One of the surprising outcomes of the last year has been the rise in the number of people who have decided to take the plunge and either convert an existing garden shed into a home office or to build a new structure into their garden to use. These can range from simple garden sheds up to bespoke custom designed offices with their own bathrooms. If you are considering converting a shed into a home office what are the important things you need to know and what is the best garden home office advice?
The easiest, and cheapest, way to get that garden based home office solution is to convert a shed that you already have.
The first job is to ensure that it is fit for purpose. Depending on what type of shed you have or the materials it’s made from you may have to replace some parts. If it has become a storage room for all the junk in the house the first job is to empty all of that stuff out so you can get a good look at it easily and be able to work on any parts that need repaired.
First place to check is the floor as this is usually the first to go. If it seems Okay, or it just requires one or two planks being replaced then perfect. You should be able to just lift up any nails using your trusty claw hammer in order to remove the rotten planks and replace them with similarly sized pressure treated planks of the same size.
Next place to check is the roof. The roof can easily rot over time. You should be able to spot this quite easily as they will tend to start sagging. Be careful replacing the roof as it will most likely not support any weight and again replace like with like when you can. Once you have either replaced the roofing felt or renewed it the next place to look is any frames for windows or doors. You may be able to use filler for any small gaps that have appeared or if required you may need to replace the window frame entirely (still cheaper than a new shed though!) Check the windows as well to ensure all the panes (usually a plastic type and not glass) for any cracks or missing pieces and replace where needed. You should be able to get these no problem from a larger garden centre or, of course, online. Check all the walls to make sure there is no water damage and it is watertight.
At this point if you are happy with your shed then it would be worth giving it a fresh coat of wood preservative. This will make it all the stronger for any weather that is thrown at it and increase it’s life (important if you’re spending some money on it). With the loads of options available now it may be time to add some colour at this point to make a statement or to match the rest of the garden.
There are another couple of factors which you may want to take into consideration at this point.
Firstly – where is your shed positioned? A lot of garden sheds are set up in the far darkest corner of gardens to take up as little usable space as possible. This may be fine for the storage of a couple of old bikes and the lawnmower but if you are going to be working in it then it may need to be moved so that it gets a bit more daylight.
If you take a look at some purpose built home office units they tend to have a lot of glass to allow in as much light as possible. You could look at increasing the glass area of your shed by changing out the door for one with more glass or look into the option of adding windows into the roof.
If it’s proving difficult to change the position of the shed or add more glass into the structure then it may be a simple case of ensuring that you add in more lighting when it comes to that point, but natural light is always preferable.
Warming Up Nicely
The next thing you will need to do once you have the outside of your shed all sorted up is to turn to the inside. If you want to use your shed for working in at any time of the year then you will need to ensure that it is insulated. Most sheds are just one layer of wood so will be freezing in winter. There are a number of options for insulation but the best one is the type used in your house, namely the fibre wool type. To properly insulate your shed it is advisable to first prep the inside walls with a breathable damp proof membrane which will keep the wool dry and prevent any rotting. Check with a local DIY store to see what they recommend – (always ensure to use a mask and gloves when working with the fibre wool as it can be an irritant).
Like the house you will need to sandwich the fibre wool between the outer wall and an internal wall, usually using plywood sheets. When you are doing this remember to keep in mind where you are going to be placing desks and chairs an if you will need any electrical sockets. More preparation now will always prove to be a time saver later on.
While getting the wall insulated don’t forget to consider the doors and windows too. Try to Insulate any gaps around the windows and door with draught excluders.
If you have any plywood left it may be worth using this to cover the floor planks (makes it easier for a chair with wheels to roll over) and then cover this with a layer of carpet if you have some. A lot of carpet shops have off cuts as you won’t need much and it will be cheaper than buying specifically. Another option depending on your shed size would be to just buy a rug as it may be large enough to cover all if not most of the floor.
Power it Up
Something you will obviously need to consider is power. If you are happy just using a laptop during the day which doesn’t need charged then it may not be required but if you want to have a proper year round set up then power for lighting, computer, monitors and heating will be a necessity. Here, you really need to get in the experts and so I would strongly advise an electrician at this point to sort these parts out unless you know of someone who is knowledgeable and has experience in this type of set-up.
Remember, as we said earlier, to ensure there is plenty of lighting to sufficiently illuminate all areas of the shed. Another point is heating – it may be warm enough when you are working on the shed during the summer but you want it to be warm enough in winter too so that you are comfortable enough to work. Ensure you have sufficient power capable of running all these things – obviously your electrician will be able to advise.
Your home WiFi can maybe reach out to the shed from the house but again make sure it is sufficiently strong to allow you to work seven hours a day. If it is at all patchy then you may want to consider getting a signal booster or a wired unit (I did an article HERE which includes one).
The next bit is the fun bit when you can start to choose the colour for the walls, furniture and fittings for your shed. Obviously all of this will be up to you but remember you need it to be bright and light – I can thoroughly recommend Simply WFH for a huge range of desks and chairs suitable for the garden home office.
I hope you found this article interesting and of some use for those of you who are planning on converting your garden shed into a home office. It has many benefits over working in the house and I can recommend. If you have any questions or tips and hints of your won then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the comments below and I’ll get right back to you.
Good luck and take care,