The Number 1 Guide To A Garage Conversion

There are different ways to add value to your home and space, from a loft conversion to a house extension. Garage conversions in comparison is one of the quickest and more affordable conversions to increase your living space, a conversion is also able to add around 20% onto the value of your home. Apollo Builders Group LTD specialise in garage conversions, our guide gives you a great beginners guide to this type of conversion.

A garage can quickly become a dumping ground for unused belongings and seasonal decorations. Given that garages were once used to store cars a large area such as this can offer lots of potential. If you are desperate for that perfect entertainment centre in a kitchen/diner then it is perfect to be developed into. More living space can be easily created with expert knowledge and advice.

Compared to the costs involved in moving, a garage conversion is a cost-effective solution to great more living space. Especially given that moving is one of the most stressful things next to planning a wedding. Moving can also add additional stress such as changing schools, a new neighbourhood and finding new social hotspots. Putting yourself through this can cause a lot of distribution to your life which may not be needed if you are able to convert your garage.

This handy guide can offer you guidance on how to convert your garage space and add to the value of your home!

Will I Need Planning Permission?

The number one question we are always asked when we get an enquiry about a garage conversion. However, a single garage conversion rarely needs planning permission so if the conversion is not being extended or enlarge the garage planning permission would not be required.

Garage conversions will usually fall under permitted development rights meaning planning permission is not required. However, when a garage conversion does fall under permitted development it is a good idea to apply for a lawful development certificate. This is often useful if you do decide to sell or re-mortgage your home in the future.

Building notice applications do not need plan, it is quicker than a full plans application and will allow work to start on some type of building work within your home, including a garage conversion but can also be used for small building work. The notice can only be used on homes that are being lived in. You can apply for a building application notice for a garage conversion through your local council or through a privately approved inspector. You will not receive a formal approval with the building notice as you would with the full planning application.

How Much Additional Space Will I Gain?

A single garage can offer you up to 140ft of extra space and can add value to your home. Pricing will always depend on what you are aiming to achieve from your new space.

A double garage can offer even more extra space and is able to add additional space to your home.

Why Do I Need Building Regulations?

When converting an existing garage, you will need to apply to your local authority, for building control to send a building control offer, to make sure the garage conversion project meets the most current and updated building regulations. The building control department will also check for adequate doors and windows, good drainage, electric, fire safety, insulation, external walls and internal walls, roofs all within the garage conversion. Local building control will evaluate the build to check it meets safe standards.

A detached garage may require a full plans application for a garage conversion, it is always a good idea to check first with your local planning department to confirm if planning permission is required. Change of use may be needed when doing a garage conversion on a detached garage. For instance, if your garage is to become a granny annex this would then be classed as a change of use when you convert your garage.

If you live in a conversation area, you will need planning permission for a garage conversion when you begin to convert you garage. You will also need to check if a parking space falls under planning conditions as you might need to still have one available.

What If My Garage Is Part Of A Listed Building?

If you own a property that is a listed building you must get full planning application for a garage conversion and listed building consent is required. This is a legal requirement; it is illegal to build without consent for this type of buildings. The local council will need to consult historic England and you will also need to contact the local authority to apply for building regulations.

Party Wall Act

The party wall act covers the wall that separates homes, if you chose to carry out any building works on a neighbour’s wall whilst doing a garage conversion or any other type of build without consent you are in theory trespassing.  This act does not affect the requirement for planning permission or building regulations approval.

You will always need to have your neighbours’ consent in writing. For example, if you are choosing to build on the boundary of 2 properties, work to be done on the existing wall or choose to dig into the ground near to your neighbours’ foundations.

Notice of a party wall agreement must be given at least 2 months before work is to begin to those who may be affected by your garage conversion. Examples of a sample letter can be found here. When you complete the letter, it should be delivered to your neighbour with a booklet also available to download explaining the act.

Structure

The walls, the roof and foundations of the existing structure will need to be checked to determine if there are any faults. This could add costs to the garage conversion if the garage is not sound. The foundations may need to be reinforced to withstand any extra weight from the conversion, it is worth speaking to your builder or structural engineer to find out if the foundations are suitable. It is possible a wall may need to be rebuild or a new wall may need building.

Your ceiling height may also need to be raised; it is worth remembering this as you may need to allow 2-4m of ceiling height when the floor has been raised by 15cm above outside ground level.

The Roof

It is highly important that the roof is checked to see the overall condition.  The roof will need to be insulated if there is not a room above the garage into the main house. Building regulations cover the insulation process.

A flat roof can be insulated using either warm roof or cold roof method. Flat roofs above an integrated garage are usually insulated with the warm roof method, the materials are fitted above the roof deck. This method maximises height space. The cold roof method is when the insulation goes below the roof deck. The cold roof method creates a cold space above the insulation, which can cause condensation.

Design

You can employ an architect to design the garage conversion for you. An architect charges design fees around 5-12% of the total cost of the building works. An architect will have experience with building regulations, they may also have useful contact in various trades. They may be able to put you in touch with their contacts if you need their help.

Alternatively, a builder will draw plans and costs for you. This is an effective way to save money on design fees. Often people may decide to design the new garage/ new space in their home themselves.

Garage conversions can lead to quick decisions needing to be made, prepare yourself for making -on the spot decisions.

Garage conversions can be less expensive if you are able to hunt for some bargains, often an ex-display kitchen is a great way to cut costs. If you are also able to purchase in advance and store the items, it can save money in the long run.

A kitchen that is built from reasonably priced units and then topped with more expensive décor can potentially look more expensive without the expensive price tag. Lighting is always able to add value as well a splash of paint done professionally.

Gathering Quotations

Finding builders with the right experience is crucial if you want the job done right. You do not want to pick a cowboy builder and want to avoid any builder who is not professional. We have previously written a helpful guide to help you find the right builder here.

If you are ever unsure where to start friends and family are always worth asking when it comes to finding recommendations. Often if you are close to them, they can give you more of an honest review. Your architect may also have a list of builders that they can use if you go down this route.

Once you have been able to source a handful of builders it is worth doing your research, looking at their previous work and any on going work they may have.

Booking site visits are often the best way to communicate with the possible builder, communicate with the builder about exactly what you want done. From a set of plans and drawings anything that can help your builder. They will be most grateful.

A good builder is often booked up in advance, you may even struggle to book in a site visit within a week or two. It is worth noting that once a builder has given you a quotation, they do come with an expiry date and if you are not ready for the work to begin in the immediate future you may find the cost can change.

Organisation is key, builders will need to know as much information as possible so they can draft an accurate quotation. The more information you give them means less going back and forth. As well as this if you can give your potential builder as much information as possible the final cost will not shock you.

Making sure you have several builders waiting to give you a quotation and being keen to get the job it is important to not choose a rouge builder! Be prepared to be waiting a while and you may find some builders do not even give you a quotation or get back to you.

Garage conversions do cause disruption to your daily life so be prepared to be living on a building site for a while.

Insulation

Often done internally, a stud wall is fitted using wood and is left deep enough for insulation slabs to be put in. Damp proofing can often take place at this time to prevent moisture from getting into the garage. The builder will treat damp walls in the garage and ensure they are dry before plastering. There are many ways to deal with damp in a garage, it will always depend on the type of garage walls and how much money needs to be spent on it.

Flooring

The floor of the garage could need to be levelled, often garage flooring is uneven concrete. The floor level can be raised to be even, often trying to avoid the step. Damp proof membrane will also need to be put down. This will be laid on top of the concrete floor, this can be liquid or solid consistency. Liquid DPM is often best suited for garage conversions. The floor is then covered in screed. Once you have decided on the type of flooring you want your builder will then advise you on when this can be laid.

Doors & Windows

The old garage door will need to be removed, replacing the garage door with either brick, commonly known as infill wall the same as the house, or with windows and doors. They will need to be consistent with the rest of the house, security is always a key point to remember.  Keeping the doors and windows as standard will allow the build to be more cost effective however, if you are able to there is always the option to go for something bold.

If the new space does not have an escape route then an escape route must be installed, the dimensions should be 450mm and open 0.33m2 and be no more than 1000mm from ground level.

Heating & Electrics

Whenever you are dealing with heating and electrics it is crucial to use a professional that is full certified. Your build will not pass building regulations if not!

Electrics

A consumer unit or as commonly known as a fuse box plays an important role in your home, it is responsible for controlling the electrical supply. A new consumer unit could possibly be required if new circuits are needed and the consumer unit already in use does not meet up -to-date regulations. When the work is completed you should receive an electrical installation certificate and a building control compliance certificate.

It is worth noting you may have to have new circuits installed and the boiler could possibly need upgrading. An electrician will allow an adequate supply for cookers and hobs and consider the type of lighting you may require so provisions can be made.

Heating

Standard radiators are the most affordable option for a garage conversion; however, underfloor heating may free up precious wall space in a garage.

Underfloor heating is a form of heating and cooling system, which gives you climate control. This type of heating is relatively straight forward, with no maintenance, no noise and is easy to install.

There are two different types of systems, electric or water based, electric systems are usually the preferred choice as they are easier and less disruptive to install. However, they can be more expensive to run, and it is probably better to use electricity in smaller rooms such as a bathroom. However, the good news is that underfloor heating should last up to 50 years.

Converting a garage to make a larger kitchen/ diner is a popular option, with a new kitchen or bathroom allowing for hot and cold-water supplies and adequate drainage for dishwashers and washing machines. This is not a difficult job, but it needs to have the correct planning ahead.

An extractor fan is also a great way to avoid moisture build up, poor ventilation can cause dampness which can be difficult to get rid of. Prices vary and high-quality fans will be more efficient and look more attractive than a cheaper fan.

In Summary

We hope you found our handy guide useful; it is important to understand how a garage conversion works. From the build to the final touches, little things are often forgotten about!

Should you ever wish to have a garage conversion, please contact Apollo Builders Group LTD! We are here to help and look forward to hearing from you soon.