Converting a garage into a living space in the UK

If you would like to add more living space to your home without extending the floorplan, you've probably considered converting your garage into a living space. In this article, we will go through the key things you should know before you get started.

Homes in UK that could benefit from a garage conversion
Article: Carol Watson

Have you ever considered converting your Garage into a liveable room to give you the extra space you need?
For most of us, buying a home is a dream come true and once the boxes are unpacked, we happily settle into furnishing and embellishing our very own little haven of comfort and homeliness. As time goes on, we typically grow in size. Our needs, wants and desires change and very often our little slice of paradise can’t keep up with our changing world. In this age of, discard and throw away what we no longer want, the obvious solution to a house you’ve outgrown, is to sell, move on and take the happy memories with you. But why not take a step back and look at what you have and invest some time and energy into rezoning, repurposing and reinventing your existing rooms and spaces and make them work for you?  Do you really need a garage that once housed the car, but is now full of stuff that you might one-day use?
Converting your garage into a liveable room will, not only add value to your home but will also go a long way towards meeting the demands of modern day living. We live in an age where a study, media room, games room, rumpus room or teenage retreat are now standard inclusions in the floor plans of most new builds.

So, where do I start?

The first step in the process is to decide on the purpose of the new room. Will it be a bedroom, study or perhaps a media room? Is there enough available space to achieve the desired purpose?

Do I need building consent for the conversion work?

Your local planning authority will determine if you need planning permission but in general, if you are not changing the structure of your attached garage then it may fall into the category of permitted development and will not need planning permission.  If it is a standalone garage, then you may require “change of use” permission. If you live in a listed building or Conservation area, then yes, you will need planning permission. If unsure, apply to your local authority for a Certificate of Lawful development, an important document if you decide to sell your house.

What are the main factors I need to take into consideration?

You will firstly need to make sure the garage is structurally sound. The foundations will need to be checked to make sure they can take the increased load of the wall and room modifications.
Garage walls are typically single brick, so the walls will need a moisture barrier, which is linked to a damp proof course. This will then need to be insulated. A good way to do this is to fit self-insulted plasterboard on treated batons. Another method would be to lay some internal blockwork with appropriate insulation in the cavity.
Standard ceiling height for a habitable room is 2.4m so if your garage ceiling is lower, you will need to consider some ways to meet this height. Raising the roof is often the best option as the concrete slab of a garage floor can be both costly and difficult to remove.
The roof is likely to need a complete upgrade with insulation to make sure it conforms to building regulations.
The concrete slab of a garage floor is usually not built to residential standards and is unlikely to have a damp proof membrane (DPM). This will need to be added along with insulation. As an alternative you could lay a suspended timber floor. Consult your local renovation specialist for the most appropriate solution for your garage
All buildings are required to be energy efficient and conform to building regulations in terms of windows, doors, insulations, and general airtightness. The amount of heat that can pass through the glass and framework is measured as a U-Value (rate of heat transfer) and should not exceed the stated requirements. You will need to make sure there is sufficient ventilation in the room in accordance with building regulations. Usually window trickle vents will suffice.
Consideration must also be given to fire safety, both containment and escape and the room must have at least one egress window with an opening of no less than 0.33m², at least 450mm in width or height and no more than 1100mm above the floor level. A smoke alarm must also be installed. As there are varying fire regulations operating across the UK, with all countries requiring different levels of protection, you will need to consult the Building Regulations that are specific to you.
Using a registered installer to install windows and doors will mean they can issue the necessary certificate to say the installation has been done in accordance with all building regulation requirements.
All plumbing and electrical work must be carried out by a licenced plumber or electrician. The additional energy requirements for lights and radiators will place extra demand on the mains and may require the installation of a separate mains supply.
Quite often the fall of a driveway is on a slant with rainwater running into a drain at the end of the driveway and in front of the garage door. This should be addressed during your design process to ensure rainwater is diverted away from the habitable space.
As the garage will no longer house your car, you will need to check that your house does not have a restriction on the removal of your garage, as this impacts parking requirements. This is not an uncommon restriction in new builds.
If you would like to discuss a garage conversion or any other renovation ideas, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

You might be interested in reading about our top four kitchen styles to choose from.

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If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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