Converting an Unused or Partially Used Garage Into a Living Space

home-improvement-projectsGarage conversions can be a low cost way of increasing the space available within your home because adding or modifying an existing garage would be the cheap option when compared with building a brand new extension. If you own a single garage, many modern cars such as 4×4’s are even too large to be accommodated in the garage so if you do not use your garage in any meaningful way other than a general dumping ground for your old possessions or if the garage remains empty, it could be a wise option to consider converting the garage space into another room which could be put to better use.

Do I need garage conversion planning permission?

In most circumstances since new UK regulations came into force on 1st October 2008, the permitted development regime which covers the conversion of garages changed so that planning permission is not usually required. However, the main stipulations are that the work is internal and that it does not involve increasing the size of the building.

One aspect that you should be aware of is that some buildings will have development rights restricted by a clause in the deeds of the property. This is often the case in new estates, so homeowners are often not permitted to change “the look” of the house as it may not fit in with the perceived view of the developer for the estate. In these instances it is important to check the deeds of your house and contact the developer to see if there is any negotiation on the issue. They may be prepared to waive the clause for a fee.

It should be noted that this advice is aimed at houses not flats or other buildings and that there will be different rules if the property is a listed building. The conversion of a garage, or part of a garage, into habitable living space will normally require approval under the Building Regulations.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever about any of the legal requirements for building a garage conversion, you should certainly consult with your local authority beforehand.

Can I convert my garage?

Provided that you have checked the legalities of whether your are able to convert your garage and it all checks out fine, technically you would be able to convert most if not all types of garage.

A non exhaustive list of the types of garage that you could convert is –

  • Single garage
  • Double garage
  • Tandem garage
  • Detached garage
  • Integral garage

If your garage is not connected to your home, you should consider any difficulties in connecting utilities to the converted garage from the main part of your house as part of your conversion plans.

Garage conversion ideas

If your garage space is roughly 10 square metres or more, your options for converting your garage are pretty much endless. Very common reasons for a garage conversion are –

  • Second reception room
  • Dining room
  • Home office
  • Kid’s playroom
  • Kitchen/utility room
  • Extra bedroom
  • Extra bathroom
  • Home cinema room

One of the most common reasons for a garage conversion is to create a home office. In many ways if your desired garage conversion is for a study or home office, it is ideal to convert a detached garage. This means that you will be separated from the main distractions of the house but your office and any creature comforts are literally on your doorstep should you need them.

Think carefully about the reasons for converting your garage. Obviously you want to convert for practical reasons e.g. more space, but also take into account how others would view the conversion. This is important should you want to move house in the future because if a potential buyer was to view the conversion as incongruous you may put someone off from buying your house. Similarly, if you are London based you should consider the premium at which parking is valued in the area and whether it is worth removing your parking space in favour of an extra room. As a general rule, increasing the living space in your home will add value to your home rather than retaining the garage, however, this is not always the case so it would pay to do some research in your area beforehand.

Contacting a garage conversion company

You may want to consider a diy garage conversion, however, unless you are a technically very skilled diy’er or you are a trained builder it would be wise to hire a professional as they should be able to advise on the build required, any legal or building regulations and do the job to a high standard. Typically a professional garage conversion company would do the conversion a lot quicker than a diy’er so take the amount of work and disruption into account. There are a variety of garage conversion companies that would be willing to convert your garage. By filling in the garage conversion quote form below, you can receive up to 3 different quotes from reputable specialist garage conversion companies free of charge.

Getting a garage conversion quote

You should aim to obtain at least three different quotes for garage conversion work and ask them to describe what they will do in fine detail. The clearer your requirements, the more accurate your quote will be.

If you receive a range of quotes that vary wildly in price for the same work it is worth contacting the more expensive companies and requesting whether they will be prepared to beat your best price. Some companies will use a different standard of materials so cost comparisons may be difficult, but it is always worth giving the company an opportunity to lower their prices based on a competitor.

When choosing which quote to accept take into account the following factors:

  • Ask for references of their previous garage conversion work.
  • Agree a timescale to get the garage conversion completed.
  • Check exactly what has been included in the quote. For example, does the quote include the removal of rubble, etc? Is electrical wiring or plumbing included? If you aren’t sure about any aspect of the quote, always ask for clarification.
  • Ensure that the garage conversion company is properly qualified to do the work and ensure that they have adequate insurance.
  • A like for like comparison between the quotes can be difficult as some builders will use better quality materials than others so take each quote on its own individual merit.
  • When you are happy with a particular quote, make sure that you receive a fully itemised contract so that no misunderstandings can occur prior to the work beginning.