For anyone with a bit of time on their hands and spare space in their garden, adding a shed or greenhouse might seem like a great idea. But before you begin making any grand plans, first check whether you’ll need planning permission.

How big is your garden building?

Better start by getting yourself a tape measure, because you might be surprised to discover that even a relatively simple outbuilding like a shed or a summerhouse must conform to some pretty strict rules. One is that you’re limited to a single storey, and the lower part of the roof – the eaves – must be no higher than 2.5 metres.

If your garden building has a dual pitched roof with two sides, the maximum height can be no more than 4 metres, or 3 metres for any other kind of roof.

If you’re creating a building of some other kind, such as an enclosure or container situated within 2 metres of a boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling house, these must be no more than 2.5 metres.

Your building mustn’t have a veranda or a balcony, or be on a platform higher than 300 millimetres. It can’t have a microwave antenna. Nor can it be a separate, self-contained living area. So if you were thinking of creating guest accommodation, check the following rules. 

Will it be extra living space?

If you’re thinking of converting a shed, garage or summer house for someone to live in, you’re not alone. If you have young adults who want to stay at home but would still like to retain their independence, and come and go as they please, a converted outbuilding could be the ideal solution.  

But if that’s your plan, you’ll need planning permission as sleeping accommodation isn’t covered under permitted development.

And then there’s Council Tax, and if you intend your outdoor buildings to be living and sleeping spaces, they could be subject to the tax, even if there’s no one staying there all the time. That said, you might still want to consider this option for anyone wanting to stay at the family home who would like a little independence, such as a young adult or an  elderly relative, even if they do have to pay council tax.

Where will you position it?  

Time for your tape measure again, because planning permission rules also affect where you intend to site your outbuilding, which must be at least 2 metres from any boundary if more than 2.5 metres tall, or 1 metre from any boundary if lower than 2.5 metres.

The building must not be forward of the principal elevation (front wall) of the original house, which is defined as the house as it was first built, or as it stood on 1st July 1948 if it was built after. Phew!

What’s more, your building mustn’t take up over 50% of all land around the original house. Not only that, nor must it combine with any other outside buildings to take up over 50% of all land around the original house. Seriously.

We’re not done yet. If the garden building is on designated land, it mustn’t be at the side of your house. If you live on national parks protected land, the building mustn’t be more than 10 square metres in size if positioned more than 20 metres from any wall of your house. Oh, and your building can’t be within the boundary of a listed building.

Will you be working in it?

Relax. You can work from a garden shed or other garden building as this doesn’t usually need planning permission. However you’re still not allowed to just do whatever you please in the course of ‘working’.

There mustn’t be a marked increase in people visiting the house or increase in traffic from visitors. You can’t have deliveries that would disturb the neighbours. Nor are you allowed to create excessive noise or smells, particularly during unreasonable hours.

In short, your home and garden still need to be primarily used as a private residence, and not involve goings on that aren’t usual for a house.

After all that, the easiest way to avoid having to apply for planning permission is to work within the rules. If you think your plans might need permission, you can apply online at the planning portal.

If you’re needing more space at home, check out our current home for sale at Louis Taylor or get in touch with our expert team to see how we can make your house goals a reality.