Planning and construction of outbuildings

What’s the most unexpected purpose one of your clients has ever needed an outbuilding for? A games room? A recording studio? A sauna? Maybe even a luxurious kennel for a beloved four-legged member of the family? As you’ve no doubt already discovered, your expertise in building storage sheds, gazebos, summerhouses and other outbuildings can be put to many versatile uses.

Whatever specific requirements your clients have, this general look at the process of putting up outbuildings should have all the most familiar points covered.

  • 1. Getting ready

    There are a few different stages you need to get through before you can move onto the construction itself. Through experience you’ll have settled on your own preferred way of approaching these things, but the general list of preparations to be ticked off is generally the same.

    The first – and some would say most important – item you need to deal with is planning permission . You know the regulations in your area, and you’ll probably have a good sense of whether your client’s plans will require permission as soon as you hear them. In many cases, you’ve probably found clients are more likely to adapt their vision rather than wait for planning permission to be approved.

    For more information visit the government website.

    Once planning permission has been taken care of, it’s onto measuring and marking up the area using a tape measure and timber stakes or marker paint.

  • 2. Adding electricity

    If your outbuilding is going to need electricity, you’ll want to get everything wired up before you start on the other elements of the construction. You’ll need to get a Part P qualified electrician to run a cable out from the main house protected by an RCD and it must be buried at a depth where they cannot be “damaged by any disturbance of the ground reasonably likely to occur”.

    recording studio in the garden

  • 3. Construction

    The steps below are roughly the steps you’ll choose to follow for most outbuilding jobs.

    If you’re after a quick look at summerhouse installation specifically, try the following video:

  • 4. Steps

    Step one: Put down the base

    Having measured up, you’ll dig a space for your base, lay down some aggregate and then put down the paving slabs themselves. You might decide it’s worth hiring a digger to save some time.

    Finally, mount the floor of the outbuilding on top. For more robust structures – for a summerhouse as opposed to a storage shed – you might choose to build a timber base frame.

    Step two: Erect the walls

    Lift the gable panel upright and prop it in place while you do the same for one of the adjoining wall panels. Drill pilot holes in one of your framing battens and use countersunk screws to connect it to the gable and wall panels. Then move onto erecting the remaining side panel, and finally the front panel that will eventually have the door in it.

    It’s a basic tip that you’ll already be familiar with, but it bears repeating – just because the walls are up, doesn’t mean you’ll want to fix them to the floor just yet. It might be a bit further into the process before you’re totally happy with the way everything is sitting.

    Step three: Fit the door

    Fit the door in place using the hinges that were most likely supplied with your outbuilding kit. If you need to pick up your own, you can find our range of hinges here.

    Step four: Put in the roof support beam and rafters

    Slot the roof support beam into position, check that everything is even and that the door opens correctly, then fix it in place with L-shaped brackets and screws. If your outbuilding requires multiple additional support beams or rafters, this is also the stage where you’ll add those.

    Step five: Attach the roof

    If you’re going to protect the roof with roofing felt, this is the time. Mark and drill fixing holes on each roof panel then lift the panels up, one by one, and screw them to the roof support beam. With the screws in place, nail them to the sides of the outbuilding, using a nail gun if necessary.


  • What are the quick steps to constructing a summerhouse?

    There are 5 key steps that you can follow when building a timber garden summerhouse.

    • Put down the base
    • Erect the walls
    • Fit the door
    • Put in the roof support beam and rafters
    • Attach the roof
  • Do you need planning permission for an outbuilding?

    Before you begin construction, you will need to consider getting planning permission. This will vary depending on your client’s plans. Once planning permission has been taken care of, you can start measuring and marking up the area.

    Find out if you need planning permission >>