After work and home life started to combine under one roof due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us ended up needing extra space – with garden rooms being highlighted as one of the most useful property investments. Adrian Buttress, managing director of PermaRoom, discusses how these modern annexes provide a novel solution by delivering a versatile space away from the home environment, and shares his advice on choosing the right materials to create a long-lasting structure.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed ways of working for everyone. Businesses across the country shuttered their offices and millions of employees had to make the abrupt shift to full-time home working.
At first, it seemed like the lockdowns would only last a couple of months. However, more than 12 months later, many people are continuing to do their jobs remotely. With hybrid working becoming increasingly popular and a surge of employers offering flexible working policies, it appears this remote-working experiment is likely to continue.
This has caused the boundary between our work and personal lives to become blurred and the need to add more space to a property that provides a separate work environment is increasing.
Combined with the current housing crisis and the need for fast, cost-efficient methods of construction, contemporary garden rooms have taken the home renovation market by storm and experienced an increase in demand, helping many people to easily and quickly expand their properties.
Investing in a garden room
Garden rooms are versatile, so regardless of whether your customers will need a home office a decade down the line, the structures can be flexible and easily transformed into entertaining space, a music studio or even a sanctuary to escape to after a long day.
A lot cheaper than an extension or loft conversion, they are an economical solution with added benefits. Not only are garden rooms useful for multifunctional purposes, but they can also add significant value to a home.
A study undertaken by Property Reporter showed that garden rooms can add eight to ten per cent to the resale price of a house. So, while the short-term investment may seem costly, the long-term rewards can almost be doubled – with estate agents also reporting that garden rooms boost the saleability of a property.
No need for planning permission
Many would assume planning permission would be required to add a large building to a property. However, if a garden room is single storey, under 2.5 metres in eaves height and 4 metres in overall height, does not have a balcony or veranda, and is not self-contained living accommodation, consent is not needed as they are classed as outbuildings. This added bonus allows for a quick and easy installation and no fuss in a customer’s home.
Planning permission is only required when a homeowner wishes to build a bigger garden room. They also might not have permitted development rights if their home is a listed building or in a designated area.
Furthermore, if a customer is using their garden room as a base for client meetings or regular appointments, the local council could ask for them to apply for planning permission retrospectively as this would have an effect on the neighbourhood. Although not hard to obtain, applying for planning permission can be quite a lengthy and expensive process, so it is worth checking with the local planning office to confirm.
Timber vs steel
Sourcing the best materials to build the outdoor sanctuary can often give a sense of uncertainty. Many contractors will suggest a timber framework, which is the most common system to creating the core structure. And although they look sturdy, they are partial to rotting, which means the long-term investment may end up failing sooner than expected.
Timber is also a natural element and moves with the changes in climate conditions; it shrinks, swells, cracks and bends over time when faced with adverse weather conditions.
The latest in galvanised steel-framed buildings offers a wide range of benefits for homeowners – and it is worth starting to recommend using this material. Typically, the frame can be built in less than 60 minutes and is fully recyclable. Steel is also one of the strongest materials used in the industry and provides better insulation and soundproofing possibilities.
Ensuring a watertight garden room
Every structure needs a roof, so ensuring the ones you’re building are watertight and robust so it can stand the test of time is vital.
Felt and liquid flat roofing systems have previously dominated the market, but rubber EPDM is finally starting to receive the positive attention it rightfully deserves. EPDM roofing membranes have been developed as long-term solutions due to the optimal balancing of key ingredients to give extended durability. When a complete system is used, the material can be expected to withstand the elements for decades.
EPDM is also the perfect base layer for adding a green roof – one of the fastest-growing eco-friendly options for homeowners who want to boost sustainability when renovating – to a steel-framed building. As the name suggests, “living roofs” have a visible top layer that consists of plant medium, including water-loving plants such as sedum and other succulents, moss and grasses.
Garden rooms are definitely a hot topic and, this past year, they have been the nation’s saviour for adding much-needed essential space. The future of remote working looks set to stay and with us spending more time at home, now is the perfect time to tap into customers who are looking to invest.