7 useful tips to consider before buying a wooden summer house
A garden house can be an idyllic meeting place or a practical storage room. Be it a tool shed, a lovely outdoor kitchen, or a peaceful home office, the quality of the materials and proper construction are crucial.
What should you keep in mind when planning a building? Here are ten useful tips for anyone who plans on buying a garden house.
1. Acquiring planning permission is the first priority (where required)
Outbuildings are considered permitted development, which does not need planning permission subject to the following limits and conditions:
- No outbuilding should be erected on land forward of a wall which forms the principal elevation.
- Outbuildings and garages are to be single storey in height with a maximum height at the eaves of 2.5 metres, and a maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof.
- A maximum height is allowed of 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure, or container within two metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the main dwelling house.
- No verandas, balconies, or raised platforms are permitted (a platform must not exceed 0.3 metres in height).
- No more than half of the area of land around the ‘original house’ can be covered by additions or other buildings.*
- In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers, and pools which are located more than twenty metres from the house are to be limited to ten square metres.
- On designated land, buildings, enclosures, containers, and pools at the side of properties will require planning permission.**
- Within the curtilage of any listed buildings any outbuilding will require planning permission.
* The term ‘original house’ refers to the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension onto the house, a previous owner may have done so.
** Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, and World Heritage Sites.
2. Choose a suitable foundation for your garden house
A garden house can be installed on almost any soil; however, it is important to choose the appropriate foundation for the house. As wood is a fully natural and living building material, it can slightly deform over time, swelling, shrinking, or curving. However, these features are not a problem if the house has a strong enough foundation and normal settling is allowed (no additional obstructive details are installed).
Recommended foundation types:
- Blocks or slabs on a sand or gravel base
- Paving stones
- A post-and-beam foundation
- A monolithic slab of reinforced concrete
The type of foundation should be selected based upon the size of the garden house, the soil conditions, and the purpose of the house. Type 1 and 2 foundations are well suited for smaller and medium-sized garden houses. Building such a base is achievable for most people. You will need to dig between 25-35cm of soil, fill it with sand and gravel, and position the blocks or tiles. For larger than average garden houses, summer houses, and saunas, type 3 and 4 foundations are better suited. Building these forms of foundation requires special knowledge and it is advisable to use a professional service.
Regardless of the type of foundation, it is necessary to know that a perfectly level base is required to ensure the stability and durability of the garden house.
It is not possible to build level walls on an uneven foundation, and neither will the doors and windows work properly, while the five-year factory warranty will also become void.
3. Garden house installation. Self-assembly or hiring a building company?
The assembly of smaller and medium garden houses is achievable by a competent DIY enthusiast. Our statistics shows that nine out of ten of our clients do the assembly themselves or hire one local expert for assistance. For the assembly, you need at least two adults, tools (hammer, saw, drill, screwdriver, measuring tape, ladder, knife, and spirit-level), and between one to three days of your precious time, depending upon your skill level and the scope of your project.
If gardening and construction work are not your cup of tea or if you do not have the time, it is always possible to order a house together with the assembly service. Ordering a house with a professional assembly service ensures the highest levels of quality and an ideal result.
When making your decision, we recommend that you objectively assess your skills and consult with GardenHouse24 specialists HERE.
4. Everything you need to know about transportation and packaging
Garden and summer houses are delivered in waterproof and rainproof packaging. Therefore a packaged garden house can be stored outdoors for weeks prior to assembly. Depending upon the size of the house, the package can weigh between 700-2,500kg. Crane vehicles, lorries equipped with a forklift, or standard haulage vehicles (provided that the necessary equipment for unloading is available at the destination) are used for transporting garden houses. All wooden components are ready to assemble.
A standard timber house set comprises:
- impregnated foundation beams
- untreated wall beams and other wooden components
- floor and roof boards
- glazed doors and windows
- fasteners (screws, nails, etc)
- storm braces
- detailed instructions for assembling the garden house
All wooden parts are numbered or are otherwise clearly marked for an easy and straightforward assembly process.
5. How do you choose a suitable wall thickness?
The most common wall thicknesses for garden houses are 28mm, 40mm, 44mm, and 50mm. In the case of larger-than-average summer houses, saunas, and garden saunas, walls that are between 50-70mm thick are the most common.
Wall beams measuring 28mm usually have one groove and tongue. Such walls are strong and durable enough for garden sheds and small and medium-sized garden houses (a wooden building of up to 10m² in total floor space), and they come at a favourable price.
Wall beams of the 40-50mm type have two grooves and tongues and are ideal for medium-sized garden and summer houses (covering a floor space of 8-20m²). Compared to 28mm walls, these walls are not only stronger but also provide better insulation.
In short 28mm wall beams will suffice for building garden sheds and smaller seasonal garden houses (between 4–10m²), but for garden houses that are larger than 10m², it is recommended that you choose a wall thickness that is 40mm or upwards, especially if you want to add insulation and use the house all year round. For year-round use, it is necessary to buy a garden house with a wall thickness of at least 44mm and insulated windows. When insulating a house, the insulation of the floor and roof should receive the most attention, because approximately 35-40% of the heat escapes through the roof and an uninsulated floor is the main point of entry for cold air.
6. Single-pane or insulated windows?
If you are buying a garden house for seasonal use then you can rest easy if you opted for thinner walls and single-pane windows. Summer houses with single-pane windows are more affordable, and it is not possible to install insulated windows on garden houses with a wall thickness of 28mm. As thinner walls provide low levels of thermal insulation, installing insulated windows would be irrational.
If you want to use your garden house all year round, insulated windows are a must. The house should also be insulated, but for this you definitely need to buy a garden house with insulated windows.
Most garden houses with a wall thickness of up to 40mm have single-pane windows; houses with a wall thickness of 44mm and up come with insulated windows as standard.
7. What size garden house should I buy?
A good multi-purpose garden house helps to save money and space in the garden. Buying a garden house that comes with a terrace or veranda is much cheaper than buying a garden house and a bower separately. The same is true when comparing the price of a shed and garden house combination with the price of purchasing both products separately.
We recommend that you discuss the functions and features that the new garden house should have with the entire family to make sure that the house will be useful and bring enjoyment to everyone.
We also recommend that you give careful consideration to the size of the house before making a purchase. To buy the best garden house, it is wise to ask the entire family for their opinion and desires and work out the right size of garden building, so that there is enough space in it for hobbies and other activities. A garden house is an investment that will last for years to come.
Gardenhouse24 is one of the largest wooden house manufacturers in the Nordic region with more than seventy years of experience in timber log house manufacturing. As Nordic wood is of very high quality and value, Gardenhouse24’s garden houses are exported worldwide. More information about our garden houses is available HERE.