A man cave is the ultimate escape from modern life, providing a dedicated space to relax and unwind. Garden buildings are the ideal location to build a man cave that is completely separate from the house
Once seen as a place to store tools, garden buildings have become a popular choice to convert into a location to relax and unwind. Over the last few years, thousands of us have installed garden rooms to extend space on our property, without the complications that come with a home extension.
Popular uses for garden buildings now include as an office, a garden pub to enjoy with friends or even as a gym. When built correctly, with insulation, electricity and heating, there’s no reason a garden building can’t be used throughout all months of the year. We enjoy ours throughout the summer and winter, with the atmosphere always being comfortable.
The idea behind a man cave is a location that can be enjoyed alone or with friends, completely separate from everywhere else in the house. Inside, the space can be used to pursue hobbies, unwind, enjoy drinks or even watch a movie. There are some great examples of man caves online, with everything from pool tables to bar taps installed inside.
Why build a man cave garden room?
While it may be easier to just use a spare bedroom or convert part of the living room into a man cave, a garden building provides plenty of extra benefits. Many rear gardens have extra space that is not being used, allowing a large area for installation that will usually be bigger than the spare room in a house.
A garden building also provides a separate space all to yourself. If escaping to your own sanctuary away from the rest of the household sounds like the perfect idea, a detached building in the garden is the perfect solution. The man cave can become a personal space to relax and unwind, or a private location to socialise with friends.
Many of us have hobbies that are loud and can annoy the rest of the family. A garden building is a perfect location to pursue these hobbies. Whether that’s crafting which can become messy, or playing an instrument, a man cave provides a dedicated space that’s secluded and purpose-built to pursue these interests.
Garden buildings are also great to get into the garden during the summer months. Large windows and opening the doors on a sunny day creates an ideal location for chilling out.
Choosing a shed, summerhouse, log cabin or garden room
The first step to building a man cave is to order a suitable garden building. There are lots of choices available depending on the budget and features required. For use throughout the year, opting for a thicker or insulated building is a smart choice.
The size of the man cave will depend on how much space there is to install a suitable base in the garden. We recommend a minimum size of 2.5x3m for a personal man cave, and a larger building if the idea is to invite friends inside as well.
Shed – The lowest cost option is to use a shed as a man cave. This could be an existing shed if it has been installed within the last few years and is still in good condition. An ideal shed for a small man cave can be purchased for under £1000 and provide plenty of space inside to install a sofa and equipment for hobbies. The thickness of shed walls will usually be between 8-12mm of timber depending on the quality.
As the construction of a shed is not very thick, they are best suited to man caves that are used for hobbies or as a workshop.
Summerhouse – While it may sound like they are only suitable for use during the summer, a summerhouse can be used throughout all months of the year. Using a summerhouse is a great combination of value and features. Unlike a shed, the design of a summerhouse is built to spend lots of time inside. Many will feature large glass windows and doors to let in plenty of light. We recommend upgrading to double glazing if offered by the manufacturer to increase heat retention.
The biggest benefit of using a summerhouse is the number of different styles available. Whether it’s a traditional or contemporary outbuilding, there’s something to suit every garden style. While most summerhouses will not include insulation, it’s easy to install once the building has been constructed due to the wooden framing on the interior.
Log cabin – The construction of a log cabin differs compared to a shed or summerhouse. A log cabin is built with interlocking layers of logs that are installed on top of each other to build the walls. Logs can vary in thickness and usually come in 28mm or 44mm options. This is significantly thicker than a summerhouse, providing the building with a durable and solid feel. Using 44mm logs means insulation is not required in the walls as they are thick enough to reduce heat loss.
The thick logs are also good are insulating sound, making a good choice for loud hobbies or use as a garden pub. The designs for log cabins are often squared and feature a classic style. Log cabins usually start at sizes larger than summerhouses.
Garden room – A garden room is a real step up from other outbuildings, providing a superior construction that feels like a room inside the house. Garden rooms come with a lot more features as standard, so they are ready for use once the installation is complete. A typical garden room will be fully insulated and feature the same uPVC double-glazed windows & doors that are found on a house. The construction uses cladding on the exterior, allowing for lots of different options to suit any garden.
All of these features come at a cost, with a garden room being the most expensive choice for a man cave. The full cost of installing a garden room man cave can be over £10,000. Many manufactures can custom design the building to fit the exact requirements in terms of size and design.
Guide: Does a garden room add value?
Do I need planning permission for a man cave?
An important consideration when purchasing a garden building is whether planning permission is required. Planning laws can be difficult at the best of times, but we need to be aware of them to avoid any issues once the man cave is installed.
The good news is that most garden buildings are exempt from requiring planning permission, allowing for installation without the need to complete a planning application.
Garden buildings (sheds, garages, summerhouses, cabins etc) are considered outbuildings, which fall under Permitted Development rights. These apply to outbuildings built for the purpose of enjoyment by the main dwelling house.
Permitted Development provides opportunities for homeowners to improve their properties, including installing an outbuilding without a lengthy planning application. These are general rules in England and some locations such as areas of outstanding national beauty and conservation areas may have additional regulations apply.
To fall within Permitted Development and not require planning permission, the man cave is subject to a few limits around size, location and use including:
- Cannot exceed 50% of the land around the original house
- Maximum height of 2.5m within 2 metres of a boundary
- Not to be used as living accommodation
- No verandas or raised platforms
Some additional requirements also apply. This information is provided as a guide & we recommend contacting your Local Planning Authority before installing a garden room. Check out out our planning permission post below for further details.
Guide: Garden building planning permission
Building a man cave base
The first part of building a man cave garden room is to create a high-quality base that the building will be positioned on. The base is the foundation of the structure and all of the work carried out after will be relying on the base being durable and stable. Even the smallest of outbuildings can weigh hundreds of kilograms before anything is inside.
If we could give one piece of advice, it would be to invest in a base that is both stable and level. A stable base will ensure no movement once the garden room is positioned on top for years to come. A level base is essential for the building to be assembled correctly. Garden buildings are precision built with machines in the factory. Even a slightly uneven base could see panels not slotting together correctly. Over time, this can lead to the timber becoming strained and gaps or warping beginning to appear.
The location of the base is important to avoid issues with sitting water during heavy rainfall. The base should be on a slightly raised area that will allow rainfall to travel away from the building and not puddle at the bottom. The location should also allow access to each side of the building for yearly maintenance such as applying wood treatment. We recommend positioning the base somewhere that the sun is on the building to create the feeling of warmth and let in plenty of light.
Lots of different options are available for the type of base to be used. We prefer a concrete base as it’s often the easiest to get both solid and level. A concrete base is installed by pouring the concrete into wooden shuttering and then levelling the top for a smooth and even finish. Paving slabs can also be used and provide the added benefit of allowing water to run off in between the slabs. If an existing patio is going to be used, it must be completely level, and the slabs should be smooth. Further options include ground screws and decking.
How to insulate a man cave shed, summerhouse or log cabin
For most garden buildings, insulation will be required to create a comfortable atmosphere that is suitable for use throughout all months of the year. Maintaining a warmer interior temperature during the winter also protects electronics and other sensitive items inside from freezing conditions.
A small electrical heater is ideal for an insulated man cave. Oil-filled radiators allow for constant background heat and fan heaters allow for a quick warm-up.
A summerhouse or shed without insulation can be very expensive to heat. With a wall thickness between 8-12mm, there is little heat retention, resulting in a constant battle to maintain warmth. Windows can also account for near twenty percent of heat loss, so double-glazing is best if the option is available. A log cabin with thick walls may not require insulation in the walls as 44mm logs are very good insulators. The floor and roof can still be insulated as these areas will not use the same thickness of logs.
To insulate an existing shed or summerhouse, be sure to check the building is in a suitable condition before starting. The walls and roof should be waterproof and not have any gaps in between. Small holes can be filled using sealant or wood filler. A wood preserver can also be applied to the interior walls to protect against damp and rot. Once the insulation is installed, it can be difficult to get access again.
A shed or summerhouse should have wooden framing on the interior that creates the perfect cavity for insulation. The best performance option for insulating a garden building is to use rigid PIR insulation boards. The boards can be placed tightly in between the framing and stay in position. Alternative insulation options can also be used including multi-layered foil and insulation roll.
Once the garden building has been insulated, the interior walls can be lined to cover the insulation. Plywood and OSB make a great choice as they are both hardwearing and easy to install.
Guide: How to insulate a garden building
Connect the man cave to internet & electricity
With the construction of the man cave complete, it’s time to start thinking about utilities. While a man cave in the garden does not need running water, we do recommend installing electricity and internet.
A qualified electrician is required to install electricity into a garden building. A new circuit is connected to the fuse box in the main house. An armoured cable is then laid down the garden to the man cave. The cable is buried in a trench to protect against tripping and damaging the wire. A small consumer unit is usually installed inside the garden building for safety. The cost of armoured cable can be expensive, and can soon add up for a man cave positioned far away from the house.
A fast and reliable internet connection is essential to any great man cave for everything from a TV to streaming music. Getting the internet up and running is not difficult and there are plenty of options available. If the man cave is near the house, a WiFi extender may be suitable to boost the current wireless signal far enough to reach the man cave. To get the best result, the Wifi extender should be positioned halfway between the router in the house and the garden building.
The best performance can be achieved by installing a wired internet connection to the garden building. This involves running an ethernet cable from the router in the house to the man cave. While the trench is dug for the electricity cable, the ethernet cable can also be placed inside to keep the wire hidden.
The ethernet cable will terminate in the man cave into a wall socket. A wired internet device such as a desktop PC or smart TV can be directly plugged into the wall socket to receive an internet connection. Alternatively, an Access Point can be plugged in to provide the man cave with its own separate wireless network.
Kit out the man cave interior
Once the man cave utilities are installed and the construction has already been completed, the interior can be kitted out. A large TV and comfortable sofa create the perfect combination for relaxing and chilling out.
If the building is going to be used for hobbies, all of the items required can be stored inside. A work desk may be used for hobbies such as crafts and arts. Decorating the walls with pictures can also add colour to the room.
For a man cave that will be used for hosting friends, a pool table could be placed in the middle. Home bar taps can also be installed to pour your own pints. Bar stools and memorabilia make a great choice to create a bar themed man cave.
Building a man cave on a budget
The budget for a man cave can vary significantly depending on the setup required. A low budget man cave could easily be achieved for less than £2,000 by using a small shed. Low-cost multi-foil insulation and OSB can be used on the walls and the internet could be provided using a wifi extender.
A moderate budget man cave could use a medium-sized insulated summerhouse or log cabin for the construction. The summerhouse interior could be lined with plywood to create a high-quality finish and double-glazed windows can be used to retain heat.
Building a man cave with a large budget allows for plenty of great options. A custom-built garden room can be constructed to fit the exact space required. The garden room will come fully insulated and use high-quality fixtures suitable for use throughout the year.
We believe a man cave in the garden is a great idea to relax and get away from the stresses of modern life. Using a separate garden building can provide privacy and create a secluded location to relax and unwind.
There are garden building options to suit every budget, and all of them can be insulated for use throughout the winter months. Be sure to get the base correct before installing a garden building as any work carried out after will be reliant on good foundations. With the man cave installed, it’s over to you to kit out the inside for your favourite activities and hobbies.
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