shed vs garden office
Hi John, I need an office/den/storage area built at the end of my garden but do not seem to find a company who can do it within my budget. I am thinking of buying a cheaper 'shed' and then having it insulated for year-round use. Does this make sense or am I completely off my rocker?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Great question and one that many people should be asking.
The main differences between a shed and a garden office is the robustness of construction, water resistance, air tightness and level of insulation. If you are storing garden tools in a shed it does not matter too much if the temperature varies a bit, if they get damp or if the shed is draughty. However, if you are to work in the shed whenever you want at whatever time of year then you will need to take steps to make the internal environment more comfortable.What steps do you need to take to tackle each of these factors?
• If you are to feel comfortable working in a shed year round then insulation is necessary to reduce the rate of heat loss in winter and reduce the level of heat gain in the summer. I’m not sure if you have ever felt the inside of a timber shed wall after the sun has been shining on it for a while but you will get the idea that just opening the door, window or rooflight will not be sufficient to make the interior bearable. Apart from security one of the reasons house walls are built as thick as they are is to reduce temperature variations. An ideal working temperature is in the region of 20 degrees centigrade and a couple of degrees either side of this starts to affect your working efficiency. So number one is to insulate the shed. I intend to do an article on this at some point so watch my site blog or Shed building monthly.
• With regard to reducing draughts the main way this is done is through the use of heavier gauge timbers that are more stable than those used in very light gauge sheds. I would think that for a garden office you would be looking at a minimum of 4x2 timbers for the frame. Also, the doors and windows on garden sheds
are a lot lighter in a basic garden shed and so warp and leak air. With a garden office, they will often use house components rather than the board and batten type doors that are used in most sheds. Also, windows are a lot better specification, double rather than single glazed.
• Moving on to moisture control having large variations in humidity in an office can lead to paper becoming damp and also growth of mildew. Steps to reduce moisture include the incorporation of a breathable membrane in the walls, a polythene sheet beneath the floor to block moisture from the ground. Also the detailing that is used with the insulation can affect humidity. In the winter if there are sections of the shed that are less well insulated water will condense on these. A prime example of this is with single glazed windows that become covered in condensation in the winter and the water starts to rot their frames.
I hope that this has given you some idea of the difference in construction between a simple garden storage shed and a garden office. With respect to your specific situation I would be looking at two possible solutions.
• Firstly there is quite price difference between self build garden office and a ready made one. If you have any diy skills and are prepared to put in the time to research and then build your own you will find quite a difference in price. A lot more so than the difference in price between building a shed to the same specification as the average garden shed (where the price difference between ready made and diy is not too great at all)
• The second option is to look at one of the Scandinavian log cabins that are popular at the moment. They have thicker walls than the average shed and depending on the brand and model you choose are generally more robust. I have seen the Lugarde brand garden offices they are very well made and can be supplied as a kit.
Whew…..that was quite a reply, you caught me on my afternoon off work!
I am interested to see what solution you choose in the end and would be interested to hear of solutions that any other shedworkers have chosen in the spectrum between the basic garden shed and the full blown garden office.
All the best