Summerhouse Buyer's Prep Guide
While we don't build summerhouses any more, we can certainly share our knowledge and help you buy a really brilliant building. We're more than happy to help you on your summerhouse-buying journey!
Throughout this guide you'll find links to our blogs and videos explaining everything you need to know about buying, maintaining and enjoying a summerhouse.
We've been at this shed game for over 30 years, and trust us, we've seen it all! You can rest assured we've got you covered.
Planning permission is asking if you can do certain building work around your house. It's not often you need planning permission for a building in your garden, but it is required in particular circumstances.
More often than not, this is the first question you have. And the answer is always… it depends.
There are nine questions that will help you determine if your summerhouse will need planning permission and what you need to consider when choosing the position of your building in your garden.
In accordance to planning law a permitted development (meaning you don’t need permission) is one that answers NO to all of the following questions...
- Is your summerhouse
- for business use?
If you’re running a multi-million pound empire from your garden shed, the council will want to know about it. They love a bit of business rate action on that kind of thing.
If it’s not for business, you don’t need permission.
- Is your summerhouse going to be outwith your garden?
It’s a serious question… You can’t just put a summerhouse up in a public park where you like to sit sometimes. Although we think this really applies to communal grounds, where you may have a plot for a Garage but the access is shared and there is maybe a certain size or style you need to adhere to.
If it’s in YOUR garden,
you don’t need permission.
- Do you live in a
This one’s for the neighbour who thinks it’s appropriate to erect a 9ft tall pigeon loft 3 inches away from your kitchen window #DBAD. The council like to have a say on where you want to put the building in tenement or shared garden situations.
If you’re not in a tenement block or you don’t share your garden, you don’t need permission.
- Is your summerhouse going to be within 1 metre of a boundary?
This is my favourite! When we ask our customers this question they always look at us as if we're about to burst into a clever 5 line limerick… we're not, it’s a genuine question.
“If the 1 metre boundary is crossed
Then the trick is to keep your Shed bossed
Below 2.5 metres
The building's a keeper
And the planning permission is tossed!”
This is achievable for smaller buildings but becomes an issue for Garages and large Garden Rooms. Oh and a boundary is whatever separates your garden from the rest of the WORLD!
If your summerhouse is not going to be
within 1 metre of a boundary
and is under 2.5 metres in height
- you don’t need permission.
Do you live in a
Conservation; to conserve the historical environment against unsavoury changes. I think 'unsavoury' is the right word but you could say – to stop you from putting up an ugly summerhouse. Conservation Areas only like really, ridiculously good looking summerhouses. The same rule applies if your house is a Listed Building.
If you’re not in a conservation area and you are not in a listed building, you don’t need permission.
- Is your summerhouse wall height more than 3 metres?
Seriously doubt it. Unless you're housing The BFG, a 3m wall height is ridiculous. The standard wall height is roughly 1.980m (see what I did there, that’s not roughly, that’s accurate, there’s nothing roughly about me).
If your summerhouse wall height is under 3 metres, you don’t need permission.
7. Is your summerhouse roof (overall) height more than 4 metres?
Again, this is just CRAZY! I can get a two storey building under 4m but it’s really hard to do that – chances are if you’re going two storey then you’re already doing Building Control so will need Planning regardless.
If your overall summerhouse height will be under 4 metres then you don’t need permission.
- Is your summerhouse being used
to create a boundary?
So let us say if you’re thinking of putting your building inline with the front elevation of your house to create a boundary between you and the rest of the WORLD then… The council will want to tell you what colour to paint it and maybe say you can’t put it there at all because you have too many freckles (no-one understands their logic, no-one).
If your summerhouse won’t be used to create a boundary then you don’t need permission.
- Is your summerhouse going to
take up more than 50%
of your garden area?
For example; you’re trying to erect a 3 bedroom detached house and class it as a summerhouse in your back garden. Good luck. The council hates that.
Keep it in proportion to the rest of the garden and don’t go mental big. In fact, you can’t make it bigger than 30m2 anyway as that requires Building Control.
If your summerhouse won’t take up more than 50% of your garden and is under 30m2
Answer NO to all of these and you can summerhouse away to your heart's content under the comforting blanket of permitted development.
Your summerhouse supplier may offer this service to save you the hassle. There will be a charge to this, of course, as it takes up their time.
Or you can check out our content on how to apply for planning permission yourself.
Have you seeen this mentioned on this page and you want to know more about what it is? Read our blog: Does a Shed Need a Building Warrant?
2. Base Work
This is super important!
Summerhouse companies may or may not provide a base for your building so this may be something you’ll need to consider as an additional cost. You’ll need to source a landscaper to do it for you.
Please note: We highly advise you obtain landscaper quotes for base work before ordering a summerhouse building to obtain a full and clear picture of project costs.
If you want your building to be sturdy and last – having the right base is our no.1 rule.
Your summerhouse requires a fully slabbed area. This is so your base withstands the weight of the summerhouse which can be a couple of tonnes in weight.
It is so important that you follow this specification of: digging down to firm ground, compacting type 1 hardcore, laying and then levelling slabs on top.
Your summerhouse company and the landscaper can communicated to make sure that your base is the correct size for your building. The landscaper should conduct a site visit to make sure they have all the details they need.
Recommendations for Summerhouse Bases:
This is vital to make sure your summerhouse building lasts and minimises the common issues when dealing with wood.
Timber is a natural material and it will deteriorate over time if it is not properly protected. The best way to protect it is to paint it with a good-quality exterior water-based paint, like Sadolin.
Once the building is assembled on your site, give it a three- week settling period to allow the timber boards to contract and then paint it up good and proper.
After you have applied the second coat, you should re-apply every 3-5 years depending on exposure.