Planning Another Office Move

My office at the moment is in the "spare room" after Felix booted me out of what became his. It's spare in that anything without anywhere better to go (like me) ends up in here.

Karen has a wardrobe in here (my elbow is against it as I type this). There's a bed and a chest of drawers with various linen items in it. There's not a whole lot of room left for me and all the paraphernalia that come with home-working, as you can see. Even though my desk has had all its extensions removed and is now as small as it will go.

If our "family planning" goes to, errr, plan then this won't end up being a spare room for long and I need to consider vacating it at some point in the next 9 months or so. I need to find somewhere else to site my desk.

For a while I was thinking about finding some serviced office space in Nottingham and even got as far as ringing round a few to book appointments. There's one within walking distance of the house and at an all-in cost of about £200 per month wasn't such a bad deal. However, lots of things put me off it. While I like the idea of having somewhere to work without disturbance I just don't think it would be practical. Where do the dev servers go and how do I work on them on the days I decide to stay at home etc etc.

It was even suggested (see if you can guess who by) that I move in to either the cellar (hey, who needs natural daylight anyway!?) or the tiny little out-house-cum-potting-shed, where there's literally not enough room to swing a cat. Needless to say I didn't give either idea much time.

Then came the brainwave — why not knock down the garage and re-build it as part garage part office.


The garage is at the end of the drive on the left of the house and is effectively behind the house and in the garden. As you can see it's a bit of an eye-sore. It's been there at least 20 years, apparently, although I don't know if it was built at that angle or not. Shoddy!

My thoughts on garages are that they're nice to have to store your tools in and for messing about in but who ever keeps a car in theirs!? Personally I'd get rid of it for a bigger garden but Karen is adamant that we need to keep it because people won't buy a house without one.

Well, based on the fact it never has/had a car inside it, there's no need for it to be as long as it is. Why not rebuild it the same length but with a partition wall 2/3rds the way down!? The other 1/3 becomes an office/study space. When selling, if the buyer turns out to be a car-nut, you simply explain how to knock down the wall and revert it to a full-length garage (could even grab a hammer and do it for them if it became a deal breaker). Personally I think it would be a much better selling point to say you had an detached work-house-cum-study-cum-office complete with phones and networking. Sounds much better than simply having a garage and is much more likely to be appealing to buyers nowadays.

So, that's my plan. It probably won't happen until Spring next year, but already it's becoming all I think about — bricks or rendered blocks, what roof style, how big does the office space need to be? etc etc. Also on my mind is the need for planning permission from the local council, which I'm going to do sooner rather than later. I'll keep you informed as it progresses.


  1. Just another thought what are the tax implications, somewhere in the back of my mind there may be an issue with capital gains tax.

  2. Having done the rounds of looking at houses recently, this is not an uncommon move and as long as its simply more than a few bits of plywood held in place by some dodgy bits of 2x4, as in one case where I was afraid to sneeze, it does make the house more "interesting".

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 05:41 AM

    CGT is a grey area I want to try and avoid. I'd love to do everything by the book, but also want to do it economically. I might have to consult my accountant on the tax implications of it all. From what I've learnt so far I think it depends if it's for sole business use. Obviously mine will have a comfy chair/tv/bookshelf in and also be used as my "study" as well.

    It will be a solid block wall Graham. Needs to be insulated, where the garage side won't be.

    • avatar
    • Kieren Johnson
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 06:49 AM

    Personally, I don't understand why people don't use their garages. Just fit one of those automatic doors on the front and it becomes a breeze to drive in and out of. Your car stays cleaner for longer, it is not boiling hot in summer and it isn't freezing cold in the mornings during winter.

    My suggestion would be to extend the garage forward - keep space for a car but add your office at the back.

  3. I think it could be a dodgy idea myself. I lived in a house where one of the rooms was only separated from the garage by a breeze-block wall. Whenever the car was backed into the garage, the house stank of car fumes (carbon monoxide?) for hours.

    I know that you are saying you never put the car in there yourself, but for me it would add no value to a house with an office that was shared with a garage that was in use. Also, don't forget your heating - I think you're going to need quite a significant power supply going into that garage.

    I also think there might be tax implications - not necessarily that the 'office' adds value to your house, rather I seem to remember that if tax officials are so inclined, they can decide that if a business is being run from a domestic property, then a proportion of the increased value of a property can be taxed as a business profit. Having an office listed in the description of a house that's been sold might be sufficient to trigger that thought in the tax inspector's mind. Although just claiming a proportion of e.g. domestic energy bills might be enough to start that process. With property prices in the UK being so over-inflated, it might well be worth looking into this issue. Furthermore, you could end up having to pay business rates on the office. A quick google turned up this:


    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 07:18 AM

    I've never understood why people clean cars either. Last time I cleaned a car it was for pocket money!

    Extending the garage forward isn't really an option as it would mean no access round the back of the house without going through the garage.

    Thanks for the link Bernard. I'll give that a read.

    As I see it, having the office in the garage is no different to what I am doing now with an office in another part of the house. As the new office room will also be a study it won't be just for business. it's just as likely the taxman will catch me now as then.

    If it comes down to it then it's like all things - there's ways round it. Even if it means moving in to a serviced office for the months preceding a sale. Or working at the accountants office for a couple of days a week. Worst case scenario being I just pay the tax...

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 07:23 AM

    From that article Bernard linked to:

    "Live/work homes are liable for both capital gains tax and business rates on the proportion of the building set aside for work."

    As a proportion of the house I'd say the new office will be about 5%. If that.


    "However, the Revenue admits in reality it is unlikely small domestic businesses will be hit by tax. A spokeswoman said: 'There are numerous exceptions and tax reliefs available and the likelihood is the CGT charge will be less than your personal allowance anyway.'"

    If it comes down to it I'll just knock the wall down and sell it as a garage.


    • avatar
    • Philip King
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 07:42 AM

    This is just an excuse to do some more DIY now that the house is finished! ;-)

    I thought you'd go for the luxury garden shed option to be honest

    • avatar
    • Patrick Ryan
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 07:45 AM

    I found myself in a similar situation recently when it was decided (i.e. by my wife) that our twin boys were too old to share a double bedroom any longer. What that really meant was that I would lose my office, which was the spare bedroom.

    Anyway, the plan now is to build an out-house in the garden which will be my office (we're also going to have the garage knocked down and re-built).

    Do you have space in the garden to do something similar? I realise that we're fortunate to have quite a wide garden, so the office can be built to one side.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 07:55 AM

    It will be fun Phil, but the house is far from finished. In fact the wife-imposed restriction on this project is that I *do* finish the house before I start on it ;o)

    No space left for anything else Patrick. It's all taken up by the shrubbery!

  4. While this may cost more than what you'd like, have you thought of building up? Perhaps a nice office loft where you could look over your garden.

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 14 Sep 2007 09:40 AM

    I thought about it Niall, but have strong opinions on making such changes to "period properties" like ours. I think anything you do to an old house should be in keeping with the style and character of the time it was built.

    Our road is all Victorian houses (apart from the bungalow next door, which was built on land that used to belong to our house until it was sold off in the 1950s) and quite a few have dorma/Velux windows in their roofs. Looks awful.

  5. Some well known companies were started in a garage...


  6. Put a translucent "sail" down the side of the house and use that as a carport. You can leave car on street for times of maximum access to garden.

    For the scorching hot english summers you could put the kiddies paddling pool under the shade :)



    Rebuild the garage at the end of the garden as part storage and part office.

    Future buyers could convert it to a granny flat etc.

    • avatar
    • Paul
    • Mon 17 Sep 2007 04:39 AM

    Hi Jake,

    We've done exactly this except it was 25% of a double garage. We didn't need plannign permissions but we did have to get building reg approval. unfortunatly the builder had already put the floor down and had to take it all up again to show the inspector what he had done. Lesson to learn - get inspections as the work is going on - not when it ended.

    Good luck!

    • avatar
    • Richard C
    • Mon 17 Sep 2007 05:28 AM

    When did you move out of the "back-yard" office? :-)

    Link: {Link}

    Ever thought of "extending" the gazebo?

  7. Shrubberies... Ni! Ni! Ni!

  8. Knock it down Jake and put up an insulated log cabin in its place.

    As long as you have somewhere to park off the road and somewhere to store stuff people will be happy.

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