The time has long since passed that sheds and summer houses were used only as storage facilities or home extensions. A whole wave of garden offices and studios are combining the outdoors with the indoors to create eco-buildings that are green in more ways than one.
Many business owners are choosing to skip the commute nowadays and run their business virtually or from home. Not only are they avoiding the rocket-high rentals on a city office building, but the maintenance too on everything from heating bills to paying for internet and electronic equipment. Add in daily travel and food costs and it starts to become clear why this so-called ‘shedworking’ craze has taken off.
If this is something you’re considering, it pays to do some research. Find out how much a second line for phone and internet might cost and if you already have an existing shed or outhouse, research the steps you would have to take to insulate and light it effectively. Initial costs may seem high, so weigh up potential savings over time compared to leasing a serviced office and work out how the books will balance.
Built-in green features
There are all sorts of extra ways you can promote the environment from your own backyard. Building the shed yourself is much more cost-effective and satisfying, with a range of recycled materials available: used doors and windows, reclaimed laminate and even slates made from rainpipe guttering can help make the project a worthy one.
If you want to go all out for the environment, solar panels can be installed on the roof, again reducing your company outgoings over time. Then there’s the decoration. Use cladding or roll mat plants for your shed roof and you have an instant flood defence, insulation and the bonus of an attractive, natural look.
An alternative to a new shed one that has been used already. It’s worth visiting the local garden centres and asking if they have any ex-display sheds they want to get rid of – these will normally be heavily reduced in price, you’ll just need to do a little dismantling and rebuilding.
An eco-friendly business can still be achieved in the home at reduced cost but it may be the case that your home life and work life are not so easily separated, with kids in the next room or noise from the kitchen down the hall. A private space of your own is a precious thing and coupled with green savings, the garden office is a useful feature indeed.
Daniel Parkinson is a finance and business blogger who gets out his green fingers at the weekend. He’s currently writing a book about eco-business. He has used www.enviromat.co.uk on a number of occasions.