The benefits of a garage conversion

With moving house a somewhat unattractive prospect for many people right now, expanding the home you live in might be a viable alternative.

Extensions and loft conversions can be the obvious choices.

But what about that extra, neglected room that is used solely for storing bikes, general household junk and other items accumulated over the years? We are, of course, referring to the garage.

By converting your garage into living space, you could not only make use of valuable but underutilised square feet, you could also take the opportunity to rid yourself of quantities of clutter. You could have your new room in your garage in just a matter of three or four weeks.

Garage conversions can be used for all kinds of purposes. Perhaps you want another living room or a new dining room, or maybe a study or office. A garage conversion can provide an extra bathroom or a larger kitchen. It can be a playroom or even a home gym.
However, converting your garage isn’t simply a matter of taking out a door and putting in a window. A conversion well done will require skilled workmanship and should be carried out by a reputable and experienced builder.

Once you’re ready to start, the good news is that it is unlikely your conversion will require planning permission.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as read, so it’s important to check before commencing work or you could make an expensive mistake. There can be circumstances where permission would need to be obtained.

For example if your house is in a conservation area or is listed, or if you also intend to extend the size of the garage.

Another thing to watch out for, particularly if you live on a development, is that there is no restrictive covenant in the deeds of the property prohibiting any change in appearance to the front of the house.

However, whatever the situation regarding planning permission, the conversion’s construction will be governed by building regulations, and lack of compliance can lead to the council enforcing an order retrospectively to return the garage to its original use.

Finally, don’t forget to talk to your neighbours. Let them know what you plan to do and listen to their concerns if they have any.

Although it might appear easy enough, converting a garage is not really a job for the average DIYer as building regulations are stringent and you need to know what you’re doing.

First and foremost, the foundations of the garage need to be sufficient to take the weight of the new front wall and its window, the roof and the adjoining walls.

Quite often this means the existing foundations need to be strengthened and just how this is achieved will depend on a number of factors, including soil type, and the proximity of nearby buildings, trees and drains.

Walls, too, could need up-grading as garages are often constructed from a single solid layer of bricks, rather than a double layer with a cavity in between.

An exterior wall will need extra insulation, as well as damp-proofing, and if there is a wall-to-wall link with a neighbouring property, sound-proofing will be necessary too.

In addition, flooring most likely will require strengthening for domestic use and it may be necessary to add a suspended timber floor to bring the level up to that of the main part of the house.

Similarly, the roof might need attention, especially if the existing one is flat and is to be replaced by a pitched roof.

Loft boarding can be laid to provide a base for insulation and storage space above the new room.

Finishing details would include the resiting of meters and fuseboxes if necessary, the linking of any radiators to the existing central heating system, and the installation of extractor fans, which are required for new kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

The aim of a good conversion is to make it blend in so that it appears to be an integral part of the property.

Add Value to Your Property

If this is achieved, the conversion will be an asset, possibly recouping its £10,000-plus cost by increasing the property’s overall value, or at the very least making the house more sellable when the time comes.

But of course, primarily, you should see your new room not as an investment, but as something that will enhance your standard of living.

Now that just leaves the problem of where to store those bikes....


JK Technical Services have acquired accreditation and membership of the following organisations.

Buy with Confidence Approved
LABC Partner
Smarter Planning
Member of the Federation of Small Businesses

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