If you’re running out of space in the house but don’t want the bother and expense of building an extension, a log cabin may be a relatively quick and easy solution.
This type of structure can make an ideal home office, playroom, workshop or games room, providing an attractive outdoor retreat in addition to adding value and interest to your home.
What’s the difference between a log cabin and a summerhouse?
Log cabins share some features in common with summerhouses but are bigger, more substantial buildings made from much thicker timbers. Their walls are built up with interlocking precision-cut logs that slot together so tightly that no fixings are required. Floors and roofs are normally constructed from close-fitting tongue and groove wood, leading to strong and watertight structures acceptable for a whole assortment of uses.
The logs are usually made from kiln dried wood. This process extracts moisture from the wood to a precise level, which reduces warping and minimises the risk of splitting.
What are the main points to look for in a log cabin?
Wall density can range from around 28mm up to over 50mm, and flooring are usually between 19mm and 28mm thick. Some cabins are double-glazed, making them usable in most weathers, whereas others may only have single glazing, so check before you purchase.
Felt shingles are widely believed to be the most appealing, but it is also possible to get corrugated bitumen panels and felt sheeting.
Consider the shape of the building also. Log cabins with pitched roofs are usually taller than those with horizontal or sloping roofs, which can sometimes limit where you have the ability to place them in your garden. And conventional chalet-type structures with roof overhangs often take up more ground space than modern minimalist designs, so remember to allow for this when measuring up.
If you are considering erecting a small detached building like a log cabin, shed or sun room in your backyard, you will not normally need planning permission. These are the main points to bear in mind:
1. You’re not allowed to place a construction beyond the front wall of your house – in other words, in front yard.
2. No more than 50 percent of the land around the original dwelling can be consumed with outbuildings or extensions – so if you have a tiny back garden, measure carefully to make sure there is sufficient space left over to get a cabin before you commit yourself.
3. Height is a major element. If the cabin is less than 2.5m tall at its highest point, you can put it within 2m of your border – otherwise, you will have to position it farther away.
Do log cabins have to follow building regulations?
Building regulations are safety rules that govern how well a structure is built. They won’t apply if your log cabin is less than 15 square metres in size and contains no sleeping accommodation. Even if the cabin is between 15 and 30 square metres, it will generally only need to meet building regulations if it’s situated less than 1m from your boundary.
However, if you’re hoping to use the cottage for a granny annexe, guest room or vacation let, then it has to comply with building regulations since it is going to include sleeping accommodation. This applies to any size of cottage and is down to safety reasons. More information can be found on the government’s Planning Portal website.
Where’s the best place to get a log cabin?
Place the cottage on a level part of the garden. Leave a fantastic gap all around the building so you can reach the walls to employ treatments or execute repairs, and remember to allow for roof overhang when measuring the space available.
Don’t position the cottage where it will block out your neighbours’ light, and be conscious of planning rules – if the building is more than 2.5m tall, then you ought not place it within two metres of the border.
Consider the direction of the sun, as you may not want sunlight beaming straight in if you’re going to use the cottage as an office. Think about convenience too. If you’re planning to install electricity in the building, placing it near the house will make it easier to connect a power source.
What foundation do you need to get a log cabin?
If the base is not strong enough, or is slightly irregular, the walls will eventually warp.
For adequate support, it is ideal to place the cottage on a 150mm thick concrete base. A paving slab base should be sufficient for smaller cabins of less than 30m², so long as it is completely level. Try to create the base precisely the same dimensions as the cottage for a neat look.