A garden office creates the flexibility to work from home, while still being able to achieve a good work-life balance. The difference in cost can be significant, depending on the specification, size and features required.
Since 2020, the increase in home workers has been huge, with many of us ditching the office and going to work without even leaving the house. This mix of Zoom calls and cooking in the kitchen often leads to little separation between going to work and relaxing. A chaotic home environment does little for remaining productive at work and it can be a struggle to stay motivated long-term.
A dedicated garden office creates the perfect environment to work peacefully and achieve a successful work-life balance. All of your work equipment stored in a purpose-built room keeps things tidy and organised. The previous long commute turns into a walk into the garden, increasing time at home, while still maintaining the sense of going to work. For us, a garden office allows us to maintain focus throughout the day and switch off when we leave the garden room in the evening.
Even with the demand being high, the cost of a good quality garden office has fallen in recent years. While some buildings cost over £20,000, a small usable garden office can be achieved for as little as £4,000 depending on the specification required and how hands-on you are willing to get. Let’s take a look at the biggest costs to consider when making your decision.
Garden Office Base
Perhaps the most important requirement for any garden building, a solid and level base. Before the construction of a garden room can begin, the base needs to be installed and firmly in place to take the hundreds of kilograms of weight it will need to hold.
Garden buildings are designed to tight tolerances and we cannot stress how important a level base is to keep the building within specification. This is particularly true for log cabins, where the interlocking layers will not be able to create a tight seal if they are not flush with the logs on either side. Long-term, an uneven base can lead to water leaks, increased strain on the building and warping around joints or doors.
The choice of base depends both on budget and where the garden office is going to be placed.
The best base for a garden office is a concrete slab base. This will provide both a solid and level foundation for the building to sit on, without the worry of damage or wear over time. If you have existing concrete or paving slabs, they need to be levelled out completely. A common mistake is attempting to use an area of the garden which has been previously paved. Paving slabs are usually not 100% level even when new, to allow water to run off.
As a DIY job, a concrete base can be completed relatively inexpensively and lots of guides are available on the internet. The only cost will be the materials which includes cement, ballast and timber to create the framework. Be prepared to dig out where the base will go and also mix your own concrete. For a 3x3m small garden building, you could lay the base for an estimated £300 which includes materials and mixer higher for a day.
DIY from £300
The cost to hire a local tradesman or professional will be markedly more expensive. Costs factored into the price will include digging out the existing groundwork, materials, 2 person labour and equipment required. For the same 3x3m small garden building, the estimated price would be upwards of £1000.
Professional installation from £1,000
A ground screw system can be used in locations where concrete bases are not possible or the cost to install will be too high. Ground screws are effectively large screws that attach to the framing underneath the garden room. They can be fitted at the same time as your garden office and don’t require any preparation in advance.
The use of ground screws is dependent on the correct framing as part of the garden office. Costs associated include ground screws, brackets and fitting. We estimate a 4×4 medium garden office to cost £1500 including professional installation, with the cost increasing for larger buildings or where additional support is required.
Professional installation from £1,500
Further choices of bases for a garden office are available including decking and paving slabs. If you already have a suitable area in your garden available, the overall reduction in cost for the project can be significant. The base will be the first part of the project completed before a garden office can be installed.
Type of building
Choice of garden building will have the biggest impact on the cost and specification of a garden office. Consideration should be made to whether the room will be used throughout the year and how much space is required.
A log cabin makes a good all round choice for a garden office. While the price may be higher than a summerhouse, a log cabin requires less work to create a suitable environment for office use.
Designs for log cabins are available in both contemporary and traditional styles. A good selection of sizes are available for both small and medium garden offices.
Log cabins come in different thicknesses including 28mm, 34mm and 44mm. We recommend a minimum of 44mm for use all year-round. A 3x4m log cabin with 44m wall thickness will be priced from £3300. A larger log cabin at 4x5m will start at approximately £5000 depending on the specification
Double glazing is a useful optional extra when using a log cabin as a garden office. A garden office requires warmth in the colder months and double glazing reduces heat loss and therefore energy bills. Loud sounds and noise from outside will also be reduced.
While log cabin walls are thick enough to reduce heat loss, roofs and floors are not made of the same thick logs. Insulation is recommended, especially in the roof, to avoid heat rising and leaving the building.
Small log cabin £3,000
Medium log cabin £4,800
(44mm wall thickness, double glazed, insulated roof & floor)
A summerhouse is the most cost-effective way to achieve a garden office. Unlike log cabins, summerhouses are available in a much wider choice of specifications and can even be custom built to your exact size. A good quality 3×2.5m summer can be purchased for around £1,300. A larger building will be upwards of £1,800.
The walls on a summerhouse are much thinner at 12mm usually. This thickness will not be able to maintain a constant temperature throughout the colder months. Insulation is required in all walls and the roof. Most online garden building suppliers do not include insulation with a summerhouse and it will need to be installed once the building is constructed.
Insulation boards are recommended for insulating a summerhouse. The insulation boards are fitted in between the framing and then boarded over to create an interior wall. This is a DIY job that can be completed over a weekend. £480 is our estimated cost to insulate a 3×2.5mm summerhouse for use as a garden office.
A lot of summerhouses include plastic single pane windows as standard. Where the option for double glazing is available, we strongly recommend it. The added heat and noise insulation are essential for a garden office.
Small summerhouse £2,200
Medium summerhouse £3,500
(DIY insulated, double glazed)
A garden room is the highest specification choice when it comes to a garden office. Unlike a summerhouse or log cabin, a garden room will come constructed fully equipped including insulation and double glazing.
Most garden rooms also include house quality UPVC doors and windows which reduce heat loss and increase security. Garden rooms are still made from a timber frame, and the exterior cladding will feature high-quality wood.
The walls inside a garden room come already lined and require no DIY work. All of this comes at a price, garden rooms are significantly more expensive.
Small garden room £7,500
Medium garden room £13,000
(insulated, double glazed)
Painting & Protection
Timber garden buildings usually arrive untreated and it’s only a matter of time before the great British weather starts to take its toll. Investing in a high-quality paint once your garden office has been installed is essential to maintain longevity and stop any chance of rot.
A garden building will require several coats including wood treatment and painting. Top brands including OSMO and Protek cost near £45 for a 2.5 litre tin.
An alarm is also a sensible idea inside a garden office. Valuables including computer equipment and electronics are easy targets for thieves. Installing an alarm system provides peace of mind and alerts you if your office is disturbed. We recommend the Tiiwee alarm system for a garden office which is easy to install and features both motion and doorway opening alarms. While home alarm systems are available, they are usually designed for buildings with multiple exits and parts will go unused.
Paint & alarm £120
Installing electronics is essential for any garden office. A professionally qualified electrician is required to complete the installation and ensure it is safe. The amount of sockets and lights needs to be planned in advance. This may include additional lights on the exterior of the building for use in the winter.
Electricity is usually taken from the consumer unit inside the house. An armoured cable is then buried down the garden leading to your garden office. Both the labour and materials can be expensive here. An office that is further away from the house is going to increase the cost and time to complete the installation.
Medium size garden £600-£1,000
Office Equipment inside
An often forgotten cost is the purchase of office equipment to begin using your new garden office. While the costs are going to be small compared with installing the building, they can soon add up. A good quality desk and chair are essential, especially when sitting to work for long periods of time. We recommend a good quality wooden desk with drawers to make the best use of a small space.
Additional equipment includes computer accessories and the internet. For a garden office, it is recommended to run an ethernet cable between the home router and an access point inside the garden office. While Wi-Fi extenders can be used, an office requires fast and stable connections for video calls and productivity work. Installing a wired internet connection can be completed yourself or by a computer professional
Office essentials £400-£600
Laminate flooring is a nice to have feature inside any garden office, but will only be included as standard in a garden room. For both log cabins and summerhouses, flooring will need to be purchased separately. For a small garden office, £200 should provide a basic floor.
Log cabins do not include the cost of fitting as standard. Fitting is at least a full day job that requires 2 tradesmen on-site. The installation takes time to build up the logs piece-by-piece and ensure the building is watertight.
Planning the cost of a garden office is important before starting the project. While the building may seem low-cost at first, additional requirements including a base and electricity soon increase the cost substantially.
Choice of building will be the greatest cost and have the biggest impact on the specification of your garden office. Consideration should be made to how often the garden office will be used and any features required. If you are using a summerhouse or log cabin, we recommend investing in insulation for use throughout the winter.
Small garden office from £4,000
Medium garden office from £5,800