17 August 2020

How you can take advantage of your backyard to achieve a better work/life balance

It started in March when the Government asked us to work from home where possible. Immediately, the smallest bedroom, dining room and kitchen table were press-ganged into action as emergency offices as Britain went into lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some people were lucky: they already had a study to retreat to. For the rest of us, it was the daily ritual of unpacking laptops, files and notebooks; ethernet cables snaking across the floor from the modem, and the daily irritation of the noisy washing machine launching into its 1400rpm final cycle.

Admit it, many times you’ve looked out the window and thought “There has to be a better way of doing this”.

And there is. Go into the garden. Not as in just to get a breath of fresh air. But take the office into The Great Outdoors.

Thanks to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to relax Stamp Duty, thousands of homebuyers have had a considerable tax burden removed – until 31 March next year – releasing finances which can be used to revamp their new home.

And as more businesses accept office-based working could be a thing of the past thanks to broadband and enhanced IT, now is the time to ditch that out-dated “man-cave” you’ve inherited at the end of the lawn and replace it with a modern, sophisticated summerhouse or cabin to function as a place of work from Monday to Friday, and a place to relax at the weekend.

Varying wildly in price, the mainly timber buildings are visually appealing and robust, many have toughened glass and insulation, as well as industry-recognised locking systems, so basically all you need are power and good wi-fi.

There are also new grain-effect wood composite buildings which are low-maintenance, stylish structures which score heavily on thermal efficiency and security and provide the opportunity to create a year-round office.

And that may be mentally beneficial as we struggle to redefine work/life boundaries which become smudged if you are based in a well-used room in the main house. “Going to the office” may just be going into the garden, but it at least gives you a destination you can physically shut the door on at the end of the day.

As always, there are options and permutations. If you are buying an older pre-1960s house, you may be lucky and have brick-built out-houses that may just need sprucing up to make a functioning study.

And if there’s a small garden but a garage, you might like to explore a 70-30 conversion, with the majority becoming an office and the rest a utility or storeroom. Let’s be honest, how many people actually put their cars away at night, so it’s a wasted space.

Or how about moving into the loft, although you might need to seek planning approval for that one.

Whatever your choice, you can rest safe in the knowledge you have increased your home’s value.

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