The Summerhouse Guide: How to choose the right model, how to maintain it and the many potential uses of a summerhouse
02 November 2018| News| Jelle Tienken
It’s not easy to write a comprehensive guide to summerhouses that’s not too long for anyone to read, as summerhouses are such versatile structures that they can have many appearances and purposes. Even the way they are constructed can be very different – for example, Lugarde uses the self-designed and patented Prima-system, in which the milled wall sections are slotted into the corresponding corner uprights, while other manufacturers will use different methods. A comparison of the various construction systems could constitute a whole article of its own. However, there are a few major things that all existing and prospective summerhouse owners should look out for, regardless of the type of summerhouse, and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article. For easier reading, we have divided the article into three sections – how to choose the right summerhouse, how to maintain it properly, and its potential uses. If this has sparked your interest, keep reading to find out more!
Choosing the right summerhouse
Shapes and sizes
The first step to owning a summerhouse is choosing the right one for your needs, and we’ll try to help you with that, so that you can be sure your summerhouse will serve you for a long time. First of all, you must pick the appropriate size and shape, taking into consideration both the size of your garden and the intended purpose of your summerhouse. It shouldn’t take up too much space in your garden, but it also has to be big enough to be used for its intended purpose. This brings us to the next thing to consider – what do you want to use it for? Whatever it is, you should ensure that the summerhouse you choose is well-suited to its purpose – after all, there isn’t much use for a home office that doesn’t have any natural light or a home gym that doesn’t have enough space for you to exercise in. In order to efficiently use all of the available space in your garden, you should also consider the shape of the summerhouse, as they are available in various shapes (octagonal, rectangular, square and corner) – you might be able to find one which fits perfectly into that unused, irregularly shaped corner of your garden.
Building a summerhouse without planning permission
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your desired summerhouse exceeds a certain size, you might have to apply for planning permission. If you want to avoid having to do so, you should pick one that’s within the size allowed.
If you want to add a summerhouse to your garden without having to apply for planning permission, you’ll need to make sure that the following limits and conditions are met:
- No outbuilding is permitted on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse;
- The maximum permitted height is 2.5 metres in the case of a building within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse;
- The total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and containers within the curtilage (other than the original dwellinghouse) may not exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage (excluding the ground area of the original dwellinghouse).
Planning permission regulations may vary between counties and municipalities. Therefore, to ensure that you are aware of all the details, we recommend you contact your local planning authority.
Quality of materials
Once you have settled on the size and appearance of your desired summerhouse, it’s also important to consider the technical details. Of course, the most important thing here is the quality of the materials – it’s doubtful that your summerhouse will last very long if it’s built from low-quality timber, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind. It’s recommended that summerhouses are built from kiln-dried timber that has been sourced from countries with colder climates, as this will ensure a more durable structure. In addition to the timber itself, the quality of the roofing, doors and windows must also be considered, because you probably don’t want them to start leaking at some point in the future.
Summerhouse design and insulation
The overall design is also very important to ensuring that you can enjoy your summerhouse for a long time. For example, if you plan to use the summerhouse as additional living space, it will need enough windows to let in natural light; alternatively, if you enjoy inviting your friends and family over for barbecues, it might be a good idea to pick a model that has a side canopy. Another thing to consider is the type of roof – the most popular ones are flat, apex and pyramid. When choosing the roof design, it’s important to consider both your own preferences and how it fits into the overall appearance of your garden.
If you want to use the summerhouse as additional living space, you should check whether your preferred model can be suitably insulated. In fact, insulating a summerhouse is always recommended, because an insulated building will last longer, and proper insulation will keep it cool during the summer, as well as warm and dry in the autumn and winter. In addition, an insulated wooden garden building will be more energy efficient, so you’ll need a less powerful heater!
The final thing to consider when picking a summerhouse is the manufacturer. The main thing to note is the length of the manufacturer’s warranty – you’ll probably want the warranty for your summerhouse to have more than just a couple years on it, in case something goes wrong; offering a longer warranty usually also means that the manufacturer is confident about the quality of their product. The experience of the manufacturer is also quite important – it’s usually worth picking a leading manufacturer with decades of experience, because their products will likely be of high quality and they will also be better prepared to assist you if there are any issues with the product.
Maintaining your summerhouse
Keeping an eye on your summerhouse
This might sound obvious, but the most important thing in maintaining a summerhouse is to keep a close eye on it. There are a lot of small things that can initially go unnoticed but can slowly become a serious problem. The main things to check for are potential leaks in the roof, the accumulation of moisture anywhere in the building, and the structural integrity of foundation, to ensure that it’s not sinking into the soil. And it goes without saying that it’s also important to keep it tidy – this not only helps to maintain its appearance, but will also allow you to spot any problems straight away, as well as helping to avoid mould and mildew.
To protect your summerhouse from the rain, wind, sun, and other outside influences, it should be impregnated with an appropriate treatment and coated with opaque or transparent paint afterwards. You can opt to do this yourself (in which case keep in mind that this is best done before assembly), but most manufacturers will also offer to do it for you prior to delivery. Either way, it’s important to pay attention to the paint being used, to ensure that your summerhouse gets the best protection available. It’s also important to re-treat it every few years to ensure its continued protection.
What are the potential uses of a summerhouse?
A seasonal vs a year-round summerhouse
As mentioned earlier, summerhouses are very versatile, so there are many possible uses for them. You probably already have an idea of what you’d like to use it for, but there may be some options that you haven’t even thought of, so we’ll take a look at some of the potential uses now, and perhaps you’ll find some new inspiration.
The first thing to keep in mind when thinking about the potential uses of a summerhouse is the type of building – is it a seasonal summerhouse or can it be used year round? If it’s a seasonal summerhouse, then it’s probably not worth using it for something that requires a lot of investment (for example, a home gym or a sauna), if you can only make the most of it for a few months of the year. If, however, you plan to use it regardless of the season, you must make sure that it’s properly insulated.
A storage area or a living space?
Once that decision has been made, the next thing to figure out is the best and most efficient use for your summerhouse – do you need more space for storage or do you need to extend your living space, or perhaps you just want a place for relaxation? If it’s storage space that you’re after, it’s important to remember to organise it properly – doing so allows you to efficiently use all of the available space. And if you plan on using it to store things that are susceptible to moisture, it is probably a good idea to insulate your summerhouse.
Summerhouses are also often used for additional living space, almost like an extension of the house. The reason why this is so popular is that a summerhouse can be anything you need it to be – a guest house, a hobby room, a summer studio, a playroom for the children and so on. For people who work from home, they also work well as home offices or can even serve as somewhere to receive customers at home, if you are a hairdresser or beautician, for instance. And if you want to keep yourself in shape, but don’t like crowded gyms or wellness centres, a summerhouse can also make an excellent home gym or even a sauna.
It’s likely that you might use it for more than just one thing – for example, you’re running out of storage space in your house, but you also want a space for relaxation; or perhaps you’re in need of a guest room, but would also like a room for your hobbies. If so, you could opt for a multi-use summerhouse, with several rooms, or even several entrances, which will allow you to use it for more than one thing at the same time.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of summerhouses, their maintenance, and their possible uses. If you feel ready to choose your new summerhouse and you’d like to find out more about our products, please take a look at our wide range of summerhouses.
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