Garden rooms explained: Do they require planning permission?

Garden rooms explained: Do they require planning permission? Planning

In an ever-evolving property market, homeowners and investors are always looking for new ways to maximise their living spaces and boost property values. While extensions and renovation projects can be costly and time-consuming, there are ways to expand your square footage without complete upheaval of your property – the solution is garden rooms.

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What are garden rooms?

Garden rooms are versatile and present a unique opportunity to add extra living space to your home without extensive construction work. Garden rooms can be built for a variety of purposes, from home offices to gyms or relaxation spaces, so property owners have the flexibility to adapt them to their changing needs.

Garden rooms versus extensions

There are several reasons why you should invest in a garden room. The first and most popular reason is the added space it provides. Garden rooms offer a unique opportunity to expand your home’s usable space without the disruption and cost associated with traditional home extensions. By utilising the outdoor space on your property, you can create a separate, self-contained room that seamlessly integrates with your existing property, providing additional square footage without the need for major construction work.

The flexibility of a garden room is another advantage – from a workout space to a reading room or a place to practice your golf swing, there’s so many ways to make use of this added space. Garden rooms offer the flexibility to create the perfect space tailored to your specific requirements and lifestyle.

Do garden rooms need planning permission?

Because they’re such a large structure, many people will wonder “do garden rooms need planning permission?” Unlike traditional home extensions, which often involve complex planning permissions and significant disruptions to your daily routine, garden rooms can be constructed relatively quickly and with minimal fuss. They actually fall under the category of ‘outbuildings’ and are considered “permitted developments”.

However although garden rooms don’t require planning permission, they are subject to the following limits and conditions:

  • Can’t be constructed in front of the principal elevation of a house.
  • Must be a single storey. Maximum eaves height of 2.5m and overall maximum height of 4m for dual pitched roofs or 3m for any other roof type.
  • Maximum 2.5m height if the outbuilding is within 2m of the property boundary.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms over 0.3m high.
  • No more than half of the total area around the “original house” can be covered by outbuildings/extensions.
  • In designated areas like National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty etc, the total area for outbuildings over 20m from the house is limited to 10 square metres.
  • On designated land, garden rooms at the side of the property require planning permission.
  • Any outbuilding in the curtilage of a listed building requires planning permission.

As permitted developments, therefore, garden rooms have some restrictions around size, location and site coverage. If the garden room is a substantial size, they are likely to need appropriate foundations/footings to support the structure properly. However, it’s advisable to check with your local authority if there are any special local rules.

In addition, many reputable providers offer advice as well as prefabricated solutions that can be installed on your property in a matter of days or weeks, minimising the inconvenience and allowing you to enjoy your new living space in a timely manner.

Will a garden room add value to my home?

They may add functionality but do garden rooms add value to a house? The good news is that investing in a well-designed and functional garden room can significantly enhance the value and appeal of your property too. For homeowners looking to sell, a garden room can be an attractive selling point. Similarly, for landlords and property investors, garden rooms can provide a cost-effective way to increase the appeal of rental properties, potentially commanding higher rental rates and attracting quality tenants.

Opportunity for environmentally-friendly construction

Garden rooms align with the growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly construction practices. Many reputable providers prioritise the use of sustainable materials, such as timber from responsibly managed forests, and incorporate energy-efficient features like high-quality insulation and skylights to enhance natural lighting. By carefully designing your garden room, you can contribute to reducing your carbon footprint while enjoying the benefits of additional living space.

Functionality for larger properties and HMO properties

The concept of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) has gained significant traction in recent years, driven by the demand for affordable rental spaces, particularly in urban areas where space can be limited. HMOs provide shared living where multiple individuals or households occupy different rooms within a single property and share common facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.

By strategically incorporating a garden room, landlords can effectively create additional rental units or shared spaces, maximising the potential for increased rental income and property value. One of the key advantages of garden rooms in HMO settings is their ability to provide self-contained living quarters without the need to reconfigure existing interior spaces. These outdoor structures can be designed as independent units, complete with their own kitchenette, bathroom and living area, offering tenants a sense of privacy and personal space while still benefiting from the shared common areas within the main property.

Opportunity for reconnection with nature

Garden rooms are a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature while still enjoying home comforts and shelter. It’s a peaceful sanctuary within your property and adds serenity to your routine and optimises your garden for wellbeing.

With the right insulation and protective materials, it delivers year-round usability and provides energy efficiency so you can reduce the operational costs. What’s more, soundproofing will ensure a quiet space where you can escape the noise of everyday life – perfect if you’re using your garden room as a home office or a library.

Wrapping up: Designing your garden room

When installing a garden room, there are several design considerations to make to ensure the space aligns with the rest of your property and is practical. Exterior materials are a great starting point – what style are you looking for? Perhaps you want a clean, striking aesthetic with white panels, or maybe you want a garden room that blends into the surroundings, in which case natural wood and stained green elements can be highly effective.

Consider the intended purpose and functionality of the space. Will it serve as a home office, a guest room or a multifunctional living area? This will inform the layout, furnishings and amenities to the specific needs of the intended use and can optimise the efficiency and enjoyment of your garden room.

Maximising natural light and ventilation is another crucial factor in creating a comfortable and inviting living space within your garden room. Strategic placement of windows and skylights will flood the room with natural light, reducing reliance on artificial lighting and fostering a brighter, more inviting atmosphere. Additionally, incorporating appropriate ventilation systems ensures proper air circulation, maintaining a comfortable indoor climate throughout the year and minimising condensation and mould from developing.

Accessibility is an important consideration, particularly if you anticipate using the garden room for extended periods or as a permanent living space. Ensuring compliance with relevant building regulations and incorporating features like level access, wide doorways, and wheelchair-friendly layouts can enhance the usability and inclusivity of your garden room.

By carefully considering these design aspects, you can create a garden room that not only expands your living space but also enhances the overall aesthetic appeal, functionality and sustainability of your property.

At WindsorPatania, we’re passionate about elevating homes with a blend of English craftsmanship and Italian aesthetics to create your dream design. If you have a project in mind, please get in touch with WindsorPatania Architecture.

This article was written in collaboration with our content team member Annie Button.

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