If you are stressed out with a long commute or a noisy office, you might be left wondering if there is any alternative; if there is any way that you can have a genuinely dedicated workspace to work from, without shelling out 3 figures a month on a swanky downtown office. Well the answer might be closer to home than you might think: buy (or build) a backyard office.

A backyard office is a backyard location created to conduct business outside of the home in a separate personalized lot in the backyard. The separation of the office from the home gives a more professional and controlled environment.

A backyard office can be built to any approved shed size. The approval must be granted by the city and proper permits should be obtained before development, however if you already have a backyard shed then converting it into an office is an easier route.

Backyard office sheds are perfect for small businesses or work from home jobs. This will separate your private work from the hustle and bustle of family at home. Shed offices can be converted to your liking and can be updated to look like a small professional building in the backyard. Depending on the preferred size, the office can have enough space for a desk, shelves, mini fridge and a small couch.

Having a subcompartment to your home can make business meetings feel more professional. Building a professional quarters at home can be more cost effective than renting an office space out and paying its utilities. The comfort and privacy of your home can easily be expanded to your home office.

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What Are the Financial Benefits?

Having a home office is a very cost effective version of a private office. Now that products and services are being streamlined, potential consumers are spending more time online and on their phones rather than coming into an office establishment. Customer streamlining is the key to a successful business; when you are comfortable you are able to be more productive for your clients. Home offices let you control the theme and atmosphere of your preferred office setting.

Working from home can also be used as a tax break (check with your local/state regulations before considering this option). Working from home is already a financially progressive option, putting together a professional location brings it to the next level. This option will allow you to save money on gas and car maintenance as well as security. Having a home office will give you access to your private professional villa at anytime of the day, and if you have home security, you can extend it to your office shed. No longer having time-consuming commutes to the office and time wasted on constant car repairs will mean more time and money will be saved with this office shed concept.

What Are The Disadvantages?

Nothing is perfect, and home renovation projects definitely are not: they can sometimes have a hard time coming together. There are things to consider when creating a home shed office; take these examples into consideration when starting this office project. Here is a short list to consider and some potential solutions.

  • Pests: No matter where you are there are going to be pests. The best thing to do is insulate the interior of the office shed and ensure there are no cracks/small holes, although in very bad cases you might need to have a professional spray
  • Break-In: With any office, break-ins are possible no matter the location. Considering proper security is the best option for backyard office sheds.
  • Weather Damage: Proper construction and insulation will be determined by your climate and a professional. Have a professional evaluate your home office shed suitability and make any proper upgrades to secure your office’s structure.
  • Insurance Issues: Prior to starting this project, be sure to check with your homeowners insurance to see if they cover sheds and storage (and whether they consider outdoor home offices to be different to sheds).
  • Bad Location: If you live in an area with a bad environment, loud neighbors or a run down neighborhood, then a home office may be a bad decision. The best thing to do if you are serious about a home office is to make the inside of the office as suitable as possible: good insulation and modern windows will cut down on noise a lot.

How Can I Personalize It?

Backyard photograph showing this 'garden office pod', with vertical wood timber cladding and a second door into a storage area.

Having a home office is considered a luxury to most people: having the freedom of the home environment without the stress of the office setting and morning traffic. There are different ways to personalize a home office. The first step to personalizing the office shed design is to know what you are looking for. If you live in an area with a nice view you may want to consider one sided windows and shades. Having a beauty of a view in your office is great for appointments or de-stressing in the office. The next thing to consider is the interior design: have a general idea of what you think a comfortable office looks like will depend on what makes you the most productive. Having the traditional office setting replicated into your home office is an option, or making the office warm and inviting is an option too.

The building’s exterior will depend on your climate. If you live in a rainy city then it is best to use shed material that will withstand the elements. If you live in a dry climate, then it might be a good idea to get material that will withstand the excessive heat and sunlight. In a sunny location, you could consider getting a solar panel for your shed so it can produce its electricity separate from the home. A solar option for your backyard office is an eco option that can produce its own energy and sustain for hours during the day (with power storage it can even be used at night). Note: when using this option be sure to have a backup power connection for long periods of overcast weather or excessive lack of sunlight.

Personalizing the office will need to start with how its built. Consider the amount of square footage the space will have. Social Media networks like Pinterest offer many different layouts for design of a home office shed. From color to theme, it is easier to get a good grasp on your concept. Sometimes settling on vision is the hardest part of a project. The biggest step is considering getting a second opinion, a second opinion will guide you toward narrowing down your choices.

Alternatives to The Office Shed Combo

If an office home shed is not the best option for your lifestyle or business, then it best to consider alternative ideas. Here is a short list of options:

  • Rent A Space: Renting a flexible space can allow you the ability to move your location when that location no longer suites you, although this comes at a cost: we have found that your own backyard office can become profitable (compared to flexible coworking spaces) within just 8-12 months.
  • Work From Home: Having a home shed office is not the only work from home option. Having a designated room as your preferred office space is still a suitable option. Not everyone has a noisy home with a full family, so some office users have the freedom of using certain rooms as a controlled office space.
  • Trailer Office: A portable office is an option that has many benefits; you can work on the go or visit clients for personal consultation. For security purposes you can take your office with you. Many business owners may need a trailer office if they are traveling with their truck or RV and need a private place to work.
  • RV Office: Similar to a trailer office, an RV office is a portable building. However, not all trailers have a restroom, large windows or AC and heat. Due to the height of this vehicle, RV’s can be more private without taking aware from the view they provide.
  • Traditional Office Setting: Going back to what you know can be the best option for most; not everyone has the freedom to work from home or be at home 24/7. Some people don’t own homes or live with roommates. For smaller businesses or people working for companies, traditional office settings may be the best choice.
  • Community Space: There are many companies that offer free community office space. In highly populated areas (Coastal areas predominantly) people can find co-work spaces that offer free perks with no charge or exchange. These free lofts are open to the public with minimal registration. This allows small business owners or traveling personnel to drop in for several hours of free office space and sometimes refreshments.

What Is the Cost?

A work in progress photo of Roger Perkin's garden office shed, with UPVC doors and windows added. Roof and internals still need finishing off.

The resources are available for any office path you decide on. The cost of a shed office ranges from $1,500 (if you do it yourself) to $25,000 (if you hire out, and want top-of-the-range). This price can easily be higher if you add certain items like solar power. It costs between $17 to $24 dollars a square foot to build a shed alone. Though its simple to build a shed in your backyard, building an office shed can be a lot more work. Office sheds can require insulation, electric wiring, additional permits, and maybe even plumbing. We do not mention this to scare you away from the idea of a home office; this is just to awaken you to the reality of this financial commitment (especially if you want the best of everything: a huge backyard studio with full electricity and plumbing will cost more than a smaller backyard office with just electricity).

There are many ways to lower the cost of building a shed office, the best way is to do the build yourself and also to use recycled material. Often recycled material is cheap or even free. If you are using this project as a test run for the real deal, then reusing old material is a great idea. Next to solar power, recycled material is another good environmental step.

Who Do I Hire For This Project?

If you are looking for someone to do the job for you, then it is a good idea to consider hiring a team to get the job done. A small construction company can help you map locations and material selections. If you are not sure where to start and who to consider, companies like Fixr.com are available to give your estimates and reference for the projects. It is important to be aware that hiring help for the project will still require your support. Hired help will need to know what you are looking for as your end result and how much work you want them to do. They may only need to lay cement and wiring for you; this is a good financial and safety move to take when starting a home business project. This strategy will ensure proper safety of the product’s foundation, without exposing you to the (sometimes) big costs of wiring up and fitting out your interior.