As the use of garden buildings grows, so does the demand for extra facilities such as a bathroom. Understanding the rules around installation is essential before beginning construction.
It’s no surprise that the last few years have seen a constant increase in the demand for garden rooms and summerhouses. With people spending more of their time at home, particularly for work, investing in the property is a smart idea.
Garden rooms and summerhouses can be constructed as the perfect home office or gym, trading the commute for a walk to the bottom of the garden. Installing a toilet in a garden room can be the final stage to convert it into a fully self-contained structure. Electricity and internet are common in a garden building, but running water is often the final piece missing to save frequent trips back into the house.
Installing a toilet & running water in a garden room can add additional steps and complications to the construction phase, but provides plenty of benefits. With all of the facilities on hand, you can truly spend a full day working from a garden building, only returning to the house at the end of the working day. If the garden building is converted into a bar, a toilet inside saves guests frequently walking through the house.
The initial costs of installing a toilet and water in a garden room or summerhouse can be expensive. However, they can be seen as an investment and will add value to a property when it’s time to sell.
Can I put a toilet in my garden room?
Yes, a toilet can be installed in a garden room, so long as it meets building regulations approval. While building regulations are not common for a garden room, they are required under some circumstances and installing a toilet is one of those reasons.
For the purposes of planning, a garden room is classed as a small detached outbuilding, which does not usually need to meet any requirements if not connected up to facilities or used as living accommodation.
Due to building regulations when installing a toilet, extra steps may need to be taken during the construction of the garden room. Be sure to discuss with the manufacturer as they may need to make adaptions to the garden room to meet the building regulations such as additional energy efficiency or safety.
How is a toilet installed in a garden room
Installing a toilet in a garden room needs to be planned early on during the initial design stages. Retrofitting a toilet to an already installed garden room can lead to added costs as parts of the building already installed need to be adapted.
For most installations, the garden room toilet is connected to the existing water and sewage system at the property. Two pipes are required, one used for clean water and the second to remove sewage.
The pipes are installed underground and can lead to significant excavation of a garden for the pipes to be laid. Groundwork is one of the largest costs when installing a toilet and is also time-consuming. A toilet and facilities for a self-contained garden room require considerably more budget. This is particularly true for a long garden where the garden room is located at the bottom.
The laying of pipes will usually begin before the garden room construction. When the garden room is installed, the pipes will already be in position and the building is placed on top of where the pipes come out of the ground.
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How do building regulations affect a garden room
Garden rooms generally come with the good news that building regulations are not required. Whereas planning permission is concerned with the location & design, building regulations are focused on the structural integrity such as efficiency, fire safety and ventilation.
The building regulations contain a set of standards to ensure the construction is safe and were last updated as part of the building regulations 2010. All residential properties in the UK need to meet these requirements, but as garden rooms are classified as small outbuildings, they are excluded apart from in the below circumstances.
- Attached to the property – Where the garden room is not detached and is an extension of the main property, it must continue to follow regulations.
- Above 15 square metres – When a garden room is between 15-30m2 and within 1 metre of boundary or built using combustible materials, the regulations apply. This is also true for any outbuilding larger than 30m2, regardless of positioning or construction material.
- Self-contained sleeping accommodation – When the building could be lived in, such as a self-contained garden room the building regulations apply. Installing a toilet adds the same facilities as residential accommodation, where a higher specification is required.
Building regulations approval should be checked before construction begins. If you come to sell the property in the future or have a visit from the council, you may be asked to provide the building regulations certificate.
How does planning permission affect a garden room
When we consider what we are able to do when installing a garden room, it’s usually planning permission that becomes the challenge. Thankfully, installation of a toilet is generally not concerned with planning permission, but it’s worth checking with your Local Planning Authority just in case of any additional rules in the local area.
Planning permission is concerned with the location and exterior design of the building and a garden room or summerhouse is classified as an outbuilding. An outbuilding includes most garden buildings (including log cabins) that are built for the purpose of leisure/enjoyment of the house whose property they are on.
For outbuildings, Permitted Development rights apply and allow for garden rooms to be installed without applying for planning permission. Permitted Development gives homeowners the opportunity to improve their properties without the need for lengthy planning applications.
These are general rules for England and some areas do not have Permitted Development rights such as national parks, conservation areas and listed buildings. The Local Planning Authority should be contacted before installation to understand if Permitted Development rights are available to a property.
For Permitted Development to apply, some limitations are placed on the size, design and location of the outbuilding. The size of the outbuilding must not exceed 50% of the garden area surrounding the original property. When the outbuilding is placed within two metres of a boundary, it must also not exceed a maximum height of 2.5m.
Sometimes, it’s not possible to install a toilet in a garden room, due to either being unable to install the required plumbing or not meeting building regulations. Cost can also be a big concern due to the groundwork required for the initial installation.
An alternative option is to consider a waterless toilet, also known as an ‘eco’ or ‘dry’ toilet. Unlike with a standard toilet, laying pipes down the garden from the current plumbing will not be required. This will significantly reduce the cost and time required for installation.
It’s best to speak with a garden building manufacturer around all of the different options available, it won’t be the first time they have been asked a similar question.
If a toilet is in the plan for a garden room installation, there may be some other aspects to consider at the same time.
Electricity & wired internet for a garden room is installed by digging a trench in the garden and laying armoured cables. If groundworks are already being carried out to install plumbing pipes, it makes sense to complete the works for the electricity and internet at the same time. The electric cable will run from the fuse board in the house and terminate inside the garden room.
Adding a small kitchen into a garden office is ideal for making coffee throughout the day. As there will already be a freshwater pipe for the toilet system, it could be possible to connect up an additional tap. Some larger garden offices also feature hot water that can be used for heating instead of an electrical heater.
Just like a house, a garden room requires adequate heating and ventilation for use throughout the year. These facilities may increase in complexity with a separate bathroom.
Can I put a shower in my garden room?
Put simply, a shower can be installed in a garden room, but it must meet the same additional steps as installing a toilet. Installing a shower creates self-contained living accommodation and therefore building regulations apply. The requirements of building regulations must be satisfied and a certificate of approval should be kept.
Installing a shower into a garden room can add additional complexity to the construction. Unlike with just a toilet, hot water is required for a shower. If hot water is run from the boiler inside the house, an additional hot water pipe will be required. Unless the garden room is near, the water may not be warm enough by the time it enters the garden room, particularly during the winter. An alternative option is to install a boiler inside the garden room, but this also comes with the additional complexities of requiring a heating professional to run a gas pipe to the garden room.
Installing a toilet in a garden room or summerhouse is possible and can make sense. Where a self-contained outbuilding such as a garden office or bar is installed, a bathroom reduces the need to keep coming back inside the house.
Installation of a toilet and the facilities needed requires building regulations approval. To meet building regulations, additional changes may be required to the garden room to improve the structural integrity. Be sure to inform the garden building manufacture during the design phase if the structure needs to meet these extra regulations.
Note: This information is provided as a guide, If in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority. Further details are available at the Planning portal.