We have been alarmed recently to receive emails from garden room buyers, saying they have had advice and quotes for their projects from companies who say they don't need to apply for planning permission, even when the homeowner knows they do!
A garden gym example
One buyer wanted to build a garden gym building. He wanted this to be 2.8m high to increase the headroom inside the gym when using the equipment. He wanted to position the gym close to the boundaries of his garden to maximise the space he had available. Not an unusual request.
Permitted Development tells us that a garden building taller than 2.5m needs to be sited at least 2 meters from any boundary. So, having read the guide on the Planning Portal, the buyer knew that a full planning application needed to be made to build his 2.8m high garden gym. He was happy to go through this process but wanted guidance from the garden room companies he contacted, about how to do this. He had read that some companies will handle the process on the customer's behalf as part of the overall project, while other companies will give you the drawings, specification etc., to submit the application yourself.
Instead, he was told not to worry about making the planning application, just get on and build, by more than one company conducting a site visit. In fact, a couple of companies said they would not accept the order if a planning application were needed.
The buyer went with his gut feeling and decided not to work with these companies. He reached out to us for the names of companies who do offer planning advice as part of their overall package. He quite rightly did not want to invest his time, and thousands of pounds into a building that is not legal!
Don't make an expensive mistake
Not following the planning rules when building a garden room could be a very costly mistake. In the worst case scenario, you could be made to take the building down, losing all the money you invested in the building.
While a garden room company can advise you on your planning permission situation, the ultimate responsibility is yours as the homeowner.
For this reason, while many garden rooms can be built under the Permitted Development rules. Buyers are getting this confirmed in writing by applying for a Certificate of Lawful Development from their Local Authority. This certificate states that the proposed building complies with the Permitted Development rules and can be handy documentation when you come to sell your house, as well as offering peace of mind that you are building within the rules.
You can apply for this certificate yourself, but some companies will make the application on your behalf.
When building under Permitted Development is not an option, and a full planning application is required. An experienced garden room company will have systems in place to help you with the process. They will either act on your behalf in making the application or put you in touch with a planning specialist who will handle the application. At the minimum, they will give you all the information they need to make the application yourself, which isn't too difficult.
No reputable garden room company is going to suggest you break the planning rules so that they get a quick sale.