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Can I Live in my Garden Shed?

02 January 2014

The modern garden shed is just as likely to be a contemporary home office, craft room, gym or decorated relaxation space as a tired tool store at the bottom of the garden.

The big question is, can you live in one?

The short answer is no, if you’re talking about a traditional garden shed. A garden building that is to be used as a ‘granny annexe’ or regular sleeping accommodation will require planning permission and must meet current building regulations. The good news? With a few modifications you can use your shed as an extra bedroom. Here’s how.

Be clear about your shed's intended use

log cabin makes perfect occasional bedroom
This quality log cabin from Waltons makes an ideal occasional bedroom
Image source: 6m x 5m Home Office Executive Plus Log Cabin

Putting a sofa bed in your garden room that guests, children, or snoring partners might spend a rare night in is very different to setting up a proper bedroom that will be slept in regularly.

For occasional use, most people can construct a shed or garden room under permitted development rights (i.e. without applying for planning permission) and add a sofa bed for the odd guest. However, your garden room must comply with Building Regulations if anyone is going to sleep in it.

Those who want to sleep regularly in their shed, or create self-contained accommodation, must comply with Building Regulations AND apply for planning permission.

It’s important to understand that planning permission and Building Regulations are not the same thing.

Comply with Building Regulations
builders on site with shed
Planning permission and Building Regulations are not the same thing
Image source: Shutterstock

To sleep in a shed or garden room, it must comply with Building Regulations. These control the quality of the building’s structure and ensure it is safe for sleeping in. The same rules apply to converting a garage or small brick building into an annexe.

Seek the advice of your local planning authority before you begin. In general, building regulations cover things like:

  • • Foundations and floor construction
  • • Insulation and double glazing
  • • Electricity
  • • Dainage

When you have completed the work to the correct standard, and it has been inspected by the relevant authority, you will receive a certificate.

Do you need planning permission?
table and chairs on deck of summer house
Turning a shed into self-contained living accommodation always requires planning permission
Image source: Shutterstock

To set your garden building up as a regularly used bedroom, or to create self-contained accommodation that can be lived in, you must apply for planning permission as well as complying with Building Regulations.

Before purchasing a log cabin, garden room or summerhouse from Waltons, contact your local planning office. Planning permission rules differ depending on where you live in the UK, but your local council’s duty Planning Officer will be happy to guide you through the process.

Download Waltons PDF guide to Planning Permission for more information.

Council tax
council tax documentation
Consult your council to find out if you’ll need to pay tax for a self-contained shed
Image source: Shutterstock

If you create self-contained accommodation in your shed or outbuilding, bear in mind that you may be required to pay council tax. It’s your responsibility to find out.

Living in your shed, log cabin or garden room requires contact with your local planning department, but with a little effort it’s certainly possible. If you haven’t yet bought a garden building, check with your planning officer before you take the next step. He or she will be happy to help you end up with something that is safe and comfortable.

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