lifestyle

Man with no DIY experience builds luxury office shed in garden for £6,000


(Pictures: Jam Press)

Having a stylish and comfortable pace to work from home is now the ultimate flex – thanks to a huge increase in flexible working since the start of the pandemic.

One man has absolutely nailed it. Literally. Building himself a luxurious shed to use as a home office. And he did it with almost zero DIY experience.

Before Covid, Jonathan Bradley, from Kent, spent his time travelling the world to provide training to businesses.

But when lockdown hit, he was unable to meet clients in person and had to move everything online.

Like many others, the 57-year-old set up a work station in his living room, but struggled to focus with interruptions and noise.

To get some peace and quiet while working from home, Jonathan decided to build a shed in the back garden to use as a studio, replacing the old, worn-out wooden structure the family had before.

He started by levelling the garden. (Pictures: Jam Press)

With the only access to the back garden being through the house, he realised it would need to be built from the ground up.

Professionally-made sheds usually cost around £15,000-£20,000 but with a limited budget, Jonathan had to get creative – doing the work himself and spending just £6,000.

‘Up until lockdown, my business was thriving,’ says Jonathan. ‘I was running workshops for business leaders across the world. Suddenly my business model wasn’t going to work and it was a bit of a shock.

‘I had clients who were happy to do webinars and things online but trying to work with dogs barking, teenagers and things like the postman at the door was difficult.

‘I was out in the garden looking at the knackered old shed that you couldn’t swing a cat in and I knew that wasn’t going to work.

The whole project took three months in total. (Pictures: Jam Press)

‘I started designing it on a piece of paper and knew that I couldn’t afford to get someone to come and build it, so just had to do it myself.’

Although the dad had some experience with basic DIY, he had never built something from scratch before, or taken on such a big project.

Jonathan started by creating a level area, as the garden was at different heights.

With limited tools, he turned to the kitchen for inspiration.

‘I got some cake tins and filled them with concrete to build up the difference in height between each side,’ he says.

‘They were the springform ones where you can unclip the sides. Once I’d done that, I put joists in and then put a big chunk of ply on top for the floor.’

Jonathan realised his family home wasn’t a productive work environment – he needed his own space. (Pictures: Jam Press)

Although he had to buy new materials like plasterboard and insulation, Jonathan was determined to use as much recycled material as possible to keep costs low.

‘I found things like the doors and windows on Facebook Marketplace,’ he reveals. ‘The back window was one someone was throwing out and I got it for £20.’

Things he couldn’t scrimp on were the lining the walls, the floor and the ceiling with thick insulation. But these features more than pay for themselves as they not only help to keep the shed warm, but also act as soundproofing for Jonathan to take calls and record podcasts and webinars.

Once the insulation was in, he used timber to cover the whole structure.

He has made it really homely and stylish. (Pictures: Jam Press)

He finished it off with a corrugated material on the roof, which he chose because it was easy to fit and has prevented any leaks.

The only work he didn’t do himself was the electrics, instead paying an electrician to run power from the house to the shed.

The whole project took three months as he did it between running his business.

Now, a year on from moving out to the shed, Jonathan says it has been a game-changer.

‘It’s fabulous. It’s a purpose-built, specifically designed area for me,’ he says.

The build has given Jonathan the confidence to try other DIY projects. (Pictures: Jam Press)

‘I’ve got my flipcharts, perfect lighting, my two computers, and all my reference books and files. I was able to build it around me in the way I wanted it.

‘I have no hesitation in saying I wouldn’t go back to the way I worked before. Everything is conveniently around me and my commute takes a few minutes.’

The extra time gained from not commuting also helped Jonathan co-write a book called The No Normal Leader, which was released in March 2021.

‘I think this is the most creative space for me so I was able to really hunker down and really put a substantial part of that book together from this shed,’ he says.

It’s also inspired him to take on other projects and he is currently ripping out and fitting a new kitchen in his family home.

‘The shed gave me the confidence to do more,’ he says. ‘I’m now thinking about the garden and landscaping it.

‘I realised how much I like working with my hands. I had no idea how much I would enjoy that until I did the shed.’

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