Last modified: August 23, 2021

Liveable Sheds: Crazy Trend or Genius Hack?

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BillyOh Garden Building

Liveable Sheds: Crazy Trend or Genius Hack?

Written by Harry Patte-Dobbs
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Home prices are skyrocketing to crazy levels these days, so naturally, would-be renters and buyers seek ways to circumvent the housing economy. Enter the Liveable shed craze. Liveeable sheds take your traditional garden shed or outbuilding and flip it into a functional living space.

But is the trend a good idea? Does the hack live up to its hype? Keep reading to find out.

What Qualifies as A “Liveable Shed”?

Liveable sheds, sometimes called granny annexes, are exterior outbuildings traditionally used for gardening or storage that have been updated with modern amenities like electricity, plumbing, and flooring, to create an extended living space. 

Are Liveable Garden Sheds Legal?

Before jumping onto the bandwagon of the Liveable shed trend, you’re probably wondering if it’s even legal to do. The answer is a bit murky, but in general, living in a traditional garden shed is not legal. 

The U.K. government sets standards for building design and construction that assure buildings utilised for living or sleeping are safe and habitable. Seeing as garden sheds are outbuildings designed for storage, they usually do not comply with the U.K. Building Regulations. However, you can find sheds for sale that do comply with building regulations. You won’t find cheap sheds falling into this category, but vendors like Garden Buildings Direct carry high-quality options retrofittable to living needs.

Exceptions To the Rule

Keep in mind that sheds utilised for non-living purposes, like an art studio or play area, do not necessarily need to comply with the U.K. Building Regulations. However, it’s advisable to follow building regulations with any sheds utilised for something other than storage, as it helps protect occupants using the space.

What Are the Benefits of a Liveable Shed?

Now that you know how to ensure your Liveable shed complies with the law, you’ll want to see if it’s worth the effort to build one. Resale value is minimal and subject to interpretation, but realtors agree that a Liveable shed on your property can add extra value to a home. But in most cases, Liveable shed values are in the eye of the beholder. It depends mainly on what you want to use the garden shed for. 

Common Uses of Liveable Sheds

  • Guest Room
  • Year-Round Art Studio
  • Teenager Space
  • Kids Play Area
  • Theatre

What Costs Should You Expect with Liveable Sheds?

Liveable sheds generally require extra work and investment outside of the initial shed purchase. You can expect a small wooden shed from the local hardware store to run about £ 1,000 and vinyl or metal sheds to run nearly double that. Barn size sheds closer to a typical home size may run you as much as £ 15,000 or more. 

Alongside the structure purchase, you can expect some of the following services and construction charges:

Planning Permission

Before getting started on your live-in shed, you need to apply for planning permission with your local county Planning Office. Applications for planning permission generally run around £450. 

Permits

Building permits, zoning permits, and other construction-related permits need purchasing before any work commences on a Liveable shed. Costs vary based on county and trade.

Foundation

Most Liveable sheds require a concrete foundation installation. In addition, they need professional pouring and special tools for proper installation. You can expect a foundation to cost £135 per m3 on average.

Contractors – Electricity, Plumbing, Flooring, Etc.

You’ll have to pay any professional contractors doing the work for you. Most contractors in plumbing, electrical, or construction-related fields charge near £100 per hour. Some common contracted projects include:

  • Flooring Installation – Most garden sheds don’t come with quality, comfortable flooring.
  • Electricity – Most garden sheds don’t come with electrical wiring for heat, air conditioning, or lighting.
  • Insulation – Most garden sheds do not come insulated. Insulation is critical for temperature regulation in the living space.
  • Plumbing – Most garden sheds don’t come with sinks, showers, tubs, or toilets. You’ll need a contractor for these projects.
  • Windows and Doors – many people want to add windows or doors to their shed for ease of access and aesthetic purposes.

Can You DIY Your Garden Shed?

Most people consider a Liveable shed to save money, so it makes sense that doing the project yourself is appealing. Anyone with the tools and knowledge can DIY garden shed improvements. However, keep in mind that your work still has to comply with building codes and regulations, and you generally require the same permits and permissions as a paid contractor to do the shed project. 

Things To Consider Before Investing in A Liveable Shed

Consider Climate and Intent


Your Liveable shed will require specific amenities and features based on where you live and what you want to use it for. For example, for a shed habitable year-round, you’ll need insulation to protect from the heat of summer and the chill of winter. For a self-contained, entirely functional shed, you’ll want plumbing and a private bathroom. Keep your needs and expectations in mind as you start your Liveable shed project.

Understand The Legal Repercussions

It’s essential to do your due diligence when planning your Liveable Garden shed. Failure to comply with planning permissions or neglecting a required council tax could result in legal repercussions. Reach out to your local Public Planning office or a trustworthy build contractor to help navigate the process for creating a Liveable shed. 

The Final Verdict

Liveable sheds have made waves in the housing and DIY world. Their popularity has grown over the years, and in some ways, it’s more than deserved; the sheer affordability and functionality of a liveable shed more than merits a second glance for the discerning house-seeker. 

But it’s important to remember that not all sheds are created equal. A safe and legal Livable shed requires legal paperwork and permits, and construction work by qualified professionals. As such, it’s no small endeavour to take on unprepared. 

The jury is out on if Liveable sheds are the next housing market boom. Still, for homeowners looking for extra space or a home-seeker looking for a place to start, the Liveable shed trend may just be the best solution out there.

Garden Buildings Direct Resources
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