Garage Conversion: All You Need to Know

If your garage has become a bit of an underutilised dumping ground — is now the time to convert your garage into usable living space instead?

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A garage conversion is one of the most cost-effective and least disruptive home improvements you can embark on if you are looking to add some extra living space.

It’s also a great way to add value to your home — a good garage conversion can add as much as 10% to the overall value of your property.

If you’re planning on converting your garage, then careful planning is required to make the most out of the opportunity.

Do I Need Planning Permission to Convert my Garage?

Not normally, no. In most cases, a garage conversion will fall under permitted development — particularly if you are not altering the actual structure of the building.

However, if you are converting a separate, stand-alone garage as opposed to an integral one, then you may have to apply for a change of use.

If you live in a Conservation Area or your property is listed then you will almost certainly require permission.

If you live in a relatively new build, check that there is no planning condition attached to the garage stating that it has to remain as parking — if this was the case, an application would need to be submitted to remove this condition.

Garage Conversion Pros

  • Design Control: Converting a garage means every step of the design process is under your control, subject to technical and legal restrictions

  • Added Value: Moving house costs money that can’t be recouped. But converting a garage into a habitable room adds more value to your home than it costs in most cases

  • Cost Effective Way to Add Space: Conversion costs for the average garage are between £5,000 and £8,000

  • Local Amenities: Moving children from school and families from local facilities and communities is difficult and sometimes expensive. Remaining at your current address but with additional living space is a better solution for many

  • Contract Control: One in 10 house sales falls through because one party changes their mind. If you choose conversion you’re the sole decision maker

  • Council Tax: Moving from a three to a four bedroom house could put you up a council tax band. A garage conversion leaves council tax bands unaffectedDo I Need an Architect?

    This depends on the scale and complexity of the project, but you have multiple options when it comes to designing the space.

    Architect or Architectural Designer

    Using Architecture North will mean expert design input and ideas that you might not have thought of. In addition, a design professional will usually have experience of dealing with Building Control and should have useful contacts when it comes to hiring trades.

    In terms of fees, expect to pay from as little as £1,200 right up to £3,000, depending on the complexity of the design.

    Can I Design it Myself?

    Some people choose to come up with a design themselves and carry out all the work they can on a DIY basis — a good option for those with limited funds and the spare time to get stuck in.

    Builder

    You could also use a recommended builder — most good builders will be able to take on a garage conversion.

    Garage Conversion Specialists

    These companies will have plenty of experience in terms of dealing with any planning issues surrounding garage conversions, as well as building regulations. They can see the project through form conception to completion.

    How Much Does a Garage Conversion Cost?

    A basic integrated garage conversion will cost from around £1,000 – £1,250 per square metre.

    Factors that will affect cost:

    • the foundations need reinforcing

    • the walls, floors or roof are in dubious condition

    • the ceiling height will need to be raised (you need around 2.2-2.4m of headroom once the floor has been raised to 15cm above the external ground level)

    • design fees

    • planning applications

    • the services of a structural engineer

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BEFORE

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AFTER

Do I Need to Update the Foundations?

Your foundations will need assessing in cases where you are:

  • filling in the space left by a garage door

  • adding new windows and doors

  • building up and above the garage

You can either contact a structural engineer to investigate for you or dig a trial hole and ask building control to come and view the foundations.

Some garages were built with a continuous foundation across the front, in which case, it may be fine to build on.

What if the Garage Foundations are Inadequate (or Absent)?

You will probably need to build new foundations to support the infill wall, the depth of which will depend on the soil conditions and any windows and doors you plan on including.

Creating a two storey garage extension by using the space above the garage leaves the footprint of the house the same yet adds valuable space