A Garden room, also known by other names such as summer house or log cabin, is an increasingly popular way to increase the living space of your home. Requiring only a little lawn space and usually no planning permits, Garden rooms are a great way to add a seperate space to your home that can be built to accommodate a variety of purposes.
When it comes to expanding your living space and adding value to your property, most homeowners could be forgiven for thinking one thing: extension. There’s no doubt that extending your home can tick both of those boxes, yet there is another less conventional but increasingly popular solution. The garden room, summer house of log cabin might once have been perceived as the preserve of wealthy property owners with large areas of lawn, but more and more homeowners are waking up to the idea that even a modest outside space can accommodate a garden room. Not only that, but if the garden room is of a certain size and configuration then it will be classed as permitted development and will not need planning permission.
If your proposed garden room is to be erected less than two metres from your property’s boundary and will stand at less than 2.5 metres in height then it is unlikely to require planning permission.
If the garden room is to be placed more than two metres from your boundary, the maximum permitted height before planning permission is required rises to 2.5m for the eaves, which translates into a maximum overall height of 4m for a dual-pitched roof and 3m maximum overall height for a pent-roofed building.
If you are looking for more height, it will usually be necessary to apply for Planning Permission. If that is the case, check out "5 Quick Tips Planning Permission Approval"
In general, if you intend to make the room a ‘livable’ space it will need planning permission and building regulations approval, and your local council may demand that you pay separate Council Tax. If it is purely an incidental addition to the existing property, and complies with all the other requirements, then planning may not be needed.
Traditionally, garden rooms have been created as hobby rooms or home offices, and these are both fantastic uses for your outside space, but in reality there are a whole host of possibilities to suit every lifestyle. If you have teenage children who crave independence, for example, a garden room can provide self-contained accommodation for chilling out, playing music and even sleeping over with their friends. And if they are a little older but struggling to afford their own bedsit or flat, a garden room can offer an independent living space without all the standard overheads.
At the other end of the scale, a garden room can offer semi-independent living for an elderly relative. Care home fees can be prohibitive, so creating a garden room can not only provide a safe and secure environment for your relative but also enable separate access for carers. Clearly what is effectively a garden annex will probably require additional facilities such as a wetroom, a kitchen and wheelchair access, but the level of investment needed is likely to be dwarfed by potential care home fees.
If the requirement is for a little ‘me’ time, then a summer house can provide an oasis of calm away from the rest of the family, either for a hobby such as painting or pottery, or as a quiet space for reading or meditation. Increasingly, log cabins are being used as home spas, complete with sauna, steam room and rainfall shower, while an outdoor hot tub can offer further indulgence. With health and wellbeing featuring higher than ever on everyone’s agenda, your garden room can even house your very own Yoga Ashram.
If you’re looking to use the space in a more active way, why not set it up as a games room for snooker, pool or table tennis, or even vintage arcade games? Garden rooms are also ideal for modern gaming, home cinemas and music studios, especially if well designed and thoroughly soundproofed.
If you’re looking to keep fit but would prefer not to head out to the gym, why not create one in your garden? A garden room can be separated into areas for floor work and carefully selected gym equipment, and can include a shower and changing room if required.
Thinking outside the box, your garden room could lend itself perfectly to becoming your own private pub or even – if you enjoy home brewing – an on-site micro-brewery. And if you have a specialist hobby that requires a significant amount of space – such as building model railway layouts – a garden room can provide an area where you can indulge your passion without disrupting family life.
Returning to more conventional uses, many garden rooms are used as home offices, offering the ability to create a more distinct separation between home and working life than is possible if you’re perched on the kitchen table or working from a spare bedroom. Efficiency and clarity are essential for today’s home worker, and a dedicated garden room can make all the difference. As well as increasing your productivity, a garden office will help to keep the house free of paperwork and filing, while also enabling you to achieve a better work/life balance by ‘leaving’ work at the end of the day. As well as serving as a home office, research suggests that families are also using their garden room as a quiet area for homework, where children can focus on studying away from the distractions of their phones, tablets and games consoles.
As Kelley Malcher of Surrey builders, Refresh Renovations, observes, the possible uses for a garden room are endless. ‘With rising house prices and the hassle and expense associated with moving, in Surrey we’re seeing an increase in demand for home improvements,’ says Kelley. ‘High up the list are garden rooms and summer houses as they offer a multitude of possibilities for a relatively modest outlay. As long as the garden room is carefully designed then it’s unlikely to need planning permission and the project can be completed efficiently. It goes without saying that it helps to have an idea of the intended use from the outset but – in general – garden spaces can be flexible and can be adapted for a different purpose in the future.
‘Without doubt, home offices and hobby rooms remain the most common uses for garden cottages, but we have heard of people creating a garden room as a sanctuary away from the children, an area where the children can store all their toys or a memorabilia room for cataloguing and displaying private collections. On a more commercial scale, the rise of Airbnb has led homeowners to consider creating a self-contained garden room which can be rented out not only to recoup the cost of the project but also to generate rental income on an ongoing basis.
‘Whatever the planned use, we work to the same principles as with any Refresh project. We sit down with the client to discuss what they are hoping to achieve, we look at the best size and specification of garden room for their requirements, we create drawings and plans for discussion, we put together a budget and we then manage the build with our trusted team. As with any project, sticking to these principles helps us achieve the best possible outcome for everyone, ensuring that we deliver the perfect garden room on time and within budget.’
Refresh Renovations UK are builders in Surrey offering design and build services. To discuss your garden room or summer house, get in touch today, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.
All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.
If you would like to find out how Refresh Renovations can support you with a high quality, efficient home renovation, get in touch today. Your local Refresh Renovations consultant will be happy to meet with you for a free, no obligations consultation.