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Industry Insight Episode 5 | An Option for Homeworking

Industry Insight Episode 5

Industry Insight Episode 5

In case you missed our earlier episodes, you can get up to speed by clicking the following episodes:

With COVID-19 restrictions part of everyday life, thousands of employees have remained working from home. During the first lockdown back in March, many of us operated from a corner of the living room, the kitchen table, or the spare bedroom. However, as restrictions have continued, home working has become increasingly sophisticated.

Building a ‘summer house’ separate from the main residence is becoming popular, with more people looking to create a dedicated workspace at home. So, what opportunities does this create for mortgage intermediaries?

Industry Insight Episode 5 | Growth in homeworking

Official figures show exclusive remote working hit a high of 38% in mid-June*, though the statistics were only collected from the middle of May, so missed out on nearly two months of lockdown and could have been higher. As uncertain times continue, employees are now facing further months of working from home as the pandemic grows again in intensity.

Industry Insight Episode 5 | Home offices – part of the new normal

A poll from the Home Builders Federation has stated that 40% of people say that they would now prioritise space for a home office if they were searching for a new home. The figures are no surprise as employees look to make their home working environment as user-friendly and comfortable as possible.

Pandemic restrictions may continue for some time, so working from home could be the enforced way of working and the preferred option for those who have already sampled the benefits.

Industry Insight Episode 5 | How have we adapted?

In articles like this, I often provide a case study example—perhaps from a Harpenden Building Society customer or someone in our community. I didn’t have to go far this time, as Jean Errington, one of our Business Development Managers, and I have first-hand experience creating our own dedicated office space following the lockdown.

We’ve both decided to create a ‘Summer House’ at the end of our gardens. Not only do they provide extended leisure space for entertaining and the like, but they also provide that valuable ‘Home Office’ so much appreciated during these COVID-19 times. It’s a good option if extending the main residence is impossible. | Industry Insight Episode 5

Industry Insight Episode 5 | Summer house options

Summer houses start from a base price of approximately £2000 and can easily rise to five figures plus. Like any development project, the cost depends on your chosen building specifications. If cash isn’t available to fund it, a mortgage option provided by a specialist lender, such as Harpenden Building Society, can help facilitate the build. We fund large-scale summer house developments costing more than £75K.

Jean opted for a summer house measuring 8 feet by 8 feet, guided by the available plot size. This structure has given her family extra leisure space and allowed her to work from home without interruptions.

Jean explains: “I’ve mainly used the summer house as an office so far, but we are searching for armchairs and other additions. We want to use it as our relaxation space too. The fitting team took half a day to complete the construction. My husband is practical and has laid the base. All they had to do was assemble it, as it arrived in kit form. He has also connected the electricity, and we have a Wi-Fi booster to give us a signal at this end of the garden, which is approximately 80 feet from the back of the house.”

“The size and type of summer house I have installed do not require planning permission. However, it’s important to check when considering your options. The sky is the limit with these structures when it comes to fitting them out and how much people are willing to spend on them!”

My summer house is rectangular and designed to use garden space best. This new structure has brought many benefits during lockdowns and will continue to do so. During the day, I work here. The kids or the entire family use it in the evening to relax. I anticipate the children, who are 16-year-old twins, will take it over more in the evenings in the future.

The concrete base took a day to set, the summer house took two days to construct, and the paint took two more days. Everything was installed in less than a week. We didn’t have to move to gain extra space or cope with the mess and inconvenience of a building site in the house.


Industry Insight Episode 5 | Top tips

Drawing from my experience, here are some tips to pass on. Firstly, finance your project efficiently. At Harpenden, we are pleased to speak with brokers and their customers. We discuss lending options that suit those considering major construction.

Personalised Application Reviews

We review each application personally to ensure all details are considered. Customers increasingly approach us with complex financial profiles and multiple income streams. Due to this complexity, a high-street lender’s algorithm might reject an application.

However, we investigate each situation more personally and manually assess every application. This additional scrutiny allows us to say ‘yes’ in circumstances where a high-street lender’s algorithm cannot.

Researching the Market

Secondly, I recommend researching the market thoroughly. Many cabin suppliers cater to all budgets. Look carefully at delivery timetables and promises to deliver within a specific period. High demand for summer houses during COVID-19 can cause delays.

Some suppliers offer complete services, preparing the groundwork and erecting the structure. If you lack time or skills, consider the extra cost of these services in your budget. These tips immediately come to mind.

Acquiring a Summer House

My experience has been positive. Acquiring a summer house has been a cost-effective option. It provides valuable additional living space quickly and easily.

Industry Insight Episode 5 | The Opportunity

Connect For IntermediariesBased on our experience, enquiries about financing summer house builds and garden offices will continue to rise. We’ll be pleased to speak to brokers looking to provide financing options for customers exploring this new ‘home working’ opportunity.

*Office for National Statistics

Credit: Craig Middleton, Mortgage Sales and Distribution Manager, Harpenden Building Society | Industry Insight Episode 5

We end our publication on “Industry Insight Episode 5 | Discover An Extraordinary Option for ‘Year Round’ Homeworking.” Until next time, stay Connect!

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