How do I convert my garage into liveable space? | homify
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How do I convert my garage into liveable space?

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern
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It would seem that very few people actually use their garage to store a car, which means it usually ends up gathering dust – heaps and heaps of dust – not to mention endless clutter and garbage. 

Why not convert it into a habitable room in order to not only gain extra space (it can be turned into virtually anything from a kitchen-diner extension and extra bedroom to a home office or home gym), but also enhance the value of your home? 

But hold on before you start scrolling though our site searching for home design inspiration – let’s first look at the basic facts regarding garage conversions…

1. How much will it cost?

modern  by de-cube, Modern

Your average garage conversion will cost around £850—£1,150 per m² – if the walls and floor are stable, there is a watertight roof, and the ceiling height is sufficient to leave around 2.2—2.4 m of headroom after building up the floor by 15 cm above external ground level. 

In terms of design, fees usually range from £1,200—£2,500, plus £300—£400 for a structural engineer. 

Usually, garage conversions will cost more if the original structure is unsound. If you are going to spend a lot of money stabilising the building, it might be cheaper to knock the original garage down and build from scratch.

2. Is a conversion allowed?

House extension by DK Architects

In the majority of cases, the work involved in converting a garage will be classed as permitted development. However, if you live in a Conservation Area, a location where development can be restricted to protect the appearance of the surroundings, or on a new estate with strict guidelines, it’s recommend that you ask around what’s allowed.

If in doubt, apply for a certificate of lawful development from your local authority at a cost of £86.

3. When will I need planning permission?

Small U Shaped Kitchen Modern kitchen by Elan Kitchens Modern

Planning permission will be required in the following instances:  

• If you live in a listed building.

• If the conversion increases your home beyond your permitted development rights.

• If you are converting the space for business.

• If your council has restrictions on reducing parking.

Even if these restrictions apply, you should be able to convert the garage interior as long as the exterior is untouched.

4. And what about building regulations approval?

Miami Console | Black Amelie Mirror | Prestige Marble Flooring | Regal Freestanding Bath Classic style bathroom by Devon&Devon UK Classic

As a ‘change of use’, a conversion is subject to building regulations approval, so your local authority will need to be notified. You can use the council’s building control service or an approved independent inspector, costing around £300. 

To comply, the garage has to be structurally sound and have a damp-proof course; the walls, floor and roof will need to be upgraded for energy-efficiency, and all new and existing electricals will need to be tested to ensure safety, including in the house.

5. Do other permissions apply?

Sometimes there are legal restrictions on alterations to a property, so check the deeds to your home to see if permission is required from a previous owner. 

If the work affects a structure shared with an adjoining property, the Party Wall act will also apply.

6. Design details

Modern living room by homify Modern

To make that conversion successful (and increase your home’s saleability), it is important that the garage looks like a natural part of your home. Before work starts, commission scaled drawings of the finished project, indoors and out, and include details such as power sockets and furniture layout. Consider these points:

Exterior – The materials and windows replacing the garage door need to match up with the existing house.

Floor levels – The garage floor will usually be lower than the floor-level of the house, so try and avoid a step down into the room and raise the floor if the ceiling height allows. 

Access – Work out how the door’s position will affect the furnishing of the new room (i.e. will superior access be from the hallway or the kitchen?).

Natural daylight – If you can fit in more windows to make the new room feel more charming, then do so. 

Decorating details - Match the decorating basics to the rest of the house, but particularly to the room adjoining the conversion. 

Room proportions—Visually change the proportions of the room by using paint colours that make it feel bigger and brighter. Keep windows uncluttered and hang mirrors to reflect light and increase visual spaciousness.

7. Who can convert a garage?

Once you have all your ducks in a row, contact an architectural designer, or a specialist design and build contractor, who’ll help put your ideas into fully formed plans. Our list of professionals here on homify should put you in contact with these (and many more). 

There are companies that specialise in garage conversions, and although using one can save time putting together applications, any good builder will be able to do the job. Ideally, work with someone who has been recommended and is a member of an accredited body, such as The Federation of Master Builders.

Have a look at our guide if you’re wondering: “What do I need to know about planning permission?”.

What room would you turn your garage into?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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