Summerhouses are buildings typically made from wood that feature felt or tiled roofs, windows, and a glazed door. They were traditionally made for relaxing in during the warmer months but can be used all year round and make a great addition to homes with a garden.
Having a summerhouse is not only an extension of your home, it can also add personality and character to your garden. However, there is a lot to consider when buying a summer house. In this guide, we cover everything from choosing size and material through to delivery and installation, so you can buy the perfect summer house for your garden.
We will look at:
- Reasons to buy a summer house
- Choosing a size
- Wood treatment
- Cladding construction
- Cladding thickness
- Roof and floor
- Windows and doors
- Style and layout
- Planning permission
- Best base for a summerhouse
- Where to site a summerhouse
- Customer service
Why should I buy a summer house?
There are so many reasons you might want to buy a summer house, but ultimately it gives you more space without the need for an expensive home extension. Here are some ideas for how you could use the extra space:
You could use your new summer house for an outdoor retreat. This is a quiet place to sit and relax or read a book, tucked away in a secluded area of the garden closer to nature.
Summerhouses come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find spaces large enough to host family and friends. There is no place better to share a drink and some food on a warm summer evening.
Many of us now work from home, but not everyone has the space for a home office in the house. A summer house can provide the perfect quiet escape to work or hold meetings.
A summerhouse can be the perfect space for arts, crafts or a home gym. It’s important we have space to do the things we love, and you can return your favourite hobby without the hassle of moving furniture or sweeping the dining room table.
Step one: Choosing a size
Now we understand the reasons why someone might buy a summerhouse, it’s important to look at buying considerations so you can make the perfect choice for your garden. The first step is choosing a size, and for this you need to consider usage, space, and budget.
What are you going to use your summerhouse for?
If you know what you’re going to use the space for, it will make it much easier to choose a size. For example, if you want to use it for a home office, think about the room you will need for a desk, computer, and storage. If your summerhouse is for entertaining guests, think about seating and a large table for food and drinks. Remember, how you choose to use your summerhouse might change so consider leaving yourself some extra room should you need it.
How much space do you have available?
Think about where you want to position your summerhouse and measure the space you have available. Remember, you want a summerhouse to improve your garden not take it over. We recommend leaving 1-2ft of space around your summerhouse for maintenance, and you also need to consider windows and doors that open outwards.
What is your budget?
Larger summerhouses cost more, so your budget may restrict you when it comes to choosing a size. It’s important to calculate your budget beforehand – this will need to cover the cost of the summer house, installation, base materials, and furnishings.
Once you have considered use, budget and the space you have available, the size of the summerhouse you need will become much clearer. We have a range of sizes available at Power Sheds, which you can find below:
Step two: Wood treatment
Summerhouses are typically made from timber that has been treated with a temporary water-based preservative. This wood treatment is designed to prevent rot and decay, increasing the lifespan of the timber. There are two different treatment methods used for summer houses, dip treatment and pressure treatment.
What is dip treatment?
Dip-treated summer houses are the most common and are recognisable because of their amber colour finish. It is the quickest and cheapest method of treating timber with a water-based preservative and the clue is very much in the name. It involves dipping the wood in the preservative, providing a base protective layer. Dip treatment does not last as long as pressure treatment and will require more regular applications of the preservative.
What is pressure treatment?
Pressure treatment involves forcing the preservative deeper into the timber, which provides effective protection for longer. The preservative becomes an integral part of the wood, giving it a longer lifespan. You can recognise a pressure-treated summerhouse from their lighter colour which can sometimes appear slightly green because of preservative residue, although this will fade in time.
Which treatment should I choose?
A dip-treated summerhouse will be cheaper because the process isn’t as costly for the manufacturer, but it will require you to carry out annual treatments and spend money on preservative and brushes. If you’re willing to carry out regular treatment to protect your summerhouse, this could be a good option. Pressure-treated summerhouses are more expensive, but you can relax knowing your garden building can resist rot and decay for over a decade.
Step three: Cladding
Cladding refers to the wooden boards that make up the wall of your summerhouse. There are three different options available when it comes to choosing cladding, each with their own benefits. The three different types are overlap, shiplap tongue & groove, and standard tongue & groove.
This is the simplest and cheapest way to construct a summer house. It involves overlapping wooden boards and nailing them to the summerhouse frame. The timber is left to contract and expand over time. The downside to using overlap cladding is it usually involves using thinner wooden boards which can lead to draughts.
Shiplap tongue and groove cladding
Tongue and groove cladding interlocks the wooden boards for a stronger, more weather resistant construction. Shiplap refers to the scallop on the face of the boards. This is a more expensive option but will mean for a warmer, sturdier summerhouse.
Tongue and groove cladding
Standard tongue and groove cladding uses the same interlocking construction as shiplap. The difference is the face of the board is flat allowing for a more modern finish.
Why is cladding thickness important?
The thickness of the wooden boards used for cladding is important for insulation, making your summerhouse more comfortable and available for use all year round. The standard thickness for cladding is 12mm which is suitable for summer, spring and autumn if you live somewhere warm.
Step Four: Roof
You also have a selection of options available when choosing a roof for your new summerhouse. The roof influences style, space inside and where you can position the summerhouse. Apex, hip and pent roof designs are the most common – take a look at each in more detail below:
Apex roof design
An apex roof has a peak at the centre which offers additional headroom along the middle of the building. The doors are sites at one of the gable ends with an overhang for more rain cover.
Pent roof design
A pent roof has a sloping roof, with the highest point usually being above the door. It is considered a modern option and having one side lower than the other makes it ideal for positioning under trees or up against the fence line of your garden.
A reverse apex roof design
This is the same as an apex, but the doors are on the longer side rather than the gable end. This might be a better option than an apex summerhouse depending on the layout and style you desire.
H2: Step Five: Windows and doors
You need to think about the style of windows and doors you want on your summerhouse, in this section, we will cover some common considerations.
How much natural light do I want?
The more windows and doors you have, the more natural light will reach the interior, making the number and style of your doors and windows a key consideration. If this is something that’s important to you, look for a summerhouse with lots of windows and a glazed door.
Do I need opening windows?
Opening windows help with ventilation in the warmer months. Not all summerhouses come with opening windows so this is something you should look for when buying. If you want opening windows, consider the extra space you might need in your planning space.
Why are bifold doors so popular?
Bifold doors are becoming an increasingly popular option for summerhouses. This is because they’re fully glazed, allowing in significant natural light, and they open fully and fold back. The advantage of this is they don’t take up too much additional space and allow you to feel closer to your garden from the comfort of your summerhouse.
What are windows and doors glazed with?
Glass alternatives like styrene and polycarbonate are commonly used for summerhouses. They won’t shatter, an advantage if you have young children who regularly play in the garden with a football. Modern windows and doors are UV protected which prevents yellowing over time. Traditional glass glazing is available and provides better insulation properties, but it’s more commonly used for log cabins where warmth all year round is more of a priority.
How secure are summerhouses?
If security is important to you, it’s worth knowing how the doors of your summerhouse will be secured. A turn button closure is fitted to the top and bottom of your door to stop the door from swinging open. A hasp & stable latch which closes over a loop will be ready for you to use a padlock to lock it shut. A final option is a mortice and a rim lock, both are key operated for additional security.
Step Six: Other style options
We have covered the main considerations when buying a summerhouse, but there are other styles and features that could enhance your garden and accommodate more specific tastes and purposes.
Traditional summer houses
Octagonal summer houses are a traditional design that can offer you an excellent view of all corners of your garden. They come with Georgian-style windows, roof acorns, antique-style door furniture and partially or fully glazed windows.
Corner summer houses
Available in contemporary and traditional designs, a corner summerhouse can make a great garden hideaway that doesn’t sacrifice outdoor space.
Verandas are both practical and stylish. You will have more space for kicking shoes off and or placing a deck chair and hiding from the rain, while adding charm to the entrance.
Summer houses with storage
Another clever space saving option. Summer houses with side shed storage are multi-purpose and offer a great way of keeping your summer house clear of clutter. You can store cushions, outdoor games, or gardening equipment out of sight while you relax in your hideaway.
Do I need planning permission?
Most garden buildings do not require planning permission, but it’s recommended you check with your local council first. You will not need planning permission if the following criteria is met:
- Log cabin is for domestic use
- It has internal dimensions less than 30m2
- It won’t be sited to the front of the property’s principal elevation
- It is under 3m high with a pent roof
- It is under 4m high with an apex roof
- It is within 2m of the property boundary
- It will not take up half of the property’s land
- It is not being used for self-contained accommodation
We also recommend making your neighbours aware you’re installing a summerhouse as not informing them of any construction projects on your property could potentially lead to issues down the line.
What is the best base for a summerhouse?
Before you sit back and relax in your summerhouse you will need to prepare a solid foundation where it can stand. There are a range of different materials you should consider for your summerhouse base.
A concrete summer house base is permanent and provides a solid, durable foundation. They’re better suited to larger, heavier garden buildings and should be raised above ground level to allow water to run off. The downside to a concrete base is they’re expensive and once installed, very difficult to move.
Timer decking base
Timber decking is becoming an increasingly popular material for summer house bases. It looks great in your garden and allows water to run off the top, the space beneath the decking is also good for air circulation.
They’re quicker to install than other options and can be used as a veranda. Timber decking summerhouse bases will require more maintenance and aren’t suitable for larger buildings where concrete or paving would be more appropriate.
Paving slab base
Paving slab bases are easy to install, offer flexibility when it comes to your garden layout, and provide strong foundations for your summer house. Paving can be laid on sand and cement and used to make an attractive patio area near your summerhouse.
The choice of slabs is important – riven slabs with a texture are not recommended. Be sure to lay your paving evenly or you could end up with an uneven surface for your summer house.
Composite decking is a modern alternative which combines style with a more environmental approach. It’s made from recycled plastic and wood fibres, and has many benefits including low maintenance, durability, and no splinters. They also come in a variety of colours, so you have more control over the look of your garden building.
The downside to composite decking is it’s more expensive than other alternatives and it does not provide the natural look so many people crave for their garden. If you want the natural look, timber is the preferred options.
Where to site a summerhouse
Now you have decided on a summerhouse and its foundation, you need to decide where to position your new garden sanctuary.
If getting the most sun is a priority you need to think about the best place in your garden for your summerhouse. South-facing gardens get the most sunlight, north-facing the least. East-facing gardens get the sun in the morning, west-facing in the evening.
We recommend marking out where you’re thinking about positioning your summerhouse and check if it gets enough sun throughout the day.
You should consider the size and style of the summerhouse you’ve chosen when deciding where to place it. An octagonal summerhouse for example, would be best positioned in the corner of your garden so you can make the most of the panoramic view.
Think about the proximity to utilities before placing your summerhouse. You may need it to be close to electrical or water supplies, which can limit the places where you can site your summerhouse.
Even though most summerhouses don’t require planning permission, it should still be something you think about when positioning it. For example, summerhouses must be within 2m of a property’s boundary, or you will need to get planning permission.
All our standard shed deliveries to mainland UK and Northern Ireland are completely free, here is all the information you need:
- You can select your own delivery date which you choose in the checkout process on the page after you enter your address.
- Standard delivery is between 8am and 6pm – you may receive a text on the day of delivery to advise a two-hour arrival time slot with a link to track the order.
- Delivery is kerbside only. Any request to take the goods further cannot be guaranteed and will be at the discretion of the driver on the day.
- The driver will have a Tail Lift to unload the goods. The driver will have a pump-truck/hand-trolley to manoeuvre the pallet. How far they can move the pallet is at the driver’s discretion and will depend on access.
- The driver cannot assist with unpacking and moving individual components from the pallet. Delivery will be contactless.
- *If you live in the Republic of Ireland or a remote area of the UK (Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Channel Islands, Scottish Islands) there may be a delivery surcharge and we are unable to offer next working day delivery.
Summerhouses are quite straight-forward to assemble, you will just need moderate DIY knowledge and the correct tools. Installation should be carried out by at least two people, so the panels can be supported before they’re secured with fixings. Delivery of your summerhouse will come with instructions of how to put it together and you will need the following tools:
Spirit level, hammer, adjustable spanner, handsaw, Stanley knife, stepladder, and sealant gun.
Many companies offer installation services if you need support putting together your new summerhouse. We have a directory of trusted and reputable installers here.
Our friendly customer service team are happy to answer any of your questions. You can get in touch on 01274 036577, we are open 8am – 4.30pm Mon-Fri. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a customer enquiry here.