There are so many lifestyle benefits gained from adding a summerhouse, or other building such as an office, annexe, studio or pool house to your garden.

Less disruptive, and usually cheaper, than extending a home, and with the building up and finished in just a few days, a garden building offers a different perspective, and a place to enjoy solitude away from the goings on of the main house.

An enclosed building, a summerhouse may just have a table and seating, or it may be a much larger affair, providing a complete room outdoors with its own heat source, such as a wood burner, and power for office equipment, for example.

It may also form an annexe for guests or elderly relatives to stay, requiring a bedroom, bathroom and perhaps kitchen facilities. Consider early on whether you want to run electrics, plumbing or a telephone line, as this may impact on its location.

Material matters

Garden buildings for period properties are most commonly of timber construction, with a weatherboarded exterior, kiln-dried for stability and either painted, stained or left to weather naturally. Oak frame buildings are particularly desirable, topped with characterful handmade roof tiles or natural slate, depending on the vernacular. Most wood will require periodic maintenance, which is worth bearing in mind when positioning the structure to allow for ease of access at all angles.

Although there is not usually a requirement for double glazing in small garden structures that don’t require Building Regulations (see below), an extra pane will make the space more usable in the evenings and in colder months – especially if the building is for a home office.

Getting it built

Before you start to construct your garden building, ensure that you have a firm and level base on which to build it. This would usually be a concrete or slab base – check with the supplier. How straightforward it is to erect the structure yourself depends on your skill level and the size and function of the building. Most manufacturers will, however, supply structures as self-build kits, complete with instructions.

If the structure is subject to the Building Regulations, it’s best to get an expert involved. If you’re unsure, ask your local authority, but in general providing it is less than 30 sq m, is not sleeping accommodation, and is either at least one metre from any boundary or constructed of substantially non-combustible materials, it is exempt from the Building Regulations.

Planning permission

Unless your house is listed or located in a Designated Area, you will not need to apply for planning permission as long as your building meets certain restrictions to fall under Permitted Development. For this, the structure should be one storey high, not on land at the front of the house, and no more than half the area of land around the original house (as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948) should be covered by additions or other buildings. Visit for full details of the restrictions.

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing.