Dad with little DIY experience builds £6,000 garden home office so he can work in peace

Jonathan Bradley, 57, from Kent, built the luxurious office shed in his garden after struggling to work from home, due to interruptions and noise in the family home

It can be difficult to work from home, with everyday life distracting you while you’re stuck on a Zoom call with your boss.

While there are some advantages, many of us have tired of setting up an office in the living room and would prefer a private space.

But it’s been difficult to return to the office, thanks to ongoing concerns about public health during the last 18 months.

One man took measures into his own hands and created a luxurious home office – despite having almost no DIY experience.

Jonathan Bradley, 57, from Kent, travelled the world before the pandemic to provide training to businesses.

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

Like many, he set up a workstation in his living room but struggled to focus with interruptions and noise.

In a bid to get some peace and quiet, he decided to build a shed in the back garden to use as a studio, replacing the old, worn-out wooden structure the family had previously.

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,” Jonathan said “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.

“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 a big project.

Jonathan started by creating a level area as the garden was at different heights and with limited tools, he turned to the kitchen for inspiration.

He said: “I got some cake tins and filled them with concrete to build up the difference in height between each side.

“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.”

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.

He said: “I found things like the doors and windows on Facebook Marketplace. The back window was one someone was throwing out and I got it for £20.”

A lot of the costs were down to lining the walls, floor and ceiling with thick insulation, which not only helps keep the shed warm, but acts as soundproofing.

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

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 of 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.

He said: “It’s fabulous. It’s a purpose-built, specifically designed area for me. 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 am reaping the rewards from it and getting a lot more webinar business.

“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 and working in a place he finds inspiring also helped Jonathan co-write a book called The No Normal Leader, which will be released in March 2021.