It is no secret that the living space in many homes is compact and restrictive. There comes a time when you must consider moving to a larger property or expanding your existing home to create the additional living space you require.

A very common method of enlarging a home is to convert an existing garage into a new habitable room or room. The new space can then be used for various purposes depending on your requirements and the design of your home. You could build a side extension to create a larger dining room, living room, utility room or kitchen.

Although most garage conversions are a straightforward home improvement in that they require little or no exterior changes, there are still many matters that must be considered carefully when planning the layout, construction and location of any additional windows for a garage conversion.

FAQs About Garage Renovation

Can I Convert Half of My Garage?

Generally yes. Anything which improves your property or creates additional living space will add value. However, there is a point where expenditure can exceed the increase in value, and why projects such as a garage conversion need to be planned, project managed and controlled.

How Much Does a Garage Conversion Add?

A garage conversion could add up to 20 per cent to the value of your home, while you’ll gain valuable extra living space that’s less prone to planning complications. So if the cost of the project is less than the extra value added to your property, this works out as a cost-effective way to add more space.

Do You Need an Architect for a Garage Conversion?

Planning permission for a garage conversion to make it an inhabitable area is generally not required, as long as all of the work for the conversion project is being done along with the garage’s interior. Also, if the conversion does not require an enlargement of the building, planning permissions will not be required.

What Insulation Do I Need for a Garage Conversion?

The thickness of insulation needed to achieve this will depend on the type used; 100mm of polyurethane foam insulation is generally acceptable. The floor finish can be 18mm T & G chipboard, or 65mm reinforced screed.

Is Garage Conversion a Good Idea?

For many homeowners, the answer is yes. The trade-off of covered, off-road parking and storage against actual living space is worth it for many homes where extra room is in short supply.

Planning the ultimate garage conversion

Planning

Space is a luxury. There’s no doubt about it. And, when you factor in working from home and homeschooling, it’s no surprise that the majority of us have felt like we need more of it, especially in the past year. 

A garage is often a must-have for many homeowners, but, let’s face it, with many of us parking on our driveways or the road itself, how many of us use their garage for its intended purpose anymore anyway? 

The perfect way to increase the space in your home, whether you’re expanding the family or looking for more space for a home gym, office or cinema, a garage conversion is a great alternative to moving house altogether. Not only that, but it’s also a much cheaper option. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including:

  • Should I convert my garage?
  • How much value will a garage conversion add to my house?
  • How much will a garage conversion cost?
  • What about planning permission and building regulations?
  • How to plan a garage conversion
  • Pros and cons

Making sure you stay organised every step is the key to staying on top of all the official paperwork and regulations and ensuring your project runs smoothly. There are lots of options, so we’ve put together a comprehensive list of what you need to think about, plus pros and cons to help you make your decision on whether to convert the garage or not.

Should I convert my garage?

If you need space but don’t want to fork out loads for a house move or an extension, a garage conversion is ideal. But, before you make any decisions, it’s important to think about how valuable your garage is to you and your home, which’ll get onto, along with any other costs which might include:

  •  Insulation and damp proofing: walls, floors and roofs all require appropriate insulation, so their own ‘U-values’ meet Building Regulations, while damp proofing is necessary for the walls and floor. 
  • Plumbing and electrics: depending on the current state of your plumbing and electrics, you may need to factor in this time and extra cost into your overall plan. Bear in mind that if you require a lot of plumbing and electrical work, this will likely add between $2,000-and $3,000 to your total bill.
  • Structural conditions: you need to assess the condition of the foundations, walls and roof to determine whether this is a viable space to begin work. These things will need some work, so be prepared for that. Also, prepare yourself for the possibility that your garage is in an unsalvageable state. Demolition and replacing could be more cost-effective than renovating in some cases.

You will always need to consult the advice of a professional when it comes to converting a garage space. An architect will need to assess any plans to extend or amend the building, and a builder will need to have input on the groundwork that needs to be done and consulted. However, once the experts have offered their suggestions, you can then DIY – and save a lot of money!

How much value will a garage conversion add to my house?

Generally speaking, while value increases will obviously depend on a range of factors – such as the area you live in and the type of property – a garage conversion could add up to 20% to the value of your home. This makes a conversion a very cost-effective way to get that additional space you need. 

How much does a garage conversion cost?

While costs will, of course, depend on your space and the amount of work you’re having done, a standard integrated garage conversion will normally set you back anywhere between $3000 and $10,000. 

Considering that adding an extra room, or two, to your home will generally add more than that, it’s a great project if you’ve got a tight budget but are in desperate need of some additional room. 

As long as you’re not unlucky with structural stumbling blocks, converting your garage is generally one of the cheapest ways to increase your space and is more cost-effective than adding an extension. But, there are several things to keep in mind that will affect the overall cost, such as:

  • The size of your garage: obviously, the larger the space, the more money it will cost to convert
  • Structural changes: if the foundations of the garage need reinforcing, there’s damage to the roof, floor or walls, or your ceiling height needs raising. The work will cost more.
  • Design costs: whether you’re hiring a professional or doing the legwork yourself, don’t forget to factor in design fees or consultations along with any decorating costs
  • Planning permission: submitting planning applications can be costly, and there is no guarantee that they will be accepted, and you may not get your money back 

Do I need planning permission for a garage conversion?

While, normally, if you’re having any building work done on your property, you should be prepared to submit planning permission, as a garage conversion does not tend to change the footprint of your home, it’s likely that you won’t need to apply for extra permission to have internal work done. Still, you could encounter some red tape, so make sure you check the regulations for your home before you get started.

The average single garage offers up roughly 15m2 of floor space and a double 30m2, so you can see that both offer up ample space. But, while a double garage gives you extended possibilities, you may also require planning permission depending on your intended uses for the space.

Remember, though, if you live in a listed building or a conservation area, the rules are likely different. Also, don’t forget to check for any planning conditions, such as that the garage is specifically for parking, as this will need to be changed before work begins. 

What about building regulations?

To comply with Building Regulations, you or your contractor will need to send a building notice to the council to ensure any work carried out complies with various aspects of construction, including: 

  • Ventilation
  • Acoustics
  • Fire safety
  • Moisture proofing
  • Insulation
  • Escape routes
  • Structural soundness

The building inspector will also visually inspect windows and doors, fireproofing and foundations before handing over a final certificate of completion if you’re looking for more information on building regulations. 

How to plan a garage conversion?

So, once you’ve established exactly how much it will cost and how to get prepared, it’s time to start planning your conversion.

Determine the space you have available.

To determine exactly what your conversion should be used for, it’s a good idea to figure out, realistically, how this additional space will work with the rest of your home. For example, integrated or attached garages can flow far more easily into your house, giving you the option for an extra bedroom, bathroom or kitchen extension. 

On the other hand, while a detached garage can offer lots of options, it naturally lends itself to something more removed, such as an annexe, home office, gym, guest room, or even a home cinema.

Similarly, you’ll need to consider parking. If you do use your garage for parking, once it’s converted, is there plenty of space on the driveway or the road where your car won’t be in anyone’s way? A great way to decide is to ask around any neighbours who have converted their garages to see if they have any advice or tips for you.

Work out your budget

Ensuring you have a solid and clear budget plus contingency is the key to knowing exactly what you’re spending and can afford and that you’re covered in case anything goes wrong. Generally, you should factor in a cost of around $1,000 per square metre plus extra for emergencies or unforeseen costs. 

A few things to consider when it comes to budget:

Flooring

The floor you already have in your garage should be strong enough and, as we’ve just mentioned, it will require damp proofing and insulation to meet regulations.

When it comes to flooring, your options include:

  • Concrete floor: this can be easily created and the damp proof membrane added between the two layers with insulation added under the new floor.
  • Raised timber floor: this can be built over the floor you already have, and the damp proofing can be laid under the timber with insulation between raised timbers and joists of the floor. Consult fire regulations when adding a timber floor.

Plumbing and wiring

As we’ve already mentioned, this depends entirely on the existing condition of your garage and what it’s been previously used for. And it can get complicated. Check the walls and ceiling of your garage for wiring, and note that rewiring your garage to make it livable with lights and heating will place additional strain on the household mains. 

This might mean you need to install a separate unit, while if you’re planning to install a bathroom, you’ll need to identify the main outflows for water and soil.

Walls

Your external walls are covered by building regulations, and as mentioned, they must hit the mark for moisture-proofing and insulation. If the garage is integrated into the house, these walls will usually meet building regulations. If not, consider a stud wall inside the existing exterior wall to house insulation, power and water lines.

Don’t forget, the interior walls and the doors through these walls will also need to meet proper fireproofing requirements.

Windows and doors

To meet building regulations, you’ll need ventilation and an escape route to comply with fire regulations. Regulations also state that a window must have trickle vents, be 1/20 the floor area of the room along with a 600mm base opening plus a total area of no less than 0.45 m2.

To simplify, windows that meet these requirements are:

  • Metal frame (must have a ‘thermal break’)
  • uPVC 
  • Wood frame windows (must be of sufficient depth to accommodate a double-glazed unit of 24mm)

Beginner’s Guide to Garage Conversions

What do you use your garage for? If it’s turned into more of a storeroom (or a junkyard for that old exercise bike) than a safe spot to park the car, then maybe it’s time to consider making better use of what could be a valuable asset.

A garage conversion is one of the speediest and most affordable routes to adding floor space: a typical scheme creating a new home office or playroom can often be completed in little more than a week.

Plus, of course, you won’t need to resort to moving to get a house that suits your family’s needs, so you’ll save on fees for stamp duty, solicitors etc. Unlike a conventional home extension, it won’t eat up any of your garden amenities.

A garage conversion can also increase your home’s value. Virgin Money reckons you can net around a 10%-20% return by taking on a well-considered project that enhances the usability of your home.

Designing your space

Renovation

The first step with any garage conversion is to conduct an assessment of the existing structure, in particular the soundness of the foundations, walls and roof.

This will go a long way to revealing the extent of work required to create a comfortable living environment – so it’s a key part of the design stages. If the building is in an especially dilapidated state, it may be cheaper to knock it down and replace it.

Getting the right result will depend on the scheme’s scale, how you want to use it and integrate it into the property, and what your budget will stretch too.

For higher-end projects, working with an architect could help identify creative ways to maximise the potential of your garage and establish a space that flows naturally into your home.

Another popular route is to use a company that specialises in the design and building of garage conversions.

The results can be fantastic – if not quite so avant-garde – and many will take your scheme through planning and building control as part of their fee. Plus, their experience on the ground can help to ensure a smooth project and a predictable budget.

If it’s integrated or attached, the garage should be fairly easy to work into the main accommodation. You could knock through the wall to join up with an existing zone, for instance – perhaps enlarging a hallway or creating a front-to-back kitchen-diner.

A detached structure, meanwhile, lends itself to segregated uses, such as an annex or a quiet home office. A single garage will offer around 15m2 of floor space; more than enough for a playroom, separate drawing room, guest bed, or even an accessible downstairs shower and WC.

At around 30m2, a double garage gives you more flexibility. It could house a bigger living room, ensuite bedroom, well-sized kitchen-diner or an annex.

Alternatively, you could retain a single parking space by erecting a suitably insulated and fire-rated partition and fitting the rest for habitation.

Planning permission

With many garage conversions – particularly integral or attached spaces – most of the work is internal (except changing the frontage and adding a window or two).

This is likely to be considered permitted development (PD), so it won’t usually need formal planning consent.

In some cases, such as in conservation areas, PD rights for this use change may have been removed – so consult the local authority before you begin. For peace of mind, you could apply for a lawful development certificate.

Some modern builds are subject to restrictive covenants requiring the garage to be retained as parking, which would need to be discharged (check the deeds to find out if this applies). You’re also more likely to need formal permission to change the use of a detached garage.

You may still be able to pursue a scheme even if PD rights have been removed – but you’ll need to put together suitable drawings and apply for householder planning consent. This costs £234, plus any design fees.

A full application will also be necessary to significantly alter the external appearance, such as making big changes to the windows, using new materials or adding an extension. 

Among the other permissions, you might need to secure listed building consent (if you live in a listed building) and party wall agreements with any adjoining neighbours.

Building regulations

As this type of conversion involves a change of use, a garage conversion will always be subject to the Building Regulations.

For straightforward schemes, the building notice route may be sufficient. You or your contractor informs the local authority of your intent to start work 48 hours before the site commences.

With more complex projects, you may prefer to have full structural plans drafted. This gives you peace of mind that building control has inspected the drawings and confirmed that – if it’s constructed as per the approved schematics – your conversion will conform to the regs.

In addition to structural safety, key areas your building control officer or approved inspector will look at are damp proofing, ventilation, insulation and energy efficiency, fire safety (including escape routes), electrics and plumbing.

Types of Garage Conversions and Why They Are Worth the Money

Garage conversions have many meanings. It may be turning a car garage into a new living space. However, there are other types of garage conversions to consider, such as constructing a new room addition above your existing garage.

When considering a garage conversion, you should seek a local professional home renovation expert to help you. Here are just a few things to consider that may or may not be required pending your city ordinances: 

For Example: If you are looking to add an addition above your garage, it may require building regulation approval for areas such as the roof insulation, the new garage wall to replace the existing garage door, new foundations, new wall and window.

  • Proper planning, design and layout
  • Budget from start to completion
  • Planning board permission
  • Building codes and regulations
  • Building permits
  • Insulation
  • Installing and wiring electrical outlets
  • Plumbing if applicable

When considering a garage conversion, it is very important to make sure the front of the garage has been upgraded properly in keeping with the design and colour of the main house.

Some very important areas to consider when making sure the garage conversion design from the outside or exterior is in tune with the main house is the following:

  • •Windows
  • Door
  • Exterior walls
  • Wall Patterns
  • Roof
  • Exterior Color
  • Etc.

Always make sure the garage conversions from the outside areas are similar to look like the main building or home.

Therefore, garage conversions are affordable, offer additional living space for all to enjoy and add great value to your home.

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