The Playhouse Company

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Teddy Bears Cottage

Choosing a playhouse - Jan 2011

A child’s world is an adult’s envy: adventures, creativity, innocence, imagination and not forgetting the mischief. These are things oblivious to children but precious to parents and need to be encouraged – and where better for children to learn and create than in their own space? A space they can turn into their very own spaceship, racing car or jungle adventure, whether it is a cardboard box or an old shed, a child’s creativity is endless. A playhouse is the perfect way to give your children this space complete with independence, fresh air and all within the safety of your own garden. When looking to purchase a playhouse we would recommend carrying out thorough research and taking the following points into consideration.

Don't grow out of it - grow with it

It may be thought that one playhouse cannot accommodate a child through a range of different ages however this is not the case. When buying a playhouse you need to consider not only what your children may want now, but also what they will be requiring in years to come. For example a three year old might be absolutely set on an upstairs, but if you can only go 8ft high each level will be restricted to a height of 4ft. This is fine for now but in a few years they will not be able to get in with ease. Instead, if the house had a raised area to one side set at 2ft high, initially the child would consider this an upstairs, but as they got older it could be a seat with a storage area underneath. In general the clearer the internal space, the better. A 6ft x 8ft playhouse could have a small play kitchen or table and chairs, over time it could become more of a den with bean bags in it and ultimately contain a chair and desk for doing homework. This playhouse would grow with your child and not be grown out of. We recommend keeping the space open and therefore versatile – this also provides more opportunity for imaginative creativity.

Design

The physical elements of a playhouse are certainly very important and allowing a child’s input into the design helps nurture the imagination. Children can choose how they want it with the colours and extras and so have an active role in the creation of their playhouse. Taking it one step further, why not have a shaped structure, maybe a castle, boat or even a rocket to give your children not just their own space but their own haven.

Planning permission

There are guidelines laid down and planning permission for playhouses generally comes under the area of a temporary structure –  guidance is that the floor area must not exceed 30sq metres and the height a maximum of 4 metres. It is always important to consider your neighbours, especially when positioning a playhouse against a boundary. The windows or balcony of a playhouse which overlook a previously private garden will most likely not be appreciated.  If you are in a conservation area or national park it is always best to give the planning department a phone call, just to double check.

Location

Think about the size of the playhouse in relation to the proposed location. You can get made to measure playhouse that will fit into any space. For a large playhouse try a site under a tree, if the tree is 20ft high a 12ft high playhouse will look much more in keeping that if it is positioned up against a 6ft high fence.