Your guide - garage conversion
Converting your garage is a great way to add more living space to your home without having to carry out major building work. It is often the space where you store items that could be moved either to a shed or the loft, and converted to a room which is far more useful for your home.
Our garage conversion guide is here to offer a helping hand...
What can I do with my garage?
There are so many possibilities for a garage conversion, here are some ideas:
- If the garage adjoins your kitchen, create a larger open plan space which might include a family room or dining space
- A study if you work from home frequently
- A playroom or even more exciting, a cinema room!
- A lounge or snug is a good option if the rest of your home is open plan
- An extra bedroom and shower room - perfect for guests!
- A utility room
- A home gym
If your existing garage is large enough, you could create two new smaller rooms such as a playroom and utility room.
Do I need planning permission for my garage conversion?
Garage extensions are normally within permitted development as you are not actually changing the structure.
There are some conversions that you must always seek permission for, such as if you live in a conservation area, a flat or maisonette, or if the garage is a separate building.
You should always consult your local authority and confirm whether your plans are within the permitted development.
Do I need building regulations approval for my garage conversion?
Since you are converting your garage (or even part of your garage) to a habitable space, you will need to ensure the converted building complies with building regulations, even if you don't need planning permission. Building regulations checks will include the following:
- Fire safety
- Ventilation and insulation
- New structure
Building regulations do not supervise the builders work but ensure it meets a minimum standard.
A structural engineer will be able to complete the drawings required for building control and often can apply for building regulations on your behalf, but do confirm that they are covering this off.
You should get a completion certificate 8 weeks after completion - make sure you receive this.
What changes do I need to consider for the garage conversion to become habitable?
Windows and doors
Things to consider include:
- All new windows must be double glazed and energy-efficient to comply with building regulations
- Ventilation must be considered. Rooms where steam will be produced must have a higher level of ventilation, such as a fan and window.
- Where the original garage door was, it is likely you will lay new foundations, lay bricks and fit a new window. Ensure that the new window and brick work is in keeping with your original home if you want the space to blend in seamlessly.
- Make sure your new windows and doors comply with fire safety including having the appropriate means of escape in the event of a fire
It might be that your original garage roof is fit for purpose and water tight, but if it's not you will need to make changes. This might be a good time to change the structure so that it's in-keeping with the rest of your home, such as changing a flat roof to a pitched roof.
Insulation and damp proofing
All walls, floor, windows and roof must be insulated to meet building regulation standards as well as damp proofing the walls and floor. Insulation must meet U-values set out by building regulation as a minimum standard, note these are varied within the UK so check with your local authority.
It is advisable to invest in the best possible insulation rather than meeting the minimum standards, particularly if the room is going to be used as a bedroom or lounge.
Electrics and Plumbing
This is a great time to bring the electrics up to the standard in keeping with the rest of your home. Make sure you carefully consider the placement of electric points and lighting at this stage.
If you are incorporating a shower room or toilet into your new space, you will need to locate the existing water and waste outflow which will determine how straightforward the conversion will be.
Consider whether your existing boiler can be used to heat the new space or you can look at either underfloor heating or electric heating.
Who will help with my garage conversion?
There are various experts that you may need depending on the scale and complexity of your project.
A structural engineer will be responsible for producing the structural drawings and calculations that are required for building regulations.
Most garage conversions are straightforward and most homeowners have a clear brief and won’t require planning permission, so a structural engineer is likely all you need rather than an architect.
An architectural technologist (CIAT) is a great option if you have a clear brief and need help with planning permission. It’s unlikely that you will need a qualified architect (ARB) as they are experts on the design process and most garage conversion don’t require design inspiration.
If your garage conversion is in a run down property or a period property then it’s worthwhile appointing a surveyor at the outset to identify any issues that you may otherwise overlook. A surveyor will also be able to help with other issues including the Party Wall Act (England and Wales only).
Unless you are an expert yourself then you will need to appoint a builder. You can either choose a builder who can do everything and employs specialists (such as plumbers and electricians) or you can employ individuals and project manage the process.
Be aware that project managing various tradesmen that haven’t previously worked together might be challenging.
What is the cost of a garage conversion?
Garages are a more economical way of adding space to your home than a conventional extension. The costs vary greatly depending on the size of the garage, the condition of your current garage, what you will be using your garage conversion for (for example, a bathroom will cost more than a playroom), and also where you are located in the UK.
The building work for a single garage conversion will generally range between £800 - £1,300 per metre squared.
Additional costs to consider include:
- Roughly £1,000 - £1,500 for professional fees. This is likely to include structural engineer fees, building control fees and site inspections. If you are using an architect or a surveyor then you will need to budget more.
- VAT costs of 20%
- Fitting out the conversion including a bathroom, flooring, lighting, plastering and decoration. This depends very much on the look you want and can range substantially.
How long will it take to complete my garage conversion?
A straightforward garage conversion will take around 3 weeks, however expect longer if the original garage is in poor condition and needs a new roof.
Anything else to consider?
Before you go ahead and convert your garage, do check with local estate agents whether a separate garage is more sought after where you live. In some areas, a garage is very popular and by converting it, you could make your home less desirable when you come to sell it.
Also, you will likely use your garage to store a lot of "stuff"! Make sure you know exactly where you are going to put all of your contents of the garage before you start.
Published: September 30, 2018