Category Archives: Working from Home

Famous authors who created from the tranquility of the garden

It seems that a surprisingly large proportion of authors prefer to work in a quiet bolt-hole out in the garden. Perhaps there they can let their creative juices flow away from the distractions they’d otherwise encounter in the main home or in a traditional office space. Not even a phone for many, and certainly no spouse, kids or visitors to disturb them. Perhaps this, together with the peace and tranquility which the garden lends, is the secret to their success …

Captain Corelli's Mandolin by  Louis de BernièresThe Surrey novelist Louis de Bernières of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin fame is one of the many famous writers who do all their creating in the solitude of a garden shed, log cabin or other similar timber-framed outbuilding out in the garden.

Jilly Cooper. Photograph by Allan WarrenWhile this seems to be a predominantly male thing (see below), one exception comes in the form of Jilly Cooper OBE, who is most famously known for her Rutshire Chronicles. She does seem to be one of only a minority of female authors who prefer to create in a garden studio, shed or outbuilding (Cooper’s is actually a converted barn although she calls it The Gazebo).

George Bernard Shaw, 1936. Photographer: unknownGeorge Bernard Shaw, who is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature and an Oscar, was another famous “garden shed” author. However his was a rather grand affair which even included a bed mounted on a turntable so that it could be turned to any angle so as to make best use of the light.

Interior of Charles Dickens' garden office - etching by Samuel Luke Fildes from The Graphic, 1870Another very upmarket garden outbuilding was used by Charles Dickens in his Gad’s Hill Place garden in Kent. It was built in the style of a two storey Swiss Chalet which even included an ornate veranda at which he could often be seen pacing whilst deep in creative thought. Shown left is an etching of the interior where you can see Dickens’ desk and empty chair. Continue reading

Garden buildings late Feb through March 2014

Here we have a few more recent garden offices and studios to show you from projects during late February through March.

"Colgate 25" office or studio building built recently in a Camberwell garden (London)First we have a recently finished, widened ‘Colgate 25’ garden studio/office with extra windows & larch cladding. This one is a “25” meaning it has been built to a lower (2.5m) roof height so as to make it possible to site close to the property’s boundary without the need for planning permission (learn more about planning permission requirements for garden studios and buildings here). This outbuilding was built in Camberwell, London. At time of writing a standard “Colgate 25” garden building is priced from £7,535 plus VAT (including installation). The more attractive ‘full’ height version is priced from £8,253 + VAT, also including installation. Both starting prices indicate an internal size of 2.4m x 3.6m but this can be extended or widened if required (like our Camberwell example shown). The specification is extremely high and includes 6 double power points, double-glazed windows and French doors in stained soft wood, telephone point, internal and external lights, venetian blinds, very high specification insulation, and much more. Learn more about our Colgate range of garden buildings here.

'Synchro Alpha 25' garden office building recently built in Rogate, West SussexNext we have a ‘Synchro Alpha 25’ which we recently built in Rogate in West Sussex. Usually the Synchro Alpha garden office/studio comes with a contemporary looking, flat, painted, exterior finish, however this particular one uses Siberian Larch cladding as agreed with the customer (our garden buildings are bespoke, so pretty much anything can be altered from the standard specification). Prices start at Continue reading

Recent Build Highlights

It’s been a while since we posted news of recent Gembuild garden office projects here so we thought we’d highlight just a few for you now.

Banbury, Oxfordshire, garden studio:

Extended Colgate garden office/studio in Banbury OxfordshireFirst up is one which is hot off the press (a February 2014 build) from the market town of Banbury, Oxfordshire. Here we built what we call an ‘extended Colgate’ (internal dimensions 3.6m x 4.8m) with a ‘Sussex Barn’ real slate roof and beautiful timber cladding in larch. This garden studio included extra windows and french doors with double-glazing throughout (thank goodness – it was windy and raining for most of the build!). These garden rooms also feature, as standard, power points, telephone point, lighting (various inside plus a security light outside), carpet tiles and Venetian blinds. Further details of our ‘Colgate’ range of garden offices, rooms and studios is available here and prices start, at time of writing, at £7535 + VAT (that’s for the non-extended 2.4m x 3.6m version).

Burgess Hill, West Sussex, garden office/studio:

Extended Colgate 25 garden office or studio building in Burgess Hill, West SussexSimilar to the above, we also recently completed an ‘extended Colgate 25’, this time being a garden room which has a lower (2.5m) roof height to fit in with planning regulations i.e. when sited within 2m of a boundary fence – see our Planning Permission Guide for more information regarding roof and eaves height and how it affects Planning Permission. We’ve also been busy building a similar garden office/studio in Tamworth, which included Continue reading

Eco-friendly garden offices & studios from Gembuild

Garden offices, studios and buildings by Gembuild are naturally a very ‘green’, eco-friendly, choice. Eco-friendly garden offices, studios, houses and buildingsThe main construction elements are carbon neutral because the timber used is taken from sustainable sources where new trees replace those which were harvested for the buildings. The new, young, trees lock up increasing quantities carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they continue to grow over the long life of the Gembuild outbuilding.

Gembuild uses an unusually high specification for insulation to roofs, floors and walls (100mm of insulation in walls nearly 7 inches thick!), as well as installing high quality double-glazing to windows and doors. This means that very little is required from the customer in terms of heating. This optimum combination has a marked benefit for the environment because very little generated heat is allowed to vent to the atmosphere — which also helps to keep heating bills to a bare minimum. It also means that the garden studios, offices and houses stay at a more constant temperature throughout the entire year rather than always being too hot in Summer and too cold in Winter as happens so often when homeworkers attempt to work from a conservatory or from an inferior outbuildings with thin walls and lower insulation standards.

Sedum and wild flower covered roofs are available as an optional extra on some of the Gembuild range (see page 20 of the price list for details). This type of roofing has is very natural-looking, blends in with the surroundings and provides important micro-climates for wildlife including insects and bird life. It also further reduces heat loss by acting as Continue reading

Planning Permission Flow-Chart for Garden Offices & Studios (infographic)

Planning Permission for garden buildings - flow chart/infographicWondering whether your new garden building will need Planning Permission? To find the answer, work your way through our simple flow chart or ‘infographic’ below.

This general guidance* can be applied to:

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The highest specification garden offices

We are convinced that you will not find a higher specification and such flexibility being offered by any other UK garden office company – for such affordable prices. Just take a look at the incredible specification below, the high quality detail included as standard and the flexible options afforded by Gembuild’s garden studios and outdoor buildings. We challenge you to compare it to our competitors and are sure you will soon see the benefits of choosing Gembuild. Just take the thickness of our walls for starters — nearly 7 inches thick compared to a measly couple of inches if you’re lucky with some of our competitors. Also note the high level of insulation and that’s in floors, walls AND ceilings when you buy from Gembuild – whereas some of our competitors don’t include any! Take a look …

Amazing specification as standard:Included?
170mm thick cavity walls with 100mm of insulation?YES!
Walls include YBS breather foil & fire-resistant membrane?YES!
Weed matting supplied underneath if required?YES!
Bitumen finished / pressure treated ground plates supplied?YES!
Floors protected by DPM (damp-proof membrane)?YES!
Floors suspended with 100mm insulation included?YES!
Fully insulated roofs?YES!
Minimum 20 year guarantee to roof covering (flat roofs guaranteed for 25 years)?YES!
All soffits, downpipes & guttering included?YES!
Switched electrical sockets (sited to customer's preference), exterior lights & interior down-lighting (terminating to supplied consumer unit) included?YES!
Internal plumbing supplied where appropriate?YES!
Fully double-glazed UPVC windows (with either mahogany or light oak surround)?YES!
Window blinds supplied as standard?YES!
All internal carpentry (skirting etc.) supplied and fitted?YES!
Continue reading

Judy’s words of wisdom for home workers

 “Working from home is a bit of a dream for a lot of people, “ said Judy Heminsley, author of the book ‘Work from Home’.

“You can understand why if you are commuting all the time.  Then having a garden office is a step forward into another dream again.”

My-home-office-alfresco-reading-300x225For many, being able to sit in a garden office is something planned for over many years, yet there is more to it than simply having your own work space, there are also practical aspects, as Judy explained.

Having worked from home for twenty years running businesses, Judy began the popular site, How to Work from Home  after publishing her book four years ago.

To begin, here is list of five of Judy’s useful tips:

  • Make sure you go out and socialise, write times in your diary for meeting people even at a business breakfast club once a week.
  • Finding yourself having to manage solo you should remind yourself that you have many untapped resources.
  • Many people are quick to say how you should plan your work timetable but experiment to find your natural working pattern as everyone differs.
  • Most people find it easier to offer help than to ask for it but make it your policy to ask for help when you need it.
  • While home workers may miss the chance to talk over a work problem with a colleague, if you do have a problem, don’t wait for things come to a head, go and talk to someone who believes in you.

As well as being qualified to give solitary workers a confidence boost Judy is enthusiastic about home working and supports start-ups with telephone advice on how to work from home.

Everyone meets unexpected situations so I asked Judy to explain one of her own.

My-home-office-home-working-at-the-mill1-300x225“I worked from home for twenty years. I was running a cleaning company for twelve years, then helping my partner who was a trainer and coach by doing the admin and the running of his business,”  Judy said.

“When I was running a cleaning busines my partner in that hurt his back. Although we employed people we also did cleaning ourselves and I had to take on his cleaning and take other cleaners around to the places he would normally do.

“My day was extended to be much longer than usual. Then there is not only the extra work and the tiredness and the aggravation that comes about because obviously the person is ill, but there is also the worry of ‘Are they going to get better?’ and ‘How is this going to affect us long term?’ so it is a very difficult position to be in.

“Working from home can sound so idyllic and that it is all going to be so fantastic, but it is not a bad thing to think about ‘How would I cope in a crisis?’ We all get them even if it is the computer going down, or somebody letting us down, they happen.

“It is amazing what you can do if you have a crisis but if you knew about it before you would think ‘Oh Gosh I could never cope with it’. Afterwards you sometimes wonder how you did do it. But you do cope at the time and I think people are wonderful in being able to do that.”

According to the Office of National Statistics 2011 Census data there are 1.4 million people working mainly from home.

Some make the leap from office and successfully adapt to solo working, others, like Judy have always worked from home.
Winter home office
Asked what are the advantages, many home workers will put flexibility at the top of the list.

Usually we think of flexibility as being the ability to work around other commitments like childcare, but there is also another advantage, being able to do more by finding your natural way to work.

“You quite often read articles about how to work from home with all sorts of rules about how and when you should work, but I have found that it depends on the individual, what works for one person does not work for someone else,” Judy said.

“It is good to take advice from people and listen to what they do but it is sad if it makes you feel inferior or inadaquate.

“So I always advise someone to experiment and see what works because if you find a routine that does then obviously that means more motivation.

“One plus is that if you are on a roll it is quite nice just to be able to carry on and get things done.”

Judy recently took part in a co-working scheme, set up by Anywhere working, a group that shows how remote working can improve your productivity, which saw Judy jump aboard a pedi-bus during a mobile meeting around the streets of London, talk about rolling.