Convert your garage to gain more space

Converting a garage is a popular and relatively low-cost way to increase living space in your home. 

Most people today use their garage for storage rather than housing a vehicle - but you might make better use of the space by converting your garage into an extra room. This is usually quicker and cheaper than building an extension of the same size. What’s more, it can add up to 10% to the value of your property.

A typical single garage provides around 14m2 of space: enough to create a large home office, downstairs shower and utility rooms, or playroom. 

A double garage (obviously) offers twice as much space as this - around 28 m2. You could even convert this to a single garage plus new room.

Where to start in converting your garage

If you’ve got a garage and are thinking about having it converted, start by considering the following: 

Access: How will you get into the new room - is there, or can you add, a door from your home? 

Storage: Will you have enough parking space and storage if you convert your garage? 

Fit for purpose: Does your garage provide enough space for what you want to use it for - or would you be better building an extension? 

Materials: What is your garage made of - as prefabricated panels, concrete frames etc. may make conversion more challenging. 

You’ll then need to seek any planning permission or building regulations approval as required (see below). Once that’s done, you can proceed with the conversion.

Note that while converting your garage can add space and value to your home, a poor conversion can compromise your safety and lower the value and structural integrity of the property overall. Ensure that you plan your garage conversion carefully and get the work carried out by an experienced contractor.

Planning permission and garage conversions 

Most conversions of attached or integrated garages can be completed under ‘permitted development rights’, particularly if you do not alter their structure. But make sure you check with your local planning department that there are no planning conditions attached to the garage, particularly if you live in a listed building or conservation area. The right to convert the garage of a property may also have been removed because the local council wants to minimise on street parking, or to retain the look of the street. 

Changing the structure or size of the garage may fall outside ’permitted development rights’ - so again, check with your local authority planning department.

Converting a detached garage (one not directly attached to or integrated into the home) requires a ‘change of use’ planning application and may not be permitted by your local authority. Again, check with them before proceeding.

Building regulations for garage conversions 

All garage conversions need building regulations approval. To comply, your garage conversion must: 

*Be structurally sound 

*Have a damp-proof course 

*Have energy-efficient wall, floor and ceiling insulation 

*Have had all electrics safety tested 

*Be moisture proofed, with good ventilation 

*Have been fire-proofed and have escape routes 

Once you have made a building regulations application, your local authority building control team  will check foundations, that the correct doors and windows have been fitted, and that the right drainage is in place. If you are including a toilet for example, you will need good access to drainage and sewers - your local water authority should be able to provide these details. 

Building control will also inspect all structural elements to make sure they are suitable for the room you have created, the thermal insulation (garages are not usually built to be warm!) and any impact on the structure of changing the roofline, doors or windows etc. 

Once a satisfactory final inspection of the work has been carried out, your building control inspector will issue your completion certificate. Keep this in a safe place, so that should you come to sell your home in the future this shows you carried out the work in accordance with the building regulations.

For more information about garage and other home conversions and extension projects, click here

Contact your local authority building control team here