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The SpotDif 2024 guide to garden rooms

If you're considering enhancing your outdoor space in 2024, our guide to garden rooms is here to offer an insightful overview of your design and material options. Whether you're looking to create a cosy retreat, boost your property value, or just want to understand the different styles available, this guide is designed to help you make an informed decision.


In this guide, we will explore the various styles of garden rooms available in the UK, including contemporary, traditional, and bespoke designs. Each style has unique features and benefits to suit different homes and preferences. We’ll delve into how these spaces are constructed, the benefits they offer, and the key factors you should consider before making your investment.

woman sitting in a garden room

What are garden rooms?

As more people seek to maximise their property's potential and enjoy more time outdoors, garden rooms have emerged as a popular solution for expanding functional spaces. Unlike traditional home extensions, these spaces are versatile structures that can serve multiple purposes — from home offices to art studios.


Garden rooms are standalone structures, often located in your garden. They are designed to provide a comfortable, insulated space that can complement your home while standing out as a functional, aesthetic feature.


Not only do they enhance the usability and aesthetics of a property, but they also add significant value by increasing the usable square footage. They support a lifestyle that values privacy, functionality, and a strong connection to nature.

What’s the difference between conservatories and garden rooms?

When expanding your home's living space, you might find yourself weighing the options between a conservatory and a garden room.


Structure and construction

Conservatory: Conservatories are primarily made of glass, including the walls and often the roof. This design maximises natural light, creating a bright and airy environment. They are usually attached to the house, blending seamlessly with the main building to extend the living space.


Garden room: Garden rooms are more robust, featuring insulated walls and a solid roof, often with some integrated glazing. They are standalone structures that can be placed anywhere in your garden. If you’re looking for a versatile space, we’d recommend investing in a garden room over alternatives as they can be used year-round, thanks to their substantial construction which is more like a traditional building than a glasshouse.


Thermal efficiency

Conservatory: Due to their extensive glazing, conservatories can get quite hot in summer and cold in winter. Although modern conservatories often include thermal efficient glass to mitigate this, they typically require additional heating or cooling solutions to be comfortable all year round.


Garden room: To boost home energy efficiency, consider integrating loft insulation and energy-efficient windows to significantly reduce heat loss. In addition to this, electric radiators offer a cost-effective heating solution for areas where installing gas and water connections is impractical. Built to home standards, garden rooms maintain a consistent temperature effortlessly, making them perfect for year-round use as offices, gyms, or relaxation areas. 


Aesthetic and usage

Conservatory: With their glass structure, conservatories offer consistency from the indoors to the garden, making them ideal for plant lovers or those who wish to enjoy the view of their garden from a sheltered spot. They are often used as dining areas, lounges, or spaces to grow temperature-sensitive plants.


Garden room: Offering more privacy due to their solid walls, garden rooms can serve a multitude of purposes that go beyond just relaxation. They are commonly used as home offices, studios and even gyms. The style of these spaces can also be customised to either contrast with or complement the existing architectural style of your home. 


Planning permissions

Conservatory: Generally, conservatories may not require planning permission if they meet certain size and design criteria, making them a simpler addition in terms of legalities. However, it's always best to check with your local council before proceeding.


Garden room: Similar to conservatories, garden rooms often fall under permitted development rights, but there are exceptions based on their size, purpose, and location. Because they are more like traditional buildings, checking regulations is crucial to ensure compliance.


  • Size limits: Typically, a garden room should not cover more than half the garden area and must be single-storey with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres. The overall height should not exceed 4 metres for a dual-pitched roof or 3 metres for any other type of roof.


  • Purpose and use: These spaces should be for purposes incidental to the main dwelling, such as a home office, playroom, or gym. It cannot be used as a separate residence or include sleeping accommodation.


  • Location considerations: The garden room should not be situated ahead of the principal elevation of the original house. In designated lands, including national parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, and World Heritage Sites, more restrictive rules may apply.
Garden room with sunny windows

How does each garden room style differ?

When choosing a garden room, it's essential to consider how different styles can align with your personal preferences, home's architecture, and intended use. Each style offers unique characteristics and benefits. Here’s a closer look at modern, traditional, and bespoke rooms to help you decide which one might be the best fit for your garden.


Modern garden rooms

Modern garden rooms are known for their sleek, contemporary design. They typically feature clean lines, flat roofs, and large glass panels that allow for abundant natural light and seamless integration with the outdoor environment. In our opinion, these rooms are perfect if you're looking for a minimalist and stylish space that can serve as a home office, gym, or a peaceful retreat to relax.


Traditional garden rooms

Traditional garden rooms echo classic architectural designs and are often built with natural materials like wood. They may include design elements such as pitched roofs, decorative trims, and more substantial framing. We think that this style is ideal for those who want to maintain the rustic charm of their home or create a cosy, inviting space.


Bespoke garden rooms

Bespoke garden rooms are custom-designed to meet specific needs and preferences, offering the greatest flexibility in terms of design and functionality. Whether you need a space that fits an unusual garden layout or want a room that serves a unique purpose like a soundproof music studio, bespoke designs can be tailored exactly to your requirements.

sunny garden room

Comparing types of garden rooms in the UK

Choosing the right garden room involves more than just selecting a style that appeals to you aesthetically. It's also crucial to consider practical aspects such as the ease of installation, functionality, and cost. 


Ease of installation

Modern garden rooms: These are often designed with prefabrication in mind, which simplifies the installation process. The use of modular components can significantly reduce construction time and disruption to your daily life.


Traditional garden rooms: Typically involve more complex construction techniques due to their detailed designs and the use of natural materials like wood. This can mean a longer installation time and may require the help of skilled craftsmen.


Bespoke garden rooms: The ease of installation varies greatly depending on the complexity of the design. Custom features and unconventional layouts can extend installation times and require more specialised labour.


Functionality

Modern garden rooms: Ideal for those seeking a minimalist and versatile space, these modern, multifunctional spaces are usually well-insulated and fitted with large windows, making them suitable for year-round use. They can serve a variety of functions, from home offices to workout studios.


Traditional garden rooms: Perfect for those who prefer a cosy and warm atmosphere, traditional garden rooms can enhance the character of a home. They are often used as relaxing sunrooms, reading nooks, or spaces for entertaining guests.


Bespoke garden rooms: Since these are tailored to specific needs, their functionality is limited only by your imagination and budget. Whether you need a soundproof music studio, a greenhouse with precise temperature controls, or an office, a bespoke garden room can be designed to accommodate any function.


Cost

Modern garden rooms: Generally, modern garden rooms are more cost-effective due to their prefabricated nature. Prices for basic models start around £5,000 to £10,000. In our experience, mid-range models, equipped with better materials and features like insulation and double-glazing, prices can range from £10,000 to £20,000. Larger or more luxurious designs might cost upwards of £20,000 to £30,000.


Traditional garden rooms: These are typically more expensive than modern prefabricated ones because they often require specialised craftsmanship and high-quality natural materials to match traditional architectural styles. Our research suggests that prices for traditional garden rooms usually start around £15,000 and can go up to £30,000 or more, depending on the size and detailing involved.


Bespoke garden rooms: As the most expensive option, bespoke garden rooms are custom-designed and built to specific requirements, which can significantly increase costs. Prices can start from around £25,000 for smaller, simpler designs. However, for large and highly customised garden rooms with premium materials and functionalities (like integrated heating, bespoke joinery, and advanced insulation), costs can easily exceed £40,000 to £70,000 or more.

Do garden rooms add value to your property?

Adding a garden room to your home is not just about gaining extra living space — it's also an investment that can potentially increase your property's market value. 


Enhanced aesthetic appeal and usability

A well-designed garden room can significantly boost the aesthetic appeal of your home. It creates an attractive visual feature that prospective buyers will notice immediately. Beyond looks, these spaces increase the functional square footage of your home, offering additional living space that can be used in various ways, such as a lounge, dining area, or a green space for plants.


Improved lifestyle and desirability

A garden room can enhance the lifestyle offered by your home by providing a unique space that blends indoor comfort with an outdoor feel. This connection to the outdoors is highly desirable for many people, especially in scenic areas or where outdoor living is a significant part of the lifestyle. By offering a comfortable space that can be enjoyed throughout most of the year, a garden room makes your home more appealing to a broader range of buyers.


Return on investment

The financial return of adding a garden room varies based on the quality of the construction and its harmony with the rest of the house. A high-quality multi-functional space that is well-integrated into the design of the home can offer a return on investment through increased property value. 


In our experience, you can expect a garden room to add around 5% to 12% to the value of a home, but this figure can be higher or lower based on the local market and the execution of the garden room itself.

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Compare UK garden rooms with SpotDif

At SpotDif, we understand the importance of doing your research before choosing a garden room. That's why we're here to help you compare services and prices from our trusted network of UK garden room providers, ensuring you find the best deals. By exploring different options, you can understand the market better, identify the features that matter most, and invest wisely.

How to maximise the value of your garden room

To ensure that your garden room adds value to your home, consider the following:


Quality and materials: Use high-quality materials and ensure professional construction to make the space a durable and attractive addition to your home.


Design consistency: The design of the garden room should complement the architectural style of the main house. A garden room that looks like a natural extension of the home is more likely to enhance its value.


Heating and cooling: Since garden rooms can become hot in summer and cold in winter, incorporating efficient heating and cooling solutions like electric heaters or air conditioning, can make the space more usable year-round and more appealing to buyers. Planning permissions: Ensure all necessary planning permissions are in place before construction to avoid legal issues that could detract from its value.

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author
Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.
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