A garden room is an excellent way to extend your living space outdoors. Also known as a garden office, garden studio or summerhouse, a garden room creates a functional outdoor area to be enjoyed year-round. With careful planning and design, you can construct a garden retreat that’s perfectly suited for relaxing, working or pursuing hobbies.
Although small compared to your home, building a garden room remains a significant project and it can add tremendous value and enjoyment to your property. Follow our design and construction tips and you’ll have a year-round garden oasis tailored to your needs that’s perfect for any season.
Planning your dream garden retreat
When planning your garden room, first consider how much space you can dedicate to the structure as most garden rooms range from 10 to 30 square metres. Also, factor in the layout – do you want an open-plan room or separate areas for lounging and workspace? Determine the best location to fit your garden that also offers pleasant views without being too shaded.
Next, define the purpose of your garden room. Will you use it as a home office, a craft area, a summer lounge or as recreation space? This will impact what amenities to include. Develop a budget estimate for the project, factoring in construction, decor, furniture and any utilities like electrics or plumbing. A basic garden room can cost £5,000 – £15,000 depending on size, materials and the level of assistance needed for installation.
Carefully choose finishes like flooring, windows, lighting and insulation that suit your style and budget. Work with a qualified builder experienced in garden rooms if undertaking a large project. Wise planning is key to maximising the enjoyment of your new outdoor living space. Consider browsing garden room magazines and websites for layout and design inspiration, or talking to a landscape architect can also help guide your planning process.
Meeting Permitted Development guidelines
In the UK, many garden rooms don’t require any planning permission because they fall under ‘permitted development’ guidelines. To build your garden room without needing full planning permission, adhere to the following key permitted development regulations:
- Position your garden room behind the front wall of the original house footprint. Don’t build it closer to the road than your home.
- Calculate the total ground area including existing sheds and outbuildings. Your new garden room cannot cause the total coverage to exceed 50% of the property plot size.
- Construct the structure as a single-storey while respecting maximum height allowances. Generally, this is 3 metres to the ridge or 4 metres for a dual-pitched roof. If positioned within 2 metres of a boundary, the limit is a lower 2.5 metres.
- Check that eaves remain under 2.5 metres high at any point. Avoid features like balconies, verandas or raised platforms.
- Do not equip the garden room for use as fully self-contained living accommodation.
Following these key principles will help your garden room qualify as permitted development, subject to meeting all other regulations.
Designing your garden room smartly
The design of your garden room will influence its functionality and aesthetics. For example, large windows capitalise on garden views and natural light, a pitched roof elevates ceilings or a flat roof may suit most contemporary styles. Incorporate insulation, heating and cooling to enable year-round use.
Select durable, low-maintenance materials like timber, brick or composite decking, aluminium and uPVC are economical options for windows and doors. Factor in power supply for lighting and outlets but, most importantly, choose finishes that suit your taste while working within budget constraints.
Constructing your garden room
The construction process for a garden room begins with the foundation. For a permanent structure, dig trenches at least 350 mm deep and pour concrete footings reinforced with rebar. Allow the foundation to fully cure over 7-10 days before building on top. Then, create a level, compacted gravel base layer for a stable surface.
The walls form the core structure so build them on the foundation using your chosen materials – timber framing, brick, insulated concrete panels etc. Ensure the wall dimensions match your plan and create openings for doors and windows. For a timber frame, erect vertical studs between top and bottom plates then infill with insulation and exterior sheathing like plywood.
For the roof, assemble rafters or trusses to span the width and create a sloped frame. Deck this with 12 mm plywood, insulate with at least 150 mm of mineral wool and then add breathable roofing felt and tile or metal sheeting to aid waterproofing. Include any roof lights or skylights at this stage and add fascia boards and guttering for a finished eave.
Once the main garden room structure is watertight, install uPVC or aluminium doors and windows. Shape the interior by adding plasterboard, trims, flooring and any built-in cabinets or shelving as desired. If including electrics, run conduit and wires within the walls before covering them over.
Adding finishing touches
The finishes and furnishings you select will define your garden room’s style. For flooring, tiles, stone and treated wood are attractive options that withstand weather. To enhance your garden room’s interior design, soften with comfort and colour using furniture, rugs and cushions. Choose outdoor-rated fabric for upholstered furniture if you will also be using your seating in the garden.
Add decorative touches like plants, artwork and accessories to create the desired ambience. Incorporate a wood-burning stove for warmth on cooler evenings and consider lighting features such as pendant lamps or string lights to enable nighttime use. The decor needn’t cost a fortune – visit charity shops, online marketplaces and nature itself for budget-friendly finds to give your garden room personality.
Enjoying your garden room year-round
With proper insulation, heating and cooling, your garden room can become a true four-season space. Use patio heaters, wall-mounted radiators or a fireplace in winter for warmth. Install ceiling fans or portable air conditioning units to keep the room cool in the summer. Rotate seasonal decor, furniture and activities to enjoy the outdoor space all year long – no matter the weather!
Garden design made easy
Constructing a garden room is a substantial yet rewarding project that expands your home’s living area. Ensure to invest time in the design phase to create a versatile space you’ll love using year-round. If you feel you lack the necessary practical skills, it’s important to work with qualified builders to ensure proper execution. But, once you break ground on your garden cabin you’ll quickly realise the amazing benefits that these outdoor rooms provide.