If, like many of us, you never put your car in the garage and instead it's just a place to store a variety of 'rarely used items' (to put it politely!) you may have considered converting that space into a more usable part of the house. A good garage conversion can help to improve your quality of life and add value to your home, but what do you need to keep in mind? We run through the important points.
Where do I start?
It's a great help if you already have an idea about what you would like the converted garage to be once it has been completed, whether that's a kitchen extension, kids' playroom, extra bedroom, utility room, office, gym, or whatever you may like. If you're interested in a quite significant development then contact an architect who can produce professional plans for you.
Who should I talk to about a garage conversion?
If you just want a simple conversion into a general purpose room then things are quite straightforward and any good builder should be able to help, though we recommend checking out reviews and examples of their previous work on TrustATrader.com as well as discussing the job in some detail to make sure you agree on what exactly will be done. If you have architect's plans, these can be used by the builder to create the new space.
Can I do the conversion myself?
It's possible to do much of a conversion task yourself if you have some experience of building work, but bear in mind that your work will need to be regularly inspected by a building control officer, and anything that doesn't meet regulations will have to be redone at your own expense.
Dealing with the door
The old garage door will need to be replaced with a wall or may include a window (normal height or floor to ceiling). New windows don't need planning permission but should be double-glazed and energy efficient to be approved by your local building control department. New foundations may be required; your architect or builder will be able to advise.
You may wish to change a flat roof to a pitched one, which can help make the conversion blend in better with the rest of the house. Remember that if you are doing more than a few repairs to the roof the work will need to be approved by building control.
Bathrooms/shower rooms and kitchens must include extractor fans to meet regulations. For other purposes, an opening window and air bricks or trickle vents should be enough.
Walls, windows, floor and ceiling need to be insulated to meet building regulations and to prevent the conversion becoming a cold, damp room. Rooms which will be occupied for long periods such as bedrooms and living rooms will need more insulation than a utility room or similar.
Either run a new radiator from your existing boiler if possible, or if that's not practical you could try electric heaters, on the wall or underfloor.
Plumbing and Electrics
This work must be signed off by the building control department, so don't try to do this yourself unless you're a professional. It's worth getting several electrical sockets put in to make sure there are enough for any future use of the new room.