Turning your garden into a living space, rather than that bit of overgrown scrubland at the back of your property, can give you lots of extra room, as well as adding thousands to the value of your home.
So what could you add to your garden to make it into an ideal place to be? Well, two of the easiest, and most useful, ways to use that dead space are to create an outdoor kitchen or gym.
An outdoor kitchen – adding a patio or decking to your garden allows you to create a stable surface on which to place your outdoor kitchen. Just add a few kitchen things, like a dining table, a BBQ and somewhere to store your stuff and prep your food, and you’re good to go. Just imagine using it on a balmy summer afternoon – you can cook up your favourite BBQ feast and serve it with a huge salad, right there in the warm summer sunshine.
And speaking of salad, a patio can provide the ideal location for tubs of veg and fruits. In no time at all you could be feeding your family, or guests, a crisp salad containing fresh green goodness and plump juicy tomatoes picked by your fair hands, from you garden. Then, to finish off the meal, dish up delicious strawberries plucked fresh from the strawberry pot and a dollop of whipped cream – heaven!
But that’s not the only use for the patio. When you’ve finished cooking up a storm, re-purpose the area for relaxation! Add a couple of sun loungers, an umbrella to shade yourself from the mid-day sun and some pretty solar lights, like these Chinese lanterns, and maybe a heater for when it starts to get cool in the evening and you’ve got yourself the ideal spot to enjoy a spot of rest and relaxation with a good book in hand, in the brief, but glorious, British summer.
An outdoor gym or spa – we couldn’t think of anything better than getting fit in your own back garden, not to mention not having to fork out for a monthly gym subscription. All that lovely fresh air, no one to see you in a sweaty mess and when you’re done it’s a short hop to the bathroom to shower off.
The equipment can be really pricey, but it is possible without breaking the bank, as these suggestions show. If you have a lawn area, the springiness of lush green grass not only feels great between your toes, it’s also wonderful for absorbing shock. So, go dust off your old-school skipping rope or get a pro skipping rope; get yourself a weighted hula hoop, or have a go on a rebounder for some fun bouncy, and relatively cheap, exercise. Or if you want to invest a little more of your hard earned cash, this super trampoline, from Supertramp, is just the thing. It can be stand alone or sunk into ground – the choice is yours.
Keeping on the theme of blowing the budget, you could go even further and have a piece of permanent outdoor gym equipment, like this cross country skier installed in your garden. The average cost is £1,400 including installation. However, if you consider how much you’d spend each year on gym fees, it may pay for itself in no time.
If you’re looking for something a bit more extravagant, you could consider a hot tub. A normal hot tub starts at just over £3200, but an inflatable version is a much cheaper option, starting at around £400. Hot tubs are known to help with a number of health issues, but most notably arthritis and muscle pain. So as well as enjoying a wonderfully relaxing hot tub on a summers evening, you can also give yourself a nice relaxing soak after that 5k run you’ve just completed. Plus, as it’s inflatable, you can pack it away in the winter months.
A real room
Of course, if you want to add a ‘real’ room to your garden, there’s no shortage to choose from. You could splash out and get a timber framed room with all the mods cons that can be used in any way you like – from a bolt-hole for some peace and quiet to a home office or studio. But they are not the only uses for a garden room, if you have teenage children you could create a games room or somewhere for them to study. Or if you’re the artistic type, why not set up a studio for yourself? Or, if you’re short on cash a simple shed, like this for £220, with a few additions and alterations, could become a super little hide-away. Want some more inspiration? Here you go – Shed of the year 2014.
One thing to bear in mind is whether you’ll need planning permission for the building you want to erect. Most outbuildings come under what’s called permitted development, this includes being able to:
“construct all sorts of outbuildings for the use and enjoyment of the home so long as they do not cover more than 50% of the garden space. In Scotland this is reduced to 30%.
In Wales and Northern Ireland any outbuildings closer to the house than 5m count as extensions. In Scotland any outbuildings larger than 4m² and closer to the dwelling than 5m count as extensions.
Outbuildings must be single storey with a maximum ridge height of 4m for a pitched roof or 3m for any other kind of roof.
The eaves height must be no more than 2.5 metres.
If the outbuilding is closer to the boundary than 2m it shall be no higher than 2.5m.
No outbuilding can be forward of the original dwelling.
In Wales and Northern Ireland the same applies unless the resulting building would be more than 20m from the road.”
So, any of the ideas we’ve suggested here should not need planning permission. But, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to contact your local planning office to make sure – you wouldn’t want to erect something and then have to take it down again!
Spending money on a garden room can be a good investment - not only do you have the pleasure of using whatever it is you decide to add, but it may well add value to your home, should you ever wish to sell it.
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By Hayley Cox