The Complete Guide to Choosing A Playhouse: Size & Shape

You might have noticed that we’ve been going a little bit Playhouse-mad here at Garden Buildings Direct recently. And why not? Playhouses are more than just a bit of timber – they’re a place that children can love, cherish, and grow up in.

We’ve shown you how playhouses can help to nurture and encourage cognitive and social development in children through creativity, how you can decorate your playhouse, and even how to choose between building or buying one. But the one very important thing we’ve not covered is how to choose the ideal playhouse for you.

Now, the fact of the matter is that choosing a playhouse that ticks all your boxes isn’t easy. We have a wide variety of quality playhouses here Garden Buildings Direct, in all different styles and sizes. There is a lot to consider when choosing something that is right for you, your garden, and the kids who will be playing in it. All these factors can make choosing just one difficult.

Luckily, we’re here to lend a helping hand with this four-part complete guide to choosing the right playhouse for you.

BillyOh Gingerbread Junior Tower Playhouse
BillyOh Gingerbread Junior Tower Playhouse

This guide will run through everything you’ll need to consider when choosing a garden playhouse or “wendy house”, from how big it is, to what features it has, all the way to the costs. Just a quick note – this ultimate guide is designed for choosing a wooden playhouse, not a plastic playhouse.

In this first part, we’ll be exploring Size and Space. By that, we mean choosing a playhouse that will fit into your garden space and be the right size for your needs. We’ll start exploring these as they’ll give you the best idea of what size constraints you have.

There’s nothing worse than buying a new garden building, only to find it’s too big or too small for what you need it for!

Let’s not waste another moment – it’s time to start choosing your perfect playhouse!

Space to Play

The first thing we need to know when choosing a playhouse isn’t to do with the garden building you’ll be buying. Instead, we first need to learn about where it’ll be going. You don’t want to pick one out and learn that it can’t fit where you planned it to!

Picking a spot

Small green garden with weaving path
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The first thing we need to do is pick a spot for your playhouse to sit. You might already have a place in mind, but before we lock it down it’s a good idea to check that the location will be suitable for a wooden playhouse.

We’ve got a little checklist below that you can run through to make sure the spot you’re picking can accommodate a wooden playhouse.

  • The ground is flat and firm. If there are bumps, or the ground is uneven, your playhouse won’t stand up straight. This could damage the structure or make it sit unevenly so that it tips over easily. Both of these would make it unsafe to play on. Make sure it is as close to level ground as possible, using a spirit level to measure.
  • The spot does not flood easily. Flooding, and water in general, can be disastrous for your playhouse. Not only will the water damage the ground underneath and make it uneven, but it will seep into the wood of the playhouse, causing all sorts of damage.
  • It’s away from trees and large bushes. Trees and playhouses generally don’t play well together. Not only can they drip moisture onto the playhouse, but falling branches and sticks could cause damage.
  • There’s easy access for building and maintenance. You’ll need to be able to get to your playhouse during building and for keeping it in good shape. If you want to back the playhouse against a wall, make sure that only one side is obstructed to access is still possible. It’s a good idea to leave 1 foot extra on all sides.

Finding a spot that fits all the criteria can be harder than you might first think, especially if your garden has a lot of trees, is small, or gets particularly boggy and wet when it rains. 

If you don’t have a stretch of ground on which you can build a level base, then you can always build it on top of a concrete base. Concrete will provide a reliable foundation for the playhouse, but it will be expensive. Always make sure you have a suitable base for your playhouse.

Once you’ve found or decided upon a spot, it’s time to quickly check if what you’ll be doing is legally up to scratch.

Planning permission

A cartoon document stamped with an 'approved' stamp
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The words “planning permission” may seem scary at first sight, but you needn’t worry. In the vast majority of cases, you won’t need planning permission for a garden building.

There are only a small number of times when you do, and we’ll cover them generally now. Most of these rules apply to when your playhouse or garden building is either really big or takes up loads of space in your garden.

For example, your garden building can’t have a maximum eaves height (where the roof meets the wall) of 2.5 metres tall or a total height of 4 metres tall. Your playhouse also can’t also take up more than half your garden or outdoor space with a garden building, and it can’t be in front of the first wall of your property.

For a full list of conditions, visit the UK planning portal’s official website here.

You will want to keep these rules in mind when buying the playhouse too, but it’s good to mark out a space first and make sure that anything you put in that space won’t exceed the rules.

Measuring up

A coloured tape measure
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Once you’ve chosen a place to put your wooden playhouse and made sure it’s suitable, it’s time to measure up.

With a tape measure, measure up all the dimensions of your garden space. That means the length, width and the one you might not expect – the height. Some types of playhouse can reach tall heights, for example a two-storey playhouse or a playhouse equipped with a tower extension, measuring the available height of the area is important.

If your two-storey or tower playhouse is going to sit out in the open with nothing above it, then this is less important – but if you plan on putting it up against your house or under a shelter then the height is super important.

Take all the dimensions and write them down so you don’t have to go back outside and do it again! They’ll give you the limits of how big your playhouse can be, letting you rule out all those that won’t fit into the space.

With that done, you’ve taken the first step towards choosing the perfect wooden playhouse.

A Size That Fits

BillyOh Peardrop Extra Playhouse
BillyOh Peardrop Extra Playhouse

There’s no need to slow down after that first step – let’s jump straight into the second: finding the ideal playhouse size.

While checking these playhouses, make sure to refer back to your dimensions so that you won’t be buying anything that exceeds your limits. If possible, keep around 1 foot between the border of your space and the playhouse.

A fit for the kids

You’ll probably agree that any outdoor playhouse you buy should be a good fit for the people who’ll be using it the most: the children who will be playing in it. With them in mind, there are a few things to consider to make sure it suits them and their preferences.

First is how old they are – and how big they are! As we all know, kids grow up faster than we expect them to. While it is lovely to watch them grow up, you need to make sure that any playhouse you buy is going to fit them for the years to come.

Don’t buy them a playhouse that will only just fit them now, as it won’t be up to scratch in the years to come.

This also goes for their playing habits – if they’re on the verge of getting into double digits, you might find that they’ll be growing out of playhouses relatively soon. If they’re smaller, they might not be as active or need something with as many features.

Second, consider how many of them there are. If you’re buying the playhouse for just one youngster, you won’t need to get a massive construction. But, on the other hand, if you have a bunch of wily children in need of entertainment you’re going to need something that can fit them all inside!

Two children playing outside
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A fit for you

You want to get something that fits the children, true, but it’s important to also consider yourself when choosing.

Buy a playhouse that you’ll be comfortable both assembling and looking after. Don’t get something huge or incredibly complex if it seems like it would be a struggle to build or it would take too much time to look after. Think especially about if you’d have easy access to awkward areas like the roof.

Even if one looks like the perfect fit, don’t put yourself in deep water if it seems like a challenge – looking after yourself is just as important!

A Couple of Ideas

With these in mind, we can start narrowing down your options. If you’ve got loads of space in your garden, and a pack of kids all buzzing about, then you’ll want something with the space to entertain them all.

If that’s the case, then look into one of our great Log Cabin Playhouses.

BillyOh Lookout Log Cabin Playhouse
BillyOh Lookout Log Cabin Playhouse

But what if you’re on the other end of the spectrum? Maybe you’ve got limited space, and only a small toddler and their toys to accommodate.

Here, a traditional, one-storey wooden playhouse would be an excellent choice.

BillyOh Lollipop Max Playhouse
BillyOh Lollipop Max Playhouse

These are just a couple of examples, but you should be able to see how the space you have and the size you need let you start narrowing down your options.

Rounding out

Size and space are the first limiters you need to think about when it comes to choosing a style of playhouse or wendy house. They’ll dictate exactly what type of playhouse you’re looking for.

Of course, though, they’re not the only things that you’ll be choosing. In the next post in our series, we’ll go through choosing the features and flair of the wooden playhouse you want to buy. Click the link here to read it now!

If you’ve got any playhouse questions, or simply want to know more about them, visit our Playhouse FAQ Centre for all information you’ll ever need.

You can also explore our range of playhouses using the button below!

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The Complete Guide to Choosing A Playhouse: Part 2 – Features and Flair

The Complete Guide to Choosing A Playhouse: Part 3 – Budget and Value

The Complete Guide to Choosing A Playhouse: Part 4 – The Finale