A garage conversion is a popular option to extend your current living space. If you're considering taking on the project yourself, here are a few things to consider.

Archmngers Stego garage conversion - grand designs 

Image: Archmongers Stego garage conversion. Photo: French + Tye

A garage can be a huge selling point for a home, but if you also have off-road parking, you may find that this space has become the designated dumping ground for the family. 

If you need more space and want to improve, not move, a garage conversion could be an effective and affordable option that can be enacted quickly and add significant value to your home. 

Here's what you need to know before starting out on your garage renovation journey. 

Planning permission

Check with your local authority to see whether a planning application is required. In many urban areas, permitted development rights have been revoked for garage conversions as councils are worried about the knock-on effects of people parking on the street. Even if it is considered permitted development, always obtain a Lawful Development Certificate.

If permitted development rights have been removed, you can still make a full application, which would also be necessary where larger external changes are planned.

As well as knocking through into an attached garage, it’s possible to add a storey on top – although this isn’t as simple as it seems. Planning permission would be required, and planners don’t favour such projects in streets of semi-detached houses because of the potential for the whole road to have a monotonous flat facade – the so-called ‘terracing’ effect.

Strong foundations

The majority of these structures lack strong foundations, in which case you’d need to knock it down and rebuild. Even if the foundations are sound, you’ll need to factor in upgrading the fabric of the garage, such as by adding lots of roof insulation.

OBA Elmsdown 2 credit Martin Gardner

Image: Garage conversion project by OB Architecture. Photography: Martin Gardner

Insulation

Converting a garage into a liveable space requires warmth, therefore it must have insulation. One of the most crucial factors when beginning to insulate a garage is making sure it’s completely airtight. Garages aren’t built to contain heat and more than likely you will find lots of airgaps leading to the outside. You can insulate the walls, ceiling, and doors of the garage but if you fail to fill the gaps, it will be a big struggle to keep the area heated.

The three main forms of insulation for a garage are:

  1. Fibreglass insulation
  2. Cellulose insulation
  3. Foam insulation

Ultimately the decision is up to you when it comes to deciding which insulation material to use. There are many different types of insulation to which satisfy different objectives.

de rosee sa garden room converted outbuilding - grand designs

Image: This new garden room, designed by De Rosee Sa replaces an outbuilding and includes a small kitchen, studio bed, shower room and toilet. Photo: Alex James

Making use of the existing structure

Replacing the garage door with a window is relatively easy because you can use the existing lintel, then infill using a similar material, whether that’s brick, render or stone. If converting a single garage, make the long, narrow proportions of the room work to your advantage by splitting the space in two. The rear area could be used as a utility room accessed off the kitchen or as an en suite.

Creating a link 

Archmongers Stego garage conversion: photo FRENCH TYE

Image: Architect Archmongers extended a 1980s end-of-terrace in south London, linking the property to a bedroom that was converted from a garage at the end of the garden. This radical project cost £210,000. Photo: French + Tye

When converting an attached garage, it should be relatively easy to link more cohesively with the rest of your property, whether you knock through or choose to retain a door to the space. 

If the garage is relatively close to the house, the decision to link them depends on the way you live and how you intend to use the space in the future. Adaptability is also important – it might start off as a playroom for your children, but have the potential to become a media room or home office in years to come.

A separate garage conversion may provide a better option for an annexe. You will also need to factor in providing utilities to the garage, including electricity, if it doesn't already have it, as well as water if you're looking to create a self-contained space. 

Cost

According to MyJobQuote, the average cost of a garage conversion is £13,500, but this could vary as much as £7,500 to £20,000 depending on the complexity of the project. The largest costs involved are ensuring the foundations are strong enough and infilling the garage door. 

The average project lasts 2-4 weeks. 

 

Are you planning on converting your garage for more living space? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page.  

 

RELATED ARTICLES

6 clever ideas for gaining an extra bedroom

Double storey extensions 'could be allowed without planning permission

4 ingenious built-in storage solutions for small and awkward spaces

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
visit-award-winning-grand-designs-live-hosted-by-kevin-mccloud
 
 
victorian-school-conversion-clerkenwell
Conversions

Inside a former Victorian school cookery given a new hotel-luxe style

Take a tour of this former cooking and laundry school turned contemporary apartment in Clerkenwell, London.
how-to-create-a-multigenerational-home
Conversions

How to create a home fit for a multigenerational family

Whether for adult children or elderly relatives, multigenerational living is a growing trend that can be improved in practice by good design.
hemp-barn-conversion
Conversions

Inside a barn conversion pioneering hemp as a building material

Using innovative, carbon-negative hempcrete, this conversion project is a masterclass in innovating with sustainable materials.
loft-conversions-with-the-wow-factor-3
Conversions

Loft conversions with the wow-factor

Loft conversions can add space, light and balance to a home. Here are some of 2019’s best, all with real wow-factor.
discover-this-flamboyant-restoration-of-a-derelict-dublin-townhouse
Conversions

Discover this flamboyant restoration of a derelict Dublin townhouse

Tour this characterful renovation project of a vast Georgian townhouse in Dublin.
renovate-heritage-buildings-to-tackle-climate-change-says-historic-england
Conversions

Renovate heritage homes to tackle climate change, says Historic England

The government sponsored body has called for a cut to VAT for renovating and retrofitting historic buildings in the UK.