The Problems With Building A Garden Office On A DIY Budget

Garden Rooms on a Budget

If you're thinking about working from home, a garden office is a great way to create a dedicated space that's separate from the rest of your home.

The problem is, if you're thinking of building one yourself from scratch, there are a few factors that you need to consider before taking the plunge.

After selling hundreds of bespoke garden offices, we're in the unique position of being able to tell you a few hair-raising tales of clients looking to save a few pennies by creating their dream office on the cheap.

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Buying One On eBay

First of all, buying a cheap garden office from eBay would not be recommended - although they probably look great, they likely won’t last more than a few years and that could prove to be a very costly error. 

The fact that you can't “try before you buy'', there is no guarantee, and you can't always be sure of the quality should really be setting alarm bells off all over the place.

Also, there will likely be little-to-no aftercare service - there's no one to call if something goes wrong and you certainly won't get any advice from the seller if you're unsure how to assemble or use it.

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Cheap Kits

Secondly, the temptation of cheap kits can be hard to resist but often, these are made with flimsy materials that won't stand a chance against the elements over time. Not only that; poorly made often leads to even worse construction.

This means you can start building, get halfway through, and find yourself stuck with a half-finished, unusable garden office. And you know what happens next? It will just sit there until you throw in the towel and hire someone else to finish it – which may end up costing even more than buying a garden office from a reputable operation in the first place!

DIY Skills

Thirdly, for those who want to take on the challenge of building their own garden office from scratch - you need some serious DIY skills! Just getting the base right can prove difficult, and any mistakes made could be costly (ouch!)

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Produce A Solid Base

A solid foundation is paramount for any kind of construction; in other words, the same goes for a garden office.

The fact that the entire structure will be sitting on top of it means if the base isn't level or strong enough the whole building could be at risk of collapsing.

There are a few different options when it comes to the base of your garden office, but the most common is a concrete slab.

This is because it's cheap, relatively easy to install, and will provide a strong foundation for your garden office.

However, this is where most DIYers go wrong. Concrete is a tricky material to work with and it takes experience, skill, and patience to get the mix right – so, unless you possess all three, it's probably best to leave it to the professionals!

And, even if you do get someone to do this for you, can you then guarantee they’ll get all of the measurements right or even construct the right base for your structure?

This brings us nicely to the measurements…

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Can you imagine getting your measurements wrong and having to take the whole structure down and start again? It's something we have seen time and time again with customers trying to DIY their own cheap garden office.

Getting the measurements right is critical - so be sure to take your time and get it right the first time.

A few millimetres out here and there might not seem like a lot, but it can make a world of difference when you're trying to construct a garden office.

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Lack Of Planning Permission

Did you know that if you build above a certain height or build too close to a neighbour's property, you could be in breach of planning permission?

This is why it's absolutely vital to check your local council's regulations before you do anything - the problem is, if you don't and your project subsequently gets turned down, all that money and effort spent on creating your garden office would go to waste.

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Establish If You Need Planning Permission

Garden Rooms and offices fall under the category of "outbuildings" which are governed by the requirements of Permitted Development.

This means that as long as your garden office meets certain criteria, you won't need to apply for planning permission.

However, there are certain circumstances in which you will need planning permission, so it's always best to check with your local authority before proceeding.

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Budget Man Caves

There are a few things to bear in mind when trying to figure out if you need permission:

  • The size of the building; if your garden office is less than 2.5m tall and up to 2.5m high and up to 15m2 in footprint, if it's less than 1m from the boundary.

  • The type of building; if your garden office is made from prefabricated panels, you're more likely to need planning permission than if you're using traditional construction methods. This is because prefabricated buildings are usually considered 'temporary structures'.

  • What you're using the building for; if you're planning on using your garden office for business purposes you will almost certainly need planning permission. However, if you're just going to use it as a home office or a studio, chances are you probably won’t need permission.

If you're unsure about anything regarding planning permission, we recommend getting in touch with your local planning authority for guidance.

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Plumbing And Electrics

The vast majority of garden room retailers work in teams - this means that a member of the team will be proficient in plumbing, construction, decorating, and so on.

Note: They won't deal with electrics other than the internal plug sockets or light switches.

However, if you're building a DIY garden office,  it's important to be aware of all the rules and regulations related to any electrical work carried out. The installation of lights, sockets, and other electrical fittings must be done by a professional electrician and be fully compliant with the relevant building regulations.

You'll also need to factor in the cost of any plumbing work required. For example, if you're going to have a sink or kitchenette installed, you are going to need to hire a plumber for this. The same goes for showers and toilets as well – these must all be done by a professional in order to comply with regulations.

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Garden Pods with Plumbing


If the plan is to use your garden room all year round, it's crucial to ensure that it is fully insulated - this will help to keep your garden office warm over winter and cool during the summer months.

When insulating a garden office, there are several different options available. For example, you could use foam insulation boards, mineral wool, or reflective foil insulation.

Oftentimes, people end up using the wrong type of insulation boards for their garden office. Not all insulation boards are suitable for use in garden rooms – some are designed specifically for use in standard homes only, which is why it’s important to make sure that you're using the correct insulation boards for your project.

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Windows And Doors

Finally, make sure that any gaps around windows and doors are properly sealed – this will help to prevent draughts from entering the room. There's nothing worse than sitting in a freezing-cold garden office when you're trying to work!

You should also consider investing in double-glazing for your windows – this will help to keep the room warm and provide additional noise insulation. Cheaping out on your doors and windows is a recipe for disaster – it's always best to invest in high-quality materials if you want your garden office to be both draught and weatherproof.

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In Summary

We hope you found this guide helpful and that it made you think about all the potential areas where you could save money when creating a garden office on a budget. It's important to remember that there are certain aspects of your garden room, such as electrics and insulation, which should never be skimped on.

Creating a garden office can be an exciting project but it's also important to make sure everything is done correctly and safely. So, make sure to plan ahead, and do your research.

If you don't want to go through the hassle of building a DIY garden office, feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to give you a quote.

You may also find our garden room guide quite helpful. It outlines the benefits and the approximate cost, and the average time taken from order to installation.

If you have any questions or comments then please feel free to leave them below.

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