Getting the lowdown on garage conversions

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New House overlooking a Reservoir Robin Ashley Architects Modern garage/shed Stone
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Garage conversions are absolutely exploding in terms of popularity right now and it's hardly surprising. A simple and common sense way to access untold amounts of useful extra living space, a garage conversion is likely to cost far less than packing up and moving to a new property that has the extra space that is so desperately needed and unless there is a priceless car that needs storing on the property, why would anybody simply waste the room on tools and junk that shouldn't be in the home?

Garage conversion ideas are far more varied than you might think. It's not just a case of knocking a door through, into the main body of a home, as certain steps need to be taken in order to maintain comfort and practicality. 

This guide should answer any and all questions about the hows, whys and costs of carrying out a garage conversion.

Why consider one?

New House overlooking a Reservoir Robin Ashley Architects Modern garage/shed Stone
Robin Ashley Architects

New House overlooking a Reservoir

Robin Ashley Architects

Garage conversions are as personal and different as the houses that they are connected to, with a wide variety of styles, from a detached garage conversion through to a connected style being on offer. The real question is, what can these buildings be transformed into and which options are most practical? The potential really is endless.

Potential functions for a garage conversion:

1. To enlarge a kitchen.

When a garage butts up against the exterior wall of a kitchen, it can be useful to knock through and open up the whole room, perhaps to incorporate a dining area.

2. To add an extra living room. 

Any family home can benefit from more than one relaxing area. Especially when young children need to be accounted for. A pseudo playroom would be a great addition.

3. To create a utility room.

It's always a bit of a bind to try and squeeze a washing machine and laundry area into a home, but with a dedicated utility space, every other room can simply be left for the function it was designed for. Perfect!

4. To add an extra bedroom.

When a family outgrows a house, it seems like the only option is to move, but with a garage conversion, an extra bedroom can be enjoyed for a fraction of the cost. Teens, in particular, will love having a brand new space to call their own.

5. To create a home office.

Whether a space is needed for homework or professional endeavours, a home office is a valuable addition to any home. Being able to run an enterprise from home can significantly reduced business costs and will mean that a garage conversion pays for itself almost instantaneously.

6. To add a media room.

For party-loving or film buff households, a garage can be quickly transformed into a self-contained media or cinema room. Even audiophiles will love this idea, as wit the right sound deadening in place, a listening room would be a doddle to create as well.

7. To install a home gym.

Not everybody enjoys the experience of working out in public, which is why home gyms are fast becoming the norm. A garage is a fantastic space that could easily account for some machines and free weights.

8. To craft a granny annexe.

Though the name might not be very flattering, a self-contained annexe is a wonderful way to account for extra family members that need to move in. An open-plan studio design would work very well and a small shower room would really make everything autonomous. 

How much will it cost?

The big issue that concerns anyone considering an expansion project is the cost of garage conversion processes. Luckily, the costs can be broken down very simply.

General approximations cite that a garage conversion will come in at between £1,000—£1,250 per square metre. This is accurate when the building itself is stable and secure, with a watertight roof and a decent concrete pad in place. 

Thought it might sound easier to convert a garage that is already connected to a home, in some cases, it is actually more cost-effective to demolish, redesign and rebuild, as a lot of internal structural work could be required to open up the two spaces properly.

In terms of design fees for a garage conversion, anywhere between £1,200—£2,500 should be budgeted for, excluding the fees for a structural engineer to sign off the plans. This generally comes in at around £400 in the UK. 

A standard single garage conversion, which accounts for a space of around 18 square metres, should cost between £17,00 and £24,000, depending on the finish specs and a double will be twice this amount. VAT will also need to be properly calculated.

Things to think carefully about.

There are lots of things to think about when considering a garage conversion. Naturally, the professionals involved in the project will be able to give a comprehensive list of decisions that need to be made, but some of the most pertinent ones include:

1. Structural integrity.

The soundness of a garage building will need to be properly assessed, to determine whether it might be more appropriate to demolish and rebuild.

2. Potential added value to a property.

If the cost of a garage conversion cannot reasonably be recouped in terms of adding value to a property, it might not be worth completing. While people may not be considering moving home in the future, unforeseen circumstances are always a possibility and could see homeowners being left out of pocket.

3. Utilities need to be priced.

It's vital that the structural and building costs are not the only things to be considered, as installing plumbing and electrics will add to the overall price significantly. Not only this, but the second fix is also a costly process, with plastering and decorating to be paid for as well.

What about planning permission?

It can be easy to forget, but garage conversion planning permission is absolutely essential, especially if the height or shape of the structure is going to be changed in any way.

In most garage conversions, permission will be granted quickly, as it is a simple development of something that is already in place, but for listed buildings or those in areas of conservation, the rules might be a little more stringent. Applying for planning permission costs just £172 and offers peace of mind that a lawful building is being built, which cannot be knocked down later for flouting the rules.

If in doubt, planning permission should always be looked into.

It'll need to be signed off!

Converting a garage in a small studio Belle & Cosy Interior Design Modern garage/shed
Belle & Cosy Interior Design

Converting a garage in a small studio

Belle & Cosy Interior Design

Planning permission is one thing, but building regulations approval is a separate issue. Your local council will need to agree to your proposed changes and sign off on the completed work, but there is an extension of the law to consider as well.

If you are converting your garage to the extent that it will be significantly changing the intended use of the space, the council will need to send an inspector round, costing £300, to make sure it is a fully habitable room. This means that proper insulation, a recognised amp proof course and all suitable utilities must be in place.

Other permissions, such as party wall agreements, could also come into effect, if a garage adjoins to a neighbour's property. The best course of action is to speak to the neighbours ahead of submitting any plans, just to check that they have no issues with the proposals.

Essentials to budget for.

​velux loft conversion surrey homify Modern houses

​velux loft conversion surrey


This is something of an endless list, but what you are planning to use your garage for will naturally impact on the materials and considerations that you absolutely need to account for. A good rule of thumb is to think about the following:

1. Access and lighting.

Doors and windows need to be thought about carefully, as natural light and ease of use will be a really important facet of the project. Skylights can be a great option for when wall windows would disrupt the façade too much.

2. Second fixes.

The finishes that you select need to be dictated by the functionality of the space. Plaster and paint, not to mention flooring, will all be top priorities, as well as electrics and plumbing.

3. Ventilation.

Whether someone will be adding a bathroom, kitchen or bedroom to what was a garage, ventilation is key. Air bricks are a simple and cost-effective method for ensuring that dam,p never becomes an issue, as well as windows that can be opened.

Who can carry out the work?

Private gothic mansion fully restored with new garden room to terrace, brick built courtyard and grand entrance gates Des Ewing Residential Architects Country style garage/shed
Des Ewing Residential Architects

Private gothic mansion fully restored with new garden room to terrace, brick built courtyard and grand entrance gates

Des Ewing Residential Architects

To get a truly perfect garage conversion, it's essential that the right tradespeople are hired to carry out the work. A specialist garage conversion company is always a good bet, as the team will have specific experience that will make the process a whole lot smoother, but there are extra experts that need to be consulted as well.

An architect will need to be drafted in, to design the space properly and a structural engineer will need to sign off on the plans, to make sure that all structural integrity will be kept. If a team of construction workers is already in place, they might be able to recommend a design team that they have worked with before, so it's always worth asking their opinion. As with any building project, it is advisable to get three quotes and to properly think about which one is right.

Some people, with some experience of DIY projects, might like to carry out the work themselves and while this can be a cost-effective idea, building regulations will still need to be followed. If in doubt, it is always better to hire professionals.

Unconventional garage extension ideas

If you're interested in garage extension ideas that can add some oomph to your home, think about adding something unexpected like an office or a personal gym. This could be the optimum area for getting work done, since it's quiet and away from the rest of the home. A gym would be an equally good idea, just be sure to use it enough to warrant it (what a great motivator!). In this conversion, the professionals turned the garage into a garden office. It would be the perfect place to get some work done.

And for

double garage conversion ideas? Think about making a room solely for the kids, or just for you, or both — you could split the garage into two rooms if you have enough space. The possibilities really are endless.

Looking for more garage conversion designs? Organise your garage after a look through

this ideabook


Giving yourself a clean slate.

Garage conversion STAAC Double Garage White

Garage conversion


Remember that one of the toughest parts of sorting through garage extension designs is finding one that will work for you and fit your space. Once you do have an extension built, it might be nice to give yourself a clean slate to think of designs — you may not need to hire an interior designer depending on what the room will be used for. However, if you do want some help in decorating, consider speaking to a professional before you start building.

Double garage conversion ideas

If you're looking for garage extension ideas for double garages, you might know that it's a bit pricier than a single garage conversion. But the benefit of adding value to your home may be worth the initial costs, so it's worth consulting professionals to see what you can do with your double garage. You could use up more of your home this way, and it could be a great way to introduce more space if you have a larger family.

Looking for more ideas? Have you considered a garden room?

Are you giving more thought to a garage conversion now?

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