5 Key Differences Between A Garden Room & A Garden Annexe

Here at Zedbox, we’re often asked the difference between a garden room and garden annexe. Well, we’re the right people to ask because before Zedbox became the UK’s garden annexe breakthrough company, SMART Garden Rooms, Offices & Studios - the sister company of Zedbox - had been making garden rooms for over a decade and continues to do so today.

As designers, developers and craftsmen of both garden annexes (Zedbox) and garden rooms (SMART), we can see, from the inside out, the key difference these buildings have.  

Garden rooms and garden annexes can appear, from the outside, easily confused as not being too different at all. Take for example SMART’s Ultra range compared with our original Zedbox. Each modern style embodies Great British design; however, they both have key features that make them truly unique buildings in their own right.

We’ve highlighted the 5 key differences between a garden room and a garden annexe:

Building Regulations:

Perhaps the most important and core difference between a garden room and a garden annexe is how you as the owner can use them.

SMART: A garden room can be used as additional space at home all year round, yet cannot be used as a permanent or common dwelling.

Zedbox: Whereas a garden annexe due to being compliant with building regulations allows you to reside in one all year round, 365 days of the year.

Planning Permission:

SMART: The majority of garden rooms will not require planning permission, inclusive in this rule are our SMARTs. Although sometimes needed, the SMART range has been designed to rule out the requirement of planning permission as much as possible.

Zedbox: A garden annexe, however, will need planning permission no matter the circumstances due to the building becoming a room in which you plan to live (i.e. sleep in.)


SMART: SMART gives you flexibility of a size that suits your garden, budget and needs. With SMART having up to 10 sizes to choose from.

Zedbox: However, due to having to comply with building regulations and having to have planning permission, the Zedbox can offer a more ambitious sizing structure, one you most likely wouldn’t ever need for an office space, yet would for a living space, this means Zedbox has on offer over 50 sizes to choose from!

Comfort: SMARTs and Zedboxes have been designed for maximum comfort.

SMART: With SMART creating the perfect space for your office, art studio or hideaway, comfort is found in the thick chunky walls and optional lighting and customisation.

Zedbox: With the Zedbox, comfort can be found in each and every corner having been designed to be lived in. This includes the exclusive furniture range from Zedbox, even a more compact Zedbox can be made a truly luxurious living space, by adding in comfy space saving beds, or state of the art mini kitchens.

Both allowing ample space to be perfect for each of their individual uses whether work, play or sleep!


SMART: The garden room is still perfect for use 365 days of the year and excellent in all weather conditions, yet the specification is more centralised around making a space to be enjoyed as an additional room instead of living space, with unlimited double glazing and being able to position the windows and doors however you wish, the garden room provides a room at home with unbeatable flexibility.

Zedbox: With a garden annexe specified to meet building regulations, you will also discover a difference in the overall specification, with even thicker chunkier walls, fire safety features and beautiful aesthetic specifications such as a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom(s), the annexe has been created to allow the Zedbox to become your home.

Work and hobby space has an entirely different requirement in all five of these elements than a space designed to be lived in. Both the garden room – SMART and the garden annexe for Zedbox have been curated to allow these spaces to fulfil their potential and beyond. Plus, with the added benefit of both companies using their tested, trusted and industry leading TuSc construction system, each offer unbeatable strength and rigidity.

So, although similar in quality and sometimes style, these two intelligent types of garden buildings have been specifically designed in truly unique ways to create and maximise their ability as a working space or as a living space.

Want to know more? Contact the Zedbox team today.

Having Guests To Stay at Christmas? Not a Problem With Zedbox!

Are you entertaining at Christmas and currently working out how you're going to fit everyone in? Inflatable beds, sofa beds and sleeping bags becoming apart of the Christmas festivities?

Well, imagine no longer having to worry about fitting everyone in the house, no matter what the occasion... in fact, imagine being able to offer your guests their very own five-star accommodation...

We can make this possible here at Zedbox, as it's exactly what we specialise in, offering out of this world, five-star, apartments in the garden and at an affordable price.

We're not for one moment suggesting that a Zedbox is only put to use at Christmas time - it's far too irresistible for that; however, why having a Zedbox at Christmas is the only gift you or your family will want.

More Than Just An Extra Bed

We're not just looking at one more bed for a guest to stay. Zedbox is your apartment in the garden, meaning you can add 1,2,3 or 4 bedrooms to your apartment to create an extra special living space. Not only are you adding a bedroom, you’re also adding in a bathroom, kitchen and living space if you so choose, meaning your guests have their very own apartment to enjoy when staying over. The only problem is getting them to leave!

Space For The Trimmings

If you opt for our micro kitchen in your brand new Zedbox, that extra cooking space will go a long way at this time of year. Whether you give the turkey it's own space to cook, or dedicate it to roasting all the Christmas dinner trimmings, cooking Christmas dinner for a crowd has never been easier with your very own kitchenette. Or perhaps, you're a true believer in ‘too many cooks’ and you want to escape to the Zedbox to cook the Christmas dinner in peace?

Their Own Space So You Can Find Your Own Space

Family festivities are exhausting for everyone, so having a space your guests can retreat to, leaving you to recover in the house is invaluable at this time of the year, meaning you all get time to celebrate your own long-standing Christmas traditions.


The Zedbox is an apartment in the garden and has been created to be used in so many different ways, from permanent to guest accommodation - it's a home for whoever needs one and one that doesn't compromise. With so many sizes to choose from, you have a true say in what your dream apartment looks like, from how many bedrooms, to a kitchen, bathroom and living area.

It's the gift that keeps on giving!

If you've decided that next year is the year for you to have a Zedbox ready for any special occasion, or for someone you know needs a space to call their own, get in contact with us.

We'll help you each and every step of the way...

- Order your free Zedbox catalogue from us today! It’s packed with ideas, inspiration and information on our entire Zedbox range.

- Our free Zedbox consultation is here so you can meet with one of our experienced consultants to design your Zedbox and receive your free, no-obligation quote.

- Then we get to work building your dream apartment in the garden. No intrusive construction site or lengthy build: a small team, in a matter of days that can build your brand new Zedbox.

Simply get in touch with the team today to find out how we can help!

Our New Dedicated Zedbox R&D Facility

We've created our own dedicated and standalone R&D unit just five miles away from our main factory in Thurston. This business expansion has been supported by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, through the Growing Business Fund

Our brand new 5000 sq ft facility was formally opened in August 2018 by local MP Jo Churchill, and is equipped with the very latest CAD/CAM equipment. We now prepare for our next step in building development, volume production and export markets.

Complete with 4 dedicated development CAD artists and a team of 7 hands-on technicians, our new separate product development focus is escalating at an impressive rate.

We've always been tech-led, and NPD has been core to our astronomical growth over the last few years (Smart has quadrupled in size in just 4 years) but it had always been incidental to the business and, in truth, rather ad-hoc.

We started our concerted R&D programme quite gently with an in house team and small barn separate from our main factory in late 2016, but by mid 2017 it became quite apparent that we needed to create more resource to accommodate our internal demand.

Hence we created our own high-tech resource and recruited an exceptional team of individuals to propel and improve our products to become world class.

As we now launch Zedbox into international markets our R&D demand is stepping up yet again, we've developed new products that require an additional production facility that will come on line in early 2019 so our investment is proving hugely valuable to us as a company, our team, our customers and the wider community.

We've received enormous support through R&D tax credits and through the Growing Business Fund operated via New Anglia LEP and brought about to us by the New Anglia Growth Hub. Their involvement with our business has been invaluable - and we genuinely would never be able to maximise our opportunities without this enormous source of help.

Planning permission for a Granny Annexe

All annex buildings - if they are designed for any residential use - require planning permission anywhere in the UK. Its the law, and it makes very good sense. 

However the planning process is complicated and long winded - and the decision making is often arcane and inconsistent. 

The Zedbox planning permission service is fully included in the basic purchase package of every Zedbox and, whilst we cannot guarantee success in every location, our success rate is VERY high.