If you wish to lay a patio around your house, there are no restrictions on the area of land you can cover with hard surfaces, at, or near ground level.
So basically, you will not need planning permission to do this in most cases. However, if you live on a sloping site for example and you require to carry out significant works of embanking or terracing to support the patio, you may need planning permission as the embanking or terracing works may by virtue of fact and degree be classified as an engineering operation. If in doubt, please consult your local planning authority or engage theservices of a planning consultant to act on your behalf.
Before you go and undertake any such work, please make sure that your home is not listed as you will require listed building consent for any significant works you may intend doing.
How to Lay a Patio in 6 Easy Steps
Step 1: Be Clear as to What You Wish to Do
Before you get anywhere near the garden, think the project carefully through by making sure you have all the correct materials and you know exactly what size and shape your patio will take. The easiest way to do this is to sketch out your proposal or if you are not confident at drawing, simply use stones to mark out its proposed siting. From experience, I would also set your garden furniture out to make sure it will fit! Calculate the number of slabs you will need. Always always order too many because it is always better to have too many than run out and find you can't get that slab anymore....
Step 2: Get Marking Out
Once you are happy with the size and shape of the patio, mark it out using pegs and a line. Then clear the site of vegetation.
Step 3: Let the Digging Begin
Dig out the soil to a depth of approximately 150mm (6") below the finished patio level (the easiest way to judge this is that 150mm is the depth of 2 bricks). The pation should be set at a level whereby the damp proof course of the house is not breached; that is, the pation should not be set higher than the damp proof course. Once you have done this, make sure the soil is sufficiently compacted.
Step 4: Don't Forget the Substrate
In order to provide a substrate, begin by spreading a layer of hardcore some 100mm (4") thick over the excavated area (the trick being to leave room for the thickness of the slabs and approximately 40mm (2") of mortar. In order to provide a sound substrate, the hardcore needs to be thoroughly compacted. I have seen various ways of doing this but the only effective way is by hiring a plate compactor.
Step 5: The Fun Begins Now
Start to lay your patio paving slabs. Using a reference (say the wall of the house or a fence for example), begin to lay your slabs using a solid mortar mix (3-4 parts building sand to 1 part cement). Once you have laid them, tap each slab using a rubber mallet, but also make sure they are level. It is likely that you will have to cut a certain number of slabs so please be careful. This task can be done using either an angle grinder or a chisel and hammer. Similar to tiling a room, why not use spacers to ensure equal gaps between slabs?
Remember that whilst you are striving for a level patio finish, you require to have a sufficient fall to allow water to drain away. Good practice recommends a fall of approximately 25mm over 1.5m (or 1:60).
Step 6: Before Using The Patio
After a couple of days (sufficient to let the mortar set), the final job is to fill the mortar joints using a dry mortar mix. The finishing touch is to hydrate that mix using a watering can with a rose attachment.