Do I need planning permission?
Most garden buildings don’t require planning permission, which means no time-consuming applications or expensive planning costs. Even bigger builds, like garages and conservatories, are usually covered under your permitted development rights.
These are the government guidelines for buildings which meet the criteria. Your garden buildings must:
- Measure no more than 30 square metres
- Take up less than 50% of the land around the original house or as it was in 1948 if it’s older than that
- Be a maximum height of 2.5 metres if positioned less than 2 metres from your property
- Be a maximum height of 3 or 4 metres if more than 2 metres away, depending on the type of roof
- Not be used for accommodation
- Not have an antenna
- Not be closer to the road than the original house
If you’re unsure about whether you need planning permission for your garden building, contact your local authority. You can also apply for a lawful development certificate as evidence that your plans are within your permitted development rights.
Types of garden building
The most important thing is finding a building that ticks all your boxes. To narrow it down, we’ve outlined the benefits of the most popular garden buildings:
This is a really popular way to create extra space in your home, with the large windows letting natural light flood in. Conservatories are now available with foundations or metal bases. Both are durable options, and the latter is much quicker to construct. In just a matter of hours, you and a friend could build a sturdy and stylish conservatory in your back garden.
Garden arches and arbours
These decorative garden structures are a beautiful addition to your garden. Garden arches create an inviting entranceway into a backyard oasis, while arbours provide a picturesque place to relax. Traditionally made from wood, you can now buy metal arbours and arches too. Lattices are a common design feature, so plants and flowers can intertwine in the panels and become part of the piece.
Canopies and gazebos
Providing shade when the sun is shining – and keeping you dry during rain showers too – canopies and gazebos are really handy to have. Simply take your pick of permanent, temporary or pop up fixtures.
If your garage is looking a bit unloved, consider its potential as an outbuilding. You could convert this space into something amazing for a fraction of the price, compared to building from scratch. Maybe a games room, office or a home gym – it’s up to you what you create.
Lap up the sunshine in your garden with a traditional summer house. These cute garden buildings are usually made from wood – although plastic models are also available - and adorned with features like double doors, canopies and muntin windows.
Playhouses are great for encouraging kids to spend more time out in the fresh air, enjoying imaginative play. They are available available in a variety of materials including plastic and wood. A wooden playhouse is often a popular choice as it can match well with timber fencing or other wooden garden buildings.
If you work from home and need to create extra space, installing a garden office could be the perfect solution. They come with pre-glazed doors and windows and can be painted to match the colour scheme of your garden.
A greenhouse is essential for budding gardeners. Increasingly high-tech materials create a controlled environment, perfect for growing juicy fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of designs for smaller gardens too, including mini greenhouse cupboards which take up barely any floor space.
The humble shed is a classic addition to Great British gardens. There are so many shapes, sizes and materials available - so whether you want to use it as a bike shed, for storage or to create a hideaway, you’ll find the perfect fit. Some designs need a shed base to stand on (often this applies to wooden ones) while others are free-standing. You can also add features such as waterproof felt roofs, safety locks and non-breakable plastic windows to ensure it fits your requirements.
A practical solution when you’re short of space, garden storage incorporates a wide variety of chests, boxes and cupboards. From bikes stores to log stores and more, they’re available in a range of durable materials, including wood, metal and plastic. Many designs include security features too, such as reinforced doors and secure locks, so you can keep your garden tools and equipment safe.
What to consider when buying a garden building
Measure up your designated spot to find out what size building you’re looking for – including the height. You want your new purchase to slot into the space comfortably and complement the rest of the garden.
Shape is also a factor here. With such a wide range of buildings to choose from, you can find one to fit almost any garden space – no matter how awkward. Slim, single-door buildings are good for tight spots, while corner designs can nestle around edges.
Next step – deciding which material you want.
The best material for garden buildings
Material isn’t purely aesthetic, it will impact the durability and price of your building too. Time to weigh up your options – wood, metal or plastic?
The rustic appearance of wood is a natural fit for the garden. Sheds, summer houses, storage boxes and garden arches are all available in a wide range of timber, from honey-coloured softwood to ashy panels.
While it’s not as strong as some other materials, if you look after it well, wooden buildings will last for years to come. Look out for treated timber when you’re shopping, as this will be more resistant against weather damage and rot. It’s pretty commonplace these days, but always worth checking to make sure you get that extra protection.
Another benefit of wood is it’s easy to paint – great for when you want to add a burst of colour to your outdoor space. You could paint the exterior one colour, and then choose a different shade for the interior walls – or just spruce up the door.
For more shed painting tips, take a look at the video below or read our helpful guide on how to paint your shed.
If you’re looking for strength, metal is the best contender. It’s secure, weather-resistant, fire-retardant and often comes with a lengthy warranty as a result.
It’s usually cheaper than wood too. So you can get a bigger building for your budget - whether it’s a shed, garden arch or storage box you’re after.
Galvanised metal buildings are the most durable of all. They don’t need any maintenance – no treatments or varnish - and will be fit for purpose for many years, maybe even into the double digits.
Metal adds more of a contemporary style to your garden, compared to the rustic effect of timber. There are a range of colours available, including green, cream and silver.
If you can’t find a colour you like, add your own personality with specially formulated metal paint. These hardy mixes typically last longer than painted wood - some promise up to eight years of perfection – which means less work and more relaxing.
Heavy-duty plastic is a modern addition to the gardening world. It’s incredibly durable, easy to construct and often the cheapest too. All this makes it a popular choice for garden storage, as well as garden furniture.
It doesn’t have the natural look, but it’s available in a wide range of colours and wood-effect finishes. For a robust addition to your garden at a low price, plastic fits the bill.
Tips on placing your garden building
You’ve found the perfect building and now you’re rearranging the garden. Just consider these things when placing your new purchase:
- Make sure you can open the doors easily
- Avoid casting shadows on patios, decking and seating areas
- Try not to position it underneath dripping water