Is Building Regulation approval required for a garden room?

2 September 2020

How to successfully design a garden room

2020 has been an eye opening and challenging time for the world, which saw most of us restricted to our homes for months. This meant that most of the UK’s population were having to carry out their work duties from their homes. This made many homeowners realise how important the design of their living space is and how versatile the design can be to meet the changing needs of the occupants. However, some homeowners prefer to keep their home separate from work or activities that they usually do outside of the home (such as the gym) which is where garden rooms become exceptional spaces.

Garden rooms are spaces that can be used for a home office, studio, workshop, games room, gym, lounge area, library, swimming pool and spa or even a guest house. Homeowners have started to view their gardens in a different light. Previously gardens were looked at as spaces that could only be enjoyed when the sun was shining, however this isn’t the case. There are many ways to develop buildings that connect beautifully with gardens that result in functioning indoor spaces with uninterrupted views and step free access into the garden – achieving that indoor-outdoor feeling.

glass garden room with wrap around glazing

Does an outbuilding in a garden need planning permission and is building regulations approval needed?

Outbuildings in gardens must not cover more than 50% of the original house’s outdoor space in order to be classed as Permitted Development. Building Regulations will not normally apply to outbuildings if the building is less that 15msq and isn’t going to be used a sleeping accommodation. Building Regulations approval isn’t required also if the outbuilding is between 15 and 30msq, doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation and is at lest 1 metre away from the boundary (or if the outbuilding is constructed using mainly non-combustible materials).

garden room with corner opening sliding glass doors

The following restrictions are in place for outbuildings:

  • No balconies are allowed on outbuildings without Planning Permission.
  • Decking is permitted around the outbuilding, but it cannot be taller than 3m.
  • A TV, satellite or aerial isn’t allowed without Planning Permission.
  • On designated land (which refers to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, the Broads, Conservations and World Heritage Sites), an outbuilding cannot be larger than 10msq and is required to be at least 20m away from any wall of the main house.
  • Outbuilding at the side of properties within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will require planning permission.
  • If the original property is listed, then all outbuildings will require full planning permission.

An outbuilding (or garden building) doesn’t need to comply with Building Regulations (other than Part P for Electrical Works). In the case of outbuildings, Part P applies to applies to any work that is notifiable to the Local Authority. The works will need to be carried out by an electrician who is registered with a BS7671 electrical installation certificate for every job they undertake. This certificate should be given to the homeowner upon the completion of the work.

garden office with sliding glass doors

How to create a home office in a garden

An outbuilding in a garden can provide an excellent space to work from home as it is away from the main house, achieving both privacy and quiet. Also, if the building is for working alone in a home office scenario then planning permission for a garden office isn’t required. Planning permission would be required if several employees were going to visit the building on a daily basis or for holding meetings, but if the space is just for use as a home office then planning permission isn’t required.

An outbuilding for a home office will fall under the Permitted Development (PD) rights if it follows certain rules. The building must only be single storey and must not be taller than 3m, if the building has a pitched roof this can’t be taller than 4m. Outbuildings that are constructed within 2 metres of the boundary cannot be any taller than 2.5m as the structure will be disruptive for neighbouring properties.

garden rooms with large glass windows

How to create a light filled garden room

The design of the garden room is the most important aspect to create a space that achieves biophilia, the right atmosphere, a layout that flows, noise reduction, cohesion, and positive energy.

A light-filled garden room will positively affect the interior space, therefore the design trend for garden rooms is typically a contemporary design, offer clad in timber and featuring expansive glazing. Slim framed sliding doors, bifolding doors, frameless glazing, and roof glazing are some of the most popular choices for glazing on garden rooms. The glazing needs to be thought about to meet the requirements of the homeowners, while bringing a strong connection to the outdoor environment.

Floor to ceiling glass for garden rooms provide both shelter from the elements on those days where the sun isn’t shining, while making the homeowner feel like they are outside among nature. By using slim framed sliding doors or slim framed bifolds the garden room can be opened up on warm days to remove the divide between garden and the garden office (or what other purpose the homeowners are using the space for).

IQ Glass UK have worked on many garden room projects across the UK, see their case studies here.

garden room with bifolding glass doors

Garden room for listed buildings and designated land

Listed buildings feature on the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest, that have been judged by Historic England and the Secretary of State for culture, Media and Sport. Due to the historical interest that these buildings possess building works are restricted on these properties in order to preserve the architectural aesthetic.

Any garden room that is desired for a listed building will require planning permission, and if the garden room is going to be attached to the listed building then building consent and planning permission are both required. Garden rooms in the land of a listed building is very achievable if it’s carefully planned and designed.

minimal sliding glass doors opening onto small courtyard garden

For garden rooms intended for designated land (which refers to National Parks, the Broads, World Heritage Sites, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and conservation areas) there are additional limitations. There are as follows:

  • A garden room that is intended for a property within a National Park, the Broads, or and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (not a conservation area) the maximum size that a garden room can be built to is 10msq and must be more than 20m away from the walls of the main house. Garden buildings for these locations can have garden rooms that are larger than 10msq but they will require planning permission.
  • Properties on any designated land cannot have a garden room constructed to the side of the property without obtaining planning permission.

small glass garden room

If you are working on garden room project, come and visit the Sky House Design Centre and talk about your project with our exhibitors. They will be able to offer advice for the garden room from glazing, bespoke blinds, smart home systems, through to furniture.


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