Shed story: more than just an outdoor storage space

The humble garden shed is no longer just a place to store the lawnmower, potting mix and tools. Today it can be anything from a workspace, to a hobby den, or even a micropub.

Try these tips on building your dream outdoor space.

How to design your perfect shed

The impact of the pandemic has made our work, rest and play more intertwined than ever in the home. ‘Basically, that means we’re all looking for more space, and garden sheds are proving a godsend,’ says Shaun O’Neill of Surrey Hills Garden Buildings in Reigate. ‘We’re getting customers who want everything from a kids’ den or creative retreat to a proper bar where they can entertain friends outside,’ he explains.

‘Working from home is a key factor now, but this might not be a regular office space: for instance, hairdressers might be creating salons in their home rather than renting premises elsewhere. A room in the garden is probably a lot cheaper than moving as well.’

Indeed, when it comes to shed costs, anything goes. ‘A basic new garden, bike or plastic shed might be around £500, or you might spend a few thousand more for a building that’s altogether more substantial,’ points out Shaun. At the other end of the scale, there are bells-and-whistles garden rooms which are more like extensions to your house. ‘Think bi-fold doors, all mod cons and fabulous features.’

Shed basics: what to consider

No matter what type of garden shed you go for, there are certain factors to think about:

Talk to a local expert. ‘There are so many different considerations – from the wood and materials that are used in construction, to the type of treatment and finish, along with all the “extra” fixtures and fittings you may want to include. It can all get very confusing,’ says Shaun. ‘I’d always recommend having a chat with a reputable dealer near you before you invest so you get exactly what is right for your needs and budget.’

Think long term. ‘You should expect a garden building or shed, however simple, to last for at least 20 years,’ says Shaun. ‘So that old adage “you get what you pay for” applies. It needs quality materials, a really sound base and a good solid roof. Bear in mind that any building will need regular maintenance to keep it in good condition, so it needs to be built with enough space around it to allow for easy access and upkeep.’

Check planning restrictions. A standard garden shed doesn’t usually require local planning permission, but does need to be within residential development guidelines. For instance, it should be single storey, not used for sleeping accommodation and the height of the eaves must not be above 2.5 metres (if it is, you’ll also need to build it at least two metres from boundary walls or fences). For more information, check with your local planning office or a local architect.

Consider security. With sheds and garden buildings increasingly used for work and lifestyle purposes, excellent security and insurance cover are essential to keep your personal belongings secure. ‘People can have everything from a home office or entertaining equipment to a bar full of wines and spirits in their outdoor rooms,’ says Shaun. ‘Many garden building or shed suppliers are now offering security packages, or customers can check with an independent expert.’

If you’re upgrading your shed, don’t forget to check with your home insurance provider to make sure you are adequately covered, and let them know if you are running a business from an outbuilding on your property. Consider getting a quote to add your shed and its contents to your policy, and to check the security you have fitted complies.