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Outbuilding or garden rooms are small extensions to your home

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Outbuilding or garden rooms are small extensions to your home that are non-habitable but which can provide extra space for day to day use. They differ from annexes, in that an annexe is a separate sleeping area. They are great for dens for the kids, or small offices, keeping the rest of your home clutter-free.

Usually, an outbuilding will be classed as a Permitted Development, so as long as it is fairly small in scope there is no need to apply for planning permission, but you should confirm this with your local authority.

What Can Outbuildings Be Used For?

Having an extra ‘room’ in your garden can create some extra space for activities that might be too loud or intrusive to enjoy in your home. A lot of people opt to have an outbuilding erected as a cheaper option to a home extension that will still give them the extra space they need for their home.

Popular options for outbuildings include:

  • Home offices
  • Sauanas
  • Storage
  • Plant rooms
  • Dens or games rooms
  • Studios
  • Pool house
  • Kennels

For a lot of these uses, you will need to have the room wired up for electricity. Insulation is useful for rooms that will be occupied in the winter.

Where Should the Garden Room Stand?

To some extent, the location of any outbuilding you erect will be dictated by the size and layout of your garden. Of course, if you want it to have electrical wiring then you’ll find that positioning it near to your home is easiest. It will cost more to connect it if you put it further away. If you use solar power or off-grid heating then you may not mind a slightly different location.

Plant rooms should be close to the house, and if you want to have the room to use as a garage then you will need to put it near a path or road for easy access.

One common recent trend is to turn micro houses into cinema rooms, giving a space away from the main home for people to get away from it all. You can use rustic western red cedar for a ‘retreat’ look, and bifold doors to make the space feel bigger.

Of course, if you are going to use the room more for relaxation, or to serve as a play room for kids, positioning it away from your living area or bedroom and also away from your neighbour’s homes is a polite thing to do.

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Is Planning Permission Needed for Outbuildings

As long as an outbuilding serves the main house, and is not a separate piece of accommodation, it should be possible to build one without planning permission. You cannot build a second bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or ‘holiday home’, and you cannot make it an annexe for a relative or teenager to live in. Ancillary use is OK, however, as long as the building is within your local authority’s size restrictions. It can be built under what is known as “Permitted Development rights”, which means that there is no need to get planning permission for it.

There are exceptions to this. If you want to build an outbuilding for a listed property then you will find that it does not fall under the idea of Permitted Development. You will need planning permission for this, or if the property you want to expand is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Conservation Area, or a National Park.

Your outbuilding should be at least 20m away from the main property, and it should be no more than 10m2 in size. In addition, you cannot build an outbuilding forward of the principal elevation unless you seek planning permission first.

Are there Size Limits for Outbuildings

There are a number of restrictions to what can count as an outbuilding covered under Permitted Development rights. The building must be:

  • Single storey
  • No taller than 3m overall, or 4m overall if there is a dual pitched roof
  • Free from verandas, balconies and raised platforms

In addition, the maximum eaves height of an outbuilding cannot be more than 2.5m, and overall, no more than 50% of your garden can be covered with buildings. This includes not just outbuildings but also sheds, etc.

Border Oak’s garden rooms include designs for garages, dens, and even slightly more ‘permanent’ extensions that could include living spaces.

Before you start work, check with your local planning department and pick up a Lawful Development Certificate. This is important to have because should you decide that you would like to sell the property in the future you will be asked to provide proof that the work you did was a permitted development.

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Your Garden Room Designs

If you plan to build near a boundary then the building cannot be taller than 2.5m, so a flat roof design is the best choice. You can build a garden room that is taller, if you are not near a boundary, or if you apply for planning permission. In those cases, building something that matches the style of your home would make a lot of sense.

Note that if you cannot get an exact match, then you may be able to get something that looks similar, but that uses different materials. The timber-clad barn style of garden room can be a nice complement to a traditional or contemporary home, for example, and would look nice as a garage, or as a peaceful office. Oak makes a nice frame, and timber is understated but still visually appealing and can match with almost any kind of building. If you’re interested in a garden building, you can get more information in this website.

Choosing Doors and Windows for Your Outbuilding

Your door should be positioned so that you can gain access to the building easily, and it will not get in the way of any paths, or end up knocking over any plants in the vicinity of the building. It should open in a way that maximises the space inside the building. Windows should be positioned with care as well, since you want to make sure that there is plenty of natural light.

Large windows are a good choice for offices, pool houses and studios, but make sure that there won’t be too much glare during the day. Think about security, too. You do not want to make the building an appealing target for thieves, and you should look for ways to balance privacy and security for maximum comfort and peace of mind. Do not get into a habit of leaving stuff in the building overnight if it is valuable.

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