This is the first in our series of case studies in which we chat to first-time buyers about their experiences with their first homes.
Here we chat to musician, Joe Steer, about the new addition he’s made to his London garden flat – a rather impressive garden office, or should I say – a fully functioning music studio!
Why did you need a garden office?
I’m a music producer and songwriter and I need a studio in which to record my music. I have friends who spend many thousands of pounds a year renting studio space. Before I bought it, I’d been planning for a long time to invest in a garden studio – partly because I liked the idea of a 30 yard commute to work, and partly because it will (hopefully) add some value to my home.
What were your specific requirements?
I didn’t need a great deal of space as I don’t record big ensembles in there. It’s 10 feet X 6 feet internally (12×8 externally) and fits perfectly at the end of my garden.
I needed something that was relatively sound proof, although I didn’t have the funds for something entirely so. I fitted all of the soundproofing/sound-dampening myself as my studio wasn’t purpose built for recording.
Obviously I needed it to be hooked up to mains electric and it’s well insulated so I can work in there all year round.
How did you find a company (and who did you decide to go with and why)?
Through internet research, I narrowed it down to a couple of companies who came close to the price I’d expected.
There were 2 main contenders but it just so happened that the company I went with had recently installed a similar studio down the road (a Japanese acupuncture practice in Highgate) and the owner kindly let me go round and check it out. It ticked all my boxes.
The company that installed my studio is called Booths Garden Studios.
What was the process?
As I live in a flat I first had to apply for planning permission (if you live in a house under certain circumstances there’s no need to obtain it). I also talked it through with all my neighbours and showed them pictures of the similar studio that I’d been to see.
The studio building company also had a waiting list, so by the time the planning permission came through (about 3 months!) they were ready to install it.
The studio was pre-made in a factory near Peterborough, it was then delivered in about 6 pieces and put together in 1 morning in my garden. They somehow managed to carry all the panels through my tiny terraced flat without any issues.
How much do offices like this cost?
Mine cost a little less than £7k all in. This is easily equivalent to what it might cost to rent studio space in London for a year, and I’m hoping it will add at least that in value to my flat.
Any unexpected problems?
The only small problem I’ve had is with the back neighbour’s unruly Leylandii which is growing at an angle past the studio roof and in high winds bangs against it. It’s mainly annoying because of the knocking noises when I’m trying to record! But it’s also a bit worrying that it might cause damage. I’ve been gradually sawing into the trunk of the tree to keep it at bay but it’s growing at an incredible rate!
What do you love about your ‘shed’?
I love everything about it! I love the short commute to work, I love the copious amounts of light that pours through the glass wall, I love the peace and quiet (when I’m not recording), and love having a space all of my own where I can keep all my bits and pieces that my fiance won’t allow in the flat!
Have you got any ‘shed working tips’?
1.Keep it tidy: a shed/studio/garden office can easily become a dumping ground for everything you don’t have space for in your house. If you don’t keep it tidy and organised it will soon lose it’s appeal as a daily usable space.
2.Make it homely: I’ve got my favourite picture on the wall and a luxuriously thick rug on the floor (I often lie down on the floor if I’m feeling in need of inspiration, or sleep).
Would you recommend the company?