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Outbuildings are in fashion

By Sophia Wood-Burgess

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Sellers are presenting them proudly at Foxtons valuations. Buyers are ogling them at our home viewings. Our employees are installing them on their own homes. Custom outbuildings seem to be a blossoming trend in the 2022 London market.

Chic outbuilding | from a 4 bed house - available to let | Grove Park

Behind this stunning rental home is a gorgeous garden for entertaining, complete with a hot tub and a large outbuilding.

Outbuildings are an extra structure outside your home – we’re talking about garden rooms (let's leave London's barns and stables for now). You could get a company to install an outbuilding complete with things like windows, doors, insulating, fittings and fixtures. Or, if you’re handy, you might repurpose a disused garden shed into a “shoffice” or “garden pub.”

We have seen outbuildings optimised for many different uses, like:

  • Home gyms
  • Art studios
  • Cinemas
  • Games rooms

Now that hybrid working is more common, homeowners delight in the short commute to their bottom-of-the-garden office. It is a helpful way to get into the right headspace for work. It can also be locked up at the end of the day so you can focus on home life – much easier than if your laptop is pinging with work emails at the dinner table.

Ask First

You may need to get permission to construct your outbuilding. Regulations limit everything from height to number of people working inside. Generally, it cannot be more than one story, in front of the house, use more than 50% of the space, or function as a living or sleeping space. We suggest you discuss with your local authority’s planning department before building anything. You’ll need to understand what permission is required – both to construct the outbuilding and to include in documentation for a sale. An outbuilding you didn’t get the required planning permissions for can be a huge burden when you’re selling.

The true value

We have seen people make creative use of this space, and we've seen buyers and tenants love it. Christian, one of our Sales Managers, said, "We had a property on the market for £1.45M and the sales history suggested that this was high, but the vendors made the outbuilding look amazing. Buyers all responded well to it. One buyer paid a very good price, as he could use the outbuilding as an office space, which made working from home a dream."

Gym outbuilding of a 5 bed house & 2 bed cottage | available for sale | Peaslake

On its 0.63 acres, this charming 5 bed home and 2 bed cottage comes with several outbuildings, including 2 studio/office spaces, a gym (pictured) and a summer house.

So, will an outbuilding add to your property value? Maybe. But that depends on several factors.

First off, the job has to be done well. Shoddy workmanship and poor materials only make a liability. Good outbuildings are more likely to be valuable in a sale, but they also cost more to build. Yours could cost several hundred to several thousand to construct, plus the price to outfit it. If it’s a space to be used in all weather, you’ll need to consider insulation. Naturally, you’ll want to insure it, which will means security and fire safety measures.

The function of your new structure could also be limiting in a sale. For instance, a garden bar only appeals to those who drink. However, the market for outbuildings is growing. Christian said, while Surveyors don't always incorporate garden rooms in valuations, buyers factor it in – especially those who are moving to make it easier to work from home. He said, "Over the first lockdown I learned the term WFH (work from home), and now it's a big driver for moves."

Out of your dreams, and into your garden

As outbuildings are such a big cost and cannot guarantee an increased property value, it might be easiest to focus on what you will enjoy.

This property's vendors filled their group of outbuildings with a range of great things, like a cinema/games room, a gym and even a sauna!

Let’s say you’ve built your beloved cinema room in the garden. But now you’re ready to sell. Look for an agency that can match you with the buyers who are most likely to love this space. Foxtons has a network of 50+ offices across London. We listen to what people actually want out of their new home, and we make notes. Because our offices are interconnected, we are able to bring people to different neighbourhoods and boroughs to share properties they may truly appreciate – and might even pay a little more for. Have you been wondering 'How much is my house worth?', find out with Foxtons.

For more information, get in touch with our sales agents.

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