Space – the final frontier

If you’re pushed for space indoors a garage conversion could be the answer.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a garage and don’t need it to house a very expensive, rarely used classic car, you may want to think about converting it into something that will not only maximise your living space but add value to your home.

Most of us fill our garages with lawnmowers, boxes of household things we don’t really want but can’t bear to part with in case they ‘come in useful one day’. Well, there are a lot of things more useful than a set of old saucepans, a broken strimmer and a dozen half-used tins of paint.

If you’re pushed for space indoors and are crying out for a home office, look to converting your garage. If you spend a fortune on gym membership but would rather work out at home, ditto. You can come home from work and take all your frustration out on a punch bag and a rowing machine.

Teenager getting on your nerves? Put them in their very own PlayStation den. Maybe you’ve got a double garage (get you) and have bigger plans – you could create a double bedroom and en-suite, a games room or a fancy workshop. My husband longs for his own space, and as I have an office indoors, he’s converting the garage into a workspace and hobby area. At one end he’ll have a desk and his PC, at the other his geeky scale modelling table where he can build Spitfires to his heart’s content. In the middle, probably loads of coffee cups that he forgets to bring inside.

According to Virgin Money, a garage conversion could add between 10-20% of the value of your home. Obviously the more complex the design, the more it’ll cost, but you could convert a hard-standing garage that’s in great condition into a studio/office space for less than £3,000. You’ll need to insulate the floor and walls, possibly re-do the floor (if you’ve got the budget, under floor heating will be your best friend come winter) and replace up-and-over or roller doors with a double-glazed window and a door if there’s not already one at the side of the garage.

If you already have electricity in there, it’s a good start, but you will also have to consider that if you’re using the room often, you’ll use more electricity, so you may need an extra circuit board in there. If you’re converting into a bathroom or bedroom with en-suite it’ll cost you a lot more as you’ll have to factor in all the plumbing, plastering and electrics, as well as everything that goes in it, but if you’re pushed for space indoors, it’s a lot cheaper (and quicker) to create another room than move house to obtain it.

If you adhere to the specifications of permitted developments, you won’t require planning permission to change the use of your garage. However, it’s advisable to contact the planning department to check that your plans don’t need, well, permission. If you’re converting a double garage into a part-conversion and still require a parking space on the other side, you’ll need to up your safety game and fully-insulate the dividing wall with fireline plasterboard.

If you’re feeling flush and there’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of tradesmen required, ask somebody who specialises in garage conversions to project-manage and design your build. It could be the best move you ever made – or should that be never made?


Juliette Wills,

Journalist. Broadcaster. Author.

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