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Garden buildings are really in vogue these days. Why the sudden interest

01:00 Thu 07th Mar 2002 |

A.� Only a decade ago it was only really the great and the good had more than a rickety garden shed or a home-made treehouse for the kids at the bottom of the garden. But now garden buildings are big business.

There are two main reasons, the renaissance in the interest in gardens themselves and people's desire to spend as long as possible in them and entertain in them and also our never ending quest for space.

The huge rise in home working in recent years has thrown up the new problem of finding a space to work in houses where every nook and cranny is already being fully utilised. Instead of the huge wrench of leaving people are increasingly building outdoor offices or converting their existing garden shed.

Q.� How would you go about setting up an office in the shed

A.� If you've already got a shed that is in decent condition get someone in to install weatherproofing to the base and roof and run an underground electrical cable in from the house to power the computer, heating etc.

It might sound like a lot of expense for a garden shed but estate agents say that in general you will recoup the outlay if you were to sell and it could be a major selling point for a self-employed or home-working buyer.

Q.� What about purpose-built garden offices

A.� There are now firms who supply and build garden offices, complete with desks, shelving and power points. There are designs for any space, from a big garden to a city courtyard.

Externally they look a bit like a beach hut and come in a range of colours. Prices range from around �7,000-�10,000.

Q.� What about something just for pleasure

A.� Summerhouses are also enjoying a comeback, as a quick glance at the ad section of the glossy garden mags will prove.

You can get all sorts of styles, from thatched to contemporary, all steel and glass. Before choosing one decide what you are going to use it for, just somewhere to sit and read or a place you can hold full-scale dinner parties. This will obviously affect what size it is and how many facilities you will need in place, water, lighting, heat etc.

Placement is very important too. If it is going to visible from the house, think about something that is going to fit in rather than clash. If it is going to be a secret hideaway, say behind trees, then something completely different might work well.

Think also about when you want to use it. If it is for those long summer afternoons and evenings it is best to have it west facing to catch the setting sun. If, on the other hand, you can see it as a summer family breakfast room it should point the east to get maximum morning light.

Q.� Is it true that treehouses are really trendy at the moment

A.� Treehouses have come a long way from a few boards nailed and precariously perched in the branches for the kids.

Although there are some fantastic designs for kids treehouses are increasingly being designed as adult getaways, a trend that start in the US, like summerhouses off the ground, with lighting and even cooking facilities. They don't come cheap though, as, if you don't build it all yourself, they have to be individually designed. You'll probably be looking at spending well in excess of �10,000 for an individually designed treehouse and it obviously assumes you have a large and healthy tree somewhere in the garden.

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By Tom Gard

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