Shed vs Summerhouse: What is the Difference?

Kieran Shed Buyer's Guide, Summerhouse Buyer's Guide Leave a Comment

So, you’re at the stage where you’ve decided you need SOMETHING in your garden, but you’re not quite sure what. You’re thinking shed vs summerhouse, what’s the difference?

You’re most likely asking the following questions: do I need a Summerhouse? Do I need a Shed? Do I need both? What’s actually the difference between a Shed and a Summerhouse? 

Over the years, I’ve met so many people that were just completely stuck on this problem. 

Well, if you guys are in a similar situation to those previous Sheddies, then you’ve come to the right place. Basically, you’re looking for some clarity on what’s what, and that’s absolutely normal! There’s always a bit of confusion around what each one actually is, and the functions it serves. The two words sometimes get banded around to the point of synonymy, and this isn’t really the case.

As such, I want to go through 3 things today:

  1. What a Shed and Summerhouse actually are.
  2. How do they differ from each other?
  3. How to decide what you need for your specific situation?

That being said, let’s get started!

What is a Shed? 

A Shed is a functional space mainly used for storage. You can keep your lawnmower in there, some bikes, your summer furniture during the winter, and of course, tools! It’s an outdoor space for storage mainly, and as such, you’ll want it to look pretty in your garden! 

shed interior

As you can see, the finish of the Sheds – whilst still beautiful – is rougher around the edges. A bit more for practical use, you could say.

As Cara said a good few years ago: “by practical, I mean messy pretty much. Vehicle maintenance, tinkering about with tools, that type of thing. Pottery would work.”

Chances are that you’re not going to be spending huge amounts of time actually inside your Shed. Because of this, the main thing that needs to be pretty is the exterior, whilst the interior is to be predominantly functional.

Whether it’s tool storage, potting, or a place for your mower, the Shed is built for it all!

What is a Summerhouse? 

A Summerhouse is not just functional like your Shed. It’s your beautiful space to relax, crack open a bottle of wine, read a book, and watch the sunset. Okay, okay, that was very romanticised. But hey, why not? 

Your Summerhouse is your space to chill out (metaphorically; if you were actually cold then we’d be out of business). 

Unlike the Shed, you’re gonna be spending lots of time physically inside here. Because of that, they have a far more polished interior, with single-glazed Mortise and Tenon doors and windows, all flushed out with dressed timbers.  

summerhouse interior

Look at that, folks. So nice, like a home away from home. As you can see, it is quite a different finish to the Sheds. Again, it’s all down to the fact that the Summerhouse will be physically used so much more. 

As Socrates once said:

“a Shed is a space; a Summerhouse is a place.”

Still so true 2400 years later. 

Further differences between Sheds and Summerhouses

We’ve looked at the different uses between Sheds and Summerhouses, and now it’s time to look at some other factors that separate them. But first, here’s a quick 1-minute video from our very own Cara.

Thanks, Cara! Let’s unpack all of this in detail.

Shed vs Summerhouse: what is the difference in size?

Sheds can be very dinky, or absolutely mahoosive. It really depends on the volume of stuff you need to store and how much space you’ve got.

Our Sheds start off as small as 7’ x 5’ [or 2.1m x 1.5m] and go as large as 16’ x 10’ [4.8m x 3m]. This means you can fit nearly FIVE little 7’ x 5’s into one 16’ x 10’. We’re telling you, the scope of these is HUGE!

In between all of these sizes, of course, are things like 8’ x 6’, 10’ x 8’, 14’ x 8’. Name any two numbers between 5 and 16… chances are, it’s a Shed we can provide. Love it! 

Summerhouses, however, also have quite a large scope in size. Our smallest one is the petite 8’ x 6’ Rannoch or Vorlich, and that goes all the way up to the 12’ x 12’ Rannoch mammoth! This means you could put exactly three 8’ x 6’s into one 12’ x 12’!

Since Summerhouses are going to have people inside them instead of bikes and boxes, you want everyone to feel comfortable. In the market for a Summerhouse just for you and yours? We’ve written articles that cover exactly this: the best Summerhouse for 1-2 people.

Fancying having, say, 6 – 8 people in the Summerhouse at any one time? We’ve got you covered: The best summerhouse for 6-8 people…

Basically, the Summerhouses are ever-so-slightly more restricted in size, but that’s not to say they’re actually limited. All it is is that the Sheds can be sooooo different. 

Shed vs Summerhouse: what is the difference in cost?

This is a big point of difference. Because of the dressed timbers, shingled roofs, and glazed mortise doors and windows, Summerhouses are a lot more expensive than Sheds.

To examine some comparisons from our 2021 price list, an 8’ x 6’ Apex Shed was £1,282.00, whereas our 8’ x 6’ Rannoch Summerhouse was £3,122.00. It’s a pretty hefty difference when you look at it like that, but all those details, doors and windows add up!

The discrepancy stays similar throughout the sizes, too. A 10’ x 8’ Apex or Pent Shed: £2,162.00. A 10’ x 8’ Kindrogan Summerhouse: £4,671.00. 

As a rule-of-thumb, you can usually expect a Summerhouse to be about 2x/2.5x more expensive than its Shed counterpart. Price really is one of the biggest differences between the two, but it all ties together when considering what they’re used for.  Since the Summerhouse is going to be a place where you and your family relax, it’s important that it’s as luxurious as possible.

Shed vs Summerhouses: what are the planning permission differences? 

Ah, that old chestnut.

So, since all of our Summerhouses and Sheds are beneath 30m² in footprint, planning permission is typically unnecessary. However, the reason it may be needed is the rule that anything within 1m of a boundary must be under 2.5m in height. 

What does this mean for Summerhouses? 

Well, it means that designs like our Laggan and Rannoch legally need to be 1m away from a boundary IF the back wall is going to be the closest to the boundary. Our Laggan at its highest point is near 2.8m, and our Rannoch around 2.6m. 

Almost all other Summerhouses avoid planning on the condition that you place them 40cm away from the boundary. This is because some Summerhouses rise in height from the back wall and eaves. Therefore, by the time the Summerhouse has reached over 2.5m in height, the Summerhouse “material” is outside 1m of the boundary. Diagram needed!

planning permission

That is really tricky to explain, so I hope I’ve demonstrated it semi-decently!

In terms of the Sheds, every panel is always beneath 2.5m APART from our 10’ Apex Gables. So, when going for something like a 10’ x 12’, that gable needs to be outwith 1m of the boundary. Other than that, you’ve avoided it completely!

We should mention, however, that none of the above really applies if you’re in a Conservation Area. In a Conservation Area, anything over 4m² in footprint requires planning*.

*(To complicate things, this is the case everywhere in Scotland apart from Perth & Kinross, where you can have 8m² before needing planning…we know Sheddies, we know).

Although Planning Permission is rarely needed, it is needed less for Sheds than for Summerhouses. Definitely, something to consider.

Over to you: “Do I need a Summerhouse, or a Shed?”

Okay, I think we’ve covered pretty much all of the differences between a Summerhouse and Shed. However, if you’re still undecided about what’s right for you, there’s nothing a good limerick can’t solve:

There is something that’s troubling your head:

the question of Summerhouse v Shed.

Do you wish to relax?

Or store tools to the max?

Perhaps you would prefer both instead?

I can only imagine that this has solved your problem single handedly…

In all seriousness, if you feel you’ve decided what’s best for you then please do book in for your consultation HERE to be the first in line for a Summerhouse or Shed!

Are you still not quite ready to book in for an appointment yet? Download our brochures here to get an even more detailed flavour of what’s what. Download Our Price Lists – Gillies & Mackay

Okay folks, I think that’s everything. We hope you now know exactly what the differences are between a Summerhouse and Shed, and what fits your needs best!

PS: Think you need both? No problem at all. We can do some pretty cool things with our Rannoch design to give you a Summerhouse at the front, and some storage at the back. Email us at info@gilliesandmackay.com or book a consultation below to receive a quote for something like this. 

book a consultation