Planning a garden room: From design to build

When considering a garden room, probably the most important issue to keep in mind is how will it add value to your property. Garden rooms tend to add more value than a conservatory, as they are seen as a true extension to your home and create a much more dramatic statement. However, adding a garden room that truly adds to the value of your property takes much more planning and preparation than many people first assume. You need to carefully consider the design, location and construction materials. Plus, it’s vitally important to make sure that you don’t contravene any planning permission rules or building regulations.

Planning a garden room: From design to build

What is a Garden Room?

So what is a garden room and how does it differ from a conservatory? Well to be honest, the concept of both is pretty much the same thing. The difference being that a garden room has a solid roof instead of glass panels and it generally detached from the main home. Garden rooms traditionally have a flat roof, but pitched roofs are also available. Sometimes referred to a ‘posh sheds’ the modern garden room is so much more and is actually a very sophisticated product. Constructed in a similar fashion to the timber frame houses that are popular in Scandinavia etc, many garden rooms feature high specification components such as fully insulated bi-fold doors, underfloor heating and cost effective green living roof coverings. To put it simply, a garden room is a fantastic, modern, innovative construction that will give you extra space without the hassle of moving house, building an expensive brick extension or building a conservatory that is too cold to use during the winter.

As an extra room they are so much more flexible than a conservatory, there is a much greater range of different styles to choose from and a garden room will give you a wonderful new space for working at home, entertaining or simply relaxing. Which type of garden room you choose to get is part the design process and it is important you find a garden room that will complement your home’s appearance. A garden room is a big investment. They might not be as expensive as a traditional brick built extension, but they still require the same amount of thought and careful planning to ensure you get exactly what you want and need. There so many different designs, styles and materials to choose from and, unless you have some experience in the construction industry, then the choice can appear a little overwhelming. On top of that, there are many different suppliers and manufactures to choose from, and the way in which they work in terms of product and service can also vary dramatically.

Advantages of a Garden Room

There are several advantages to a garden rooms, especially when compared to conservatories or traditional extensions. For one, the energy savings are significant. The solid flat roof tends to make the room cooler in the summer but warmer during the winter. Also a glass-roofed conservatory will usually need additional roof blinds to shield the inside from direct sunlight, especially if the room faces south. Garden rooms offer a much greater level of privacy. Their design makes it possible to add them to a wider variety of home styles and sizes. People purchase a garden room to maximise space, especially those with a limited budget, who’ve extended their home as far as possible or  maybe they simply can’t extend as the property is listed.

Building a garden room is different to having a traditional brick extension or conservatory, generally they are not attached to your home and therefore don’t always need planning permission depending on size and position. Take Lazy Susan’s garden rooms as an example. They’re constructed to withstand a Scandinavian winter, they are thermally insulated and double glazed, so when the temperature drops outside they will still retain heat, plus they can be fully plumbed and wired so you can have water and power. A garden room will form an integral part of your garden, and if designed correctly, they will become a part of the garden rather than standing out. They are constructed on strong concrete foundations so will be sturdy and easily stand up to the UK weather and it will give you a combination of the sunlight and openness of a conservatory with the greater livability of a traditional extension.

Choosing the position and materials for a garden room

A major part of your consideration of how to design a garden room relates to the location. Where exactly is the best place to construct it, especially if you only have limited outdoor space available? You need to think about the view too as you don’t want to be staring at a fence. The key to a well designed garden room is making it connect with the rest of your garden or the views beyond. Look at the  immediate space like around your proposed location? Will you be looking at green fields, trees or a colourful well designed garden? It doesn’t really matter how beautifully decorated the inside of your garden room if out of the window all you can see is the side of your neighbour’s house.

Another vital part of the design process is the careful selection of construction materials. Garden rooms are now available in a wide range of materials, so making sure what you get is fit for purpose and right for the environ you plan to build is key. These days the use of manmade materials like PVC is becoming more widespread, primarily due to significantly lower cost and construction that is simpler quicker and much easier. However, in my opinion you just can’t beat natural materials such as timber for merging with the surroundings.

In recent years we’ve seen a big shift towards ensuring that garden room construction materials are eco-friendly. PVC for example is often thought of as a green choice because of the energy savings and insulation it provides. However, some have pointed out that the energy used in manufacture of man-made materials make them less eco-friendly than well-managed, renewable natural materials such a timber. Simply using any wood is not always the most environmentally responsible choice. You need to make sure that it is constructed from British or European untreated wood and good double-glazed windows are a must for energy efficiency.

Planning permission for garden rooms

With a garden room, you very rarely require planning permission, as long as the building is situated at a distance of 5 metres from the person’s home, is a single storey structure (i.e. it should not exceed 4 metres in height) and occupies less than 50% of your outdoor area. Permission is also not usually required if the garden room is built for private use and is no more than 20 metres away from any other public place. Our advice though, would always be to consult your local planning office before you don anything else, as you don’t want to have to tear it down after spending a substantial amount of time and money. Also, take the time to speak to all your neighbours and inform them of what you are doing.

That being said, there is simply no way we can cover every eventuality in this article, as restrictions vary dramatically between the different local planning authority across the UK. According to the government’s planning portal, there are few instances in which you would definitely need planning permission:

  • If you’re building toward any highway (and this includes footpaths and bridleways)
  • Building a garden room that covers more than half of the available land area
  • Using the garden room for commercial purposes (like running a home business)
  • Constructing a garden room more than 4 metres high, or if your house is a listed building.

In addition to UK regulations, you also have to investigate whether or not any local permissions are needed. There is no guarantee that local regulations will match UK laws. Local laws may be more specific or detailed. You wouldn’t want to build a garden room only to tear it down later. As I said before, many kinds of buildings and structures can be built in your garden or on the land around your house without the need to apply for planning permission. There are, however, limits and conditions which must be followed and in some instances you will need to apply for planning permission. Don’t spend any money or start any works until you have determined if planning permission is needed, and if it is, has all been agreed and rubber stamped!

The rules that govern outbuildings apply not just to garden rooms but to everything from sheds, greenhouses and garages to other ancillary garden buildings such as swimming pools, ponds, saunas, dog kennels and enclosures such as tennis courts etc. To be honest they can be a bit of a minefield. However, don’t let this put you off. If you do your research and follow the guidelines its an easy process to navigate your way through. Outbuildings are usually considered to be what’s known as a ‘permitted development’, in other words it doesn’t need planning permission, but they are subject to the following limits and conditions:

  • No outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation.
  • Outbuildings and garages to be single storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof.
  • Maximum height of 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or container within two metres of a boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house” would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more than 20 metres from house to be limited to 10 square metres.
  • On designated land buildings, enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties will require planning permission.
  • Within the curtilage of listed buildings any outbuilding will require Planning permission.

About Lazy Susan

About Lazy Susan

Lazy Susan is a small family business that specialise exclusively in wicker, rattan and metal garden furniture, specifically cast aluminium. Visit www.lazysusanfurniture.co.uk to find out more and view our complete product range.

No images available in this Gallery Type. Please check admin setting.
Planning a garden room: From design to build was last modified: by