Expand your home with garden furniture or an office

Imagine this: You want an extra room, an extension for your house, made without waiting for the planning permit; free from the relentless mud and dust of construction debris that travels through the house for weeks or months, and a finished product giving you a dedicated place to work from home instead of hanging off the end of the table in the kitchen.

Just over two years ago, working from home was largely the preserve of the self-employed.

This is now the norm for many, and even with the lifting of restrictions and a return to the office, some will remain at their home office and others are already engaged in what we now call hybrid working.

Changes over the past two years have led to an increase in demand for garden rooms, studios, pavilions and modules. Photo: iStock

From this change came an increase in the demand for garden rooms, workshops, pavilions and modules, where the homeworker can take care of the drudgery in peace, get away from the hustle and bustle of life domestic and, it seems, we are buying into them a lot of the time.

Kara Kramp, director of Dublin-based Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland, has seen a 200% increase in sales in 2020 and 2021 for garden studios to use in the home office.

“A single-person office starts at €17.5k, and can reach €60,000 for a complete habitable annex with a bathroom and kitchen installed,” she explains. “It would have up to four different areas inside. Prices are turnkey with foundations, delivery and installation built into the price. Disruption is kept to a minimum with the unit fabricated offsite and then installed, which Kara says takes “a day for our small units: the longest we’ve been onsite is five days.”

From rustic to modern, Big Man Tiny Homes structures can be designed in any style you choose to suit your taste and location.
From rustic to modern, Big Man Tiny Homes structures can be designed in any style you choose to suit your taste and location.

To get an idea of ​​the processes involved, services may include – depending on the supplier – project management, from initial survey, design and CAD drawings, to fabrication, construction, foundations, installation , electricity and plumbing.

“We aim for the units to be similar to a customer’s home with heating, lighting, sockets, USB ports and WiFi capability all provided as standard,” says Kara. “Smart home functionality can be added to all of our rooms and pods.”

Digital plans for bespoke studio apartments ensure that the interior is fit for purpose, so that the location of sockets, locations of desks and lamps and space for other furniture are all taken into account. account.

But one of the most attractive aspects of these structures is the low maintenance, if not the lack of maintenance.

“Our units are built to last forever,” says Kara, “with 25 years of zero maintenance and EPDM roofs that last for 50 years. We have highly insulated EcoTherm in all walls, roofs and ceilings, with high security low Ecocoat Class A windows and doors as standard.

Big Man Tiny Homes' romantic cottage designs create custom outdoor spaces for the whole year.
Big Man Tiny Homes’ romantic cottage designs create custom outdoor spaces for the whole year.

But there are some practicalities to consider for the buyer to get started, top of the list being the need to determine if there is enough space in the back garden to accommodate your choice of structure while leaving the amount of garden space legally required after installation.

PJ Simpson runs Big Man Tiny Homes based in Bandon, Co Cork, who manufacture bespoke garden rooms and cottages to your liking, whether rustic or state-of-the-art.

In terms of price, he describes his structures as top-of-the-range. “A 25 square meter accommodation with bathroom and kitchenette would cost between €60,000 and €70,000,” he explains.

Garden studios can provide additional accommodation for guests or just a change of scenery for the family, but must have planning permission if sleeping.  From Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland.
Garden studios can provide additional accommodation for guests or just a change of scenery for the family, but must have planning permission if sleeping. From Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland.

“An entry-level 15 square meter unit would cost around €35,000.” It also highlights the importance of assessing your garden to ensure that you have enough space to meet the legal requirements for this type of structure. “There must be 25 square meters of garden space left after the garden office is installed,” he says.

“The building permit is not required if the structure does not exceed 25 square meters and it will not be inhabited.”

But at a time when sustainability is critical to any new structure, and given soaring energy prices, JP adds, “All of our units are built to a minimum A3 BER rating. A 25 square meter unit with kitchen and electric floor heating would consume around €150 of electricity per year. The heater should only be used on the coldest days.

To get the most out of your investment, JP suggests using it for more than just an office function, so on evenings or weekends the space can be a hangout for the kids or an extra bedroom. for guests, but he insists on the requirement of a building permit. if the unit is to be used for sleeping.

Stephen Kelly of MOA Garden Rooms in Westmeath saw an opportunity at the start of the pandemic to develop a range of garden studios and sees the market continuing to grow, not least due to new laws giving workers the right to request remote work .

“Because of the pandemic, more and more people are making it their goal to find the right balance between work and personal life,” he says. “Our clients have found the introduction of a separate studio space very rewarding from this perspective.”

This three-person office structure also functions as a home gym, from Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland.
This three-person office structure also functions as a home gym, from Garden Rooms & Pods Ireland.

In addition to practical considerations, Stephen asks his clients to think about how their garden might evolve in the medium to long term.

“We make sure that the garden studio is in the most appropriate place in the garden and that its orientation is maximised,” he explains.

“Our studios will complement pre-existing features in the garden and we work with our clients to ensure they fit in seamlessly.”

Regarding prices, he quotes the options.

MOA seeks to ensure that its garden studios fit seamlessly into the space and complement existing structures and future plans for the remaining garden.
MOA seeks to ensure that its garden studios fit seamlessly into the space and complement existing structures and future plans for the remaining garden.

“Our smallest studio, MOA 15, starts at €27,500 plus VAT,” he says. “As with all our studios, this comes with a choice of exterior wood cladding, flooring and a choice of finish for sockets and switches. Our largest studio, MOA Platinum, starts at €47,500 plus VAT. This is the largest structure you can build in a back garden without needing planning permission. »

It’s still a substantial sum of money for anyone to spend, so to get the most out of your investment and the space really earn a living, says Stephen, “Many of our customers find it easy to adapt their studios so that they can become a gym, a yoga retreat, a simple relaxation zone or a music studio and a home cinema.

“Families, in particular, have the opportunity to use them as a multifunctional space, where parents use the space as an office during the day and as a home theater for the children in the evening.”

Control List

  • See what is included in the price other than the structure. Electricity ? Heating? Plumbing? Work?
  • Measure your garden. A minimum of 25 m² of space must remain after installation.
  • A studio of more than 25 m² requires a building permit.
  • Use of the studio for living or for guest accommodation requires planning permission.
  • Look at the wait time from order to completion. Current hardware shortages and high studio demand may cause delays.
  • Check the duration of the installation. It can be anything from a day.
  • With rising energy prices, check BER ratings and likely energy consumption.
  • Check exterior finish details to determine likely maintenance levels.
  • Provide site clearance prior to installation. Some studio builders/fitters will quote for this additional work, if required. If a bathroom is included, where is the access to the existing plumbing?

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