More and more people work from the comfort of their home, so a study is less of a luxury and more of a necessity to the modern family. When you need to work in a house bustling with life and brimming with distractions, building a separate room is a worthwhile investment.
But not many houses come with a study these days. So, what do you do when you need an office at home? Move house? Settle for the staircase landing or that tiny alcove in the bedroom? No need for that; just get cracking on a home improvement project.
There are various ways to get some extra space and privacy. But the choice will depend on your personal needs, the type of work you do, the budget, and the long-term plans you envision for your house. Here are a few ideas for a new study, along with the pros and cons for each option:
Whether you work exclusively from home or you put in some extra hours in remote work every week, the pithy phrase “out of sight, out of mind” probably rings true. Hence the idea of a garden room as a home office – especially since cabins, pods, modular kits, and timber frame outbuildings tend to be cheap.
A fully kitted garden room with glazing, heating, and wiring can be very accommodating. So much so, that it makes a fantastic setting for games, sports, music practice, and other noisy hobbies. But keep in mind that there may come a time when you’ll be happier for your children to use the garden room (think drums).
Also, a garden room is basically a glorified shed and it doesn’t necessarily pay for itself as soon as you’d hope. The cost of fitting it, insulating it for year-round use, and securing it to store your expensive electronics may never be offset. And you’ll probably only ever be able to use it as ancillary accommodation, so never for paying lodgers.
Loft conversions and garage attics are cost-effective ways to gain some extra office space and boost property value. Mind you, they may not reduce noise levels for you, though. Unless you soundproof them, you’d still hear people going about their business in the house/garage, as well as birds on the roof, airplanes in the sky, and other echoing outside noise. But you may be able to secure a grant for thermal room-in-roof insulation, which can partially offset the cost of soundproofing.
Converting a garage that’s attached to the house, either at the rear or at the side, doesn’t require planning permission, according to Citizens Information. If you’re lucky enough to have such a garage, reworking it for residential use may be your cheapest and most convenient option. But bear in mind that your insurance premiums may be higher if you don’t have a garage, and insurers nowadays check. Also, your family’s parking needs may change in time.
Another option is the very popular conservatory. But not everyone can have one. It can only be built at the rear of the house, within 1m of the boundary, without glass panels facing your neighbour, and leaving at least 25sqm of garden space. That’s assuming your home isn’t on a leasehold.
If you can safely tick off all those boxes after having a chat with the local authority, then you’re in business. But keep in mind that a good quality conservatory can cost nearly as much as a home extension, while adding less value and having a shorter lifespan. Also, depending on your local climate, mold and damp may be unavoidable. As such, conservatories aren’t the ideal place to have a home office.
There was a time when homeowners preferred to build from scratch rather than extend. One reason was the 20% VAT on extensions versus the 0% on new builds. But that was then. The Home Renovation Incentive, a tax break on home improvements, expired at the end of 2018, so it seems that extending a house is more cost-effective now.
In any case, ground floor extensions add considerable value to your home. If you can spare a few square metres of lawn, then you can build a fully-insulated, glazed, wired, heated, and finished rear or side extension. It doesn’t usually need to be in keeping with the character of your house. And you can deck it with modern equipment, fixtures like fancy new USB sockets, and a private entrance to impress clients and business guests.
As long as it’s no larger than 40sqm, no taller than the original house, and it leaves at least 25sqm of garden for family use, you don’t usually need planning permission for it. Of course, it’s best to check the Citizens Information website for up-to-date information. Bearing in mind that a large-scale project can take up to 6 months and you may need to move or downsize while the work is in progress, this type of home extension is a worthwhile investment in your future.
However, keep in mind that both in ROI and in NI, current construction guidelines require self-builders to carry out risk assessments, hand out safety statements, appoint lead designers and contractors, and draft a safety ‘file’- much like a contractor would. Which makes BIY consultants such a key element of a successful home renovation or extension project.
Architects, inspectors, structural engineers, and building surveyors work together at BIY to deliver your bespoke project on time and within budget. Take pride and pleasure in building that perfect home office yourself with BIY services you can count on from consultation to sign off and beyond.