Here are two of our latest projects to give you some inspiration for your build. If you would like more detail than we have space for here, then please get in touch via the contact page. If you have something else in mind, email us and we can discuss your ideas and offer some of our own. Anything is possible.
Potting Shed/Summer House
The brief was to design a largish building that would provide space for potting plants and storing pots etc at one end and a comfortable space for up to 4 people to sit at the other end. There is a plan to install a green roof at a latter date, so the structure had to be strong enough to support several tons of soil.
The result is an L-shaped structure around 5.5 m wide and 3.5m deep at the potting shed end and 2.5m tall. The dimensions were chosen as a balance between the required space and the desire to avoid the need for planning permission (see the end of this page for more information on this).
The roof is supported on 200mm joists which in turn are hung on an enormous wooden beam at the front of the building. This will comfortably take the weight of the green roof when it is installed. Inside the beams have been left exposed, providing some interesting detail to the ceiling.
The walls and ceiling are insulated with high grade insulation so that the room is comfortably warm even on cool evenings. Once the wood burning stove is lit, the room is cosy even on the coldest days.
The doors slide to save space in the building and there is as much glass as possible in the front elevation to make the most of the garden view once this has been completed.
There is mains voltage electricity throughout the building, powering an assortment of low energy light bulbs and two double 13 amp sockets. These are powered from a solar panel on the roof which uses two large capacity batteries to store energy for rainy days.
The flat roof has a minimal pitch to preserve head room inside the building (especially given the size of the joists) and the water run off is collected in a copper guttering system which enhances the front aspect. The gutter drains into a soak away to avoid having to tap into the main sewer pipes.
A reconditioned valve radio from the 1940's has been adapted so that it plays music streamed from the main computer system in the house.
The result is a comfortable spacious room, easily fit for the stated purposes. It could equally be a home office, playroom or a hobby room.
African Hut (in an English Garden)
As a complete contrast to the fairly conventional design above, the brief on this project was to provide an African style shelter in the corner of a large (approximately an acre) garden. The plan was to provide a suitable seating area with views down towards the house. The look and feel had to be rustic, if not perhaps totally African, and the structure had to sit well with the surrounding garden plants and trees.
An arc shaped platform was designed. It is supported 2ft above the ground, giving a different perspective on the garden. Four large wooden poles hold up a brushwood thatch roof, providing a structure which is both imposing yet still organic enough not to jar with its surrounding.
The large diameter manila rope balustrade provides an element of safety (the garden is regularly opened to visitors) while maintaining the natural feel of the building. (the rope is from rope and splice who we can thoroughly recommend).
The two planters at the front of the platform were a late addition to the project and in the photographs they are still weathering down to match the deck. These will hold a number of plants that will compliment the style of the hut. The planters also provide a barrier for visitor safety.
From what initially seemed an unusual request, this project has turned out to be a really lovely building, set in an idyllic garden. It is already generating a lot of interest locally and will only improve as the garden settles in around it.
A Potting Shed
As a bit of a break from the unusual, here is a relatively normal potting shed. Well normal for us anyway.
Most sheds of this design have the glass along the long edge. However this would have meant that the glass was facing into the house instead of making the most of the sun that floods this south facing garden.
So a little design tweak and it fits beautifully.
The structure is double skinned with good quality breather membrane between the interior plywood and the exterior tongue and groove. Don't let anyone tell you that breather membrane is an optional extra - if you want the shed to last then you need it. Double skinning isn't always necessary but makes for a far more robust structure and again helps the building to last.
The inside of the shed is minimally furnished; just a bench under the window to allow the plants to bathe in the sun (if we get any) and some tool storage hooks around the back.
The door is hung on heavy weight forged steel hinges, not pressed plate. Not expensive and they make sure the door doesn't sag after a few weeks (and they look good).
Do I Need Planning Permission?
There is a common misconception that wooden garden structures never need planning permission. This isn't the case, but it is possible to design your building in such a way that you are unlikely to need to formally apply for permission.
The requirement for planning permission will depend as much on your garden size, location, how many other extensions, outbuildings, greenhouses and sheds you already have, as it will on the actual building you wish to construct.
Your local planning office publishes guidance on the current regulations and you may want to consult these before you start planning your building. Planning permission isn't cheap and if you can avoid it, without compromising your overall design, this can make a big difference to your budget.
The one area you can't sidestep is building regulations. The area most likely to require building regulation inspection is electrical supply, where this is connected to the mains supply in your house. This can be costly but ignoring it can be even more expensive and could also be potentially dangerous.
Your local planning office can provide free advice on both planning and building regulations.
We are also happy to discuss our experiences with you. You can get in touch via the contact page.