Garage Conversions

Converting a garage is a good way of adding space to your property. Garages can be converted into new bedrooms, home offices, gyms, playrooms and recreation rooms, kitchens and utility rooms.

Designing a Garage Conversion

Knowing how to use your new space will inform its design. The size of the garage may also limit what you can do without expanding the structure, which will require planning permission. When planning a garage conversion, the placement of the interior door or opening from the house into a garage should match with the intended use. This might mean the door might need to be moved. It is also important to see where furniture will be placed when determining the layout.

For an integral garage, the space can be easily converted to seamlessly match the rest of the property. Creativity will be needed when converting a garage without altering the exterior. For example, homeowners can keep the garage door for a small storage space while the area behind is converted into a new liveable space. With planning permission, you can have greater flexibility with a garage conversion and make changes to the exterior.

For the best possible finish, try to avoid making a converted garage from looking like an extension. Use materials that match the original house. Inside, ensure that the finishes match the adjoining room. Windows, skirting and door fittings should match the rest of the house. It is also important to use furniture that matches the dimensions of the new space. A garage may be small, so choose furnishings that maximise the space without making the space look smaller.

Planning Permission and Building Regulations

Planning permission is generally not required if the work on a garage is internal and the structure is not being enlarged. Consent may be needed if the work is being undertaken on a listed building or in a designated area, such as a conservation area. Before converting a garage, contact the local planning authority for information on whether planning permission is needed.

Building regulations apply to garage conversions if the garage is being converted into a habitable space. In these cases, building regulation approval is needed. The project must comply with requirements related to flooring, walls below ground level, ventilation and in-filling the garage door. Other parts of the garage conversion that may need to meet building regulation requirements include doors and windows, electrics, external and internal walls, roofs, and drainage systems.

Tips and Advice

The original garage door will likely need to be removed during a garage conversion and replaced with a new wall, door or window. A new foundation may be needed when building a wall. Before starting, the foundation should be assessed to determine if works are needed. When doing any excavation work, keep in mind that you may need to notify neighbours if a party wall is shared by adjacent structures.

The surrounding landscape may impact a garage conversion project, including the location of drains and sewers, tree root systems and the general condition of the soil. The soil must be capable of supporting changes to the structure or a new foundation. Knowing the type of soil and moisture properties will also help determine the depth of any new foundation work.

The flooring of the garage will need to be upgraded or replaced if converting the structure into a habitable space to ensure sufficient insulation and damp-proofing. An existing concrete floor can be used as a base with a new damp proof membrane, thermal insulation and flooring placed on top. Alternatively, timber joists can be used to lay new flooring above the original floor. This method is especially useful when levelling the garage floor with an adjacent room. Walls and the roof may also need insulating and weatherproofing.

Any new habitable space will need to be properly ventilated. As a general rule, a window should be added for each new room. A new window will usually not require planning permission, but must be energy efficient and double glazed. Alternatively, mechanical extract fans could be used for a new kitchen, utility room and bath or shower room.

Choosing a Builder

A garage conversion may involve any number of elements, including installing new floors, windows and doors. Repairs or upgrades may also be needed on walls and the roof, as well as electrics, drainage and insulation. The home's plumbing and heating system may also need to be extended into the garage. Since a garage conversion can be a very complex project, hiring a builder may be necessary. A qualified and experience builder will ensure that the conversion meets all building regulations to ensure it is safe and habitable.

Since a garage conversion can cost between £5,000 and £15,000 or more, it is important to trust your builder. Speak to family and friends about their experiences with garage conversions and if they have any recommendations. To find a qualified builder, check with the Federation of Master Builders. If you need help designing the project, use a qualified architect registered with the Royal Institute of British Architects.