If you’ve already extended or converted, or you’re looking for extra space without much disruption, a garden studio can be a speedy, hassle-free alternative to a big build
As a flexible garden room that you can use as an office, gym, art studio or even as an annexe to your home, a room in the garden is often a convenient way of extending your home, provided you have the outside space to install one. Depending on its complexity, you can build your own or get a company to do all the hard work for you, making it a relatively straightforward project. We give you the lowdown on what to expect.
1. Do your research
First you need to find a design you like. There are plenty of options available, depending on the space you have and the style you prefer. Contemporary designs with bifolds or sliding doors allow the space to open directly out into the garden, like a summerhouse.
Pod designs are convenient for smaller gardens and ideal if you don’t need much internal space, perfect for a home office. If you prefer a more traditional design, shepherd’s huts can squeeze in a bedroom, kitchen and even bathroom. If you do want a kitchen or bathroom, check that the company will incorporate them.
Most companies design and manage the build from start to finish, including organising approvals or permissions, but if you’d rather do the work yourself, companies like Building With Frames (buildingwith frames.co.uk) sell kits from £7,020.
2. Discuss your garden room needs
Once you have two or three designs you like, contact the companies, explaining what you want and how you’ll be using the space. ‘There are two statutory things that you need to iron out: Planning Permission and Building Regulations,’ says Karl Stokes, MD of TG Escapes. ‘You can build a garden room under Permitted Development (PD), but the building can’t be over 2.5m in height. This can be restrictive, especially if you’re planning a gym or yoga studio as that only gives you about 2.1m internal height. Anything taller than 2.5m, or plans to use the space as an annexe, will require Planning Permission.
The other restriction is Building Regulations approval. This applies within a metre of a boundary or if the building is over 30sqm in size.’ Also, if you have specific plans for the decor and fittings, make these clear from the outset. Some companies will tweak their plans to accommodate these, others won’t.
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If you have the time, apply for Planning Permission to transform the space into an annexe at a later date. It may not apply to you but will prevent any issues if you decide to sell your house in the future.‘From inception to completion, the whole thing should take around 18 weeks. That’s a couple of weeks to design it, taking into account any special requirements,’ says Karl. ‘Then you need at least 10 weeks for Planning Permission if necessary, three to four weeks for construction off-site and another three to four weeks for the build.’ Once you have chosen your preferred quote the company takes over.
3. Begin your garden room installation
Once permissions and approvals (if any) have been sought, the build can begin. Garden rooms are usually constructed off-site and delivered to your home to be assembled. A site visit at quote stage will assess access to your garden. ‘We’ve built lots of studios in central London, where access is very limited,’ says Karl. ‘Companies should be able to build the panels to size so whatever restrictions there may be, it shouldn’t be too much trouble getting them into the back garden.’ Just before installation, the company will visit to prepare your garden and build the foundations. Any trees or plants that may affect the build will have to be relocated and if you’re installing any pipework for water or sewerage, this will be done too. Once the site is ready, the building will arrive. First comes the pre-insulated shell, then plasterboard on top, followed by glazing and flooring. The build shouldn’t take longer than a month and the room should be ready to use as soon as its done.
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4. Put the finishing touches to your garden room
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Depending on the upheaval that was required, your garden may need a little love once the builders have finished. Remember to budget for some landscaping to tidy up the garden after they’ve gone. Think about how it will look all year round, from maintaining your lawn, to beautiful edging.
Want more project planning and advice? READ: How to install interior doors
Will you be installing a garden room in your space? We’d love to see your garden room ideas!