It’s been over a year since we completed our extension project which included my home office and gym. I’ve since had numerous requests for additional information on my work set up and the information around the project so I figured an in-depth post was worthwhile.
Before the extension, our house was a traditional 1950’s semi-detached property which had already had an extension into the garage/above the existing garage. Another prefab garage was then built to the side as we have a good-sized corner plot.
My office was set up in one of the spare rooms, tucked away in the corner. It was perfectly fine but was part of the overall house and thus open to distractions from little footsteps!
At this point, I had been working from home in some capacity for 6-7 years and had no desire to return to the office permanently at any point in my career (touch wood!).
The prefab garage was my gym area. It was old, leaky and smelled incredibly bad. There were times in the winter when underneath the gym mats it was literally swimming with water. The garage was beyond repair and also pretty damn ugly!
Here are a couple of shots of the office area and gym before.
From buying the house we always had plans to extend. The property was big enough when we bought but not suitable for modern living. The kitchen was tiny, you had to walk through a reception room to the downstairs toilet, the garage was falling to pieces and my office was in the corner of one of the spare rooms.
The extension came quicker than expected. We had decent growth with the educational business and freelancing was booming so cash flow was strong.
The planning application was submitted in September 2017 and approved around 6 weeks later without a hitch. A couple of modifications from planning but absolutely no objections from neighbours (i mean who would with that garage?).
The build started in February 2018 and finished in August 2018 (still adding things to this day). The beast from the east and other factors (tradespeople) cut into the completion time. You can see a bunch of images below of the progress throughout and the transformation from prefab disaster (Someone actually purchased the garage for £30) to the accessible office and gym space we have today.
Work/Stress & Family Upheaval:
The images paint a diluted picture of the extension process. I cannot emphasise the stress and hard work and I still feel like I am recovering to this day!
Builders will tell you that the process will be smooth but it’s all a lie. We created a kitchen diner, reworked the entire downstairs, knocked chimneys out of both bedrooms, created an ensuite, replaced all windows and doors, new boiler, new driveway, redid the garden. Some of this work we have only finished just this past month.
We self-funded the entire build so at the time I had approximately 8-10 client, running the educational business and project managing the entire build. Every single penny earned was going on the extension and let me tell you the budget always increases.
Not only this but my wife was keeping an incredibly active 2-year-old busy as at the time she was only going to nursery 1 day a week.
We were turfed from our home for over a month (thank you parents!), sleeping in the living room on a mattress. I remember one night I was at the house alone. The kitchen had gone and the whole house was a wreck. I was in one of the bedrooms, eating KFC and working on my laptop to try and get ahead with work. I remember at that time questioning every decision I had ever made and whether it was all worth it.
Extensions, running businesses and families are emotionally and physically draining. Once it’s done you completely lose perspective and writing this post has brought it all back for me. Would I do it again? Yes, I would. Would I make sure I had every single base covered next time? Absolutely.
Extending your home and creating a space which works for you, your family and your work is more than a financial decision. My brain, however, likes to see some level of financial rationale for the things I do.
I wanted to base the numbers on the complete alternative of not working from home and working out at home. The numbers are based upon the lowest-priced gym/co-working spaces I could find in my area.
Note: The numbers don’t take into account me continuing to work from the spare room and utilise the leaky garage as my gym. The cost of this would have been £0 (short term at least) but they also cannot put a monetary value on the productivity, focus & well being the new gym/office has brought me.
I based the numbers on the following:
Coworking – The cost of renting a desk in a co-working space
Gym Membership – The cost of purchasing a monthly gym membership
Petrol – The cost to get to the co-working space/gym
Parking – The cost to park at the co-working space (most spaces tend to be city centre located)
Occasional Food Out – City centre location=more eating out
Commute time (as monetary value) – The cost of commuting to the gym/office vs working from home.
Having spoken with the builder the cost of the gym/office extension was approximately £12,000-£15,000. I then placed monthly costings against each of the headings.
Note: I appreciate co-working spaces are tax-deductible however there is also tax efficiency when working from home (use of home office as a % of overall bills) so it made sense to exclude both.
Below is the basic table I put together as initial justification to build the space:
|Month||Coworking||Gym Membership||Petrol||Parking||Occasional Food Out||Commute time (as monetary value)||Total:|
Just under 5 years and 2 months to break even. Of course this was far more than a financial decision but any decision made should have some loose justification.
House value increase: It’s worth noting that we have had the house valued and it’s now 35k above our overall investment. House values are incredibly subjective and mean nothing unless you sell the house but it’s another positive on the ROI front.
The office and gym area are still a ‘work in progress’ (Pictures, layout etc) in terms of making homely however the actual work was completed some time ago. I absolutely love the space. It’s accessed via a cloakroom area just off the main kitchen/diner, meaning I can jump into the kitchen in seconds but still have a boundary between work and home. You actually lose complete perspective from what you had before when working on a project like this and it becomes the norm. I do however still smile when I come into the gym/office in the morning vs wrapping up in any clothes I can find and going outside into the cold, damp and wet garage gym I used to work out from!
The whole reason for this part of the build was to allow me to have a home office space away from the house but maintain a clear connection with my family. It’s that integration of work and life as the main benefit of working from home.
The mezzanine means I get the head height for gym activities and also have an office which is open to the masses amount of light that fills the room. It’s great popping the skylight in the Summer months and hearing the family in the garden. The little things they say…
I would love to read any comments or anything from those planning their own building project. It’s tough but is certainly worth it in the end!