A summerhouse may need to meet building regulations depending on the size and usage of the building. Asking a few questions before you start can keep you on the right side of the rules.
The words summerhouse and building regulations don’t come up in the same sentence very often. When we think of building regulations they are usually associated with large residential structures, not garden buildings. Luckily, most summerhouses, log cabins and garden rooms do not need to meet building requirements. But under some circumstances for large buildings and those used for more than leisure, they may be required.
Building regulations are separate from planning permission. Whereas planning permission covers where a summerhouse can be positioned, building regulations consider whether the outbuilding is safe for use. Planning permission is a separate topic, with summerhouses usually falling under Permitted Development rights to be installed in a rear garden. Be sure to understand both of these before installing a summerhouse for peace of mind in the future.
What are building regulations?
Building regulations are a set of controls and standards when constructing a building to ensure it is safe, healthy for those using it and up to a high standard. Some of the requirements covered include the efficiency of the building, waterproofing, fire safety and access requirements. For most building work in the UK, building regulations approval is required.
The latest current version is the Building Regulations 2010. The requirements set out are scheduled in 16 separate headings (Part A to Part R). Detailed specifications available online provide information on the specific requirements to be met. A Building Control Body can be contacted to check regulations and apply for approval.
Does a summerhouse need to meet building regulations?
The good news is that most garden buildings, including summerhouses, do not require building regulations approval.
A summerhouse falls under the category of a small detached outbuilding which does not need building regulations approval if:
- The floor area is less than 15 square metres
- Contains NO sleeping accommodation
If you plan on sleeping in your summerhouse, even just occasionally, it must meet building regulations.
If the summerhouse is detached and meets the above requirements for size and usage, the only other building regulations will be if electricity is being installed.
What if my summerhouse is larger than 15 square metres?
If the building contains a larger floor area than 15 square metres, additional requirements apply. When building a summerhouse with a floor area between 15 square metres and 30 square metres, the building must be kept one metre from the boundary or be constructed from mostly non-combustible materials. The building must also not contain any sleeping accommodation.
We always recommend leaving a gap around the summerhouse near any perimeter anyway. Access to each side of the building is crucial for maintenance including painting and checking for damp or water leaks.
When is building regulations approval required?
Sometimes building regulations approval is required for a summerhouse or garden building. Fortunately, this is not often. Summerhouses are timber-framed outbuildings for leisure and most will not meet the requirements of building regulations.
- Over 30 square metres of floor space – For very large summerhouses, building regulations need to be met. The main concern here is a large combustible building that does not meet the required fire safety standards.
- Between 15-30 square metres near a boundary or using combustible materials – For a summerhouse with a larger floor space than 15 square metres, building regulations are required if it is not at least one metre from the property boundary.
- Self-contained sleeping accommodation – Any building which will be lived in and includes a bedroom and bathroom etc must meet building regulations. A residential building has a much higher specification of requirements than a summerhouse.
- Attached to the existing property – Any extension being attached to the current property must meet building regulations. A summerhouse that is detached does not need to meet these requirements.
Installing summerhouse electricity
Installing electricity is increasingly popular in a summerhouse, especially if the building is going to be used throughout the year. As more of us use a garden building as an extra room, the same comforts as inside a house are desired. For heating and lighting, an electricity supply and plug sockets are going to be required inside the summerhouse itself.
Installing electricity should always be performed by a qualified electrician. Summerhouses will not come with any electrical set-up installed and installation will be required. This involves running an armoured cable to the garden building and installing sockets and a separate consumer unit inside.
Building regulations specify Part P, which was introduced in 2005 for electrical safety rules. The regulations state that work carried out must be designed to protect from electric shocks and homeowners must be able to prove the work meets Part P.
If the work is being completed by yourself, you must notify the local building control authority in advance. When the work is being carried out by a qualified electrician, they will provide an electrical installation certificate. If you sell your home in the future, you may be asked to provide the certificates for the work that has been carried out.
Building regulations vs planning permission
Building regulations detail the specification of construction required for a property. They set out minimum standards and the design to ensure the building is completed correctly. The idea is to ensure the building is of high quality suitable for those going to be using it.
Planning permission lays out details on the location and scope of the building, in terms of placement and size. Under planning requirements, a summerhouse is classed as an outbuilding, along with log cabins, sheds, garden rooms etc. This allows for Permitted Development in most locations to install the building without requiring planning permission. Certain requirements must be met including the building not taking up more than 50% of the original garden and not exceeding 2.5m height when placed within 2 metres of a boundary.
The bottom line
Most of the time, summerhouses do not need to meet building regulations. The idea of a summerhouse is as a small detached building in the garden to provide an extra room away from the house. For buildings with less than 15 metres squared floor space and NO sleeping accommodation, building regulations are not required.
Sometimes building regulations will be required, such as with larger summerhouses being placed next to a boundary. Most summerhouses will not meet the requirements for building regulations and it may be time to consider an alternative structure such as a garden room.
remember, if you decide to sell your property in the future, certificates will be required to show the summerhouse meets buildings regulations if required.
Note: This information is provided as a guide, If in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority. Further details available at the Planning portal.