Given that fewer and fewer of us are parking our car in our garage, there’s a strong argument for putting the space to better use, and it’s possible to do so at relatively little cost with clear planning and clever design. Your garage may be full of garden tools or miscellaneous clutter, so it may be necessary to have a purge or create additional storage elsewhere, but the benefits of converting your garage extend way beyond potentially adding value to your home.
As with all home improvements, it’s important to check what’s permitted in your neighbourhood, especially if you live in a protected or conservation area. It’s also worth considering the impact that a garage conversion might have on the value of your home if the surrounding area isn’t blessed with lots of off-road parking. In this scenario, houses with a garage may actually attract a higher asking price than those without. On balance, however, the more square feet of living space available, the higher the price of the property.
In the majority of cases, converting your garage will be regarded as permitted development, and if you’re in any doubt at all, investing in a certificate of lawful development from your local authority at a cost of £86 might prove a worthwhile investment. It will be necessary to apply for planning permission if you are living in a listed building, if the garage conversion takes your home beyond permitted development rights, if your local council has placed restrictions on reducing available parking or, significantly, if you are converting for business use.
As with most building work, you’ll need to receive building regulations consent, and the inspectors will need to sign off each stage of the project, so it is prudent to check that your local council is happy with your plans before work commences. The structure will need to be sound, you’ll need to ensure it has a damp-proof course, and energy-efficiency improvements will need to be made to the walls, roof and floor. It’s also advisable to check your deeds to ensure that permission from a previous owner is not required, and if the conversion impacts any shared structure the Party Wall act may come into play.
With house prices at an all-time high and space at a premium, the most popular garage conversion ideas in Surrey are as follows:
1) Garage to kitchen conversion
This is especially appropriate if your kitchen adjoins your garage, as the removal of the intervening wall can create increased dining space if well designed. Replacing the garage door with bi-fold doors or a large window will also flood the room in natural daylight, as will adding rooflights or Velux windows.
2) Convert garage into a bedroom
Having an extra bedroom close to the living room can be perfect for guests, elderly relatives or children who enjoy sleepovers, and if it isn’t in constant use then a sofabed can provide flexibility in the room’s use. And, if space permits, a small en-suite or wet room can offer additional privacy.
3) Convert garage to a living space
It’s very rare for family circumstances to remain the same, and if you are planning to have children the thought of moving can be both daunting and expensive. Whether it’s a secluded sitting room, a peaceful space for mother and baby or a dedicated gaming room, a garage conversion can give you the extra square footage you’re craving. Feel free to check out our article on Converting a Garage into a Living Space in the UK.
4) Convert garage to an office
To achieve the best work/life balance, it’s best to locate a home office away from your family’s main living space, especially if you have young children. Using a converted garage for home working is ideal, particularly if you can discipline yourself to lock the door at the end of the day. Natural lighting and clean, uncluttered décor can help to increase your productivity.
5) Convert garage to a utility room
On a more practical level, if you’re lacking a standard utility room, having a separate space for mundane appliances such as the washing machine and tumbledrier can be beneficial. And if your property doesn’t have a downstairs cloakroom, the space can be divided to include this too. It’s worth considering underfloor heating to keep the room warm, and effective ventilation is essential.
6) Convert garage to a nursery or playroom
Children’s toys seem to multiply in the early years and they can quickly take over even the largest living room. They can also generate an inordinate amount of noise, so we’d recommend thinking up to a decade ahead of the conversion to plan how the space might be used as a playroom, as storage is clearly a factor. Including a wall-mounted TV may also be advisable.
7) Convert garage to a granny flat
With care home fees constantly on the rise, and a drive to keep older people living independently at home, converting your garage into a granny annexe may have merit. Most single garages are large enough to offer space for a single bedroom and ensuite bathroom, while a double garage footprint may also accommodate a kitchen/diner/sitting room. With carers coming in this can be an affordable alternative to residential care.
8) Create a Garage Gym
As personal fitness continues to top the agenda, the appetite for the convenience of a personal gym in the comfort of your own home remains strong, and a garage conversion is perfect for this purpose. You should consider air conditioning or efficient ventilation, wall mirrors to increase the feeling of space, and a flatscreen TV to help provide motivation. If space permits, the back of the garage can be given over to a shower room.
9) Garage to home movie theater
Eschewing the need for windows, a home entertainment room can incorporate surround-sound home cinema and bespoke gaming, all self-contained and removed from the main family space. Blackout blinds can complete the effect and sound-proofing can protect the rest of the family from excess noise, while the inclusion of a window will help if the room’s use is likely to change in the future.
As Kelley Malcher of Surrey builders Refresh Renovations observes, garage conversions are a great way to achieve your property dreams. ‘At Refresh we love garage conversions because they can be a quick and cost-effective way to give yourself more space either for the things you enjoy or for more practical applications,’ says Kelley. ‘Having said that, there are technical considerations to be aware of, and that’s where we come in. Whenever we embark on a garage conversion in Surrey, we make sure that we take the time to meet with the client to understand exactly what they want to achieve within the budget they have available. We then work on the design, handle any regulatory permissions that may be required and co-ordinate our team of tradespeople to deliver the finished project to the very highest standard. If you’re considering foregoing a space that you rarely use in order to rework it for an extra bedroom, a playroom or a home office, the Refresh team will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.’
Interested to find out more? We offer a free one-hour, no obligation consultation – get in touch today.
Refresh Renovations UK are builders in Surrey offering design and build services. To discuss how a garage conversion can give you extra living space and enhance your property, get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.
Costs are accurate at the time of publication. Plan ahead to reduce the impact of industry changes or disruptions. For more information see here.