What To Consider When Planning A Summerhouse

A summerhouse is a great addition to anyone's garden, wonderful to relax in and with many other uses but, before buying and installing one of these versatile buildings, what are the practical aspects that you have to consider?

Not only will a summerhouse enhance your lifestyle, it will attractively complement the appearance of your garden and add value to your property. Here are a few things to mull over before making a purchase.

Timber

Leading manufacturers use only high quality timber such as Redwood sustainably grown in northern Europe and ideal for construction, but you have to consider whether you prefer untreated, dip or pressure treated, as these involve differing amounts of post-purchase attention.

Untreated timber needs a preservative, stain, or paint applied immediately. Further applications of preservative are needed annually. Dip treated timber also needs a yearly preservative but is guaranteed for ten years. Pressure treated wood normally has a 15 year warranty but its lifespan can be extended if you treat it with preservative.

Size

This subject does really matter, one of the largest summerhouses you'll find on sale is the Lugarde Grand Four which is 12ft x 12ft, this compares to the Shire Larkspur which is 7ft x 7ft, clearly the former would be the better choice if used by a family, while the latter would be just right for a couple to enjoy.

You should think about the available space and what size is most appropriate for the garden, a summerhouse is supposed to enhance a garden rather than overwhelm it. Also, what use are you going to make of the summerhouse, many are turned into home gyms and offices and may need much more space than if used purely for leisure.

Style

Tongue & groove cladding looks very smart and is by far the most popular cladding style, it gains strength and stability from being interlocking and so is unlikely to warp over time. Shiplap is similar but the cheaper overlap option lacks the same durability and tends to warp when weathered.

There are three main roof types, apex roofs offer most headroom along the centre of the summerhouse, hexagonal in the middle and pent at the front. Many contemporary structures such as the Shire Highclare favour a pent roof while hexagonal roofs have a pleasing appearance that's more traditional, but still the most popular is an apex roof.

Additional choice is offered by the roofing material, whether this is traditional roofing felt or shingles of different colours, and you might find EPDM which exceeds both for durability.

Glazing

You'll find styrene, toughened or horticultural glass used for summerhouse glazing. They all possess very good light transmission but differ in several important aspects. Styrene is the most affordable material, it's lightweight and shatter resistant, however it is not UV resistant and will become cloudy over time. Horticultural glass is quite thin, is sometimes blemished, and shatters into dangerous shards, so not recommended when children are about. Toughened glass is thicker and will granulate when broken, so that's obviously much safer.

The amount of glazing is also important as this governs the brightness of the interior and therefore the use you make of your summerhouse. Light is clearly an important consideration if you are using the summerhouse as a hobby room but less so for other purposes. Some summerhouses are double glazed to add to their heat retention, important if the summerhouse is used over winter, and it's also worth checking whether any or how many of the windows open to provide ventilation in the summer to augment signal, double or full length doors.

Location

By definition a summerhouse should really be in a sunlit position, most have extensive glazing so will benefit from facing south on level ground and preferably unobstructed. A solid base is also required, preferably made from concrete. Constructing the base is best done by more than one person, and this also applies to installing the summerhouse. If you have the tools and expertise, you can choose to do it yourself with help from a friend or you could employ a contractor. Arranging installation can usually be done at the point of purchase and can sometimes already be included in the price.

Permission

Normally summerhouses do not need planning permission as they are usually considered to be a 'permitted development' but there are several rules that you should be aware of concerning height, size, positioning and use. More restrictions apply if, for example, you are in a conservation area or your house is listed, and, as any of these might be open to interpretation, always check with the local authority before going ahead.