Choosing a log cabin

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If you are running out of space in the house but do not want the hassle and expense of building an extension, a log cabin may be a relatively quick and easy solution.

This sort of structure can make an ideal home office, playroom, workshop or games room, providing an attractive outdoor retreat as well as adding value and interest to your house. Here are a few practical pointers for anyone considering a log cabin:

What’s the difference between a log cabin and a summerhouse?

Log cabins share some features in common with summerhouses but are larger, more substantial buildings created from much thicker timbers. Their walls are built up using interlocking precision-cut logs which slot together so closely that no fixings are required. Floors and roofs are normally constructed from close-fitting tongue and groove timber, leading to strong and watertight structures suitable for a whole range of uses.

The logs are usually made from kiln dried wood. This procedure extracts moisture from the wood to a precise level, which reduces warping and minimises the risk of splitting.

Wall density can range from around 28mm up to more than 50mm, and flooring are usually between 19mm and 28mm thick. Some cottages are double-glazed, which makes them usable in all weathers, whereas others might only have single glazing, so check before you purchase.

Felt shingles are widely believed to be the most attractive, but you can also get corrugated bitumen panels and felt sheeting.

Think about the shape of the building as well. Log cabins with pitched roofs tend to be taller than those with horizontal or sloping roofs, which can sometimes limit where you are able to put them on your garden. And conventional chalet-type structures with roof overhangs frequently take up more ground space than contemporary minimalist designs, so remember to allow for this when measuring up.

Do you need planning permission for a log cabin?

If you’re considering erecting a small detached building such as a log cabin, shed or sun room in your backyard, you won’t normally need planning permission. These are the main points to bear in mind:

1. You’re not permitted to place a construction beyond the front wall of your house – in other words, in the front garden.

2. No more than 50 percent of the land around the original dwelling can be taken up with outbuildings or extensions – so if you have a tiny backyard, measure carefully to make certain there is enough space left over for a cottage before you commit yourself.

3. Height is a major factor. If the cottage is less than 2.5m tall at its highest point, you can place it within 2m of your border – otherwise, you will have to position it further away.

Do log cabins have to follow building regulations?

Building regulations are security rules that govern how well a structure is built. Even if the cottage is between 15 and 30 square metres, it will generally only have to meet building regulations if it is situated less than 1m from your boundary.

However, if you’re hoping to use the cottage as a granny annexe, guest room or holiday let, then it must comply with building regulations because it will include sleeping accommodation. This applies to any size of cabin and is down to security reasons.

Where is the best place to get a log cabin?

Put the cabin on a level part of the garden. Leave a fantastic gap throughout the building so that you may reach the walls to apply treatments or execute repairs, and remember to allow for roof overhang when measuring the distance available.

Don’t position the cottage where it will block out your neighbours’ light, and be aware of planning rules – if the building is more than 2.5m tall, you ought not put it in 2 metres of the boundary.

Consider the direction of the sun, as you may not want sunlight beaming directly 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, putting it near the home will make it easier to connect a power supply.

What base do you need to get a log cabin?

Good foundations are vital for any backyard building. If the base is not strong enough, or is even slightly irregular, the walls will eventually warp.

For adequate support, it’s best to put the cottage on a 150mm thick concrete foundation. A paving slab base ought to be sufficient for smaller cottages of less than 30m², so long as it is completely level. Try to create the base exactly the same size as the cabin for a neat look.

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