Can I claim a garden office as a business expense?

Can I claim a garden office as a business expense?

I am sure that if you are one of those people who works from home, the idea of having a garden office must have crossed your mind. A garden office would allow you to separate home from work, finally eliminating all those small interruptions of family life so it would be easier to concentrate on the task in hand. Plus, wouldn’t it be great to have a space to store all your work stuff without having to share it with toys, a laundry basket and the occasional guest?

Obviously, building a garden office requires a substantial investment, but if you run a business it is possible to buy it as a company asset. Or, if self-employed, you should be able to claim it as a business expense come accounts day.

I am not an accountant, and I do not know much about those things, so I started to search the internet to learn more about it. The problem I quickly ran into was that there is no definitive answer out there. Plus, the more I was reading, the more doubts I had.

So, I abandoned the internet, and instead decided to talk to the experts. I contacted Cardens Accountants and Business Advisors, a firm founded in Brighton about 10 years ago by Barry Carden, which has rapidly grown to include 4 partners and a total of around 60 employees. Adam Thompson, one of its Corporate Tax Managers, very kindly agreed to meet me and answer all my questions.

 

Cardens Accountant Interview
Me (Ivana Cavallo) with Adam Thompson, Corporate Tax Manager at Cardens Accountants and Business Advisors


Hi Adam, my first question is simple: which are the pros and cons of having a garden office as a company asset?

I guess, there are no real cons. If someone needs the space, they need the space. It gets the business out of the house and gives them some segregation. From a tax point of view, there are some reliefs. If you are VAT registered, you can claim the VAT back from the cost of the property. Which for a purchase of that size it is not small.


What about a Sole trader?

They need to be a bit more careful. If you use the space for personal use as well, you can only claim the relative percentage of VAT. So, for example, if you use the room as a office during the week and then you have band practise at the weekend using about 10% of the time, you will be able to reclaim only 90% of the VAT.


So, let’s say I build my garden office, and I use it as a guest room when my brother comes to visit from Italy…

A one off, it is not a problem at all. And if it is in a company name you can ignore it completely. It is only relevant to a sole trader. Just make sure that you can prove that its main use is as an office and nothing else.


In addition to reclaiming VAT is there any other cost that can be claimed back?

The cost of the building itself can not be deducted as a business cost, but the fixtures and fittings you put in it can. So, you can claim the cost of the desk for example, of chairs, chest of drawers, carpeting…
Any electrical work you do in it can be claimed back too. As a company that builds garden offices, it is important that you give your clients an itemised bill of the costs.


And what about your bills? For example, electricity and internet?

If you have separate meter, you can deduct the cost in full. If not, you will have to do an estimate based on your usage, and if this is not possible, you will have to calculate the amount to be deducted based on the percentage of use.


Like when you work from home, right?

Yes. Let’s say you live in a 4 rooms house and you use one room exclusively as your office. You can claim 25% of your electricity and gas bill.


I read that if you buy a garden office as a company asset, you need to be aware that if you ever sell your house you will have to pay Capital Gains Tax?


To be honest, while I would not say it can be ignored, it is not really an issue. While technically it could be a problem, in reality it is not, because a garden building has not got an actual value. Although the value of your home may increase due to the presence of a garden office, the garden office itself will not increase in value over time. Its value will actually decrease. This means that you will be unlikely to pay Capital Gain Tax. One thing I would recommend though, is to speak to your local council about business rates, if there are any, if they will apply to the garden office and how much they would be.


So, it is not connected to the business? To the value of the business?

It is part of the business. So when you buy it, it will go on to the company balance sheet at whatever price you pay for it. That cost can not be written off, but you can claim some allowances for it against the fittings. It just sits there as an asset. If it gets knock down in 10 years you can claim it as a capital loss.


In conclusion, if you have a company or you are a sole trader, it is convenient to buy a garden office through your business?

Definitely, yes! But keep in mind, tax is too complex subject and things may vary depending of a person’s individual circumstances. Therefore, I would advise to anyone thinking to get a garden office as a business asset to come to us for a more in depth tax advice or to talk to their existing accountants.

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Is bespoke design expensive?

Is bespoke design expensive?

In these blogs and throughout this website, you’ll have seen the word ‘bespoke’ plenty of time: ‘bespoke garden office’, ‘bespoke summer house’, ‘bespoke design’… Everyone understands what the word ‘bespoke’ means, and I am pretty sure everyone would love to have a bespoke ‘something’. But everyone also knows that bespoke design means more money. Or is this a misconception?

Once again, here at A Room in the Garden we’ve found an expert to answer our question and give you some pointers about creating a bespoke room for your garden.


Hi Aaron. First of all, thank you very much for joining me for a coffee and a chat. How about you tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into architecture and interior design.

Thank you for inviting me. To make a long story short, my family has worked in the construction industry for many years. They used to buy unloved houses and give them some much needed TLC, creating a home where we could all come together as a family.
I was always passionate about design, so when it came time to choose a university course, Architecture was the natural choice for me.
Following my graduation, I worked for various individuals and practices including Brighton University, gaining experience in all different aspects of the industry, from home extensions to the refurbishment of listed buildings. And then I finally decided to open my own architectural and interior design practice, Pavilion Architecture.

Bespoke design tips
Architect and interior designer Aaroon Humber and my self at Franklin’s Cafe & Antiques A perfect blend of coffee and inspiration!


What aspect of your job do you love the most?

Without a doubt it’s the creative part of my job that I love. It is always so satisfying when you work with a client to create their dream home that is unique, individual and designed just for them rather than a creating a carbon copy of the latest front cover of Vogue.


When people hear the word bespoke, the first thing they think is, “expensive!” Is that the case?

No. Having something bespoke does not have to mean expensive at all. If you have a budget, you just have to make sure you use your money wisely.


Any advice about how to do that?

In each room you need to choose your focal point and accent with key pieces. For example, the fireplace is often the focal point of a living room, and this can be enhanced with the right accent pieces. They don’t have to be brand new designer accessories or furniture; they can be old items collected from charities shops. Just remember to keep it simple, less is more and shop local.


How do you create something bespoke? Design does not come naturally to everyone, and some people may find it hard to express what they like. Any tips on how to go about it?

The first design consultation is for me to get to know my clients and find out their design preferences, aspirations, requirements, budget and time-frame. I always ask my clients to collect images and objects that express their personality and taste. So, choose a starting point for your design scheme and work outwards. Remember a space is never finished. The best spaces grow organically as you add to it over time rather than being finished in one go.


What do you think is the advantage of having a bespoke design?

To have something that is individual to you can be very comfortable, fulfilling and enjoyable. It can be scary to break the rules to have something different. But I believe a home should be the place where we can really be ourselves rather than “Keeping Up with the Joneses”.


I agree with you! I think that there is a great satisfaction in having something completely bespoke! At the moment, we are working on a project for a lady who loves rabbits. Her reaction when she saw that we incorporated a bespoke screen with a rabbit silhouette was priceless.

Last question. As you know, we specialise in bespoke garden office and summer house, or even better, bespoke garden rooms in general. What is your opinion on building a garden room? Is it worth  to have a bespoke design?

A garden room is a fabulous way to extend your home. I would recommend to any homeowner considering a garden room to carefully consider their requirements and opt for a solution that not only meets their needs but also fits into and enhances the garden. This will not only add to your enjoyment of the space but will also increase the economic value of your home.


Thank you, Aaron!

Hopefully his great insight will help to unlock the mystery of bespoke design for you a little bit more.

And, as always, if you have any questions about design that you would like to talk to us about, please do pick up the phone, email us or simply add your comment below.

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How to fund your garden office

How to fund your garden office

Adding a garden office or a general use garden room (a garden gym? A room for meditation? Somewhere where occasional guests can stay overnight?) will affect your pockets. There’s no doubt about that. And not everybody will have that sum of money sitting in their bank account! There are, however, various ways to fund your new room in the garden, which can spread the cost over time, making the impact on your finances less dramatic. Keep in mind, I am not a financial adviser. My article is only intended to list some different options that are available without favouring any.

 

MORTGAGE

One option is to add the cost of the garden office to your mortgage. At the end of the day, building a room in the garden is effectively considered a house extension. This will spread the cost over a long time, minimising the impact on your finance.

 

PERSONAL LOAN

Another way to go is to take out a personal loan. It is important that you do your research first because rates can vary a lot. Talk to your bank or, even better, to an independent financial adviser who can help you find the best deal.

 

CREDIT CARDS

If it’s done right, using a credit card to pay for part of your garden office could be the cheapest way to borrow some money. There are some credit cards that offer a 0% interest rate for up to 31 months! But make sure that you borrow as little as possible, that you do not use the credit card for anything else, and that you clear your card within the 0% period. If you don’t, your interest rate will escalate dramatically, and you will be stuck with the debt for years. We highly recommend you talk to an expert first. A good way to start is by reading Martin Lewis’ article on the Best 0% Credit Cards on Money Saving Expert.

 

Have a look to our garden office line CUBO starting from £6,960.00

 

BUSINESS LOANS

If you own a company, and you are thinking of building a garden office, one option is to do it through your business. You will be able to get corporation tax relief on some of the costs too, such as:

– office and computer equipment
– electrical systems and lighting
– heating and water systems
– insulation
– and if you are VAT registered, you will be able to reclaim the VAT.

However, there are other aspects that need to be considered as well, such as business rates (which should not apply if it is your only office, but it is worth checking with your local council), capital gain tax and personal tax impact. Once again, we recommend you to talk to a tax adviser or your accountant first. We found the article Tax relief for Garden Office as Business Expense from JF Financial useful.

 

FINANCING

A lot of garden office companies now offer a finance option. Usually, you will have to pay an initial sum, and then the rest will be spread in monthly repayments for a period of around 3/5 years. A bit like buying a car!

 

Once again, I am not a financial adviser. My article is only intended to list some different options that are available without favouring any. We strongly recommend you to talk to a professional financial adviser or your accountant before taking any decision.

 

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Path ideas for your garden office and summer house

Path ideas for your garden office and summer house

If you are thinking about adding a room in your garden, no matter if it’s a summer house, a garden office or a play house for your children, you will need to have a garden path to reach it in a comfortable way (especially on those wet days!).
Choosing the right garden path can be a bit daunting. There are so many different materials to choose from, and so many different styles…

To help you choose the best material and style for your garden path, I have made a list of a few possibilities, describing each of their pros and cons and suggesting what kind of look they will help you to achieve.

 

GRAVEL

If you want a long-lasting path that’s easy to apply and has good drainage, but you don’t want to spend a fortune, gravel could be the right option for you. There is also the option of eco-friendly gravel made from recycled concrete, though the price may increase a bit, especially if you need to cover a big area. With a gravel path, you will have to look after it: rake it every now and then and add new gravel every few years. Gravel has the tendency to move from the path and enter your borders or flower beds, which is not a problem if you want to achieve a natural look. But if you prefer a tidier, cleaner look, you can create a border out of materials like bricks, roof tiles, wood or metal edging, just to give you a few ideas. This will stop the gravel from moving around. To avoid weeds growing through, remember to place a good weed-membrane underneath it. To make it a little more personal and fun, you can find gravel in a number of different colours and sizes. Smaller, angular pieces are easier to walk on than larger, rounded pebbles. Gravel paths are recommended for low/medium usage, so it may not be the ideal choice for you to reach your garden office every day. In addition, the small stones can get stuck in the grips of your shoes, so it might be best to avoid if you have a pristine floor in your garden room.

Gravel garden path ideas
Photo from Balcony Garden Web

Gravel garden path ideas
Image from Acacia Gardens

Gravel garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Gravel garden path ideas
Image from Pin-Insta-Decor.com

 

STEPPING STONES

Stepping stones are a very good compromise between cost, durability and style. The greater the distance between the stones, the cheaper the cost of the path will be. You can use different materials to create the stepping stones depending on the look you want to achieve. If you haven’t yet decided what style you want for your summer house or garden office, start browsing the internet for ideas and collect all the images you like. Here, you can find my favourite 20 summer houses, collected for you for inspiration.
You can put your stepping stones on the grass (but do remember to cut the shape of your stepping stone in the grass and to add gravel for drainage) or on gravel. To avoid unwanted weeds growing between your stepping stones, and to personalise your path, you could use low-growing, ground-covering plants.

Stepping stones ideas
Image from Garden Lovers Club

Stepping Stones ideas
Image from Pinterest

Stepping stones ideas
Image from Garden Lovers Club

Stepping stones ideas
Image from Garden Lovers Club

Stepping stones ideas
Image from Pinterest

Stepping stones ideas
Image from Acacia Gardens

 

SLABS

Slabs are a very versatile material and can easily be adapted to different styles of gardens. It is the most expensive option due to the cost of the slabs, and the fact that the ground will have to be prepared before you can start putting them down, which requires special machinery. You will have to level the ground carefully, and ideally add an underlay of gravel which will help with the water drainage and will stop the slabs from wobbling. Cement slabs are cheaper than stone, although the latter are better for the environment, and, if well maintained, they will last longer than any other path material. There is also an eco cement version, but, once again, the price will increase. Use irregular stone slabs for rustic look. Geometrical cement slabs will create a more contemporary look, perfect for a path to a modern, sleek garden office.

Rustic slabs path ideas
Image from Cool Housez

Garden office path ideas
Image from Google

Garden office path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Slabs garden office path ideas
Image from Pinterest

 

WOOD

Wood paths are getting more and more popular, and they can help you achieve pretty much any look that you have in mind. Wood is usually cheaper than a slab or paved path, but it will require a bit more love and care to protect it from the weather. It is ideal if your garden office or summer house is to be situated in a slopping garden, because you can easily create steps, or, if you decide to go for an elevated path, you can just adjust the height to create a dynamic look. For a rustic, hearty feel, you could use old reclaimed wood to build a pallet walkway, or, for a less expensive but still very effective version, you could use it as stepping woods. Vanished, new wood will give your garden a very modern, sleek look.

Wood garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Oriental garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Colourful garden path ideas
Image from Google

wood garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Wood stepping stones
Image from Wood Home

 

BRICKS

Certainly not the cheapest option, but using bricks for your garden path has got quite few positives. Brick is an extremely durable material, very easy to maintain and clean, it can be arranged in various patterns and it does not fade with time. The only negative is that there is a limited range of colours and the fact that the corners can chip over time. This can be avoided if you buy bricks with bevelled edges.

Brick garden path ideas
Image from Acacia Gardens

Brick garden office path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Brick garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

 

LET YOUR IMAGINATION GO…

Why don’t you mix and match different materials for a more unique look? Or paint your stepping stones to create something that’s special to you and your family? Or you can use broken pieces of tiles for a very colourful path. Like when creating your perfect summer house or garden office, the options are endless, and just because you have not seen it anywhere, this does not mean it is not possible! Be brave. Have fun. And do not forget to send us a photo!

Unusual garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

unusual garden path ideas
Image from Love the Garden

Unusual garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Unusual garden path ideas
Image from Pinterest

Unusual garden path deas
Image from Pinterest

 

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Garden room: 20 great architecture ideas to be inspired by

Garden room: 20 great architecture ideas to be inspired by

Imagination. It’s a tricky old thing, isn’t it? Sometimes it can put a thought in our heads that we just can’t shake out, and we’re pretty sure is impossible. Like when you’re designing your new garden room, been a garden office or summer house. You know what you really would like, but you’re annoyingly constrained because of things like floors being flat and walls being straight.

Here at A Room in the Garden, we’ve taken a look around the world and come up with a whole heap of buildings that might have seemed impossible right up to the moment they weren’t. From super minimalistic to mad extravaganza, there’s something there for everyone! Take a look, and be inspired!

 

1. HUNDERTWASSER HOUSE, AUSTRIA

Garden office inspiration
Hundertwasser house is just pure joy in building form. The strong, contrasting colours and the wobbly lines makes it look like it’s just popped out of a child’s drawing! Artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser in collaboration with the architects Josef Krawina and Peter Pelikan created this building, and we think it’s a perfect idea to integrate into your child’s playhouse. You could even ask them to draw it themselves!

 

2. GLASS HOUSE, CONNECTICUT

Garden office inspiration
The Glass House was built in 1949 by architect Philip Johnson in a 49-acre pastoral landscape. We love it. The glass all around makes the inside and outside come together as one, so you feel that you’re working as part of the natural landscape. That’s great for productivity and creativity, and is a great idea for a garden office.

 

3. CASA DO PENEDO, PORTUGAL

Garden office inspiration
The Casa do Penedo, or ‘Stone House’, was built between 1972 and 1974 by a Portuguese engineer as holiday home. It’s actually built between four large boulders which have been integrated into the house’s foundation. Built almost entirely from stone, inside and out, it’s another example of seeing how humans and nature can work so perfectly together, to the extent that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. If you want to see it close up, you’re not alone; so many tourists go to visit so that it’s now a small museum. It’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? Using something that is already a part of your landscape as an integral part of your new garden room.

 

4. KRZYWY DOMEK, POLAND

Garden office inspiration
Krzywy Domek is rightly considered one of the most unusual buildings in the world. It was built between 2001 and 2004 by architects Mr and Mrs Szotynski, using Jan Marcin Szancer’s drawings  for inspiration. Wobbly walls, stretched windows, uneven roof… something like this would make a wonderful kid’s playhouse… or a garden bar!

 

5. AUDITORIUM OF SANTPEDOR, SPAIN

Garden office inspiration
As conversions of old buildings go, this one is particularly special. It was originally an old church, but is now an auditorium designed by the architect David Closes. The harmonious coexistence of old and modern materials creates a firm look to the past with a romantic look to the future. If you have an old, dilapidated out-building,  you could bring it to life again using it as a backdrop for a very elegant summer house or garden office.

 

6. LO RUVO CENTRE, NEVADA

Garden office inspiration
Lo Ruvo was commissioned by the entrepreneur Larry Ruvo, and designed by the architect Frank Gehry for use as an Alzheimer Research Centre. We love the metal clad skin and the complex use of curves and lines. This building is on a grand scale, but could you imagine the look on your teenager’s face if you were to show them something like this for their new garden room!

 

7. SHELL HOUSE, JAPAN

Garden office inspiration
This one is one from ARTechnic architects. Their mission was to create a building that could withstand time and the harsh, cold, humid weather of the Japanese region where the building is set. Does that sound familiar? Using a shell shape made from concrete will protect your summer house from the damaged caused by the elements and humidity, which will greatly extend its lifetime. This sort of shape is clean and modern, yet it has a solid base in the natural world.

 

8. CLOUD HOUSE, AUSTRALIA

Cloud house
This is rather wonderful. Again, it’s inspired by nature; a beautiful, fluffy cloud letting you reach right up into the sky! The contrasting use of straight lines throughout the inside of the building which merge with the outside area makes you feel as though you’re drawn into it. This one is a house extension by the Australian architecture firm McBride Charles Ryan. I guess we need to rethink the idea of a house extension here in the UK!

 

9. HEMLOFT, CANADA

Unusual architecture
This one sits like an egg in a tree. It was imagined and built by Joel Allen, a former software designer turned carpenter, so don’t feel that you have to be born as an architect to turn your imagination to something rare and different. A big tree can take up quite a lot of space in a garden, and it’s tempting to get rid of it just for the light. You can actually make it a feature of your new garden room, using what’s already there to increase the use of your space.

 

10. A-FRAME SUMMER CABIN, BELGIUM

Unusual architecture
Originally built as a summer cabin, this building was then transformed into a permanent house by dmvA Architecten. The classic and sturdy A-shaped design has been used for centuries as a base for buildings. On a smaller scale, this would bring a very funky look to a playhouse, and I guess we can all see the slide that your children will use! Then the glass surface gives the building a really dramatic and spacious feel. This is something that can easily be adapted to even a small summer house, and then you can claim it as your own for use as a garden office.

 

11. WALDFORD SCHOOL, GERMANY

Unusual architecture
This new addition to Waldford school was designed by LINK Arkitektur in 2016, and it’s easy to see how the pupils would draw more inspiration and creativity from it than they might from a more standard cube of brick. The use of silver-grey Kebony wood as cladding is intercut with bright windows, and this comes together to give the impression of the sun through the trees in the surrounding forest. From the practical side, raising your summer house on stilts like this will reduce the damage to the building as well as the impact on the environment, and it’s worth knowing that Kebony wood is a great, sustainable alternative to hardwood if you want a natural, wood look to your garden room.

 

12. MUSHROOM HOUSE, USA

Unusual architecture
James H. Johnson built this house in 1971 and said he was inspired by ‘a stem of Queen Anne’s lace in a Coke bottle’. Unsurprisingly, due to its characteristic shape, it’s known as the mushroom house. What we really like here is the fun you can have with shapes. It might be true that your imagination sees something that someone else might see differently, but isn’t that what art is really about? The key thing is to create something from your heart that you know you will love.

 

13. VITRAHAUS, GERMANY

Unusual architecture
Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra commissioned the architects Herzog and de Meuron for the construction of their showroom in Germany.  What we like about this is that the house motif has been reduced to its very basic form, which brings a softer simplicity to what is in fact a very industrial design. With plenty of light allowed in through those full-wall windows, it would make a perfect garden office.

 

14. CLOSE TIES, SCOTLAND

Unusual architecture
Close Ties is one of the many creations of North Caroline artist Patrick Dougherty. Patrick combines his carpentry skills with his love of nature and passion for primitive techniques of building. The woven walls and the undefined shape will make a very unusual summer house. Or a very magical playhouse!
Photo Fin McCrea

 

15. NAUTILUS HOUSE, NEW MEXICO

Unusual architecture
The effect created here by the colourful glass wall swirling about the building is just wonderful. It’s actually quite hard to tell the outside from the inside! You can see the inspiration from the work of Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Wright in Javier Senosian’s building. This sort of stained glass is something I really love working with in garden rooms. It is a very nice touch for a meditation room.

 

16. S-HOUSE, UKRAINIA

Unusual architecture
This is a fresh look at a traditional log house design by the Ukrainian architecture firm Ko+Ko. Wood and concrete combine to create something both innovative and ancient, and the look is beautiful but functional. A fantastic addition to any garden. There is also the really great idea of using the logs and raised section to create a lovely veranda for your garden room for those lovely summer days.

 

17. MALATOR HOUSE, WALES

Unusual architecture
This one is really great if you have an uphill garden! The earth house with the glass front  becomes an integral part of the landscape around it. Portholes are a really nice way to add an original touch to your teenager’s garden room without going crazy. It was built in 1998 by architects Future Systems.

 

18. SKY GARDEN HOUSE, SINGAPORE

Unusual architecture
You can see where it takes its name from! And it’s a very clear example of how you can have a summer house or garden office without having less garden. You just need to relocate it a bit. This was designed by Guz Architects, but having a green roof to your outside building is widely used. It helps with insulation and can let nature reinstate itself a bit. Alongside the greenery, the curved lines make this house really connected to the geography around it. It really is worth looking around with an artistic eye to see what shapes and styles fit in with where you are.

 

19. THE TAROT GARDEN, ITALY

Unusual architecture
Niki de Saint Phalle designed a whole esoteric sculpture garden based on Tarot Cards, and we really love this bold-coloured, crazy-shaped playhouse. The great thing about the garden is that Niki started it in the late seventies and was still working on it when she passed away in 2002. It is a marvellous example of how a space can continue expand and change. Children do that annoying thing called growing, so the Wendy House you made for your 2-year-old doesn’t work as a playhouse for your 5-year-old, or a hang-out space for your pre-teen. Like Niki’s house, a design can be adapted, changed, and added to, and all the while you and your children are creating something utterly personal for your family.

 

20. MEETING CENTRE, JAPAN

Unusual architecture
The meeting place for the town of Rikuzentakata was created as a gift by various organisations in Italy. The town was completely destroyed by the tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, and they recognised that people needed a calm, quiet place, just to be together. The shape was inspired by a lotus flower floating serenely on the water. It’s a good reminder that sometimes in life, everyone needs a calm place to just be themselves.

 

So you see, there is no limit to imagination. And when it is paired with skills and knowledge anything is possible. If you need a little help to put all your ideas onto paper, just give us a call. We love talking design!

 

For more inspiration read our article 20 great summer houses ideas to inspire you

 

 

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