Converting your garage – what needs upgrading?

Garage conversion, General

Planning to transform your cold dusty garage into a stylish living space? While you probably won’t require planning permission, you will need to make sure that the new space complies with building regulations. We take a look at the main upgrades you need to consider.

Foundations

Converting your garage - what needs upgrading?Converting your garage is likely to involve replacing your garage door with an infill wall. This means that you’ll need to investigate the foundations, as they might be too shallow to support the new wall.

If new foundations are required but money is tight, you could replace the garage door with a large window and panelling. Some owners even build an interior style block wall behind the original garage wall and insulate this.

Walls

Converting your garage - what needs upgrading?When it comes to your garage walls, it’s best to start by checking their stability and inspecting them for damage. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to think about insulation and moisture proofing.

Is your garage integral to the house? Then its external walls should already meet building regulations. If you have a detached garage, you can insulate it by installing a second block wall or stud wall inside the existing exterior wall. Insulation and power lines can be put behind this.

Depending on the construction of your garage walls, sound transmission can also be an issue if there’s a party wall between your garage and an adjoining house. We recommend asking your building control surveyor for advice, in case extra masonry or specialist acoustic partitions are required.

Flooring

Converting your garage - what needs upgrading?To improve its thermal performance, your garage’s concrete floor will need to be damp proofed and insulated. A Liquid damp proof membrane is the easiest option, as it can simply be painted it onto the floor, but solid membranes are also available. If you choose this option, make sure you create a seal by turning up the edges where they meet the wall.

Once the membrane is in place, you’ll need to add some thermal insulation on top. This could be a layer of screed (usually sharp sand and cement) or a timber covering. If the existing house’s floor is particularly high, we recommend fitting timber joists with a gap of at least 150mm between the concrete and the timber. You can then add a damp proof course underneath the timber and insulation between the joists.

Roof

Converting your garage - what needs upgrading?The easiest way to insulate your garage roof is at loft level and 270 mm of mineral wool is usually enough for pitched coverings. Alternatively, you could insulate at rafter level, allowing you to brighten up your conversion with roof lights.

Flat roofs need to be fitted with rigid insulation between and under the ceiling joists, with a ventilation gap above to prevent condensation.

Ventilation

Converting your garage - what needs upgrading?For health reasons, you need to make sure that your conversion is adequately ventilated, which means that it must have an opening window and trickle vents. The window should equal one-twentieth of the room’s total floor area and achieve the required U values.
If your garage conversion can only be accessed via another room, you’ll need to install a window with a clear opening of 450 x 733mm, in case you need to escape.

Electrics

Converting your garage - what needs upgrading?When it comes to jobs like fitting power points and servicing electrical equipment, you should always use a qualified electrician. It’s best to use a “registered competent person,” as they will be able to self-certify compliance with building regulations.

If your installer isn’t registered, some jobs will need to be inspected, approved and certificated by your local authority or a private approved inspector.

Are you planning to convert your garage into a living space? Why not check out our handy video guide?

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