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An Essential Summerhouse Buying Guide

Wiveton Summerhouse in a well landscaped garden

A summerhouse can completely transform your lifestyle, particularly if you enjoy spending time outdoors or have a limited amount of interior space. In this guide, we explore everything you need to consider when buying a summerhouse so that you can rest assured that it’s the right decision for you. 

We cover everything from size and style through to interior and exterior layout features that might not have even crossed your mind. If you’re thinking of buying a summerhouse, this is the guide for you. 


  • Defining your summerhouse requirements
    • What will your summerhouse be used for?
    • Where will it be positioned in your garden?
    • Do you need additional storage?
    • Future needs and considerations
  • What size summerhouse do you need?
  • What are the different styles of summerhouses?
  • What are the different summerhouse materials?
  • Summerhouse features to consider
  • Additional considerations
  • FAQs

Define your summerhouse requirements

What will your summerhouse be used for?

A great place to start during the summerhouse shopping process is figuring out exactly what you’re going to be using it for. Will it be a simple garden retreat with comfortable armchairs and a small table? Or will it be a more advanced, all-year-round escape with insulation, lining and electrics? Having a clear vision from the outset will help you pick the perfect model for you and future-proof it so that it can adapt to your lifestyle. 

Summerhouse use example: relaxing retreat with comfy sofa, hobby room with work bench, and an office

Where will it be positioned in your garden?

You should ascertain the plot in your garden where you want it to sit. This will give you a good idea of size, shape and orientation. Think carefully about the access and positioning to make sure that it won’t impede any access or sit too close to your house, which could lead to damp.  The position of your summerhouse should also make the most of any views you have, particularly taking advantage of a south-facing garden. 

Do you need additional storage?

Want a summerhouse but worried that it will end up filled with seasonal garden furniture, bikes and other disused accoutrements? This dilemma can easily be solved by either adding a separate storage area with a partition wall into the design of your summerhouse, or opting for a hybrid model. With such a long-lasting garden investment, you want to ensure it is exactly the right style for you. 

Hybrid style summerhouse

Future needs and considerations

Take a moment to consider what the future might look like for you. Do you have a hobby or passion that deserves a dedicated area for you to practise? Are there children or grandchildren on the horizon who would enjoy using the summerhouse as a playroom? Might you wish to convert your summerhouse into a WFH office at any point? By factoring in your future lifestyle choices, you’ll be ‘future-proofing’ your summerhouse. 

What size summerhouse do you need?

Consider the summerhouse’s footprint

If you have an endless amount of space in your garden, the size of your summerhouse likely won’t be a concern. However, you should still try to narrow it down to a specified size bracket so that you’re not overwhelmed by choice. 

Think about internal usable space

Remember that the dimensions of a summerhouse that you see listed on websites and in catalogues is the total exterior footprint and not actually the usable space inside. To calculate your usable space, you’ll need to detract the thickness of walls, insulation and lining from the overall dimensions. This is important if you already have an idea of what furniture or apparatus you want to put inside the summerhouse.  

Account for door swing and overhang

Remember to factor in the entrance door swings and any roof overhang that your summerhouse has to ensure that it won't impede the surroundings. If you are purchasing a summerhouse from a reputable company, the design and product team will be able to assist you with this. 

An example of a small summerhouse and a large summerhouse/shed hybrid garden building

What are the different styles of summerhouses?

Summerhouses come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes and styles. Below, we’ve explored the most common styles by roof, design and shape. Simply knowing which style you prefer will help narrow down your criteria. 

Apex summerhouses

Apex Summerhouses are named so because they have an apex roof. These types of summerhouses tend to have a more traditional, classical look but can strike a happy medium when they have a streamlined design. 

Pent summerhouses

Pent Summerhouses, again, take their name from their style of roof. A pent roof is a sloping roof that slopes downwards towards the back of the building, giving itthem a contemporary, straightforward look from the front. This style of summerhouse will have a lower internal height at the back of the building, which is worth keeping in mind if you are very tall or require a high ceiling.  

Hipped roof summerhouses

Once again in reference to the roof, hipped roof summerhouses tend to have a timeless elegance about them that is evocative of pool houses and stately homes with perfectly manicured gardens. Classical and characterful, hipped roof summerhouses are simply charming. 

Type of summerhouse roof: pent, apex and hipped 

Traditional summerhouses

Traditional summerhouses are instantly recognisable as summerhouses and often have quaint detailing such as leaded window designs or a roof finial.  

Contemporary summerhouses

Contemporary summerhouses boast a more streamlined, modern form than traditional models and will often incorporate a flat or pent roof alongside fully-glazed glass panels. 

An example of a modern and traditional style summerhouse

Corner summerhouses

A clever and convenient design of summerhouse that saves on space and utilises tricky areas, the corner summerhouse shape is perfect for those who want to purchase a summerhouse but are limited with their garden area. Slotting perfectly into a corner, these are the choice for those who don’t want to eat into their outdoor space. 

Octagonal summerhouses

The octagonal summerhouse is perhaps the most traditional of all, offering almost 360° views of the surroundings and a stunning structure.  

Veranda summerhouses

Just as the name suggests, veranda summerhouses incorporate a veranda area into their design, combining the best of both indoor and outdoor recreation spaces. 

Chalet summerhouses

A time-honoured, traditional design that evokes oceanfront beach huts and the drawn-out days of summer, the chalet summerhouse is perfect for creating a retreat within your garden. 

An example of different types of summerhouse: corner, octagonal, veranda, and chalet

What are the different summerhouse materials?

Timber summerhouses

Timber summerhouses are primarily constructed from wood, often using durable and weather-resistant timber such as cedar, pine, or spruce. These materials are chosen for their strength, longevity, and natural aesthetic appeal. Widely regarded as the most attractive material for summerhouses, timber does require occasional maintenance that will vary depending on the supplier, the quality of timber and what paint or stain they used to preserve the wood. 

Steel frame summerhouses

Steel frame summerhouses, also known as metal frame summerhouses or steel garden rooms, offer a durable and low-maintenance alternative to traditional timber structures. The trade-off, however, is that they are not as attractive and are often only available as prefabricated kits, meaning you likely won’t achieve the same build quality as a bespoke build. 

Composite summerhouses

Modern and durable, composite summerhouses will often combine the look and feel of timber and steel summerhouses. However, they usually tend to be limited in colour choice and more costly than timber or steel alternatives. 

Summerhouse features to consider

Doors and windows

Both the placement and the number of doors and windows can drastically alter the look and feel of your summerhouse. When selecting from a prefabricated kit list, you’ll be limited to summerhouse doors and windows. Alternatively though, if you work with a design team on a bespoke-built summerhouse, you’ll be able to add, subtract and re-position your doors and windows to suit you. Key considerations should include access points, ventilation, the orientation of your building, views and natural light. 

Two version of the Salthouse Studio, one has extra windows

Flooring options

Depending on what you’re planning to use the summerhouse for, your flooring may have an impact on the longevity of the building. At Crane Garden Buildings, we can add things like heavy-duty flooring for summerhouses where frequent footfall or heavy machinery such as gym apparatus will be in use. Our other choices include beautiful engineered wood flooring or lacquered floorboards in your choice of thickness. 

Types of flooring , one natural and one engineered wood flooring

Roofing materials

Any reputable summerhouse brand will offer a choice of roofing materials. This decision will ultimately come down to design preferences, but will also have some bearing on the weatherproofing. Our options of heavy-duty felt, composite tiles, cedar shingles and EPDM rubber have been tried and tested in all weather conditions.

Heavy duty felt, cedar shingles, composite slate and terracotta tiles

Cladding options

The style of cladding on your summerhouse will ultimately determine the overall look of the building. At Crane Garden Buildings, we offer the traditional tongue and groove style of planed shiplap, or the more rustic and traditional look of weatherboard. To help you choose between the two, you can even visit one of the many show centres located across the UK to see the finish in person. 

Shiplap cladding compared to feather edge weatherboatrd

Security features

Regardless of what it is being used for, your summerhouse should be a robust structure with dependable security. At Crane Garden Buildings, we can work with you to incorporate heightened security features, separating the storage and summerhouse part of your building and equipping the storage area with our security pack for added peace of mind. 

Additional Considerations

Planning permission

Most summerhouses will not require planning permission as they fall under the ‘permitted development’ category. However, this might not be the case if you live in a conservation area or national park, and so it’s always worth checking with your local authority. In the meantime, refer to our guide on planning permission. 

Summerhouse base

Having a level concrete base ensures the longevity of your summerhouse. A level base is such a non-negotiable that our professional fitting team will not install a building unless your base meets certain criteria. If you need assistance with installing a concrete base, that’s also something we can assist with. 

Concrete being mixed by our in-house base laying team in a customers garden

Insulation options

Traditionally known as a building reserved only for the warmer months, summerhouses can be a year-round feature if you opt for an insulated model. The beauty of an insulated summerhouse is that it goes from a blissful summer retreat to a cosy winter hideaway, meaning you will be getting more value for your money in terms of usage throughout the year. The insulation keeps the internal temperature more stable on hot summer days and icy winter ones making it more comfortable to spend time in. 

Electrical points

If you intend to use your summerhouse as a hobby room, WFH office or simply want electrics added to the building, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen summerhouse manufacturer can make this happen. Our electrical pack comprises sockets, lighting, switches and even an exterior double socket which is perfect for things like outdoor lighting and gardening equipment.  

Internal plug sockets, lighting, 8-way consumer unit, and an external socket

Paint finishes

Your summerhouse should be a true reflection of your personal style and tastes, which is why we offer an extensive range of both interior and exterior paint colours including a palette from Farrow & Ball and Sikkens Paint Systems.    

Summerhouse installation

When you’re making such a sizeable investment, you’ll want to ensure you get the full service from your summerhouse supplier. Opt for a provider that will also install the summerhouse for you. Every Crane Garden Building includes delivery and installation as standard, which is carried out by our friendly and professional fitting team. 

Our installation team putting together a Salthouse Studio in a customers garden

Summerhouse maintenance

The level of maintenance required for your summerhouse will depend on several factors including the materials used to build it, the weather conditions where you are and how well you look after the building after it has been installed. However, some simple summerhouse maintenance tips include cleaning, removing dirt and debris from the roof and dealing with any issues as soon as you spot them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some factors to consider when choosing a summerhouse style?

When choosing a summerhouse style, you should consider important factors such as space available and the size you need, what you’re going to be using the summerhouse for, which style you prefer, what materials appeal to you the most and if you require any further customisation. 

I'm worried about maintaining my summerhouse. How much upkeep is involved?

The amount of upkeep required for a summerhouse depends on the materials used and the level of exposure to the elements. Timber summerhouses require periodic maintenance, including staining, sealing, or painting every few years to protect against moisture, rot, and decay. Regular cleaning with soap and water is also recommended to remove dirt and debris.

What security features should I consider for my summerhouse?

To enhance the security of your summerhouse, consider the following features:

  • Lockable Doors and Windows: Install secure locks on all doors and windows to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Security Lighting: Install motion-activated lights around the exterior of the summerhouse to deter intruders and improve visibility at night.
  • Alarm System: Consider installing a security alarm system with sensors that detect motion, door/window openings, or glass breakage.
  • Security Cameras: Install security cameras to monitor activity around the summerhouse and deter potential intruders.
  • Reinforced Construction: Choose a summerhouse with sturdy construction and reinforced doors and windows to make it more difficult for intruders to break in.

My summerhouse will be used year-round. Are there any additional considerations?

If you plan to use your summerhouse year-round, consider the following additional considerations:

  • Insulation: Choose a summerhouse with good insulation to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures in all seasons. This may include options for double-glazed windows, insulated walls, and a well-insulated roof.
  • Heating and Cooling: Install a heating system, such as an electric heater or a wood-burning stove, to keep the summerhouse warm during the colder months. You may also want to consider options for ventilation or air conditioning to keep it cool in the summer.
  • Weatherproofing: Ensure that the summerhouse is properly weatherproofed to protect against rain, wind, and snow. This may include sealing gaps and cracks, installing weatherstripping around doors and windows, and applying a weather-resistant finish to the exterior.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that your access from the main home to the summerhouse has a non-slip, well-lit pathway. 

I don't have electricity near my chosen summerhouse location. Can I still install features like lighting or heating?

If your summerhouse is in too remote a location to install electricity and heating, you might want to consider alternative power options such as solar and batteries. For a better insight into how this might be possible, contact your local electrician.