An outbuilding or garden room is a great way of adding extra functional space to your home. 

outbuilding home office - tips to upgrade an outbuilding from an architect - home improvements -

Image: TE-Architects 

You may have neglected your outbuildings in the past but perhaps with the current pandemic you have reconsidered how you can use it as a stylish and functional space. Upgrade an outbuilding with advice from architect Richard John Andrews

Update the exterior

Check with the 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 Shou Sugi Ban. Zinc/metal cladding systems such as interlocking panels or bespoke diamond-format tiles can be used on roofs or walls. 

Read more: What planning permission do I need for a garden room?

modern home office - tips to upgrade an outbuilding from an architect - home improvements -

Image: Koto Design

Reconfigure windows

Add or enlarge the windows, as the more light you can let in 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. 

Read more: 9 ways to bring light and space to your self-build or renovation

Correct insulation

Sustainable insulation is achievable for a retrofit shed or garden studio. You could strip an existing 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.

home outbuilding -  tips to upgrade an outbuilding from an architect - home improvements -

Image: Will Pryce

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. 


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