Garage Conversions

The Ultimate Guide

Reclaim the garage space and give it new life within your home

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One of the most significant changes that you could make to your home is to extend it. The building work, the planning and the sheer unparalleled potential that your home has to be more valuable all rests in the extension that you build. While there are several options out there, a garage conversion could be the best thing that you ever do for your house. 

You get a ton of benefits from learning how to convert your garage yourself, from the realisation that you have a lot of space available to utilise to the opportunity for more storage for your house. 

One of the quickest and best ways to expand your floor space, and you can do it without having to move out of the house that you love

The most popular reason that people choose to convert their garage is the value that it adds to the home. If you ever decide to sell your house, you want it to be in the best possible condition with the most potential to sell quickly; a garage conversion can offer you that.

A garage converted into a home officeA garage converted into a home officeA garage converted into a home officeA garage converted into a home office

Build a new home office in your newly converted garage

If you are looking into how to convert your garage, then this guide to garage conversion is exactly what you need. It's one of the quickest and best ways to expand your floor space, and you can do it without having to move out of the house that you love. There are endless ideas - some of which we'll explore in this guide - and you'll save a lot of money on this new venture. 

A garage conversion can up the value of your house by 10%, and if you're doing the full conversion yourself, you're going to find it the perfect project as you can make it suit your budget - whatever that is!

If all this sounds good, it's time to move on and start planning. Some of the information that you're going to read about in this guide includes:

  • What you need to know before you start

  • Let's talk about planning permission!

  • All about building regulations

  • Why you’d be rejected

  • What are the benefits of a garage conversion?

  • Costings

  • What’s involved in a garage conversion

  • Garage conversion ideas

Before You Start

If you are currently living in a listed building or you're on land that is considered to be a conservation area, then you need to get permission even for the smallest of changes.

There are a few things to be clued up on before you go ahead with your garage conversion, and the legalities surrounding the project you've got in mind need clarification. There are three issues you need to check before you start:

Your Lease

Did you know that you could need permission to convert your garage? Not everyone does, but in certain circumstances, you could end up making all the changes and then being forced to return everything to its original condition.

Checking your property deeds before you map out your plans and fall in love with an idea is just smart. There could be restrictive covenants in your lease that you're not even aware of, especially as there are some properties that have a restriction on work that could alter the exterior of the building. 

Sometimes, you can speak to the developer of your property and get the clause suppressed for a cost. But the other option here is to leave the exterior of the garage alone. And just focus on what's on the inside. 

This will depend on what you have in mind for your garage, as you may want to change the entire exterior. If you can't get the right permission, it's not worth risking it!

Planning Permission

Usually, planning permission is not required for a garage conversion. This is only something you need to get on top of if you plan to extend the garage size. Your local authority can give you more information about what your rules are for your property, and they're the best people to contact and find out more from.

If you are currently living in a listed building or you're on land that is considered to be a conservation area, then you need to get permission even for the smallest of changes.

If your garage is a standalone one, then it's more likely to need permission to change the way that you use it. Conversions from a garage space to a habitable room are a significant change, and it's always better to speak to the local authority and check the right information first.

Building Regulations

If you are planning to convert any area of the home. You have to ensure that you are adhering to the building regulations as set out by the government. Building control officers can inspect your project several times during the course of the build, and they can assess whether you are meeting the regulations.

Again, the rules aren't the same for every local authority, so you will need to check with yours to ensure that you are correct in your planning. A part of building regulations compliance, you'll need to deliver a building notice to your local council. Building regulations aren't just about the way you change the garage, but what you need to measure up to, including:

  • Ventilation

  • Moisture proofing

  • Insulation

  • Fireproofing

  • Escape routes in emergencies

  • Structural soundness

All of your planning and designs are supposed to take these things into account, and when you carve up your garage, you create a whole new room. When your house was built from scratch, the developer would have needed to adhere to building regulations to be signed off, and now you will have to with your new habitable space.

Your building inspector will want to check over all of this, plus the foundations, windows and doors - and this is all before you get that Certificate of Completion.

Why Would I Be Denied Permission?

Did you know that there are some situations in which your planning application can be turned down? Here are some of the scenarios that you could come up against:

Your building is listed. If this is the case for you, the exterior of the house (including the garage) may not be allowed to be changed.

Your drainage is affected. Some people choose to concrete over their gardens when they convert their garage which can affect their plumbing and drainage. If you plan to do this, you'd have to show the planning team in your local authority how you plan to combat possible flooding or blocked drains. This is a real possibility of which you need to be aware before you start.

You need more insulation. There are some planning teams out there that will ask that you dig up the flooring in your garage and insulate it all over again. As this is something that will affect your budget, you need to be able to show how you plan to do this.

A garage converted into a luxury master bedroomA garage converted into a luxury master bedroomA garage converted into a luxury master bedroomA garage converted into a luxury master bedroom

Has your family become larger? Is it now time for a new master bedroom?

What Are The Benefits Of Garage Conversion?

As a homeowner, your only options are to adapt your space or buy another house, and you get the chance to get creative while you do it

You'll already have in mind some of the benefits of the garage conversion - otherwise, you wouldn't be embarking on this project. However, it's always good to reiterate the benefits of a garage conversion: just in case you're having doubts!

Adding Value

We mentioned earlier that a garage conversion could add up to 10% of the value of your home onto it. You may have no plans to sell up any time soon, but knowing you've made improvements to the place you love to live in can be a way to spur you on to sell later. You could also add income with your garage conversion by choosing to rent out space to others. 

Achieving Goals

We live in a world where people work remotely, and if you've got the opportunity to work from home but have nowhere to do it, a garage conversion can change that. If you then have space, you can achieve your dream. Space becomes usable for anything you want to set your mind to.

Adding Space

Family growing? Business growing? Need somewhere to put the grumpy teenager? A garage conversion adds some much-needed living space. As a homeowner, your only options are to adapt your space or buy another house, and you get the chance to get creative while you do it.

Quick To Complete

A garage conversion is a perfect project for a self-builder, and you get a quick solution to the space you need for your family to grow. It could be everything that you're looking for right now for your home.

A garage converted into a home cinemaA garage converted into a home cinemaA garage converted into a home cinemaA garage converted into a home cinema

Convert your garage into a home cinema; don’t forget to soundproof!

What Will It Cost?

You must consider insulation in between the walls as well as the structure because you will want your garage space to be as energy efficient as possible

As with any large home renovation project, you need to look at your budget and the things that you have to pay for before you get started. We've put together a list of typical costs that come up when you are learning how to convert your garage. Let's take a look:

Changes To Structure

Compared to most other home extensions, the cost of the actual building is likely to be fairly low. This is because you're already working with a structure and you're not putting up new walls or ceilings to build a garage from scratch.

The Exterior Garage Doors

Garage doors are a popular renovation. Some like to let go of the traditional garage door in favour of sliding doors instead. For new doors, you could be looking in the region of around £1,300, especially if you're adding in a small window next to the door.

The Interior Doors & New Windows

The idea is that you want your conversion to be an extension of your house. Some people like to add a door from the home leading into the garage, while others like to put up a dividing wall and put a door in to create two separate rooms. 

Garages tend not to have windows in them, so you could choose to install new ones. New internal doors and windows could set you back around £600, but you can end up paying more if you decide to get new ones designed yourself.

The Flooring

A lot of the time, the floor of a garage is uneven and will require concreting over again. This has to happen before you add any type of carpet or vinyl flooring and to lay new concrete slabs can set you back up to £1,000 - especially if you bring in a professional to help with this side of it.

New Walls

Stud walls inside the garage can help you to split the space into a couple of rooms, which is especially essential for those wishing to set up a guest suite. You must consider insulation in between the walls as well as the structure because you will want your garage space to be as energy efficient as possible. A stud wall can cost around £750, but the cost of the build will depend on how many walls you need to install.

The Utilities

This has the potential to be one of your most significant costs when converting your garage. If your garage currently has no electricity or plumbing, you need to think about how much the installation of these will cost. 

You'll need heating and running water if you plan to have another bathroom, and you'll need to consider installing wiring for good lighting with extra plug sockets, too. A bathroom and a kitchen both require gas piping is installed.

Sockets for the electrics can cost around £100, and as you may not be able to install the plumbing and pipes yourself, you could be looking at up to £3,000 for the installation by a professional. When considering the utilities for the garage, don’t forget the heating. 

Having radiators and piping installed is important for the conversion, no matter how much insulation you add to the roof and the walls. This should be factored into your costings before you get started.

Other Things To Consider

The final exact cost of your garage conversion will depend on too many things to detail here. Every garage extension is different, and the quality of the finish varies for every project, too. You could spend £8,000 on a brand new kitchen, but if you choose to go for the best materials, you'll pay a lot more. 

For your garage, you should figure out your necessary costs, and then ensure that you've got more money to one side - just in case the price is more than you bargained for. Always remember, though, the cost of this conversion is still going to be less than buying a new home!

A garage converted into a home studio with a guy playing guitarA garage converted into a home studio with a guy playing guitarA garage converted into a home studio with a guy playing guitarA garage converted into a home studio with a guy playing guitar

A home studio would be a great addition for any budding musician

The Stages Involved In Conversion

You need to assess your garage, but the surrounding area to ensure you're not going to cause too much disruption to the drainage or buildings alongside your garage

It can really help you to plan your project effectively if you know the steps involved in a full garage conversion. Not only do you need to know what is included in the process, but you need to know how to satisfy the building regulations, too. Here are some things to consider as you plan:

New Garage Door

The usual garage doors that you see on a traditional garage are not the kinds of doors that you can use on a habitable space. An automatic door that opens to let cars it won't suit a new kitchen or living room. You'll need to think about an in-fill garage door, whereby the old design will need to be changed for a wall to have a new door and window instead. 

It's not as simple as changing the wall and door, as the need to put in a new wall requires more support, and you would need to dig deeper with your foundations because of this change. Not only will you need to assess your garage, but the surrounding area to ensure you're not going to cause too much disruption to the drainage or buildings alongside your garage.

Walls - Going Below Ground

Did you know that there are different foundations that need your attention if you are converting the garage? With these, you may need to think about the construction of the walls. Substructure walls - or those that go underneath the ground - have to support the superstructure - construction above the ground.

These are the walls that are required to be made from brick. Not only that, but those bricks have to be resistant to soil sulphates and frost.

Throwing Up New Walls

Two different types of walls may need to be constructed for the exterior of your garage. Those are:

Cavity Walls

These are two walls that have a space between them that is filled with insulation

Solid Walls

A single wall, but one which may not be right for a garage given the thermal insulation requirements today.

Walls that you construct externally have to be damp proofed and weather resistant so that your garage doesn't end up soaked. Your walls also need to be fire resistant as well as bear their own weight, the weight of the other walls and the roof.

Walls That Already Exist

Most garage walls still sit in the 'single wall' category, which means there is a strong possibility that they're not up to Building Regulations as they stand. It could be anything from damp proofing to fire resistance that is missing, and these walls may not be able to support a new roof that you've designed.

Garage Floors

Most existing garage floors are not designed with domestic use in mind. They're there to hold storage and a car if you use it to house your vehicle at the end of a long day. Don't panic, though, because that floor can be upgraded to suit your vision for your garage conversion. 

You can make it stronger, damp proof, insulated - you can even add a new layer of flooring to suit. Whether it will work for domesticity depends on which type of floor you want to install.

Solid Flooring

Solid flooring requires the upgrade of a DPM - or damp proof membrane. The options are between a liquid DPM or a solid DPM, and the liquid one is usually the best one for the garage when you are converting it. If you need it, this is where thermal insulation should be added on top. Then, you can plan a floating floor (usually wood).

Timber Floor

Your flooring that runs through the rest of your home may be constructed much higher above the ground. You can actually have a suspended timber floor in the garage that will equalise it to the level in the house.

The Roof

This will only be relevant if your garage has a roof on top of it rather than an existing extension from the main house. The roof of the garage is usually there to provide shelter for your car in the rain, but in a garage conversion, it's something that needs to be upgraded. There are a lot of options that need your consideration, including:

Flat Roofing

You should always ensure that you budget for ventilation for your flat roof, and you need a 50mm gap between the insulation and the roof.

Pitch Roofing

You can treat this like a loft, with insulation between the ceiling and the roof.

Ventilation Concerns

As you're turning your garage into a habitable space, you need to ensure that it's well ventilated at all times - just like you would your own house. The amount of ventilation that your roof requires really depends on what you plan to use the conversion for, so bathrooms and kitchens would need more than an office. 

You should ensure that you install a window that can open, but you should also consider trickle ventilators and extractor fans.

A garage converted into a home gymA garage converted into a home gymA garage converted into a home gymA garage converted into a home gym

A converted garage can also make for an awesome home gym environment

Garage Conversion Ideas

Extend to have a unique dining space, or even open the floor to create a place for kids to play

There are so many ways that you can transform your garage. And it's very likely that there are some you've even thought about. We've got a ton of ideas below for you so that you can make the best possible decision about what to do with your garage when you get planning started. Let's take a look:

An Additional Living Space

Some people choose to convert their garage simply to have their own living space extended, and they do this by swapping the garage door with a sliding door that is friendlier to use such as a sliding door. A sliding door can turn a dark garage to something more open with the light coming through. 

You can choose to drape the walls with fabrics to give the place a more textured look, warming up the previously cold space. You can also add rugs to the floor to make it a homelier space to be in. The more comfortable you make your conversion, the better it will look to buyers when you sell.

Full Renovation: Open Floor Plan

This is something that will only work if your garage is an extension of your home rather than a separate building. Demolishing the wall between the garage and the rest of the house to open up the floor space can really change the way the ground floor of your home looks. 

You can use this to build a new kitchen, extend to have a unique dining space, or even open the floor to create a place for kids to play. Natural light streaming in can help to add brightness and depth to the area like nothing before.

Family Lounge

Some homes around the globe have a much bigger floor space than UK homes, and it's these that give you the inspiration behind this idea. If the living space feels smaller with every addition to your family, why not create a second living area? 

A second family lounge can be a comfortable, close space for watching movies or chilling out for the evening. You could choose painted concrete flooring and tons of light and squashy couches to create a warm, comforting space to be.

A Sunken Lounge

The low ceilings of the garage can make the room feel tiny, so instead of allowing your garage to sit empty and feel 'too small' for a room, you should consider lowering your flooring. A sunken lounge can be created this way, adding height to the garage without moving the ceiling or walls. You can graduate the floor down with a flight of steps to get into it, and line it with sofas to create a TV room of your dreams.

Studio Room

There are some out there that are really embracing Airbnb, letting out entire floor areas of their home to people as somewhere to stay. You could do this by adding a stud wall in your garage to create a small ensuite shower room and installing a kitchenette to the main room alongside all the modern conveniences of a bedroom. 

This can allow you to have a room separate from the main house that you then let out for an additional income.

Art Studio

Have you ever wanted to have the right space with the right light and all of your easels and paints in one room? Well, by turning the back of the garage into a sliding glass door, natural light is going to pour into the room and give you tons of natural light to help you to paint what you want. 

Painting everything white to add more light and including roof, skylights can provide you with the perfect area to unleash your creativity.

A Master Suite

Some houses come with the right amount of bedrooms when you buy it, but not as time goes on. When you add a master suite to the house, you have a retreat for your teenagers to go to when they have friends over. The independence that you could provide them with in terms of the design of the room is going to be fantastic, and they could also help you with the project. 

Adding stud walls to create a separate wet room is the best way to include an entire suite here, and you'll have more than enough room for them. When you have guests over, you can swap the teenager back into the main house and use the master suite for guests.

Kids Playroom

Converting the garage with the right flooring, chalkboard paint and chunky rugs can mean you have created a play space that makes a difference. Not only will you have a haven for all the toys, but you can also give the kids the space to unleash a little artistry on your walls.

The Home Office

Working from home has become more popular than ever, and you can get tired of working at the kitchen table very quickly. There's no need for a makeshift office when you have a regular office to use instead. 

Use simple furnishings, install extra wiring for the computer and printer and you can even install a fridge to save time when you want a drink while you work. Converting your garage in this way gives you a quiet space to get work done without distraction.

Your garage conversion is a process, and for that process to turn out the way that you want it to, you have to adhere to building regulations and think about whether you need planning permission. The question is whether this garage conversion is going to be a worthwhile investment for your home, and this will depend on whether you have considered the best use of the space. 

What does your home really need? Is it going to be worth the money for you to leave the space empty?

Transforming your garage from somewhere that you house the car to somewhere that you live in takes time, effort, planning, money and sometimes, help. Even if you are a self-builder, sometimes you need to bring in the professionals for the bigger jobs so that you can get it done right. 

Take your time to design and plan your new garage conversion, and it can be a project that is worthwhile for your home and those within it.