You are thinking about getting a garden room. What kind of model should I choose? A log cabin, a SIPs building, classic or contemporary design? Maybe I should get twin skin, do I need to install utilities? These are all serious questions but they can still be pretty fun to think about. However, one thing you must not forget is planning permission.
No one likes bureaucracy much, we get that. However, you don’t want to build a garden room without planning permission just to have your local planning authority asking you to take it down after a few months, right? You need to be aware when you need one and when you do not. We want to help you.
When do you need planning permission?
In England, people usually need planning permissions when they are building something new, making a major change to an existing building, for example, adding an extension, or when they are modifying the use of their building. Of course, not all projects require planning permissions. There are “permitted development rights” which include warehouses, outdoor signs, demolition and projects that will have no impact on the neighbours and the environment. The last point can also include garden rooms – or not. We will try to explain it the best we can!
The planning system can be a little bit different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although most of the rules are the same, such as not affecting the neighbours negatively, it is still worth checking out the government portals just to make sure.
A lot of depends on the building’s size, location and purpose, as well as how the garden room would affect neighbours. Let us explain it in more details.
Size, height and location
There are rules for where and what kind of garden room you can build so that it does not affect the neighbours in any negative way, for example, by causing unwanted shades. If you want to build your garden room close to the boundary without planning permission, it cannot be higher than 2.5 meters. It means that this kind of building will most likely be only a shed or a bike store as the ceiling could be a little bit too low to spend time in the building comfortably.
However, you have more freedom if you locate the building at least 2 meters from the boundary. There are still height requirements, of course. The ridge of the garden room cannot be more than 4 meters and the eaves more than 2.5 meters tall. If you want a mono-pitched roof, the higher edge cannot be higher than 3 meters tall and the lower higher than 2.5 meters.
There are also two more rules to take into account if you are aiming for a garden room that does not require a permit. There can be no outbuildings facing forward of the wall that forms the principal elevation of your house. The outbuildings also cannot cover more than half the land around your house. There are also some special rules if you live in a national park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a World Heritage Site.
What are your plans for the garden room?
A lot of also depends on the purpose of your garden room. Garden rooms that are only intended for leisure activities and some occasional work can be built without planning permission (of course, they must also meet all the height requirements).
However, if you are planning to build a garden office and work there full time, five days a week, you might require one. Garden offices are usually quite well-viewed by planning authorities and it is highly unlikely that your planning permission will be refused.
More problems could arise if you are planning to accept clients in your garden office. Why? Because it could be considered that it might affect the neighbours negatively, your clients always walking past them. Some might even complain. Before building, you should consider how the garden room and the activities you are planning to conduct there will affect your neighbours.
You also need permission if you are planning to sleep in your garden room. This is for your own good: the government is trying to ensure the structure of the building you are planning to sleep in is safe and stable. The certificate that the building is safe can be provided either by the company you are working with to build your garden room or the planning authority.
How to increase the chances of getting planning permission
Local planning authorities usually welcome garden building projects and give permission easily if they are well thought out and will not disturb anyone. Your future garden room should have a good design and be built with high-quality materials. Moreover, it should be positioned logically and not be too large for your garden. And if you are planning to conduct business in your log cabin, it should not be too loud.
Regarding neighbours, there is always a possibility they will complain. However, if your garden room fits the above-mentioned criteria, the planning authorities will be on your side. You should still consider how the building will affect your neighbours and maybe even explain to them your plans. That could improve your relationship with the neighbours too!
The actual process of getting the planning permission consists of contacting your local planning office, then filling out their application forms. You also have to provide detailed plans of your building, like size, structure, materials, an ordnance map. Within 8 weeks, you should be receiving your permission.
Make sure you understand how planning permissions work before applying for one. You already took a step, you read this article!