Home office is the new “must-have”

A home office is becoming a must-have for many would-be buyers. Sharon Dale reveals how you give them what they want.

This house on Appleby Gate, Knaresborough, has a Shoffice. The property is £350,000 with www.dacres.co.uk

A home office was once a rarity confined to top-end homes and even then it was called “the study”, aka the place where the man of the house could shut himself away for some peace and quiet and maybe a tot or two of whisky.

Now, thanks to the growth in working from home, either full or part-time, buyers across the spectrum are looking for property that has an office or potential to create one.

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Tom Robinson, a director of home-finding firm The Search Partnership, says: “Almost all our buyers want an office, preferably one that is separate from the house. They like the idea of walking to work, albeit a few steps away, and having no distractions.”

Patrick McCutcheon, Residential Director of Dacre, Son and Hartley, agrees: “Buyers want increased flexibility from properties and either meaningful study areas or separate workspaces are often towards the top of buyers’ wish lists. They are looking for a crisp, bright and uncluttered space, which is focussed on the work role, rather than a hybrid room.”

Patrick adds that good broadband speeds are also a must and something that many buyers now want information on when viewing a property.

“Broadband speed is a very important search factor these days and something we would look to specifically quote in a brochure if the speed is exceptional.”

Here are some tips on how to create a home office:

*The Shoffice: Most of those who work from home will go weak at the knees at the sight of a “Shoffice”, also known as a “posh shed”.

The beauty of these buildings is that they are completely separate from the main house and, as they are in the garden, they usually have pleasant views.

Home-finder Sheree Foy of Source Harrogate has one in her garden.

It is and “all-singing and all-dancing” version measuring five metres by four metres and cost £22,000.

It has acoustic insulation and acoustic Planitherm glass, which reduces noise from outside. She also has Cat 6 cabling and fibre broadband.

“I love it and so do clients. It was a significant investment but I know it will be a big selling point if I ever sell the house,” she says.

“Almost all the buyers I deal with want a separate home office or even two.”

If you’re looking for inspiration check out the brilliant www.shedworking.co.uk and www.readerssheds.co.uk

Most garden offices do not need planning permission if the building is a maximum height of 2.5 metres and if it is within two metres of the house boundary. If you live in a National Park, listed building or conservation area you need to seek permission from the local planning authority.

Expect to pay from £15,000 for a small Shoffice with a concrete base and connection to an electricity supply.

You can DIY but don’t be tempted to cut corners. A Shoffice must be insulated and have power points for laptops and a heater, otherwise it won’t be useable year-round.

*Extension. If your budget will allow look at a small single-storey extension or a loft conversion to accommodate an office. This should prove to be a good investment as you’ll be increasing the square footage of the property.

Or, if you have a small garage that is never used, it may be worth converting it into an office. Take advice from an estate agent first as this depends on the type of property you own. High end buyers often want a garage for a high end car so you may limit your market and reduce the home’s value if you convert it.

*Broadband speed: Ensuring that you have good broadband speed in your home office is absolutely vital. According to Strutt and Parker’s latest Housing Futures report, 57 per cent of people now cite broadband as a key reason to move. The average download speed is 17 Mbps and good speed is considered to be around 32 Mbps.

*Multi-functional rooms. If you have a spare bedroom, you could convert it into an office but you will then lose a sleeping space.

It would be better to show buyers that the room can be multi-functional by including a sofa bed and making sure that the office area is stylish and neat with a place for everything.

Ikea is a great place for home office and storage inspiration.

A second sitting room, which is so useful for those with children, can also double as a discreet workplace.

Check out the Chichester workstation, £1,770 from Neptune.com, which has a showroom just outside York. The cabinet includes a pull-out desk and plenty of shelves, all hidden behind doors.

If you don’t need storage space, you could consider a minimal ladder shelf with a desk incorporated in it. The Futon Company has one for £65.

*Offices in unexpected places. Look at the space under the stairs. You may be able to use it to house a desk with shelf space. A joiner could make an attractive, bespoke office there or you can DIY with a shelving system, such as String.

Check out landings and hallways for unused space that could re-purposed as a work area.