Last modified: June 20, 2024

Summer House Ideas for Family Fun

Summer House Ideas for Family Fun


Summer House Ideas for Family Fun

Summer House Ideas for Family Fun

Written by James Rice
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Imagine grandparents reading bedtime stories to grandkids in a cosy summer house, teenagers having a movie night, or family gatherings under the stars. In the UK, having a summer house in your back garden opens you and your family up to many possibilities. There are many joys of having a multigenerational summer house, and quality time with family is certainly at the forefront. What you may not know is that installing a summer house in your back garden is not overwhelmingly costly; in fact, building a summer house can be fun and functional with reasonable upfront pricing and affordable upkeep.

Summer houses are excellent tools for family bonding in the garden, which is scientifically proven to be beneficial for children and adults, allowing for the improvement of mental health and communication skills and the development of family memories and traditions. Now more than ever, having a dedicated space in the home for multigenerational family time is important and beneficial.\ Acting as an outdoor living room, a summer house provides fresh air and the sights of outdoors to add to the family experience.

Planning Your Dream Summer House

If you’re thinking of building your dream summer house for multigenerational and family use, the first thing you will have to do is plan it. The process of planning and obtaining permits can seem daunting at first, but it’s really quite manageable when it comes to small garden structures, especially those in your back garden. Whenever you are considering making changes to your house or back garden, it is always prudent to consult your local planning authority (LPA). If you carefully position your summer house on your property, there may be no planning permissions or permits needed.

If your summer house is small in size, it may not require planning permission if it meets the following requirements:

  • The unit does not cover more than half of the garden. The height must not exceed 3 metres with a pent roof or four metres with an apex roof. On top of this, the eaves of the structure must not exceed 2.5 metres.
  • The summer house should not occupy more than half of the property’s land and its interior should not exceed 30 square metres.
  • If the summer house is within 2 metres of the property boundary, it should not exceed more than 2.5 metres in height. 

Most standard properties in the UK will not need to acquire a permit before the construction of a small summer house, and owners can always consult their LPA if necessary.

When planning your summer house, you will also need to select your foundation option. The four main options for a summer house base are concrete, wooden deck, paving slab, and gravel. All options have their own pros and cons, so it is important to consider which summer house base is right for you. While concrete has the most durability and longevity, a paving slab base or a wooden deck base may be more cost-effective.

Building a Summerhouse for Fun and Function

One of the greatest aspects of building a summerhouse is the endless stream of possibilities. Your outdoor structure could be a guest house, playroom, home office, hobby room, or something else. Summer houses are truly a multifunctional space for your property and can add anything you want or are currently missing in your house.

During construction, something crucial to consider is whether you want to make the summer house comfortable for year-round use. If you do want to do this, there are plenty of insulation and air quality options, from fibreglass batts to blown-in insulation. While insulation can be a great option for year-round use, many experts claim that summer houses do not need to be insulated, especially if it’s a space you will use mainly in the summer.

Another aspect you will need to consider for your summer house is the flooring options. There are flooring choices that work better than others for the UK weather, so it is crucial to do your research before making a selection and installing. These flooring options can range from waterproof laminate, which is cost-effective and perfect for climates that are frequently wet, to tile flooring, which is more durable and suited for a permanent structure.

The final thing you’ll want to pay attention to when it comes to building a summer house is accessibility. Because so many households in the UK and uses for summer houses are multigenerational, it can be helpful to install accessible features. Think about who will be using your summer house, like you, your children, grandparents, or even you in the future, and plan accordingly. Accessibility features like wider doorways and ramps can be installed easily and at a lower cost during initial construction rather than down the line.

Cost & Upkeep of Summer Houses

There are many types of summer houses, and costs can vary depending on what type of structure you are hoping to build on your property. From log cabin style summer houses to corner summer houses to insulated summer houses, to summer house sheds, there is truly a type of summer house for every person and every need.

A major factor in building a summer house in your back garden is the initial cost. On websites like Garden Buildings Direct, you can purchase a prefabricated summer house for a flat rate initially, which tends to be cheaper than paying to construct a summer house or shed from scratch. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from £639 to £13,000 when buying a prefabricated summer house. Factors affecting the cost of this purchase include size, quality of building materials, finishings, and insulation. 

While the initial cost of building a summer house will carry the bulk of the financing, there are other costs associated with owning one of these structures. Regular maintenance of summer houses is important, and it is crucial that you include any ongoing maintenance costs in your budget. One of the more costly aspects of maintenance, if you decide to go down this route, is winterising. If you wish to use your summer house in winter, there are installations you can make including solar-powered radiant floor heating, a portable fire pit, and heated seating.

Find the Right Summer House Size and Style

When making a summer house purchase, especially a prefabricated summer house, it is crucial to find the perfect size and style that compliments your garden and existing house. First, you’ll want to decide if you want to go for a contemporary, traditional, or log cabin-style design. After choosing the basic type of model, you’ll want to consider whether you want any other features, like an added porch, a pergola extension, or a living roof. It’s important to remember that even though certain designs of summer homes may be stylish when you make your purchase, you’ll always want to make sure your choice flows well with the rest of the property.

It is also important to choose summer homes constructed from suitable materials for the UK climate. If you are choosing between more than one type of wood for your shed, weatherproof timber is a great option for the United Kingdom’s rainy and humid climate. Insulated panels might also be a good choice for certain areas of the UK, especially up north, if you’re hoping to use your summer house year-round rather than just when the weather is warm. If you choose the right materials when purchasing and installing your summer house, it’ll be more likely to stand the test of time. 

While the regulations stated earlier are a good general guideline, don’t discount the possibility that there could be additional local planning restrictions when you construct your summer house. Your local planning authority will be able to tell you if any additional permits are needed or if there is anyone else you need to contact before getting the go-ahead on your construction plans. It’s crucial not to skip this step, as getting a permit in the first place is always cheaper than dealing with fines later down the road.

Summerhouse ideas

One way to get inspired for planning and building a summer house is to look at other projects to get in the mood. Summer houses are increasingly popular in the UK, and there are plenty of inspirational summer houses to check out online. Here are a few of our favourite projects:

  • Vikkie Lee – The Carpenters Daughter: This summer house was built during the 2020 lockdown by Vikkie Lee, otherwise known as The Carpenters Daughter on YouTube. Lee documented every step of her process in building this shed-style summer house from scratch, from constructing the base and frame to cladding to felting the roof. This project is an excellent example of a self-built (not prefabricated) summer house that showcases some excellent DIY skills.
  • Michael Crinnion – DIY Summer House: Another large DIY summer house project was built by Michael Crinnion in 2018 and documented on his Medium profile. Crinnion himself admitted that this was the “biggest project [he’s] ever undertaken,” but it is clear that there are rewards to such hard work. On his website, Michael detailed the initial process of constructing the summer house, from laying the groundwork to constructing the floor frame.
  • Budget Summer Garden Oasis – Real Homes: This couple’s DIY summer house, showcased in Real Homes, is a true testament to what can be done with DIY on a low budget. Built in the back of a 1950s semi-detached house, this summer home was completely DIY and cost under £1200. From foundation to studwork to the roof, this couple constructed every aspect of their garden oasis themselves and kept costs as low as possible.

While prefabricated summer houses are a fantastic option, DIY projects like these ones can also be a great choice if you have a creative side. Before deciding which summer home you’d like in your garden, be sure to take a look at what others have done and draw inspiration from DIY projects.


In summation, there are many important things to remember when looking to build a summer house in your back garden, especially if it’s for multigenerational use. Careful planning and design are important when it comes to any sort of outdoor construction, as you’ll hopefully be enjoying the results for years to come. Be sure that you’ve selected the design and building materials that work best for your property and your family, including winterising (if you plan to use the structure year-round) and accessibility considerations.

If you’re having trouble getting started with constructing your summer house, be sure to check out other DIY summer houses online for inspiration or to browse prefabricated models to see what might fit your needs. It also might be prudent to contact experts for more personalised advice if you run into any problems along the way. Overall, summer houses are more popular than ever in the UK and are the perfect space for the modern, multigenerational family unit.


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