Summer House Buying Guide: Your Key Questions Answered
February 13, 2020

Summer houses can be one of the best investments you can make for your garden. They can bring so much more enjoyment to summer days, though of course it’s important you look into the key facts before you buy so you can make a fully informed decision.

In this comprehensive guide you’ll find all the essential information such as whether you need planning permission and how to install one, right down to features to look out for and some of our top picks.

Why buy a summer house?

These lovely garden buildings can make a world of difference when it comes to enjoying your garden. They provide a space to sit back in comfort and enjoy the sun (or shade), offering a lovely view of your garden in the process. 

You can use it as a dining area for summer evenings, a gym, a craft space… even an office if it’s hooked up with electricity. A comfy armchair can make a great addition as you can while away the hours with a book whilst soaking up the heat or enjoying a little respite from the sun. You can even use the building as a storage area in winter.

All in all, a summer house is a fantastic place to escape to in the warmer months and really helps you make the most of your outdoor space.

Do I need planning permission for a summer house? 

As it’s a temporary, movable structure, planning permission is not usually required. The exceptions are if: 

  • Your house is a listed building
  • The summer house would be on areas of interest such as a national park
  • It will cover more than 50% of the area around your house
  • It will be within five metres of your home as this could then be classed as an extension
  • The area covered is more than 30m2 
  • You want to put it on the front of your house facing a highway
  • It will be used as separate accommodation

 

Check the government’s advice on planning permission before you invest, or ask for advice from your local council. 

Will building regulations apply?

As summer houses tend to be classed as temporary structures, building regulations aren’t usually necessary to apply for. However, if you want to use electricity or need plumbing, we recommend contacting your local authority’s Building Control department. 

What is its purpose?

You could use it as an office, dining space or outdoor living space. This may impact on how big you want the windows to be (you may want electricity in an office, in which case smaller/fewer windows would be fine) or, if you’ll be keeping expensive items inside, you may want a model that’s extra-secure. If you’ll be growing produce, summer houses with plenty of windows can work excellently as potting sheds. 

Where should I position my summer house and what shape shall I get?

The shape is an important consideration here - octagonal or corner summer houses, for example, make great use of space as you can enjoy a fuller view of the garden. If there’s a key feature of your garden you want to be able to see, bear this in mind when you buy - you may want a rectangular shaped building instead of octagonal or corner, but you could choose one with windows in the sides to keep your prized garden feature in view. 

You’ll also want to check where the sun hits your garden if you want it in the sun rather than the shade. To maximise the amount of sun that reaches your summer house, a south-facing position is best. Also be sure to place it where the ground is firm and level - not in an area where water pools.

If you’d like to use the building as an office or have electricity running to it, position it within reach of your main electricals. It would be a good idea to discuss this with a qualified electrician to help you decide where to put it.

How do I treat it?

There are various ways you can treat your summer house, from staining to painting to waterproofing. Read our guide on how to treat a shed to find out more.

How do I install my summer house? 

Assembly should be quite straightforward if you have the right tools and instructions. When it comes to actually installing it you’ll need at least one other person to help you out. You can either do this yourself with a friend or two, or add on a professional home installation service when you buy the summer house. We offer this service on all of our Mercia models.

If you need tools for assembly, we have everything you need in our extensive DIY range both online and in store. You can find your nearest store here if you need to pop in.


Features to look out for

Now you know the answers to all the key questions, it’s time to look at some features so you can choose the best summer house for you.

Cladding

There are three main types of cladding: shiplap, overlap and tongue and groove. Find out the difference between each in our shed buying guide.

Roof type

Apex

Most summer houses have apex roofs which creates a traditional look.

Hip

Hip roofs offer a more unique style.

Pent

Pent roofs are common when the building is being used as an office or stylish living area.

Veranda

Verandas can be really attractive features as they create space for flower pots and offer an area to sit and sunbathe in. Whether you opt for a summer house with a veranda or not depends on how much garden space you want to give up, and what overall look you’re going for. 

 

Space

You might be concerned that you won’t have enough space to store all your tools. Luckily, some models offer space for living and space for tools too as they combine both summer house and shed. If you like the idea of this we recommend the Mercia Premium 10 x 8 or 12 x 8 summer house, or the Mercia Corner Summer House/Shed

 

FSC certification

You may want to buy a model that has been made from FSC-certified wood so you can be sure it’s sustainably sourced. All of our summerhouses are FSC-certified.

 

Guarantee against rot

Some have long guarantees against rot to give you peace of mind.  Those in our range offer up to a ten-year guarantee against rot.

 

Styrene-glazed windows

If there’s a possibility of rogue footballs and frisbees winging their way to your new building, styrene-glazed windows will shatter into plastic pieces, which is much safer than glass, especially if you have children or pets. This is a common feature on many garden buildings.

 

Opening windows 

With a soft breeze able to come through, opening windows make hot summer days more enjoyable.

Best summer houses

Now you’ve considered all the necessary elements before you buy, you’ll want to browse all the different styles available. We’ve got lots to recommend - here are some of our best summer houses to choose from to make your garden complete.

Mercia Traditional Summer House - 8 x 8ft

With a gorgeous veranda, apex roof and lots of windows to let in the light, it’s no wonder this model is one of our bestsellers.

Mercia Vermont Summer House - 10 x 8ft

With a bit more space than the model above, the Vermont can fit in two comfy sofas and plenty more to provide the most comfortable space to relax in.

Mercia Corner Summer House - 7 x 7ft

This corner design is one of our best summer houses for those who want a panoramic view of their garden.

Mercia Premium Helios Summer House - 10 x 8ft

Large in size with lots of room for seats, an office desk and more, the Helios is both spacious and stylish.

Shire Hampton Summer House - Large

With opening windows to let in a cool breeze and a traditional design with stylish glazed doors, this design is ideal for the larger garden.

Shire Barclay Summer House - Large

The full-height windows on the Barclay let in lots of natural light so you can enjoy your time to the full from dawn until dusk.