Set your budget
The old adage that 'you get what you pay for' is never truer than when you set out on the path for your garden office, and because it is not likely to be a repeat purchase you can't simply throw it away and start. With that in mind, it makes sense to do your homework carefully and decide what really matters to you. For more details on the types of installations available
Calculate your overall costs
Up to £10,000
You will need to either trade off the size of the building against the specifications, or build it yourself to get within this budget.
£10,000 to £15,000
Expect to get a small to medium sized office with a decent specification, subject to a level of project management
£15,000 to £20,000
A broader range of sizes and designs are available in this price bracket. Not quite turn key solution, but bespoke designs price brand.
A garden office is designed to be used throughout the year, otherwise what's the point in buying a dedicated work space that can only be used when the weather is suitable?
To ensure you spend your money wisely take into account the following points.
A building with double glazing, desks and other furniture is heavy - this requires a solid foundation to start with. A garden shed base is not suitable for a garden office foundation.
For year round use, the insulation is a key aspect for both heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. A garden shed without insulation will effectively be a sauna in the summer, and a fridge in the winter. If you can, choose a supplier that insulates the floor, as this often gets overlooked, Especially if you are the DIY enthusiast who is keen to upgrade the basic workroom.
Insulation can also act as a sound barrier. Thin foil insulation is effective at keeping you warm, but it does not provide any acoustic barrier to keep out the external surrounding noises. Rigid foam insulation with foil is the most suitable insulation when installed in to the cavity wall.
Adjustable doors are a very useful addition to a garden office, as timber buildings will adapt to the change in environment throughout the year. By having adjustable hinges this will allow you to easily achieve the necessary tweaks that are required to let the doors (and windows) open and close properly.
Internal decoration is subject to personal taste, however whilst a plastered finish will look clean and sharp to start with, but is likely to crack during the first change in weather as the 'shed' expands or contracts. Timber panelling is a good all round solution and is equally as easy to decorate.
It makes sense to pre plan what furniture you are likely to install, as the position of doors, windows, shelving and the like can be a major influence on how user friendly the work space is. Don't forget the location of sockets prior to build to, as there is nothing worse than electrical items plugged into extension leads because the sockets are at the other end of the room.
Talking of electrics, if you are someone who likes to work in a smart, tidy environment, then the wiring must be within the cavity. This should be the case in most high end installations, but may not be if the construction is a SIPS panel, or sold on a self build basis. Be aware that some manufacturers do offer electrics, but they are surface mounted not cavity wired with recessed fittings.
Finally, now that the homework has been actioned, you can plan your new garden office and get it right first time.