Building Your Very Own Garden Office on the Cheap
I’ve been working from home for almost a year now. A year of moving from kitchen table to sofa to bedroom. A year of trying to concentrate and find a place to be productive – and often failing. It’s not been easy to stay focused. So, we took matters into our own hands and decided to build our very own garden office. And we did it on a pretty small budget too! Here’s how to do it:
1. Do it yourself!
This one goes without saying really. To build anything on a budget you’re going to have to do it yourself, and a garden office is no different. First, find a friend or family member to help – it’s definitely good to have two pairs of hands for this! Then make sure you’ve got the time. It shouldn’t take too long - the two of us managed to build our garden office over 3 weekends.
2. Try to find an ex-display garden office/log cabin
This is where you can save A LOT of cash when building your garden office. We managed to find a local garden centre selling an ex-display log cabin for almost half price – just £1300. The catch? We had to go and dismantle it and bring it home ourselves.
Believe it or not, this was the most challenging part. We managed to get it all down in one day, but it was a long day. We had to carefully label everything and photograph the process so we could remember exactly how to reassemble it. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to salvage the felt from the roof, so we had to buy more from our local hardware store.
Don’t forget, depending on the size of your log cabin, you’ll need a large van or trailer for moving it. Luckily, we had a friend willing to lend us a trailer, so that helped us out with the budget!
3. Building the base for your garden office
Before building any garden office, you’re going to have to make a base for it. You could you use concrete but remember – we’re on a budget here. We decided to sit our log cabin directly on to a gravel base. Here’s how to do it:
- Dig dig dig. Get your shovel and spades out, mark out an area and leave at least 20cm extra on each side of the cabin. Don’t forget, some cabins come with a veranda too, so take that into account when marking out an area.
- Flatten the ground. We hired a wacker plate from a local tool hire shop (£30 for the weekend) and got to work. After flattening the ground, we covered with ballast and flattened some more. As our garden isn’t completely flat, we decided to save our backs, do a little less digging and raise one side of our base off the ground slightly. To make sure the edges of our raised base didn’t collapse, we put decking boards around all the edges. Then we hammered some long wooden steaks into the ground to support them.
- Gravel Time. Cover with gravel, rake out and make sure it’s level. We used a tonne bag of gravel which cost around £50. Voila, you’ve got a wonderful budget base for your garden office.
Time to build. For us, this was actually a fairly easy part. The walls of our log cabin are made from huge Pine Tongue and groove logs which slot together surprisingly easily. These also happen to be 44mm thick so provide great natural insulation for the winter months. Here’s 7 easy steps:
- Get the wooden base down. The cabin should come with a wooden base made from treated timber. Make sure you line it up exactly where you want it!
- Get the floor down. In our case, we decided to leave the floor and base screwed together for transportation. If you don’t, then just screw the floor down onto the base.
- Wall time. This is the part when your photos and labelling from the building process will come in handy! The walls should slot into place and go up easily, especially if you have someone to help carry them.
- The roof. Once the walls are done, there should be a few big joists that slot on top of the walls. Once these are on, attach the tongue and groove boards which form the roof. This part can take a while, especially if you don’t have a nail gun…
- Insulation. This is the only part where we decided to spend a little. We built our garden office just before winter and we were worried about loosing a lot of heat through the ceiling. We decided to insulate it by putting Celotex boards on top of the roof before we attached the felt. The cost of the Celotex in total came to around £150, but it’ll certainly save us some money in electricity bills over the years!
- Felting.Grab some felt and adhesive from your local hardware store and you’re ready to go.
- The windows and doors.This part is way easier than we thought. Our garden office came complete with double glazed windows and doors. They slotted into place and screwed together very easily. You’ll probably need some expanding foam to carefully fill any gaps you encounter here.
5. The finishing touches
The next step is to go around and seal any remaining gaps. For this we used expanding foam and silicone sealant. Then it was cleaning time. We’d actually made a bit of a mess as we were building (particularly of the floor) so we needed to get scrubbing.
We cleaned everything, did the odd bit of sanding and then applied Danish oil to the walls and floor for a nice finish. Admittedly, we could have used something better for the floor here, but we had a lot of Danish oil lying around and we were on a budget. We applied quite a few coats and we love the natural finish.
We also decided to create a gravel area at the front of the office because we somehow managed to break the original veranda...
6. Treat your garden office
You want to make sure your garden office is weatherproof. Although ours had already been treated because it was on display, we added a couple more coats of acrylic-latex paint. This was also the perfect excuse for us to change the colour. We went for dark ‘ebony’ finish.
7. The fun part!
This is the best part - deciding on a layout of your garden office and putting stuff in there! This part is completely a matter of taste, so we’ll leave this one to you.
Here's how we decided to do the interior. It feels super cosy but also spacious as the ceilings are quite high. The sofa bed was a Facebook marketplace bargain (£10!) and we even squeezed an exercise bike in there. Oh, and I couldn't resist getting a projector.
NOTE: We didn’t include instructions on fitting electrics in your garden office. Always contact a qualified electrician for advice and installation. We were lucky enough to have a sufficient power supply in our garden already, so it was fairly cheap and straightforward to connect this up to the cabin.
How much does it cost to build a garden office?
Our garden office cost us around £2500 in total. Considering many companies charge upwards of £20,000, we thought that wasn’t bad! With a bit of DIY know how, there’s no reason why you can’t build your very own garden office on a budget.
Am I allowed to build an office in my garden?
As long as your garden office has an eaves height of less than 2.5m and an overall height of less than 3m, you’re good to go! You can actually build on up to 50% of your total garden area. For more information on panning permission, click here https://www.gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk/resource/outbuildings-garden-sheds-planning-permission-england/
To make the most of your garden office, check out our top 5 tips for working from home