Many of us have sheds in our gardens. Some were probably inherited when we moved house and are versatile enough to be a gardener’s store, a hobby sanctuary or just a place to keep bicycles and other items that won’t fit anywhere else.

However, there has been a rise in the number of structures for our outdoor spaces, which provide for less utilitarian purposes. Garden rooms provide an extra space which, when kitted out properly, can become a home office or a second room for relaxation.

After the initial enthusiasm to adopt a garden room and extend the versatility and usefulness of your property, there are several things to consider.

Most garden rooms don’t require planning permission. Being classed as outbuildings, you are permitted to build one as long as you comply with certain rules.

Permitted development rights

Most properties have this automatically. However, if the property is in a National Park, a World Heritage Site or a conservation area, it could be in a designated area where development of a property or the erection of outbuildings are not permitted, or require separate permission. It is a good idea to check with your local planning office. Maisonettes and flats don’t have permitted development rights because of the communal aspect. The rules are the same whether you live in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Planning rules

Under permitted development, there are rules to follow:-

  • The garden room must not be at the front of the house
  • The total area of all external structures including sheds, extensions and outbuildings must not exceed 50% of the outside area surrounding the house
  • The room or cabin must be single storey and less than three metres in height. The eaves must be no more than 2.5 metres above ground level.
  • The room must not be for self-contained living accommodation
  • The room must not have a balcony, veranda or raised platform.

Garden rooms as offices

Using a garden room as an office also presents no issues, provided it is for incidental use for working alone at a computer, for example.

However, being mindful of changing the character of a neighbourhood, councils will not approve garden offices where business meetings or appointments will be hosted.

Retrospective planning permission can be applied for, but councils can order the removal of a garden office if the rules are not met.

In summary, garden rooms rarely require planning permission, provided the basic rules on size and usage are observed. However, if in doubt, check with your local authority.