Creating a home office could be easier than you think...

In recent months we have seen big changes in our lives. One of the biggest has been the speed with which companies have embraced home and flexible work opportunities. As business move forward the ability to work from home is fast becoming a must-have for healthy working and job security.

The Telegraph’s Money section recently published an article on this very subject, inspiring us to write this guide. We pose seven questions which can help you determine if you need planning permission for your home office extension, which could add up to 10% to the value of your home.

1. What do you want to build?

2. Where are you building it?

3. How will you use it?

4. Will it be an extension to your living space or a separate building?

5. What type of business will it be used for?

6. Will people be coming to visit you?

7. Is it incidental?

What do you want to build?

Unless your plan is to build an office to rival Gordan Ramsey's new property in Rock, you should be ok. As a general rule your options are:

· a side extension

· a rear extension

· a loft conversion

· a separate structure (e.g. The increasingly popular Shepherd hut)

· an internal redesign

Each of the options above, other than the internal redesign, could fall within Permitted Development (PD), however they will still need to meet certain criteria in order to skip over the traditional planning process.

Where are you building it?

If you live in a conservation area, a world heritage site, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or other protected area you should seek guidance. If your new space is in your own garden then you will probably be able to submit a Permitted Development (PD) application.

How will you use it?

The use of your home office can have an impact on planning. If it is simply a space where you can have some quiet time and get your creative juices flowing, PD would be a viable option. If however it would be your primary business space, where you work five days a week, you may need to submit a more detailed planning application.

Is it a standalone home office, separate from your home?

If you are building a simple structure like a garden shed, building regulations are likely not to be needed. As long as the floor area is less than 15 square metres, your planning options become a lot simpler. If for example you want to move a bed into your office however, that will be a deal breaker, and you will have to submit a normal planning application.

What type of business will it be used for?

A garden office used for business five days a week or a detached utility room plumbed for a washing machine etc may not be viewed as ‘incidental’ by your local authority and they may want a planning application for it. If you have to add a toilet, water supply etc you will have to apply for planning, however we can assist with creative design options that can help.

Will people be coming to visit you?

If you are expecting to have regular visitors to your home office, with the associated vehicles and foot traffic, you may need to apply for planning permission as it could disturb your neighbours. This issue can be greatly mitigated through creative design solutions such as sound baffles, sustainable path ways and eco-fencing.

Is it ‘incidental’?

Permitted Development rules allow ‘incidental’ buildings such as sheds and summerhouses to be put up without planning permission (as long as they are the correct height. A garden office or a garden studio utilised for leisure or occasional use when working at home may well be viewed as ‘incidental’ and hopefully won’t needing planning permission.

For all your planning and design needs Cliff + Ocean is here to help. Our friendly team will provide advice on everything from the likely costs that will be incurred to make your dream a reality, through to developing your planning application and making sure that your builders deliver on time and on budget!

We can’t wait to hear about your ideas!