The rise in popularity of the backyard pod hit fever pitch this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced us to find new ways to work productively from home.
The once-luxury backyard addition has become more than an escape from those you live with, they’re the office environment you crave away from the four walls you live in.
And if you’ve got the room to add one in your backyard, then the popular 10-metre-square pod is the quickest solution.
An influx of pod inquiries has kept Brian Atkins of BriBuild busy for most of this year, but the switch in stage restrictions in Victoria also means he can’t install many of the pods that were purchased in between lockdowns.
“Many people want their own custom-designed pod to give them that extra space,” Atkins says.
“For some, mixing home schooling with the demand of work just didn’t work in their home, and pods became the best answer.”
Atkins has created custom-built pods starting at $15,990 for a variety of clients needing a home office, artists needing a studio or musicians keen for a soundproofed escape.
“Pods can’t be used as a dwelling,” Atkins says. “You can’t have a bathroom or kitchenette and while you don’t need a building permit for one, you do need to get a planning exemption. There is still a regulatory path you need to go down.”
Heath Burton of building company Parker Building Melbourne says pods shouldn’t be overcrowded.
He says if you’re considering one for the backyard, keep the structure lightweight and avoid using a brick wall. He also advises to always insulate your building and don’t clutter the walls with shelving – but opt for bright colours if you do.
Burton says you need to have plenty of power points and take note of what your internet connection is like from where you plan to place it, too.
“When building pods or an office from scratch, fabrications can vary depending on the design,” says Burton.
“Most recent additions have been using lightweight claddings [brands like Weathertex or Scyon Matrix] to reduce cost and speed up build times.
“Depending on the access to your property, pods can be built offsite and installed by crane.”
According to Jason Fremder, managing director at Harwyn, backyard pods were largely a niche offering until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. His business is all about state of the art design that brings plenty of wow factor to your backyard.
While the options to buy pod DIY packs might suit some clients, having a builder take care of the hard work will certainly appeal to others.
“By having a unified team of designers, draftspeople, engineers and architects working in unison behind the scenes, customers are assured of excellence at every stage – from concept and design, to construction and delivery,” says Fremder, whose business can install them in just two hours.
Fremder says the flexibility to work from home means the pod is here to stay.
“Work culture has undergone a huge shift during the pandemic, meaning that we’re expecting that many full-time workers will choose to work from home or at the least split their time between working from home and the traditional office, even when offices once again open up,” Fremder says.
“Employers and employees alike are experiencing just how effective and economical working from home can be, and are enjoying the benefits including flexibility and no commute.”
Fremder says the key to a successful pod is creating a sanctuary away from where you live. You need to feel inspired to turn on that computer when you arrive.
He says consumers should consider the look and feel they want and how it connects to nature. Ask yourself, is it bright and uplifting and will it stand the test of time?