Garage conversions – what you need to know

Garage conversion, General

Lack of space in your home driving you mad? Yes, it’s a terrible pun, but adding space to your home by converting your garage into a liveable space really can be a great way to relieve the tension of living in a home that you have outgrown. Not only do you get a larger living space, but you can even add as much as 10% to the value of your home.Garage conversions - what you need to know

While converting the garage might seem like a perfect way to use wasted space (very few people actually use their garages for car storage!), there are a few things you will need to bear in mind before you get started.

Planning permission

In almost all cases, you will not need planning permission to convert your garage, as it comes under permitted development, however, check with your council if you live in a listed home or in a conservation area.Garage conversions - what you need to know

For some properties, the right to convert a garage has been removed. This might be because the council has wanted to retain parking areas to prevent street parking or because of the aesthetics of the street frontage. Also, if you change the structure or size of the garage you will need to check with your council as it may fall outside of permitted development.

Building regulations

Garage conversions - what you need to knowAll garage conversions will need building regulations approval. This will mean that the local officer will need to check that the correct doors and windows have been used, that the right drainage is in place and that all of the structural elements are suitable for the room you have created. Building regulations officers will look at the following:

  • Foundations: One of the main areas that will concern your building regulations officer is the type of foundation that is in place on your current garage. In most cases, it is too shallow for the additional weight of a new wall, window or door where the garage door used to be. If the conversion is to be double height, the foundations need to be even deeper. Your builder will need to dig out new foundations and maybe even talk to a structural engineer to ensure the new foundations are correct.
  • Thermal proofing: A garage isn’t made to be warm and cosy, and in fact, ventilation and airflow are important in a garage so it will be draughty too. You don’t want your new room to be like this at all. The floors, walls and roof of your garage will need to be insulated and improved to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements for energy efficiency inside your new room. These rules also cover the windows and doors that are used.
  • Structural changes: As part of the conversion you may choose to change the line of the roof or install new windows, doors, entrances or walls – both inside and out. If any of these affect the overall structure of the space, it will need to be looked at by Building Regulations.
  • Drainage: If your conversion is going to have a bathroom or toilet you will need to ensure that you have good access to drainage and that sewers are correctly used. You might also find that the garage has been built over existing drains. Your household plans may give you some insight into this.

Garage conversions - what you need to knowYour garage conversion is a great idea and will allow you to enjoy your home much more easily even as your family expands. Taking advantage of that little used space will improve the value too. But you will need to find a new hiding place for all your stored junk!

Watch our useful video for some guidance.

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