By October 29, 2013 Read More →

Garden offices – how to choose the best for you

Garden offices - Pauline FranceHave you been looking longingly at the garden offices featured in Garden Office Week?

It’s a big decision to have your own built, not only financially but from the point of view of the disruption of the building work.

Today’s guest post is by Pauline France, a retired early childhood education specialist, who describes how she made the decision to buy, what happened during the build, and how she feels about the result:

Garden offices are a big investment, Pauline – what convinced you it was the right thing to do?
I had decided to extend my dabbling in creative writing when I retired and needed some secluded quiet space where I could read and pace and think and write. The back bedroom which I had used as a work office was too small and had far too many associations with my working life.

Investing in an office has given us all more space in the house….I’ve created a library as well as an writing studio from the office…and we have reclaimed the far end of our garden from rampant brambles, weeds and foxes too!

What happened once you had ordered your new garden office?
The site visit happened before I made the order and that was an important element of the whole process. We had to be sure all our questions would be considered seriously and given proper answers. Charlie, the owner of Smart Garden Offices, made that visit and was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable it was really not hard to choose which company we would go with.

The fact that on that visit my bespoke needs were discussed was so helpful and I could see my wishes were then passed on to the crew who laid the foundations and then constructed the building.

All the measuring, specifications and quotation were carried out on the site visit and then sent in a very detailed quote within a week. The other paperwork arrived very promptly after that, once I had confirmed my order and that gave me a clear schedule and explanation of the stages in the process – laying foundations, erecting the office and installing electrics.

How long did the build take and were there any hitches? How disruptive was it?
As we were having our garden cleared and landscaped/turfed and trees cut the preparation of the site and installation had to be co-ordinated across two other companies. All 3 companies were excellent in working around each other and so the actual installation went to scheduled plan.

The Smart Garden Offices crew were on site for no more than 4 days but this was spread over two weeks to give time for the foundation blocks to dry out. The actual installation of office, decking and bespoke shelving was two days and electrical work took less than a day. The installation team worked from early morning till evening, even when daylight had faded.

The weather in early December was not very pleasant and the clearance and rotavation of the old garden had created a muddy bogland effect…..there was a likening to the Somme trenches made at one point! But the crew pressed on and delivered on their promises. Disruptions due to parking and unloading were no more than expected and well managed by the crew.

What was your initial reaction when you saw the completed building?
I was desperate to settle in and start writing…it was such a wonderful Christmas present and met all my requirements. I had to wait for the turfing first and then from early in the New Year I was in my lovely writing retreat. It has been comfortable all through the snows, rains and excessive heat waves too.

How have you furnished it?

It has absorbed 3 easy chairs and all my old office furniture, plus the long wall of shelving [see above] has been more than enough storage space for all our books, which were distributed across several rooms in the house, and my CDs and ornaments. I have a couple of large free standing shelf units too and there is still space to pace and think.
I also store two wooden garden chairs inside for use on the decking.

What advice can you share to help other home workers choose from all the available garden offices?

1. Do research on-line and read testimonials from customers, check out Which in case there is more advice added since I looked.

2. Make sure a free site visit is offered before you have to make any commitments and prepare yourself for the visit.

3. If, like Smart Garden Offices, the company offers the chance to go and see previous customers and see their offices in situ take them up on the offer.

4. Consider your bespoke needs carefully and be clear that everyone has been properly briefed before work starts.

5. Do not be afraid to query, challenge and demand through the process – it’s your office not theirs so it has to be fit for purpose.

6. Make sure the schedule is realistic and takes account of changeable weather conditions – to avoid wading through mud to deliver cups of tea and coffee!

Pauline writes uncanny fiction and leads a governing body of an outstanding nursery school and children’s centre. She is still exploring ways to confront genderised mindsets as a mother and grandmother.

Enjoyed this? Check out more expert Garden Office Week advice on getting the best from a garden office.

Posted in: Home offices

1 Comment on "Garden offices – how to choose the best for you"

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  1. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hi Pauline and Judy!

    Super tips. I’d imagine doing strict research plays a key roll in choosing the right garden office for you.

    Thanks for sharing!