Buying a house with room for a home office

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the desire for a dedicated workspace at home has become increasingly prevalent. As a result, lots of people have converted garages, or other outbuildings to accommodate their work from home set-ups.  

However, the process of converting, or creating, your own detached work from home space, might require more careful consideration that you might initially expect. 

What do I need to check before building my home office? 

It’s always worth checking (and confirming) the boundaries to your property, especially if you plan on tucking your home office in a corner of your garden, or close to a neighbour – you don’t want your home office encroaching on your neighbours land. Think about any historic, or ongoing boundary disputes that might have an effect on the location of your office. A clear position on boundaries is crucial to avoid legal issues in the future.

You should also examine your title register, and any other deeds relating to your property – it’s not unusual for there to be restrictions on how you can use your property/garden, or what you can put on your land, that might impact the feasibility of having a detached home office. 

If you live in a leasehold property, such as a maisonette or flat that has outside space, there may be additional considerations and permissions required from your landlord. Check your Lease carefully for any such requirements to ensure you can comply. 

Do I need planning permission for a home office? 

You’ll want to ensure that a detached home working space has all the necessary planning consents.  

As a general rule, you won’t need full planning permission to convert an existing space in your property, if your property remains to be used as a private residence, and there will be no changes to pedestrian or vehicular traffic at the property as a result of your work. 

However, if there is planning permission already in place for an existing garage or outbuilding, check the conditions of that permission – they might prohibit certain conversion works, or impose additional criteria that need to be met as part of the conversion process. 

If the detached structure was originally intended for a different use, a change of use application may be required. 

You’ll also want to check whether any permitted development rights have been removed, which might otherwise mean full planning permission wouldn’t have been required. 

Likewise, if you live in a listed property, or a property located in a Conservation Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there may be additional planning points to satisfy. 

Your local planning authority will be able to advise you fully.

Do I need building regulations sign off for a home office?

In addition to any planning permission requirements there may be, you’ll also need to consider Building Regulations.

While building regulations approval isn’t usually required for the erection of a shed or summerhouse intended to be used for working from home (assuming it is less than 15 Sq metres and doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation), the conversion of a garage (or part of a garage) into a habitable space, will usually require Building Regulations Approval. This will include elements such as structural safety, fire safety, insulation (heat loss), and ventilation standards. 

You should liaise with your local planning, and Building Control Department at the local authority to ensure all relevant approvals and sign offs are obtained. 

What about electrical certificates for home offices? 

Creating a home office, might also mean you need to carry out electrical installation work. It is best to use an installer registered with a competent person scheme who can self-certify compliance with the Building Regulations.

If your chosen installer is not registered with a competent person scheme, then certain jobs will need to be inspected, approved and certificated by a building control body, or a registered third-party certifier. 

If you go with the latter, then the relevant building control body or registered third-party certifier must be notified before work commences.

How Moore Barlow can help

Buying a house with a detached converted home office involves navigating various legal and planning considerations. Ensuring compliance with planning permissions, building regulations, and other requirements is essential for a smooth and legally sound transaction. 

Always seek professional advice from solicitors, surveyors, and your local authority to address specific concerns related to your property, before embarking on your conversion. Get in touch with our Residential property lawyers for everything you need too know about buying and selling residential properties.