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By Kieran Bain on 09 May 2022

Summerhouse vs Garden Room: What’s the Difference?

Right folks, you’re in the market for a garden space to spend #ShedLoads of time in. That’s fantastic stuff, and you’ve come to the right place. But there’s one thing bugging you. You just cannot decide if you want a Garden Room or a Summerhouse. 

We know that you’re wondering about loads of things…

What is a Summerhouse? 

What is a Garden Room? 

How can each of them be used?

What is actually the difference between a Summerhouse and a Garden Room? 

All completely valid questions, folks. Initially, it does seem difficult to make key distinctions between these two types of buildings.

However, bear with us today and we’ll walk you through EVERYTHING that separates a summerhouse from a garden room.

What is a Summerhouse and its uses?

A summerhouse has traditionally referred to a building or shelter used for relaxation in warm weather.

A Summerhouse is a place to relax, crack open a book and have a drink of wine. Feet up, pillows plumped, sun blazing through the windows: life is good. 

Your summerhouse is there to enjoy, either by yourself or with friends and family. The PERFECT time to use it is Summer, but that’s not to say you can’t use it in Spring or Autumn. However, you’re probably not going to use your Summerhouse 24/7, 365 days a year. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing so (and the blog above covers this exact topic!) but for most people, it’s a place to relax. And sadly we can’t relax all day, every day.

So, whilst you can use it for working, your Summerhouse is mainly a space to unwind, and escape those stresses of life. 

Warm weather is when your Summerhouse is at its happiest. There’s nothing it loves more than warm air seeping through the timber with the doors and windows open.

summerhouse interior

As you can see, the Summerhouses are built with a single skin. So in Summer, they are ROASTING hot, but a little chilly when cold. After all, the only thing that separates you when the outdoors is 19mm Scandinavian Redwood; it can only keep you so cosy.

What is a Garden Room and its uses?

A Garden Room is a place to spend a great deal of time. Whether it’s for work, rest, or play, the Garden Room does it all. 

Home Offices, Gyms, a Games Room. We’ve seen it all. They’re amazing buildings and completely transformative to your garden, and your home. 

These buildings are ready for use 365 days a year, and that’s no joke. With its 5-tier wall specification and full lining and insulation, these things are behemoths. It doesn’t matter if you’re working the 9 – 5 in January or you have the family round for dinner in July. Garden rooms are built to make it all possible.

home office garden room

Hot in the Winter, cool in the Summer. It’s got it all. ✅ 

I suppose when we say “its uses” – what we mean is “what can it not be used for?” Some things you can’t use your garden room for are:

  • An Airport*
  • A Farm
  • A University

*Also not suitable in outer space.

I know! I bet you’re gutted about the airport part – but you can do pretty much anything else with your garden room.

What makes Garden Rooms and Summerhouses different? 

Right! Now you know what they can both be used for. Now let’s look at the difference between summerhouse and garden rooms in detail.

Summerhouse vs Garden Room: what is the difference in size

Let’s kick off with the Garden Rooms.

So, since joining in May 2019, the smallest Garden Room I’ve ever seen has been 3m x 2.4m, which would pass as a medium-sized Summerhouse.

However, these guys can go from being 3m x 2.4m all the way up to 15m x 4m, and literally everything in between. To rattle off some sizes I’ve seen: 

  • 7m x 4m
  • 6m x 5m
  • 4.8m x 3.6m

Yep folks, the Garden Rooms can basically be anything.

Effectively, they are built exactly to the size that you need them. It’s much more of a case of you designing the Room with us, as opposed to getting a standard design and size as per the Summerhouses. Whatever your Garden Room dream is, we’ll do our best to make it happen. 

Let’s move on to Summerhouses.

Summerhouses start as small as 8’ x 6’ and go all the way up to 12’ x 12’.  Have a look, guys.

As mentioned above, Summerhouses are more standardised than Garden Rooms. This is reflected in both style and cost. From our range, you can select (from 7 designs) 35 different options to best suit your needs.

If you know roughly how many people will be using your Summerhouse at any given point, we have some content that will steer you in the right direction as to what of these 35 options are best for you. 

Basically, if you’re looking for a place to chill out in the heat, and your sizes are between 8’ x 6’ and 12’ x 12’ (and in between!) then look no further. 

Summerhouse vs Garden Room – is there a difference in Planning Permission requirements?

Ah, that old chestnut. Planning permission is something you need to think about regardless of whether you’re installing a summerhouse or garden room.

Now, you may think that due to the size of the Garden Rooms you’re more likely to need planning permission, but it isn’t really the case. Planning states that, as long as the building is under 30m², then it is not necessary. 

Furthermore, both Summerhouses and Garden Rooms largely avoid planning if placed outside 1m of a boundary. If you want to place it closer than that, then some Summerhouses can get away with it; Garden Rooms… not so much. There’s a lot to it, so I’d really recommend reading some content we’ve produced on exactly this to get a better grasp of what to expect for the different types of builds. 

I’m not trying to get out of writing about Planning (but equally, could you blame me?), but the topic is just so vast that it needs its own article. As long as you: 

  • Ensure the build is under 30
  • Ensure that it is placed outside 1m of a boundary – and if it is not – ensure that all material within that 1m is under 2.5m in height

then half the fight is already done. Articles attached here, folks: 

Summerhouse vs Garden Room: is there a difference in cost?

Okay, costs, yes. Another very considerable difference.

At this point, it’s important to reiterate that summerhouses are single-skinned, and have single-glazing windows. In comparison, garden rooms are fully lined, insulated, and have double-glazed UPVC units. 

For that reason, the cost difference issssss…. large!

So, our most inexpensive Summerhouse is the gorgeous 7’ x 7’ Corsie. C’mon, let’s have a look: 

7 x 7 Corsie

This wee beauty is perfect for a little reading room for you and yours. It’s got 2x single-glazed windows, torch-on felt roofing and dinky summerhouse doors. My personal favourite. Such a modest wee design. 

On the flip side is our most expensive Summerhouse – born from the depths of Grant’s mind – the 12.8’ x 10’ Laggan. Some say that Atlas, condemned by Zeus, carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. That’s wrong, though; it was actually Calum, our lead deliverer, condemned by me – the taker of the order – to carry the weight of the 12.8’ x 10’ Laggan on his shoulders.

Get it right for once please, Homer? 

Much like Atlas, actually, this building is a mere piece of mythology, only existing in ancient floor plans and elevations;

Laggan 12 x 8 elevations

For the prices of these builds, check out our brochures here: Summerhouse Prices

In terms of Garden Rooms, however, these start upwards of about £13,000.00 and can go upwards of £45,000.00. It all depends on the size, and how you choose to modify it with UPVC doors and windows. One thing is sure, is that it is far (far) more interchangeable than the Summerhouses. 

Interested in seeing some case studies?

Check out some of the garden rooms we’ve done in our Garden Room Brochure

Summerhouse vs Garden Room: what is the difference in design?

We’ve not got a lot of NEW information to add here.

But, the garden rooms are each designed from scratch. All you have to do is choose if you’d like Apex or Pent, and we can take it from there. 

Summerhouses, as mentioned above, are far more standardised. Designs and sizes are all listed in the price list, and we believe that these set designs should be able to accommodate everyone in their Summerhouse journey, regardless of the space in your Garden. 

HOWEVER,  I should also quickly mention something else, folks. That is if you like the look of a Garden Room, but it’s maybe just slightly out of budget, then we’ve got a compromise for you. 

Remember when I said that you won’t be able to use the Summerhouse ALL winter? Well, that’s not *technically* true, because we can offer a sort of halfway between a Summerhouse and a Garden Room: a fully lined and insulated Summerhouse. 

So, one thing to keep in mind is that, due to the massive 5-tier wall structure of the Garden Room, the insulation we can fit in between the 95mm x 45mm framing is MAHOOSIVE (100mm Ecotherm). That means that

A) moisture is getting nowhere near the interior, and

B) that you are gonna be mega-cosy.

In the case of the lined + insulated Summerhouses, we’re looking at a double-skinned building. The framing is still the same (70mm x 40mm) Which means you have your classic 19mm Scandinavian Redwood, a tiny cavity, 50mm ecotherm, and internal 16mm v’d lining.

Just take a look at it:

rannoch insulated interior

It’s absolutely gorgeous, and it is going to keep you warmer than the standard Summerhouse. Spring and Autumn are no problem at all. Winter? With some heating – yeah, definitely doable. 

Time to make the call: “Do I want a Garden Room or a Summerhouse?”

Well, folks, this has covered pretty much everything that separates a Summerhouse compared to a Garden Room. If your budget is above £13,000.00 or so, and you’re looking for all-year-round use, then the Garden Room is the one for you. 

However, if your budget is under £7,000.00, then you’re realistically looking at a Summerhouse. If you’re in that spot where you’re looking for constant use, and the budget is under £11/12,000.00, then a fully lined and insulated summerhouse could be for you! 

Another option to ensure maximum Summerhouse cosiness is to get a wood-burning stove installed. With that, and full lining and insulation, it probably is enough for all-year use. You’ve just gotta keep that fire burning! 

If this is of interest, check out our good friend Nick at Carse Country Stoves

If you think, having read this article, that either the Summerhouse or the Garden Room is the one for you, please book in to speak to one of our Sales Consultants here: Book Appointment – Gillies & Mackay

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

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