Look what’s at the bot­tom of my gar­den

It used to be about the main house, its rooms and pe­riod fea­tures. But no more. Now it’s all about the out­build­ings. Ru­pert Bates takes a peek at what’s go­ing on in the wood shed

The Field - - PROPERTY -

Out­side in? In­side out? do the Hokey Cokey and be­fore you turn around prop­erty par­tic­u­lars will say: “If you want more con­ven­tional liv­ing and eat­ing space, there is a five-bed­room Ge­or­gian rec­tory at the top of the gar­den.”

that’s what it is all about these days. It is no longer just the main house and lo­ca­tion but what’s at the bot­tom of the gar­den. Cold Com­fort Farm can’t get away with “some­thing nasty in the wood shed” for the “wood shed” has to be fit for a king – or at least a home­worker or gym mon­key – and prefer­ably with the shel­tered space around it to spit-roast a suck­ling pig, with the most re­cent ice ma­chine to chill the Pimm’s lake.

It doesn’t mat­ter if you have the lat­est celebrity chef de­signed kitchen with mar­ble work­tops hewn from Mount Olym­pus in­side. the must-have is a fire pit out­side to toast marsh­mal­lows – prefer­ably pink and gin­in­fused. You can even now go on bar­be­cue cook­ing cour­ses if tong-tied. Cor­don black rather than bleu, given my culi­nary skills.

A gazebo just doesn’t cut it; ar­bour ar­dour has cooled and a bower is just for pe­riod drama swoon ef­fect. even sum­mer houses, which we fea­ture this month, are a mis­nomer as they now need year-round func­tion­al­ity.

“Bring­ing the out­side in” and out­door cook­ing are all the rage as the Bri­tish fi­nally work out that de­spite the weather they can still en­ter­tain al­fresco as if on the south African high­veld or in the Aus­tralian out­back. Well, sort of.

If you don’t buy a prop­erty with the req­ui­site ex­ter­nal stuff, you can add value by hav­ing some put in – wit­ness for­mer prime min­is­ter david Cameron’s “shep­herd’s hut” to pen his mem­oirs but al­ready sur­ren­dered to his chil­dren for sleep­overs.

A home of­fice, es­pe­cially if it doesn’t re­quire plan­ning per­mis­sion or build­ing reg­u­la­tions, is a pop­u­lar pur­chase and jus­ti­fied as a busi­ness ne­ces­sity rather than a life­style choice to es­cape the bick­er­ing fam­ily – the mod­ern equiv­a­lent of the al­lot­ment.

Cabin con­struc­tion spe­cial­ist Nor­we­gian Log Build­ings has been sup­ply­ing to the uk for 30 years and its cab­ins can be used as of­fices, guest lodges, gyms or mu­sic rooms.

“We have def­i­nitely no­ticed a re­cent spike in cus­tomers look­ing for high-end, chill-out spa­ces at home. We’ve had lots of our cus­tomers mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes to their work/life bal­ance by ditch­ing the long com­mute and buy­ing one of our build­ings for the bot­tom of their gar­den,” says man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nick For­rester.

the key is not just the qual­ity of build, in­su­la­tion and acous­tics but se­cu­rity, to pro­tect you from the fam­ily. Or be­fore you know it, your ego al­tar, with maybe a horse­shoe bar to en­ter­tain clients, will be hi-jacked by a yoga mat, a toy box and a drum kit. “Just go home. Can’t you see I’m work­ing?”

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