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Should I convert my garage to a room? A guide for beginners
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05 February 2021

Should I convert my garage to a room? A guide for beginners

Daniel Strieff
Writer & Editor

Most of us are spending more time at home nowadays than ever before, so it’s natural to search for ways to get as much living space out of our existing properties as possible.

That, combined with the accelerated home-working trend, has encouraged many homeowners to consider converting their garages into livable spaces.

Whether you have a detached garage (a separate building from your house), attached garage (connected to your house), or an integrated/integral garage (built within the four walls of your house), conversions can add value to your home and offer more habitable space. What’s not to like?

To help you get started, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to garage conversion.

What should I consider before embarking on garage conversion?

Before plunging in, you should think through whether it’s the right thing to do.

To begin, you’ll need to determine whether you have other parking options on, or close to, your property. After all, if you can no longer use the garage to park your car, you’ll probably need an alternative.

And most of us also use our garages for storage, so converting that space into a living area means we’ll need to find a new place to park our bits and bobs. Do you have a garden shed or other place you can store these things?

What can I convert my garage to?

It depends on what you want to get out of your added space and the particularities of your garage, but possibilities abound.

Some popular options include:

  • Home office
  • Living room
  • Extra bedroom
  • Studio for music, art, or to use as a cinema
  • Home gym
  • Utility room
  • Children’s play-room
  • ‘Granny flat’ or annex

What are some benefits of converting my garage?

Converting a garage is a popular move for a number of reasons, including:

  • It’s a cost-effective way of extending your living space
  • It’s a home extension that won’t cut into your garden area
  • It can boost your property value
  • It should be minimally disruptive because most of the work will occur outside your main living area
  • It’s an underused space anyway. For example, several years ago, a study by RAC Home Insurance found that nearly half of British garages were no longer being used to store vehicles. Many Britons are parking their cars in drives or on the street, and using garages as overflow storage for tools, gardening equipment, or bicycles.

Garage conversions aren’t just a growing trend in Britain.

According to the BBC, they’re gaining popularity in cities around the world. No longer just an extra income stream for property owners who rent out detached garage conversions, they’re also helping ease big cities’ housing problems.

Do I need planning permission to convert my garage?

It depends.

But as a general rule, if you’re converting your garage into a separate home, increasing your garage’s size, or if your renovations lead to significant changes to your property’s exterior, then you will need planning permissions.

To that end, planning permission is usually required for detached garage conversions because such renovations qualify as a ‘change of space’.

But planning permission isn’t typically required for attached garage conversions as long as the work is internal and doesn’t enlarge the building.

Exceptions are if you live in a listed or conservation area. In those cases, it’s best to check with your local authorities before you get started.

For more on planning permissions, check out our blog.

How much does it cost to convert a garage into a room?

Converting your garage into a living space can be fairly inexpensive because you won’t need to do many of the most expensive tasks, such as laying foundations, building walls, or establishing new electrical connections.

One study conducted by Santander found that the average garage conversion cost around £6,300 to complete, so it’s safe to say your conversion could run anywhere between £5,000 and £20,000.

The specific cost of converting your garage to a living space depends on how you plan to use your new extension and the quality of the materials used.

Detached garage conversions also cost considerably more than attached or integrated garage conversions because they will involve bringing in services and greater wall reinforcement, all of which can become complicated.

Factors that will affect the cost of renovating your garage include:

  • Builders

At the very least, you should consult with an experienced builder or structural engineer to ensure you know what you’re doing.

  • Reinforcing the foundation

After all, most garages weren’t originally intended as habitable spaces.

  • Converting the garage doors

Most garage doors aren’t weather-tight, so you’ll need to upgrade them to keep out the elements.

  • Upgrading the walls, floors, and roof

Depending on their condition, they’ll probably need to be repaired or replaced. This is especially an issue with detached garage conversions.

  • Raising the height of the ceiling

This will again depend on what you plan to use the living space for.

  • Insulation required in newer builds

Unless you’re living in an older building, you may need to fortify the existing insulation to make it livable.

  • Utilities

In addition to basic electrical connections, your conversion will also need plumbing if it’s going to include a kitchen or bathroom. This may be particularly onerous in a detached garage conversion.

Ultimately, the cost of converting your garage should be weighed against the value it can add to your property.

Does converting a garage into a living space add value to my home?

Yes! Many estimates suggest that a converted garage could add around 10%, and perhaps as much as 20%, to your property’s value.

But it partly depends on your area.

For instance, if your area has little off-road parking, homes that come with garages may fetch higher prices than houses that lack a garage.

Or, in places like London, where living space comes at a premium, a conversion may significantly raise your property’s value.

If you’d like your new space to count as an extra bedroom when you put your property on the market, your conversion needs to be done in compliance with building regulations for a new sleeping area. This includes sufficient insulation and being in accord with fire and safety regulations.

Curious how much your home is worth? Pop in your postcode here, to get a free data-driven estimate. Try it now.

Can I convert my garage myself or should I hire a professional?

Garage conversions can be tricky unless you have significant DIY experience, so we suggest consulting a professional who’s accustomed to taking on major home projects.

That said, if you’re undertaking a relatively superficial refurbishment or redecoration, doing it yourself is a great way to save some cash and could be a very personally rewarding project.

Visit our DIY section for ideas and advice on how home improvement projects can add value to your home.

Does garage conversion increase Council Tax?

Great news: converting your garage won’t affect your Council Tax band.

Reminder: check out the government’s guide to how homes are assessed for Council Tax.

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