How to build a garden room

Create an outdoor studio for year-round use with tips from planning to maintenance

By Jo Messenger and Emily Brooks | 12 February 2021

Garden rooms are an easy way to add space for a home office, art studio or teenagers’ hangout. They are also less expensive than an extension, loft conversion or moving house – especially if you go for an off-the-peg package. Alternatively, go for a bespoke build garden room to make a glorious architectural statement.

Consider important factors such as insulation, power, internet connection and heating to make it feel like part of your home. You may not need planning permission and a good-quality build will add value to your home. Plus, it’s not just about creating additional floor space. For a home-worker or artist it can offer both physical and mental separation from the house for more productive, creative thinking.

Garden room constructed from Siberian larch and contemporary panel cladding by Pod Space

Photo: Pod Space

Building regulations

Home gym or home office? Garden rooms can be anything you want them to be. The scale and design will be determined by the size of your garden and your budget, but you should also think about its appearance. Do you want a sleek and contemporary glass box or a more traditional style? Natural materials that will blend in with your garden? Perhaps a living roof or wall?

To make it feel like a room rather than a big shed it needs to be well-built, insulated and set on good foundations to avoid issues such as damp. These are usually concrete; either a slab or interlocking plinths with steel fixings or on stilts, particularly for sloping sites or where airflow is required underneath.

Building regulations will not normally apply if the garden room floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and contains no sleeping accommodation. Go to the Planning Portal for additional information.

A Scandi-style garden room in an outdoor space with lots of greenery and pink flowers by Norwegian Log Extensions

Photo: Norwegian Log

Planning and positioning

Carefully consider the positioning of your garden room and whether its in a shady or sunny spot. A fully glazed, south-facing room may be prone to overheating, while a dark corner may be difficult to heat. It’s also worth considering its angle in relation to the house. With a fully glazed room, everything inside could be visible, so ensure there is enough storage to keep clutter hidden from view.

‘The key consideration is orientation and whether you are facing the sun,’ says Paul Archer, director at Paul Archer Design. ‘If so, it’s worth integrating some sort of cover. My favourite type is one that feels like part of the architecture and not a later add-on.’

Also bear in mind the access to your garden for materials and machinery. ‘We can deliver garden buildings in relatively small components,’ says Nick Forrester, managing director at Norwegian Log. ‘This means we can take a building along the side of the house. But if that access is not available, every part can be carried through a standard domestic doorway.’