Friday, October 18, 2019

Five expert tips on buying a garden office

If you’re looking for an easy, lower cost alternative to building a bricks and mortar extension to accommodate a new home office, a log-based garden room is a great solution. It's quick to install, normally no planning permission is needed, and it could add value to your home - a survey last year by the HomeOwners Alliance and the Federation of Master Builders revealed installing a garden room could add more than £35,000 in 14 days to an averagely priced home in Surrey. Moreover, with bifold doors, cosy heated interiors and on-trend looks, these kinds of structures can be a great asset to any garden.

Nick Forrester founded Norwegian Log Buildings more than 20 years ago and has come up with his top five tips for Shedworking's readers on how to buy a garden office that really fits your needs:

Tip 1. Establish whether you’ll need planning permission

In most cases, if it’s sized under 30m2 and under 2.5m high, garden buildings do not require planning permission or building regulations - provided they are 1m from a boundary - as they are considered as a ‘Permitted Development’. But, if you want a larger garden building or live in a National Park/AONB, then the chances are you could need planning permission, and if you live in a Listed Building, then you definitely will. More information on that, here.

Tip 2. Think about access

Think about how your new office building will be delivered to your garden space. Is there adequate access? For example, if you live in a terraced house, can you access the garden from the rear? If not, make sure you choose a supplier that can either use a crane or supply the building in parts which can be walked through your home or side gate.

Tip 3. Research product quality

In line with home garden offices becoming more popular, the number of suppliers offering this kind of building on the market has also increased, so make sure you check out customer reviews online and make sure you visit a showroom to get a real feel for the quality and workmanship of the products in their range. If the supplier is a decent one, they should give you the option of talking to (or even visiting!) an existing customer so you can get a first-hand account of their customer service. Here are the questions to ask:
• Do they offer a complete build and install package?
• Ask whether their buildings can be used year-round
• What is it constructed from?
• Will it require insulation, and will it need any regular maintenance of any kind?
• Does it come with a warranty?

Tip 4. Consider where you’ll install it

Think in advance about where you want the building to be erected and what view you want it to have. For example, is there an awkward nook in your garden that can be better utilised? Do you want the building to face east for the morning sun or west to make the most of those stunning sunsets?

Tip 5. Remember the end use

Garden rooms can be a wonderful candidate for housing an at-home office if planned correctly. Remember the fact that you will need an internet connection, lots of plug points and some sources of light! Buying the right garden room can really transform how you live or work in your home. It allows some people to ditch their commute and work from their back garden.

“You’ll find that, in the marketplace, there’s a garden room for every budget," says Nick, "but be savvy and do your homework before you buy to make sure you pick a model that fits your needs, as some are just glorified sheds. At Norwegian Log, for example, we specialise in high quality, eco-friendly garden rooms made from solid log which have high levels of natural insulation so comfortable for year-round use with minimal running and maintenance costs.” -------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cressida Cowell's path to her writing shed

Children's novelist and the current Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell is a keen shedworker. She also regularly posts photos of the path to her writing shed garden office throughout the year. Pictured above is the October entry and you can see what it looked like in February and May here.

Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Steve Pretty: shedworker (and The Hustle)

Steve Pretty is a musician, perhaps best known as the leader of the marvellous Hackney Colliery Band but he is also a shedworker (the outside of his garden office which he uses as a music production studio is pictured above. One of his most recent collaborations has been with Rhodri Marsden for the marvellous new disco concept album about Brexit, The Hustle (trailer below) on which he plays trumpet.

Here's the full track listing: Piece Of Cake 0:00 Freedom Of Movement 4:47 Let’s Go WTO 8:56 Backstop 13:04 Canada Plus 17:07 Alternative Arrangements 21:48 No Deal 26:26 Hard Is Better 31:10 . As Rhodri puts it: "It’s the musical antidote you never imagined, for the crisis you never wanted."More details and how to buy it are here.

Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Garden office decking

Some advice on this thorny subject from Mark Ramuz of garden2office:

"Three words if you’re thinking of softwood decking: Dont, don’t and don’t. It’s literally a slippery slope in this weather, whereas composite deck stays grippy and looks great. This is Millboard Charred Oak that pairs really well with cedar cladding. We also install a range of grey and natural timber tone." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Virginia Woolf's writing lodge at Monk's House

Virginia Woolf planned and wrote her books in many places – she kept a pencil and paper by her bedside to make notes, she often spent her time in the bath sketching out ideas in her head (this is where she came up with the initial plans for The Years), and she also sometimes wrote in her bedroom when she was unwell, resting on a wooden board to write.

But at her home in Monk’s House in East Sussex, she also had two special places in which to write. The first was part of an extension paid for from the profits of her novel Orlando, a garden room with its own outside entrance, measuring 16ft by 16ft and featuring a sink and tiled fireplace painted with a sailing boat and lighthouse design by her sister Vanessa Bell. This was flanked by bookshelves on both sides. The room had lovely views over the neighbouring fields, but gradually this became her bedroom.

Instead, she mainly wrote in a wooden shed that stood in the garden. This writing lodge had the disadvantages that Leonard used its attic to noisily sort apples from the garden and it was also too cold for writing during winter months (at which point she decamped back to the bedroom). But it was improved and moved to the end of the garden under a chestnut tree (though she still clearly heard the bells from the church next door) and here she sat to write using a dip pen and ink in a low armchair with a thin piece of plywood on her lap, typing the results up later on a desk. She particularly liked using blue writing paper. Through the window she had views towards the Sussex Downs and Mount Caburn. The lodge also had a brick seating area in front of it on which she and friends and family would sit and watch games of bowls on the lawn in front of it and the Sussex Downs as a backdrop. During the Battle of Britain in the second world war, the German planes flew low enough over their home that they could make out the swastikas. “Bombs shook the window of my lodge,” she wrote.


Virginia wrote mainly in the mornings and it was here that she produced Mrs Dalloway, The Waves, and Between the Acts. Leonard describes her walking out to work at the writing lodge “with the regularity of a stockbroker”. In a letter to her lover Vita Sackville-West, she describes this commute: “I wake filled with a tremulous yet steady rapture, carry my pitcher full of lucid and deep water across the garden.” And it another letter, to her friend Ethel Smyth, in September 1930 she writes: “[I] shall smell a red rose; shall gently surge across the lawn (I move as if I carried a basket of eggs on my head) light a cigarette, take my writing board on my knee; and let myself down, like a diver, very cautiously into the last sentence I wrote yesterday.”

Leonard also points out that his wife maintained a strict schedule. “We should have felt it to be not merely wrong but unpleasant not to work every morning for seven days a week and for about eleven months of the year,” he wrote. “Every morning, therefore, at about 9.30 after breakfast, each of us, as if moved by a law of unquestioned nature, went off and worked until lunch at 1.” On warm days in the summer, she would also sleep there.

Monk’s House is now owned by the National Trust and the lodge is sparse but tidy. It was not so when Virginia worked there, her friend Lytton Strachey complaining that she surrounded herself with ‘filth packets’ as she wrote, cigarette ends, pen nibs, and various bits of paper. Over her lifetime she also had several tables/desks at which she wrote, including one standing desk. Annie Liebovitz photographed the top of her table in the writing lodge for her book Pilgrimage and this clearly shows the surface is scarred with plenty of mug rings and spilt ink. Virginia described it as, “not such a desk as you might buy in London or Edinburgh you see in anybodies [sic] house when you go to lunch; this desk is a sympathetic one, full of character, trusty, discreet, very reserved.”


Sunday posts are sponsored by eDEN Garden Rooms. Stunning, bespoke high quality garden rooms, to suit your unique space and style

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Garden office consultation suites

In an interview with the Suffolk-based Bury Free Press, managing director of Smart Matt Moss explains how it is rebranding itself so that while it is still providing garden offices, it has now become
Smart Garden Rooms, Offices and Studios to reflect its changing offering.

Among its portfolio are consultations suites, such as the one pictured above, which they rightly point out are private, comfortable spaces in which to meet clients compared to rented offices. Here's what they say about them"
"These multi-functional rooms can encompass garden office space alongside comfy sofas and soft, warm, welcoming lighting. Style and decorate your consultation room and design its layout to perfectly suit its required function, taking into consideration things like natural light and the need for storage. Clients will feel far more comfortable in the private, professional surroundings of a garden studio over a spare room in your house. The perfect ambience in your consultation room will leave a far better impression on your clients."
Saturday posts are sponsored by iHUS Projects, specialists in the design and build of granny annexes for elderly and disabled care.

Friday, October 11, 2019

T in the Shed

Subtitled 'The story of men in Scottish men's shed so far...' this play by Matt Dunn performed by 3in1 Theatre had a sell-out run earlier this year in August at the Black Box Theatre, Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh. Matt wrote it with men who go to men’s sheds throughout Scotland including St Andrews, Glenrothes, Galashiels, Leith, Barrhead and Stonehouse. Here's what it's all about:
"This play tells the story of what is a men’s shed and why is men’s shed so important. We follow Harry, Mike, Jim and Simon, four men later in life who decide to change the hand they have been dealt and start their own men's shed. This play is about a total loss of community and four men’s fight to bring that community back to life as they contend with their own issues of; isolation and loss of purpose. Life has changed and so must they. ‘If we want it, nobody is going to do it for us…’"
It's now been made available in book format and you can buy a copy from the 3in1 Theatre site here.

Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Discounted circular garden office for sale

As part of an ex-stock sale, Rotunda Roundhouses are knocking nearly £6,000 off the sale of
this 5m external diameter garden building (with a 19.5m2 footprint). Features include
  • Shingles on the external wall finish
  • 4x 630mm wide 900mm high aluminium windows with oak finish
  • One fully glazed extra wide aluminium  front door with oak finish
  • Bespoke paint finish
  • Engineered oak floor
If you're interested, contact them via the link above. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Scottish Men's Sheds on Lorraine Kelly plus new health briefing

An interesting slot on Lorraine Kelly's eponymous ITV show this week featured radio presenter Beverley Turner, former wife of rower/Strictly dancer James Cracknell, talking about how he has recovered from his accident and about her interview/features on male mental health issues playing on Union JACK Radio this week. The whole interview is below and the couple talk about the Scottish Men's Sheds Assocation from the 3:30 point:

Meanwhile, The Glasgow Caledonian University 'Sheds for Sustainable Development Project' has out out a new policy briefing looking at findings from their study on the impacts of Men's Shed activity. You can read the whole thing here, but here's their summary:
Studies have shown that although men are more likely to faceillness and mortality, and are more likely to take part in risky behaviours than women, they are less likely to useformal healthcare. Men’s Sheds have been identified as a potential way for men to access support and take part in positive healthbehaviours in an informal ‘male friendly’environment. This briefing outlines emerging findings from in-depth interviews with 62 members of five Men’s Sheds in Scotland. Our findings suggest that the characteristics of Men’s Sheds, in offering practical and social activity in a space that is inclusive of all men, impacts on the mental health, physical health, and social wellbeing of Shed members. Findings also suggest that the supportive atmosphere of Men’s Sheds allows men to share personal challenges as well as life skills and experiences in a safe and socially acceptable environment.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Sheds in offices

This is a guest post by Jonathan Ratcliffe from

From Walt Disney to Bill Hewlett and Dava Packard, IKEA to Harley Davidson, many of today's most famous companies were founded in a garden shed. And the humble shed is not finished yet, in fact it has become the new must-have accessory in London’s trendiest workspaces.

Workspace sheds have much in common with their garden counterparts. Yes, the old chair has been upgraded to a comfy sofa and the tool chest replaced by an ‘immersive collaboration suite’. But it’s still recognisably a shed. A place where men and women will feel right at home. We have trendy workspaces in Soho with phone booths and fake grass because people do their best thinking in private spaces, and the trendy offices in London are recreating these areas for their smartest workers.

And such is the flexibility of the shed that it has been adapted to serve a variety of purposes. The Foundry in Hammersmith has turned sheds into a series of funky meeting rooms and phone booths. While Spaces Victoria has created some cool co-working pods where employees can work together to design a new interstellar moon lander or an electric tin-opener that works.

And sheds have even been used to solve that age-old problem of the open office: the person who talks too loudly on his iPhone. Thanks to ROOM, they now have a soundproofed space of their own, where they can talk as loudly as they like. 

So if you thought shedpreneurship was dead, think again. The shed is all set for another century of building, inventing, thinking, gossiping and drinking cups of tea. The shed is back!

Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, October 07, 2019

Writer's garden office

Another one for the black garden office folder, but also an interesting exterior design by Swift Garden Rooms for a writer working in London. It measures 5m x 3.5m and was specifically designed on the client's instructions with extra height (2.8m) and natural light. Additional features include a sliding remote-controlled roof light, security alarm and remote temperature control.
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Discount on Smart Garden Offices this month

Smart Garden Offices is offering a 5% discount on its Key Studio range (one of which is pictured above) throughout October - to qualify, you need to have a site consultation this month and thengo onto order within a month of that date. Click here to contact them directly for more information.


Sunday posts are sponsored by eDEN Garden Rooms. Stunning, bespoke high quality garden rooms, to suit your unique space and style

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Is pubworking on the rise?

Longstanding readers of Shedworking will know that we've also been evangelically keen on the concept of pubworking, using pubs during the day as third place work spaces. Perhaps we're just being overly optimistic, but over the last few months we've noticed the idea gaining some traction, as these recent tweets below indicate. If you know of any pubworking ventures in your area, please do let us know.

Pictured is The Bottle of Sauce in Cheltenham. For more of their pubworking story, click here. ------------------------------------------------------
Saturday posts are sponsored by woowoo waterless toilets, the best toilet for your garden office

Friday, October 04, 2019

Sequel to viral she-shed commerical on its way?

Sheds don't often appear in commercials (apart from those for sheds) so for those who might have missed it, the jolly she-shed fire advert from US insurers State Farm below is well worth a look. So popular has it been - well past the one million views mark on the YouTube which has made a star out of its star Nicole Butler - that there are now calls for a sequel as well as a wealth of conspiracy theories about how exactly the she-shed caught fire in the first place...

Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Hawker's Hut

The Rev. Robert Stephen Hawker (1803-1875) was  a poet, ballad writer and vicar of Morwenstow in Cornwall from 1834 until his death in 1875. In addition to establishing the Harvest Festival that we celebrate today, he was one of the best minor poets of the Victorian age, particularly as a ballad writer. And he was also an early shedworker, writing many of his poems in the hut above known as Hawker's Hut.

He built it in 1844 on the clifftop, indeed on the cliff face, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean using driftwood (timber from local shipwrecks) and is is now the smallest property owned by the National Trust. It has a slate floor, wooden benches, and a turf roof, and visitors included Tennyson and Charles Kingsley. In his day, there was a path down to the beach but sadly this has now gone.

More photos and lots more detail about the hut here.
 Image courtesy Humphrey Bolton ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Genie of the Shed in this year's Dandy Annual

We mentioned this marvellous comic strip story featuring the Genie of the Shed earlier in the year and so we were delighted to read the final product in the Keyhole Kate episode produced by the excellent Lew Stringer, in this year's Dandy Annual 2020 which is out now. I don't want to give the game away so the above image is just to whet your appetite...

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

How to landscape your garden office

There's a useful new guide to planning and landscaping your new garden office build at the Garden Affairs site. It includes a quick rundown on subjects such as size, base, planting, paths, roof planting, and mirrored glass. Here's a snippet:
When you’re deciding on the ideal size, try staking out the area with some markers and string. This way, you’ll get a good idea of the footprint, and whether the building will fit well in the position you’ve chosen. Maybe you’ll discover it needs to be bigger, to fill the space and create better balance, or smaller because otherwise it would dwarf its surroundings. Another tip is to mark out the size of any equipment you want to put in your building - desks, sofas etc. This will really give you a clear picture of how the space is going to accommodate what you need.
You can read the whole post here. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning