If your home is starting to feel a little too small, or as though it is not quite right for you, it might be time to make some changes. However, before you start browsing the property ads, it might be worth seeing how you can adapt the space that you have already, rather than going through the stress and expense of moving home. Garages are increasingly used for storing an excess of stuff rather than for keeping vehicles safe and dry, so if you are lucky enough to have a garage, a conversion could be a good place to start.
We take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions so that you can determine whether a garage conversion might be the right thing for you.
Planning permission puts a lot of people off from converting their garage. However, before you give up out of hand, it is worth checking with your Local Authority as not all conversions require permission. Whether or not you need permission depends on whether the conversion is classified as a Permitted Development, and whether you live in a listed home, a Conservation Area or an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). In general terms, you are more likely to need planning permission if you are converting a detached garage than if you are converting an integral one. Likewise, if you are significantly changing the appearance of the garage (e.g. raising the roof or adding large windows), permission is more likely to be required.
Assessing your existing structure
If you have a garage that is ripe for conversion, the first thing you need to do is look at the structural framework that you have got to work with. The cost and viability of the conversion will depend on the walls, foundations and floors; a builder or structural engineer will be able to tell you whether what you have got to work with is sufficient, or if you need to make improvements to the structure as part of the conversion. Your builder will be able to tell you whether you need to improve your foundations and will factor this into their quote.
Even if your garage is structurally adequate for converting into a living space, it is unlikely that it will be as well insulated as the rest of your home. What’s more, in addition to making the extension comfortable for habitation, certain thermal regulations have to be met under building regulations. Insulation can be added to an existing garage by using insulated plasterboard which is fixed to timber battens. For single storey conversions, additional roof insulation will be needed too. Your builder will advise on appropriate insulation in terms of comfort, design, and cost as well as building regs.
Once you have the basics taken care of, you can start thinking about the exciting bits: the design and use of your new area. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more conversion inspiration, or get in touch with a trusted local builder to get a quote to transform your garage into a workable living space.