Rural Tourism Grants from the RDPE Growth Programme

We have become aware of a grant which might be of interest to those of you who are seeking funding for your business or project.

Essentially this initiative helps to provide grant funding for projects in England which promote tourism in rural areas and thereby creates jobs and growth in these local economies and communities. These grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

You can apply even if your project is a commercial one and is therefore open to apply for small businesses and farmers who are wanting to diversify into tourism.

Each LEP (local enterprise partnership) area in England varies (as this is dependent upon the size of your business and your location) but in the main the grants are for a minimum of £35,000 and they help fund capital costs on tourism infrastructure. Basically these grants are aimed at supporting projects which boost tourism in rural parts of the country and to encourage tourists to stay longer outside of the main March to October season. And to encourage them to spend more money of course!

Initially you have to submit an “expression of interest” and if this is accepted, you can then proceed to submit a full application. There is a deadline of 31st May 2018 to register with your expression of interest.

We are not in any way associated with this grant or act as an independent agent but some of our Superglamp products – which include accommodation units encompassing pods, mini lodges, lodges, treehouses and shepherds huts as well as multi functional buildings  – could certainly help your business achieve these rural tourism objectives.

More information on this RDPE Growth Programme grant can be found by clicking on this link.


Is A Garden Annexe The Solution To The Housing Crisis for Young Adults?

If you were to analyse any recent demographic trends, this one is certainly quite significant and important. Firstly though, we need to consider the following facts and statistics:

  • Young people aged 20 to 34 years (millennials or Generation Y as they also seemed to be referred by) are increasingly having to live back at home with their parents. In fact 618,000 more of them are living back with Mum and Dad in 2015 than in 1996. So be nice to your children and children, be nice to your parents.
  • That is actually about one in four young people with the greater concentration (half) being at the younger end of this age spectrum

These figures are quite remarkable bearing in mind that previous generations (myself included at the grand old age of 53) left home as soon as humanly possible because we valued our independence. Obviously this generation does not enjoy that liberty and here are the reasons principally why:

  • Financial reasons mainly. Young adults don’t own their own homes – just 30% of 25-29 year olds own their own homes down from 60% thirty odd years ago. The rest are certainly and correctly dubbed “Generation Rent” because at least 91% of them aged between 20-24 were living in rented accommodation in 2015
  • Increased deposits for buying a property. This has gone from 10% to a peak of 27% at the height of the financial crisis but has since settled back down to an average of 20% but even so, this can still constitute quite a significant amount of money for someone just starting out on the property ladder. That is why the National Bank of Mum and Dad is now a significant lender of funds in this country
  • Other reasons are that we are settling down and getting married later (32 years is now the average age to get married) and women now also have more choice when, or indeed whether, to have children
  • We are also staying in further education longer and living at home whilst at university is now the default choice for a lot of students. Again mainly for financial reasons (but also perhaps because you still get all your washing and cooking done!!)

Those are the facts and they don’t look like changing for some time. So where does the garden annexe come in?

However nice it is to live back under the same roof as Mummy and Daddy, both sides might wish to have and value their independence. Let’s be honest, young adults are no longer children and want to live their own lives as independently as they possibly can. That is why a self-contained garden annexe with bedroom or bedrooms, shower/WC, kitchen and living area is the ideal solution. Another way of viewing this is to imagine that it is your first time buyer’s average sized flat – just in your parent’s garden! Hopefully the parents will charge minimal (or no) rent so it gives the occupants time to save up for that 20% deposit on a new property and they can come and go as they please, leave their dirty washing on the floor, play their music loud and watch TV till 3am.

But it is not just Generation Rent or boomerangers who are opting for the garden annexe solution. It is also the elderly who are spurning the traditional route of a care home and are moving back in droves to live with their offspring in a so called granny annexes. Or those middle aged amongst us who are having to move back home because of financial reasons or divorce for example.

And that is why we at the Hideout House Company have seen an explosion of enquiries for garden annexes in the past couple of years. We can offer a whole range of sizes and options to suite different budgets, space and requirements and as our buildings are built to conform the definition of a “caravan” (but please eradicate from your mind the immediate mental picture of some white  box on a holiday park in Dorset – no disrespect to holiday parks in Dorset by the way or caravan manufacturers!), there are certain excellent advantages. Namely, VAT is significantly reduced, you may not need planning permission and they do not fall under the remit of building control.

For details on our range of garden and granny annexes, please visit our website given below or call on 01865 858982 or email

How To Choose A Garden Annexe

We receive many enquiries  – mainly via email – from interested parties asking us how much a garden or granny annexe is. But as there are so many variables and options at play, we usually end up having to ask a load of questions back before we can answer theirs!

So we thought that it might be a good idea to write this blog to help guide customers when they are looking to purchase an annexe building for their garden because a lot of these decisions have further ramifications on VAT, building regs and planning permission.

First question – which sounds obvious enough – is to be very clear as what you want to use it for as this has a significant bearing on what will be included inside and the price including the pertaining VAT treatment (see below). And you would be surprised but a lot of people have yet to consider this thoroughly. If you are just wanting to have an extra bedroom which you will furnish yourself with bed/chest of drawers, wardrobe etc and no washing/WC or cooking facilities, then that is absolutely fine and we can easily provide a “shell” building. But as this type of garden annexe is not intended to be self-contained accommodation where somebody could feasibly live independently, then it will attract VAT at the full rate of 20%.

If however, you did want the annexe to be a self-contained, self-catered unit with kitchen, dining and washing facilities, then the VAT rate is reduced to 5%.

But this preferable VAT treatment only applies if the annexe or building that you are being supplied conforms to the definition of a “caravan” or mobile home/lodge. In effect, a building which is capable of being moved or removed. The broad definition is given as per below:

The term ‘caravan’ is not defined in the VAT legislation. In practice we base our interpretation on the definitions in the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and the Caravans Sites Act 1968.
A caravan is a structure that:
• is designed or adapted for human habitation
• when assembled, is physically capable of being moved from one
place to another (whether by being towed or by being
transported on a motor vehicle so designed or adapted), and
• is no more than
– 20 metres long (exclusive of any drawbar)
– 6.8 metres wide, or
– 3.05 metres high (measured internally from the floor at the lowest level to the ceiling at the highest level)
Our garden annexes do conform to the above so the reduced rate VAT ruling of 5% is applicable as per definition below:
For a caravan to be regarded as designed for human habitation it must have the attributes of a dwelling, that is, it must consist of self-contained living accommodation. It would need to have washing facilities and the means to prepare food (such as kitchens and bathrooms).
And the size of the building has VAT implications too:
For anyone making supplies of NEW caravans on or after 6 April 2013 it is necessary to establish whether or not VAT is chargeable:
• the supply will be standard-rated if it does not exceed either 7m
in length or 2.55m in width
• the supply will be reduced rated if it exceeds either 7m in length
or 2.55m in width and it is not manufactured to BS 3632:2005
• the supply will be zero rated if it was sold on or after 6 April 2013
and it exceeds either 7m in length or 2.55m in width and it is manufactured to BS3632:2005
If your garden or granny annexe does conform to the definition of a “caravan”, then building regulation approval from local building control does not need to be sought either which can sometimes save on a lot of time and money.
And then of course the big issue of planning permission requirements – we have written a blog on this big issue before which can be seen on the below link. But suffice it to say that again there are some positives here too:
If you would therefore like to know more about our range of garden or granny annexes which include one bedroom lodges, cabins and pods right up to three bedroom buildings, then please do give us a call on 01865 858982, email or visit

Layout of megapod

Self Contained Annexes and Accommodation Pods for the Garden

We recently exhibited at an exhibition for the glamping industry but were amazed (and pleased!) to find that at least half of our visitors were interested in having an independent accommodation annexe for their garden as well.

If you ever wanted to study a current demographic trend, you would do well to understand why people are wanting lodges/annexes/pods for their garden. The uses are quite varied but consistent and I list them all below

– The first being that people want to use them as an extra guest room and it certainly is a cheaper option than building an extension for example. If you did have an extension built, it would probably need planning permission and building regulations and you would have builders on site for quite a period of time disrupting your day…and not to mention the mess and noise! As the majority of our self contained garden annexes and pods are pre-manufactured buildings and conform to the mobile home and caravan act, they are typically exempt from planning (assuming certain conditions are met), building regs and VAT at the full 20%. And you can be operational within a couple of days from the delivery of the unit.

– Second up is the granny annexe which an elderly relative can use to live in in order to be nearer their loved ones for care and support. By having a self contained garden annexe, both parties ensure their independence and if extra care is required, there are some very good at home care service companies who can offer services from literally coming round once a day to full time live-in care. As we are living a lot longer nowadays and the state is already struggling to provide adequate support in terms of financial support for the elderly, this could prove to be a very viable and more pleasant alternative to care homes.

– Then we have the “boomerang” generation and for those of you who are not au fait with this term, it is usually used to describe children who have flown the family nest after university, school etc but have to return back to the family fold mainly for financial reasons. These “millennials” cannot simply afford to buy their own property or even rent somewhere – especially in the major towns and cities of the UK. So they return home but perhaps they don’t want to live with Mummy and Daddy anymore so an independent living arrangement at the bottom of the garden suits them just fine (and probably the parents too!). This above two are known as inter-generational living and do indeed have many benefits for all parties concerned.

– Last but not least, we have the increasingly popular trend of people letting out spare rooms as bed and breakfast which has been made ever more easier and popular with the likes of Airbnb. Again, the guest has their independence being in a self contained unit in a garden annexe and the hosts don’t have to worry too having a complete stranger staying under the same roof.

Our range of garden annexes takes in everything that is required for the above and we have a range of options to choose from for all individual needs – even including a sunken hot tub on the outside decking! And due to the way they are built and supplied, there are quite a few advantages of having this type of building – planning permission, building reg and VAT exemptions being some!

For further information on our range of accommodation units including annexes, lodges, pods, mini houses and pod lodges, please visit  or call us on 01865 858982 and

Wedding Gazebo at the Hog’s Back Hotel

Room with a view

We have just completed the installation of a wedding gazebo for the Hog’s Back Hotel and Spa in Surrey which has the most amazing backdrop and setting. The hotel wanted to have the gazebo painted in white in line with the wedding theme and we have also supplied a cedar shingle tile two tier roof. The gazebo is sited in the hotel’s garden which has an amazing view over the surrounding countryside.

Already the hotel has hosted a few outdoor ceremonies in the wedding gazebo and it is certainly now a major selling and marketing point for them – especially as the summer months are now upon us.

These type of wedding gazebos are now proving to be increasingly popular at wedding venues up and down the country and typically the venue will see a return on investment in their first couple of seasons. And when not being used as a wedding gazebo, they can of course double up as a relaxation and seating area, outdoor meeting space or even an outdoor and events bar!

We can offer a variety of sizes and shapes (octagonal and oval) in order to suit budgets and spaces and are able to customise with a comprehensive range of options.

For further information on our wedding gazebos, please contact us on 01865 858982 or email:

wedding gazebos

sunset behing wedding gazebo

Glamping Workshops

Launch of ‘Glamping Business Workshops’ Programme by Kate Morel

The first in a series of glamping business workshops will be held in the UK on May 18th

The Glamping industry’s Kate Morel hosts the first of her ‘know-how’ glamping business workshops on May 18th, to be held at Stanwick Lakes in Northants, UK. The workshops aim to give those who are considering, or about to, set up their own glampsite, the information and guidance needed to create a successful enterprise, including first-hand experience from existing glampsite owners. They’ve been called ‘workshops’ because they will be practical as well as informative, those attending will be able to apply the topics to their own projects and ideas. As such, allocated numbers will be limited to facilitate time and space for discussion and questions.

Kate adds:

“The glamping industry is developing fast with new structures, facilities and dedicated services entering the market every year – not to mention a shift in guest expectations. It’s an exciting time, but it can be a tricky labyrinth for the uninitiated to navigate so I wanted to do something ‘hands-on’ rather than the usual seminar format. Topics can be directly applied to each person’s own project, with questions and discussion throughout”.

If you’re interested in this, or future workshops which will be held around the UK, please email, and visit


The Graddy Annexe

I read an article recently in a national newspaper about the rise of the Graddy Annexe – we are all by now familiar with the concept of a granny annexe in the garden to be used as ancillary accommodation for elderly relatives but this “graddy” annexe is intended for university leavers who are having to move back to the family fold because they cannot afford a deposit for a property of their own, they cannot secure a mortgage as a first time buyer or they simply cannot afford somewhere half decent to rent…especially in that place called London. And that’s not forgetting the fact that the average debt a student is straddled with after leaving university is a dizzying £44K!

A true sign of the times indeed so it is hardly surprising that these young adults are still withdrawing from and are partially reliant upon the Bank of Mum and Dad… which in terms of net lending is almost up there now with the major financial institutions and banks.

So prevalent is this problem that we have now coined numerous expressions to describe this trend – the Boomerang Generation, Generation Y, Generation Rent, Bankers of Mum and Dad etc

But let’s look at the good news bit. Inter-generational living does have its benefits in that not everyone wants their children to finally vacate the family nest and any time that is spent back home is a plus. They can help with the general chores in the house and pay a rent (subsidised no doubt!). And from 2013, our Government decreed that these type of annexes would benefit from a 50% discount in council tax as long as the resident was a family member.

No wonder therefore that in the past two years, 9330 annexes have been built in England and Wales which represents a rise of 39%.

Let’s face it we all like our independence and space and everyone living under the same roof could test the stress levels and patience of all those concerned. So that is why we have seen a phenomenal increase in enquires for our Hideout House garden or granny annexes – or should I now say Graddy Annexes to use the parlance of the day. These are units which are built to conform to the mobile home and caravan act and so as a result, in the majority of cases they do not require planning permission and are exempt from building regs and VAT. They typically have a bedroom, kitchenette, WC/shower room and a living area – what more do you need? And with prices starting at £25K, they are within the financial reach of a lot of families.

And there’s another benefit. When Generation Rent finally does move out, you can always either then let Granny move in or rent it out as a spare room on popular platforms such as Air BnB. This is truly the caring and sharing economy we’ve all been told about.

For further information on our range of garden and granny annexes, please visit


How To License Your Venue For a Wedding Gazebo

unspecified3Since the introduction of the Marriage Act 1994, couples no longer have to get married in either a church or a registry office and as a result of this legislation, this has considerably widened the net for a far greater choice of venue – namely hotels, golf clubs, civic halls, stately homes, theatres, restaurants etc. And a lot of these type of venues are increasingly offering wedding gazebos for conducting outdoor civil ceremonies.

And why not – if your establishment benefits from amazing natural surroundings and a beautiful and romantic setting, licensing your venue for a wedding gazebo can be a very lucrative venture for any business. One of our clients has recently told us that his whole wedding business is now based around his ability to offer an outdoor ceremony and which always gives him the edge over his local competition.

Also you don’t necessarily have to be in this business already or be able to offer reception facilities for example. A lot of venues simply just offer ceremonies only.

In order to apply for your license, you need to approach your local registration office at the council but ensure first that you have the correct planning consents in place (as the council will want to know this). For your premises to be licensable, any outdoor structure must be fixed and permanent (so not tents or marquees for example). It also must be a minimum size of 3m x 3m or equivalent and capable of hosting six people including the registrar’s table and chairs. If you click on wedding gazebos you will see that we give sizes showing this stipulation.

The wedding gazebo must also be in keeping with the dignity of the civil ceremony – I think they mean nothing too crass in this instance!

Also remember that this is the UK and we have something called rain which tends to happen quite often. You therefore need to ensure that if Mother Nature does decide to literally rain on your parade, you have the ability to be able to offer a suitable alternative – such as an internal room – which is large enough to cater for all of the guests.

Quite a few councils also now actively help in promoting your venue once licensed – although you have to pay a set fee for a license for a period of years – a lot of them publish lists of all of their licensed venues which you will be included on and any other promotional opportunities such as the web, flyers etc

And one last thing to bear in mind. When you are not using your wedding gazebo for civil ceremonies, it can easily double up as a quiet relaxation and seating area or even somewhere to conduct meetings.

For details on the range of wedding gazebos from the Hideout House Company, please contact us on 01865 858982 or email us

oval outdoor wedding gazebo

Oval wedding gazebo


The Granny Annexe Care Home in the Garden


Your very own care home in the garden is now here as we have formed a strategic partnership alliance with Helping Hands to provide a unique way to care for the elderly.

What do we do with Granny?

It is a question we will probably all have to ask ourselves at some point in our lives. And with average fees running at £29,250 for a residential care home (rising to £39,300 if nursing care is necessary), it is therefore not an issue to be taken lightly. But there is now a viable alternative for families with elderly relatives who are seeking care for their loved ones.

The concept of the self-contained granny annexe in a residential garden setting is by no means new or revolutionary. In fact, properties with an annexe to house a family member have increased by a third over the past two years. The underlying reasons for this growth are undoubtedly a mixture of factors which include rising property prices, the soaring cost of long term care, an independent living solution coupled with the desire to have an elderly relative close by.

But for all of these desirable aspects, it is still a big responsibility for family members, who simply cannot be on hand the whole time to ensure that their elderly relatives are always safe and well even though they are living so near (especially as they get older and perhaps are in need of more specialist care).

To address the above issue, the Hideout House Company have developed a granny annexe which has a remote, non-intrusive care monitoring system which allows you to measure movement and temperature in the building– so it can let you know for example if there is a lack of movement, perhaps suggesting a fall.

But mitigating circumstances might eventually dictate that even more home care is required and so the company has therefore teamed up with Helping Hands who are one of the UK’s leading at home care specialists. Helping Hands is an award-winning provider of bespoke live-in care and hourly visiting care. The domiciliary care Helping Hands delivered is tailored to the exact needs of your loved ones. Regardless of the condition they are affected by, with the right carer and level of tailored medical support, people can receive care at home without having to go into a care home. Helping Hands is fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission and is a founder member of the UK Care Home Association.

This partnership arrangement therefore represents numerous benefits to a family who are considering the option of having a granny annexe in their garden. Backed up with a specialist home care package, they need not worry about the safety and care of their relatives as they can easily tailor make a programme to suit them.

As the granny annexe is a pre-manufactured mobile building, it is constructed in just two days eliminating a whole load of stress, mess and delay. It may not even require planning permission and in most cases our granny annexes are not subject to Building Regulations or VAT which saves even more money within the overall budget. And as it is built to conform to the definition of a mobile home/ caravan, it can easily be removed or sold on at a later date if so required as well as potentially increasing the value of the main property.

So what do we do with Granny? It has now become a far easier question to answer.

For further information on our range of granny annexes, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01865 858982, email or visit Hideout House Granny Annexes


Garden Annexe for Airbnb, Granny Annexe, Spare Guest Room and for the Boomerang generation

granny annexe

Granny annexe

Our company has seen a significant rise of late in the enquiries we have received for our buildings to be used as a garden annexe for a whole host of applications and reasons. All of them perhaps represent a sign of the times. The most common uses are as follows:

Airbnb accommodation unit

Airbnb is now the established on-line platform where you can rent out a room in your house or garden annexe to paying guests. Since it was set up in 2009 and whose first guest stayed on an airbed on the floor of a San Francisco apartment (hence the airbnb), the company has enjoyed tremendous growth and today, there are over 2 million listings in more than 34,000 locations. But the growth isn’t just about numbers. Airbnb shows that the sharing and caring economy is here to stay and its growing community of both hosts and guest demonstrate the power of a group dedicated to hospitality and unique travel experiences. Traditional businesses such as hotels etc should be and are worried by this recent trend.

But rather than have someone stay in your house, we are providing another solution which gives both parties complete independence. And that is our garden annexes which are essentially a hotel room which shower/bath/WC and small kitchen area (for the breakfast bit!). When they are not rented out to paying guests, our customers then use them as a spare guest room. We can even do the business plan for you to show you your potential return on investment.

Granny Annexe

As we are now living longer, a lot of us at some time in our life will be faced with the important issue of what we do with our parents as they get progressively older.  We have the following options – put them into a care home, buy a property in a retirement village, have them live with you in your home or organise at home care. These options all have their various advantages and disadvantages of course and a lot depends on the financial circumstances, age and existing mental and physical capabilities of your parents.

But there is another alternative which is becoming increasingly popular and that is the granny annexe in the garden. It is a very viable option because of the numerous benefits it can bring as per below:

  • You save on care home fees which can typically run at £29,250 per year for a residential care home and rising to £39,300 if nursing care is necessary (the average time spent in a care home is four years)
  • Offers an independent living solution whereby you have total peace of mind knowing that your loved ones are near to you in a safe and comfortable environment but everyone still maintains their privacy and independence.
  • A granny annexe is a building and therefore an asset that stays with you rather than an independent third party such as a care home and could increase the value of your home
  • The building can be used for other means when so required – more guest room space, somewhere for the adult children to live before buying or renting a place of their own or even to rent out as a B&B unit
  • You get more space in a granny annexe building than you would in a typical care home
  • If your parents ultimately require special help as they get older and are not capable of looking after themselves, you can always have at home care but it is on your doorstop as it were which gives you absolute peace of mind too.
  • We have formed a strategic partnership with an at home care provider who can tailor make a personal service for your relatives – from coming in for an hour to day to say hello and making a cup of tea right up to full nursing care for dementia etc

The granny annexes we sell have a lot of competitive advantages in that due to way they are constructed and built, they are exempt from VAT and building regulations. And they may not need planning permission too (although we always recommend that we or you apply for a Certificate of Lawful Use for re-assurance). And we also offer a special unobtrusive care monitoring system which allows you to measure movement and temperature in the granny annexe – so it can let you know for example if there is a lack of movement, perhaps suggesting a fall. The system gives you the comfort that your loved ones are safe and well. Therefore a care home in your own garden.

Our granny annexes are also built as transportable “mobile” homes so on-site time is minimal – like days not weeks or months so there is minimal inconvenience to our customers.

The Boomerang Generation

This can best be described as children, returning home from university or college, who can not yet afford to rent or buy somewhere so return to the family fold. But they don’t necessarily want to live under the same roof (and probably neither do the parents!) so our garden annexe buildings are ideal. Both parties then get to have their independence but they are still close to each other and can therefore help each other out. And the “boomeranger” gets to save up some money to eventually move out one day.

Our company offers many different types of accommodation units which can be used as garden annexe buildings – mobile lodges, pods, shepherd huts, tiny homes, pod lodges etc – and we can advise on all facets of planning and siting.

It is obviously the way the world is turning and we just need to embrace it!

For further information, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01865 858982, email or visit