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Do you Need Planning Permission for a Garden Office –and Five other Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Have you heard of an online tool called Answer The Public? We love it here at OffPOD because you can find out many of the questions people ask when thinking about buying a garden office and garden room!

So here, our experts have picked out five popular questions about garden rooms and provided their answers.

1. Do you Need Permission for a Garden Office?

The good news is, in most cases garden offices don’t require planning permission.

Local councils allow outbuildings of any kind within permitted development so long as they are under 2.5m in height externally (or under 3m in height if 2m away from your boundary). Permitted development rules allow “incidental” buildings such as sheds and summer houses to be put up without planning permission (as long as they are the correct height/location etc). A garden office or a garden studio used for leisure or occasionally used when working at home may well be viewed as “incidental” and hopefully won’t need planning permission. Whereas a garden office used for business five days a week and where clients visit the office is not be viewed as “incidental” by your local authority, and they may want a planning application for it.

The exceptions to needing planning permission may depend on where you live or if you live in a listed building. There are also considerations for those who live in AONBs and Conservation areas.

We have more information on this question here: OffPOD Steel Frame Garden Room Extension vs Traditional Build Extension

Our experts will also help you with all of the planning requirements when you begin your OffPOD project.

2. Can a Business Buy a Garden Office Building?

If you’re a business owner, you may be thinking that the garden office cost might be classed as a business expense.

The bottom line is that the cost of building or buying a ready-made office for your garden isn’t tax deductible from your business profits, but you can claim tax deductions on any fixtures and fittings. You can also claim the VAT back.

So even though garden office pods are moveable item it counts as a structure from which your business operates rather than an item of equipment. As a result, none of the costs of a DIY construction or the purchase price of a ready-made office is deductible from your business profits; most elements relating to the building and installation can not be tax deductible from profits. However, the normal tax rules apply to the cost of furniture – such as blinds or curtains, desks, and shelving. So this means a deduction for capital allowances can be claimed.

More good news for OffPOD customers is that the cost of thermal insulation fitted or built into the office also qualifies for CAs even where it forms part of the structure.

The cost of heating and lighting the office is tax deductible, as is the supply of water if it’s separately metered from your home. Repairs, including redecoration costs, are also tax deductible.

3. Can a Garden Office be Used All Year Round?

This very much depends on the type of building you choose and the level of insulation its materials offer. But we specialise in garden rooms that can be enjoyed all year round due to the multiple layers of insulating materials and type of construction we use.

As you might have seen if you’ve already Googled garden rooms, there are a lot of choices out there nowadays. Garden rooms can also vary in price. This also means not all garden rooms are built in the same way or have the same insulation properties. Some garden rooms are made of timber and are more akin to a shed or summerhouse. This will be reflected in the price – where timber rooms will

be cheaper but less thermally efficient.

When choosing a garden room provider or picking out the type of garden room that you buy, it’s important to look at the roof, wall, and base construction as this is what will make the difference.

As a benchmark, our walls have multiple layers that help to keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The layers that make up our wall construction include plasterboard and plaster, a vapour barrier, plywood, OSB Board, Rockwood insulation, PIR insulation, Tyvek House warp, premium cladding, and skirts to close the space between the ground and base of the garden room.

The base is also made up of thermal layering and the steel roof has PIR insulation sandwiched between the steel sheets.

Plus, our Aluminium bifold doors not only offer minimal heat loss through the glazing, but if your room is south facing, it will actually benefit from the sun’s natural warmth.

If you use a reputable business to provide your garden room you’ll be able to see exactly how the structure is made up and find the information you need on its thermal qualities.

4. Can Garden Rooms have Toilets?

They certainly can, and this is a popular option for customers using their garden room as a home office. The benefit of a stand-alone garden room is that it can be installed away from the main house – frequently making use of lost space at the bottom of a garden or a side area of a house that isn’t being utilised. Another advantage benefit of a detached garden room, as opposed to a Granny annexe or home extension, is that it doesn’t need walls knocking through from the main house to create access. However, this does mean that if the toilet is in the main building, you have to walk outside to get to it. Given the British weather – this can mean walking through wind, rain, and snow to get to the toilet!

Creating a small washroom can be easily incorporated into a garden room design and will just require the addition of internal walls, door access, washroom fixtures, and a water supply connected to the main building’s supply. While this is an extra cost initially, it can make a home office even more suitable for nine-to-five use.

5. How do I Work out What Size of Garden Office I Should Buy?

This can often be the trickiest decision when choosing a garden room. But having worked with so many customers we are able to offer help and advice.

A great tip is to base the size of your garden room on a room in your house where you can visualise how big it will feel and that you can fit everything in regarding how you want to furnish it. Then play around with some floor plans. Measure the furniture to be incorporated and get a feel for whether it’s adequate.

Planning ahead is really helpful at this stage to ensure you have gone large enough. We can also do floor plans for you to show how your furniture or equipment might fit within the space. Luckily, we also have lots of great examples to share with customers that can help to inspire them and see how different sizes work with different furniture and equipment in them.

Then, of course, it’s how this will work in the outside space you have. Measure out the base in the garden itself to see how it looks – we also do this during a site visit where we use temporary paint to make out the area. Walk around the marked-out space to get an idea of how it feels.

The size may also depend on the budget you’re working to, but again we can work out the variations you’re thinking about to show you how the final cost might differ.

Our team of experts loves answering your questions about garden rooms, so please feel free to drop us a line with anything you’d like us to answer.

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Elliot Hardy is a content writer at OffPOD, a premium steel frame construction company in the UK. Elliot's expertise shines through in the OffPOD blog, where he crafts insightful articles that inform and inspire potential clients. His writing not only highlights the latest trends and innovations in modular construction but also provides valuable tips and guidance on maximizing the functionality and aesthetic appeal of their projects. 

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