Work in progress – how new uses were found for the shed

The shed has evolved from hum­ble shack to so­phis­ti­cated stand-alone room. Sharon Dale finds out what is at the bot­tom of the gar­den.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

MEN and their sheds have been the butt of many jokes, but they’re hav­ing the last laugh now that the rest of us have wo­ken up to how won­der­ful a gar­den build­ing can be.

There has been a shed ex­plo­sion over the past five years fu­elled by a need for ex­tra space and the de­sire for a peace­ful re­treat that taps into your in­ner­child’s love of Wendy Houses and dens.

The ba­sic wooden cabin is still a best-seller but there is a host of new de­signs from Swiss chalets to con­tem­po­rary glazed af­fairs and eco huts with green roofs.

The cost and the qual­ity vary but you usu­ally get what you pay for. A small 10 ft by 8ft build­ing starts at about £7,000, while a larger guest an­nexe costs from £20,000 to £40,000 up­wards.

Cre­at­ing a stand-alone room in the gar­den is gen­er­ally a lot cheaper than hav­ing an ex­ten­sion to your house, but make sure you get a qual­ity build­ing from a rep­utable ex­pert.

You will need a good solid base and damp proof mem­brane to avoid “shed rot” and in­su­la­tion is es­sen­tial to pre­vent the build­ing be­ing too cold in win­ter and too hot in sum­mer. You will also need good foun­da­tions and an elec­tri­cian who can in­stall power and light­ing points.

“Get­ting the right build­ing is es­sen­tial or you’ll find it is un- work. It might only be a very short com­mute up the gar­den path, but shut­ting the door on the of­fice and com­ing back home is psy­cho­log­i­cally good,” says Alex, who adds: “I got my shed be­cause I had a grow­ing fam­ily and no space in the house for an of­fice. To move house to get an ex­tra room would’ve cost me £80,000. Get­ting a shed was so much cheaper.”

He is “be­tween sheds” at the moment hav­ing just moved house, but he look­ing for a new one.

“There’s an amaz­ing amount of choice now com­pared to five years ago when I first started work­ing in a shed and a lot of the new con­tem­po­rary ones look mar­vel­lous, but I pre­fer the old-fash­ioned shed look. I just think it fits into the gar­den bet­ter.”

While home­work­ers beaver away at the bot­tom of the gar­den, oth­ers have found more cre­ative uses for sheds.

Simon Chan­dler, of Barns­ley­based Re­gency Gar­den Rooms, says: “It never ceases to amaze me what peo­ple use them for. They are very pop­u­lar as mu­sic rooms, where peo­ple can play their pianos and trum­pets with­out dis­turb­ing other mem­bers of the house­hold.

“We’ve built them for artists and pot­ters and we did a job down in Devon re­cently where we built one for the hus­band and one for his wife.

“One of our most suc­cess­ful was a gar­den room for a boy who needs kid­ney dial­y­sis.

“He has a bed and all his equip­ment in one side and a kitchen in the other side. Rather than be­ing stuck in a bed­room look­ing at four walls, he has a view of the gar­den and his own place.”

An­other pop­u­lar use is for home youth clubs.

“We’re see­ing a growth in par­ents buy­ing them for their teenagers. The young­sters can in­vite their friends round and be sep­a­rate from the house, but they’re still in a safe en­vi­ron­ment and the par­ents know where they are,” says Simon.

De­mand for sheds is still in­creas­ing and they’re the only sec­tor of the prop­erty mar­ket to es­cape the ef­fects of the re­ces­sion.

As de­sign guru Ter­ence Con­ran once said: “A shed’s en­dur­ing ap­peal is its sep­a­rate­ness – where else can you es­cape from the house with­out trav­el­ling more than a few me­tres.”

Alex John­son puts it an­other way: “Talk­ing to shed­work­ers around the coun­try about their gar­den of­fices, one phrase cropped up con­stantly: “I love it”. How many peo­ple can say the same about their of­fice en­vi­ron­ment?”

ALL MOD CONS: Com­plete with dou­ble-glazed win­dows and cedar roof shin­gles, one of the of­fer­ings from Re­gency Gar­den Rooms.

ECO FRIENDLY: An of­fice at £12,900 from Podspace of Hud­der­s­field.

THE FU­TURE: The Orb gar­den of­fice, the brain­child of de­signer Philip Simp­son and ar­chi­tect David Miller.

WRIT­ING ROOM: Dylan Thomas’s hut in Wales.

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