With no end of the Covid pandemic in sight, one architect predicts a growing demand for garden space from house-hunters.

But it’s not just because more outdoor space can bring blessed relief from the lockdown blues or more easily accommodate social distancing when friends are over (if permitted).

For Aedan Mackel of ArdMackel Architects says the garden is now seen as a valuable space on which to site a purpose-built work-space.

“I’ve seen a growing interest in off-the-shelf home office, ranging from £10,000-£15,000 which is built off-site and delivered to your back garden,” explains Aedan. “The more sophisticated models will be wired for electricity and plumbed to allow for running water and toilet and while some people try to link the work space to their home, the preferred option is to have it as a stand-alone work-life unit in the back garden.”

Any structure under 40 square metres does not require planning permission.
“These are basic prefab units but if you have the garden space, they solve the dilemma of working from home in a space away from everyone else,” adds Aedán. “But the starting point is a spacious garden so there has been a discernable spike in families who want to buy a house with that priceless garden space for the man or woman cave.”

Also coming back into fashion, says Aedán, are balconies.
“A key way to combat the pandemic is to ensure rooms are well-ventilated and nothing does that better than a balcony. Of course, during lockdown, it’s also a fillip to an apartment-dweller to be able to step out onto a balcony to enjoy the fresh air and see the street. Nothing is worse than lockdown in a flat or apartment which does not open out onto the street.”

With no sign of civil servants being summonsed back to work this year, Aedán says many couples are in the market for bigger homes — not to grow their family — but to provide separate work spaces.

“House-hunters should be careful about how they chose a house with adequate space for a true work-life experience as the cost of renovation can vary greatly depending on the age of the property. And of course if the pandemic, as President Trump predicts, just disappears, then you may find you have invested in an extensive redesign which is no longer needed. My advice is to proceed cautiously and work with an architet every step of the way — especially if you are thinking of installing a balcony or building an extension.”