When you are looking to buy a garden office. you want to discover if you need planning permission or not. While you may see on the listing that it doesn't require one, it is always better to be sure before you actually buy it.
The good news is that in many cases, a garden office won't need planning permission since it falls under the permitted development rules.
Ultimately, you need to keep in mind that there are two main factors that determine if your garden office needs planning permission; its height and how you will be using it.
Height of garden office
When you are looking to build a garden office without planning permission, it's important to consider its height. The main goal is to protect neighbors' interests in what concerns the loss of light, shading, among others. It is also wise to consider the distance between the garden office and the fence.
Overall speaking, your garden office can't be taller than 2.5m.
Garden office usuage
The second aspect you need to consider to determine whether you need planning permission or not is how you will be using your garden office.
When you are planning to build a garden office and spend your time there, you need to consider two things. The first one is the height. Ultimately, 2.5m tall isn't a high enough building where you can add ceiling and floor insulation, for example. The second aspect you need to consider is how you actually use it.
Let's say that you're planning on using your garden office as a regular office and be there 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This means you will need to get planning permission even if your building is lower than 2.5m. On the other hand, you may not need planning permission if you're just looking to work there a couple of hours a week.
A garden office used for leisure or occasionally used when working at home may well be viewed as “incidental” and hopefully won’t needing planning permission. On the other hand, when you're going to use your garden office for business 5 days a week, it may not be considered as “incidental” by your local authority and they may want a planning application for it.
A final word on garden offices
It is important that the word "may" was used intentionally. After all, local authorities may have a different understanding of the permitted development rules. In addition, an incidental building doesn't have a clear definition as well. Therefore, it pays to be cautious.
As a rule of thumb, an “incidental” building contains things and activities that you wouldn’t keep in the house such as a summerhouse for enjoying the sun or a shed for wheelbarrows and chickens. Besides, studios, playrooms, and summerhouses are usually viewed as incidental. In the case of a garden building, it will always need planning permission if its primary use is as a bedroom or for obvious 24/7 business use.