A summerhouse can be a fabulous addition to any garden providing a peaceful haven away from it all to relax in. They can also be used as playrooms, offices and studios and offer extra living space without having to build an extension or move house. As such they are a great investment but only if you get the right one! Here is a quick guide to making the right decision.
Most summerhouses will not require planning permission but the safest course of action is to check before you build! The construction will need to take up less than half of the garden, have a roof height of less than 4 metres at the apex and be sited at least 5 meters from your home (otherwise it could be considered an extension). You will need planning permission if your summerhouse is closer to a road or public footpath than your home, if you are in a conservation area, if your home is a listed building or if you are using the construction for business purposes.
Have a good look at your garden and consider where your summerhouse could be sited. Try to choose somewhere which will take advantage of the sun and avoid overhanging trees as falling leaves can block guttering. Avoid situations where water accumulates as you don’t want a damp problem or to walk through wet areas to access the building. Consider whether you will require electricity and a telephone line installed. The further away from the source you build, the bigger the job to run the cables. If possible choose a site where you can achieve at least 18 inches of clearance to all sides of the building. This will give you easier access for maintenance.
For maximum flexibility choose the largest summerhouse you can accommodate comfortably in your garden and within your budget. Space is valuable and you will always find a use for it. If space is tight have a look at a corner design. Measure out the footprint of the building to test the size you need for your furniture and fittings. It would be very depressing to build your lovely summerhouse only to find you can’t use it for its intended purpose!
Have a look at the various styling options and consider what fits best with your property and the rest of your garden. Do you need a traditional building with decorative features or a modern construction with larger windows and cleaner lines? Large windows are a good idea if you have a lot of shade as they will let in more light but a modern summerhouse can look out of place in a very traditional garden.
As with most things you get what you pay for and buying a cheap summerhouse can be a false economy. A good quality of construction can last for decades providing much better value for money than something that starts to fall apart after 2 or 3 years. Ensure not part of the building is fabricated from particle board or sheets formed of wood chips and shavings. These will absorb moisture and expand and this cannot be repaired. The highest quality houses are fashioned from hard wood but well prepared softwood will do the job if correctly maintained. You might want to upgrade any glazing to toughened glass. This shatters into small pieces rather than more dangerous large shards and so is most appropriate if you have children. If you are using the summerhouse for business remember that it will need to be lined, insulated and heated.
A summerhouse will provide a lifetime of enjoyment and adds a significant amount of usable space to your property but is only a good investment for you if it is built to last, appropriate to your property and large enough to fulfill your needs.