Garden outbuildings: tips for an upgrade

Garden outbuildings: tips for an upgrade

Ideas for updating a run-down shed, garage or workshop

By Becca Green |

Richard John Andrews, owner and director of architectural design studio Richard John Andrews, shares tips for upgrading garden outbuildings.

Tackle the exterior

Check with your local planning department that any change to the exterior, such as upgrading the cladding, is permitted. Then do your research. There are so many amazing materials out there, from bitumen roofing paper stuck over plywood to MD cork facade board, to traditional Japanese timber-cladding methods like yakisugi. Zinc and metal cladding systems such as interlocking panels or bespoke diamond-format tiles can be used on the roof or walls.

Reconfigure windows

Add or enlarge the windows. The more natural light you can let into garden outbuildings the better. North-facing indirect light is the best, as rooflights and glazed walls that get direct sun can heat up in summer. Try eBay for salvaged double-glazed units, or ask for old units from someone demolishing an extension, then install them using a simple timber window frame.

A home office in the garden with build-in storage and desk

Invest in built-in storage to maximise the floor area in a small space. Photo: TE-Architects

Correct insulation

Sustainable insulation is achievable for a retrofit shed or garden workshop. You could strip an shed, cover it in plywood and then glue cork to it using a waterproof adhesive. A more solid structure such as single-skin blockwork can be clad in cork or wood-fibre structural cladding boards then rendered over.

The necessities

Plan ahead when working on the main house and run an armoured electrical cable and water supply to your outbuilding to be used at a later date. Otherwise, speak to an electrician about adding or extending existing exterior electric and power points.

Dark timber boards clad a rectangular garden outbuilding

Scorched timber boards clad a revamped garden office. Photo: Will Pryce