• Alex Cosham

Intelligent Home Improvements - 2 of 3

Welcome to the second of three articles that takes the lid off Image Garden Rooms, highlights the benefits of how we work and more importantly what we can do for you…

Intelligent Home Improvements - #2

Garden Rooms, what are the rules and what can I use them for?

Recent events have seen the growth in popularity of garden offices and the need to create additional space as working from home has become more prevalent. Some forecast that home working is set to increase 5 fold by 2025 so we dare say the need to create usable additional living and work space in our garden is going to increase. Search the internet and there are lots of opinions and assumptions out there on how these buildings can built and used as well, as some scary stories of what can happen if you get it wrong with the tax man and town planners! We’ll try and set the record straight and drill down to some of the facts you’ll need to know to help you plan and manage expectations.

There are several interpretations of garden rooms from the straightforward enhanced shed, log cabin or summerhouse idea or mass produced modular slot together systems and kits to more bespoke buildings designed for year round use. Our particular structures fall in to the latter high specification category, they’re built to last and we’ve never built sheds. For simplicity and cost reasons they all generally try and fall under the same category of “Permitted Development” as far as planning and building control is concerned. There are very straightforward rules for sizes, heights depending on position in the property and general restrictions on permitted use, all of which are widely publicised. You can also find some answers in our handy FAQ section. The problem is that as the structures become more substantial and professionally built for year round use they are much more akin to a building extension and there is a temptation to expand their use.

Under “Permitted Development” rules an outbuilding that falls into the category does not require planning consent and becomes “exempt” from building regulations. You don’t need to ask permission to build, you don’t need to inform building control and there are no inspections or certifications. There are however several fundamental requirements for quality of workmanship, adequate fire control (subject to size) and electrical installations must be properly carried out by an electrician and certified. The quality of the build, materials and suitability is obviously a matter for using a reputable company to build it in the first place. The use of an “exempt” building is limited to an additional, occasional space separate to the main residence. It can be used as a part time office, home studio, cinema room, home gym, hobby room and a host of other uses. It can have an independent heating source, mains electrical supply and as long as it meets the criteria and remains “exempt” it can even have a toilet and running water; such an installation if installed properly would also be deemed as “exempt” within the building.

The “occasional” tag underlines the fact that you cannot legally use such a building to sleep in, occupy as a permanent dwelling or operate a business from without obtaining planning consent and meeting building regulations. Occasional use is perfectly adequate for most applications we put garden rooms to and rarely are there any problems or issues encountered. Most people who invest in a garden room do actually use it as a multi-purpose extra space so it isn’t tagged in any one category. In particular don’t plan to use it solely as an office and if self-employed certainly don’t attempt to claim an allowance on your tax return for use of a home office as it will become a can of worms. If you intend to run a business from home you will need to obtain permission from the local authority and any premises used for business would require planning consent and as such meet building control regulations.

Of course none of this is really a problem for us as our garden rooms and “Freestyle” home improvement projects either already meet building regulations or can be quite easily specified to do so. We are more than happy to help you obtain planning consent for any planned use and meet building regulations which are put there for your own safety and wellbeing. However this does introduce a degree of complications as well as a raft of costs and potential delays in the early planning stage as well as factoring in the building inspectors visits during build. Above all it is important to get it right from the beginning and make sure you partner with a knowledgeable professional build partner who can provide the correct and applicable certification at the conclusion of the project. This is something you’ll need when you eventually sell the property.

Catching up on our Intelligent Home Improvements series? you can read Part 1 - 'What Different about Image Garden Rooms' by clicking here

Specific questions about your project? Get in touch today...


Please get in touch if we can help you with any garden room, conservatory or home improvement project you may be considering. or call us on 01603 408104 to arrange a free no obligation consultation.

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