Backyard office aerial view showing a metal sheeting roof, from Mr Money Mustache.

Backyard Offices – All About Home Office Garden Rooms

If you’re fortunate enough to have your own business, or perhaps you work remotely, then the chaos that often exists inside a typical family home might distract you from your work. If this is the case, you might have start looking at colocated office space to work from. However this makes many of the advantages of working from home redundant. Another option is to build a backyard office: essentially a garden room or office shed.

Upgraded shed in someone's backyard, from Susanne Nilsjo of FreeImages

The key difference to a tiny house is that you won’t need a bedroom area, nor a full kitchen or bathroom. Desk space is at more of a premium. You could potentially get away without any plumbing or drainage at all, too, if you were able or willing to use your house regularly throughout the day.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google in a garage that they rented from their friend, working day and night on the first version of the popular search engine. If it’s good enough for them, an upgraded garage or purpose-built backyard office can be good enough for you too!

Advantages of a Backyard Office

There are numerous benefits to having a backyard office:

1. No commute. There’s no need to spend ages on the road trying to get into an office space, since you can just walk 10 seconds to the office in your garden!

2. Complete focus. Instead of getting distracted by working in your frantic family house, or even alongside noisy colleagues in an office, you can work in silence and dedication in your very own office.

3. Designed to your tastes. You can design and build your backyard office to match your tastes and requirements. It’s completely up to you. You might need fancy electrical equipment with various specialist wall outlets, in which case you can build this in from the start. Or you might value having a dedicated toilet (instead of going back to your house every couple of hours), in which case you can build in the necessary plumbing and drainage from the start.

4. Much cheaper. You can build an office in your backyard for as little as $3,500, which works out at much cheaper than leasing out office space. Unlimited shared access to a Wework shared office space works out at $350/month, meaning that your purpose built office will save you your money in just 10 months – plus your backyard office will be much more convenient (no commute!) than shared office space.

Disadvantages of Backyard Office

Of course, nothing is perfect and there are downsides to the utopian dream of your very own backyard office:

  1. Cost or effort. The price of a ready-made garden shed shell (which is big enough for a home office) is $1,500-$2,000. Adding the necessary electrics and furniture so that it can be used as a dedicated office can cost an extra $2,000+ or more if you hire a contractor in. Whilst (as per benefit #4 above) this can work out cheaper than shared office space, you may need to consider how you’ll fund the upfront cost of this work. The alternative is to build your own dwelling, which is definitely an option – but you obviously need at least a few hours space each week to make progress on it (and even then it’ll take months to complete).
  2. Employees. If it’s your company, do you have employees that you will need to work in close proximity too? If so, you need to consider whether your backyard office is big enough to fit your employees as well. You’ll also need to think about if your employees would want to work in a glorified garden shed in your backyard!
  3. Planning/zoning laws. You will need to double check your plans with your local planning office. Chances are good that your planned build will fall within their zoning laws, although if you are building close to the boundary with your neighbour and/or the building will be taller than normal (for a garden room/shed), you might fall foul of local laws. So double check before you start building!

Note: If you’re worried about ruining your garden or having to dig up land – we’ve bought a number of Tower gardens, feel free to check out our review of them. They’re a great way to urban garden in a safe, plentiful way!