George Clarke, architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man, explains why a garage conversion can be a good investment.
The humble domestic garage is at a turning point. Why? Because usable floor areas in the home have increased so much in value that thousands of families are looking to turn the space into a more habitable room. This isn’t a bad choice to make, especially as it has become common for a garage to be used for nearly anything but storing a car. Often, when I open the garage door in someone’s home, I find storage boxes, an extra fridge or freezer, tools and piles of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. What a waste of space. All of this (especially the gardening equipment) can be relocated to a small shed. Obviously, if it is difficult to park in your area or your insurance stipulates that your car must be garaged overnight then you’d be mad to convert it but, from what I’ve seen, most homes with adjoining garages are in areas where the family motor often sits on the drive.
When planning a garage conversion, you need to spend some time thinking about the best use of the space, and what you and your home really need. The most cost-effective garage conversions are those where you don’t have to make big structural changes, so a more self-contained room works best – such as a guest bedroom, new office, separate playroom, snug or TV room for the children.
Garage conversions of this nature are affordable. On average, they cost between £10,000 and £20,000, depending on the specification. In one of the homes featured in an episode of Channel 4’s The Home Show we were more radical, breaking out a wall that divided the existing living room from the garage to create a large open-plan kitchen/living room in the space. It was incredible, and completely changed the way the family used its home. However, as we were relocating the kitchen and refurbishing more than just the garage, this project cost closer to £50,000. Yes, this is a lot of money, but the property value increased substantially, so that it was worth every penny.
Always check with your local planning department before you start work. You may need full planning permission for a garage conversion in your area, but it will be much quicker and cheaper if you can proceed using your property’s permitted development rights.
Credit: Jefferson Smith