Garage Conversions - The Economical Way Of Gaining More Space
With the global economy spiralling ever downwards many people are feeling the financial pinch, finding it progressively more difficult to cover general expenses - let alone the bigger ones. The problem is, people still need space - but moving home is expensive. The property market is stagnant, with people desperate to reap a good return on their investment.
So if you feel that you're outgrowing your home but you can't afford to buy a bigger one, what's the answer? The most sensible and realistic option to solve your space issues without having to dig too deep into your pocket is going down the home improvement route. Calling in a professional builder to convert your loft, cellar or garage can offer many potential benefits in terms of effort, time and price.
Turning your redundant garage space into a usable living area
When considering a garage conversion, you may ask yourself whether you’ll miss the space for its intended purpose – but do you really use it? In reality, more and more people are using their garage as a dumping ground for peripheral junk rather than for parking their car. It used to be that the garage was deemed a safer place to store your car than on a drive or roadside, but with cars getting bigger and garages getting smaller, they are becoming more impractical and creating a higher level of risk for damage. Because of this, insurance companies are now charging increased premiums for garage-parked cars, rendering them no longer ‘fit for purpose’. Also, cars are much better built these days and don’t tend to suffer as they used to from exposure to the weather - another reason why people tend to use their garages as additional storage space.
What are the benefits of a garage conversion?
Garage conversions are the most cost effective way of adding living space to your home. With prices for a conversion starting at just £4,500 including VAT, a garage conversion gives you more space per pound than any other type of improvement. Additionally, a garage conversion is quick to carry out, taking just 1 to 2 weeks in most cases, causing only brief disruption to your day-to-day life. Also, because the main structure is unaffected, there is minimal mess and disturbance while the work is being done.
Rules and regulations
Another fantastic benefit a garage conversion can offer is that, generally speaking, no planning permission is required. While building control approval is still needed, in most instances this can be obtained via a building notice which eliminates the need for bringing in an architect and the subsequent fees that this represents. It’s worth noting however, that if you're converting your garage in order to house a new kitchen, bathroom or the space is to be divided up, then a detailed drawing will probably make the conversion much easier for you and your builder. A ‘Part P’ electrician certificate will be required for your conversion but a Gas Safe certificate is only needed if there are any alterations being made to the Boiler or gas pipes.
Conversion options for different types of garages
The type of garage you have will dictate to some extent what you can use it for. A single garage is generally 14 or 15 m², and is the perfect size to accommodate a single room, such as a playroom, home office or study, kitchen or utility room, or a single bedroom. Sometimes an integral garage can be knocked through into the main house to make an existing room larger too.
A double garage is usually around 25 - 30 m² and gives you the option of converting the entire space or separating it into two separate sections and retaining one side as a garage space. Alternatively, you can convert the entire space and then divide this new area in two separate rooms for specific purposes, such as living space with storage attached, or a bedroom or kitchen with a bathroom or utility room attached. A tandem garage is much the same as a double garage, but lends itself more to being divided.
Detached garages present and altogether different picture; although these can often be converted, you will need to contact your local authority to check whether you need planning permission or to notify them of a change of use. The problem that can be inherent with detached garage conversions is sometimes the structure and foundations are not suitable-while this can be assessed by a professional builder, it's worth bearing in mind that rectification works can sometimes render the project uneconomical.
Further considerations for your conversion project
If you've decided that a garage conversion is the way forward, there are some other things that you'll need to think about before you go ahead. Firstly, it's essential that you check your property deeds; some properties (particularly new builds) have restrictions, clauses and covenants placed on future development work. Also, if your property is Leasehold rather than Freehold, you may well require permission from your landlord, so check this out before you proceed.
The next stage is working out exactly what you want to achieve from your conversion and the amount of money you have available to carry out the work. Do you require an extra bedroom for an expanding family, or do you want to use the space for a bigger kitchen, additional bathroom or utility space? If any of the latter three, you’ll need to think about drainage and plumbing.
When you're working out your budget, don’t forget to account for any heating and electrical requirements, as well as doors and windows - think about the size and styles that you prefer and don't forget internal doors either. Deciding on a layout and design can be difficult on your own, so it's worth calculating whether or not your budget can stretch to an architect’s help, as proper plans can really help with getting the project completed to your exact requirements.
Insulation is another consideration that you'll need to take pretty seriously - there's no point having a new living space if it's too cold to live in! Some walls may already be insulated, but solid walls will require thermally upgrading, as will the floor. Don't forget the void between the ceiling and the roof either - has this already got installation in place or do you need to budget for that too?
Finding a builder for your conversion
Finally and perhaps most importantly is finding the right builder to carry out the work on your garage conversion. Ask around for recommendations and make sure that you check the builder’s previous work and credentials before you sign any contracts or hand any money over. Our builders here at Bury Garage Conversions have been undertaking professional garage conversions in Bury, Bolton & Greater Manchester for many years – so please feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss a conversion.
All in all, a garage conversion can be an incredibly economical way to gain more space in your home while adding value to it at the same time. If you have any questions or would like any advice regarding your own garage conversion project, give us a ring on 07766 254 445 for a friendly, no-obligation chat.
Most conversion works to an existing structure is often more expensive than having it knocked down & rebuilt. The main reason for this is the VAT element that is exempt for new dwellings. There have been numerous examples where extensive extension & conversion work has proved more expensive than rebuilding the scheme a-fresh from the ground up.
However, where VAT is still applicable even for new build within an existing residential curtilage, the conversion route is often still less expensive. This can also have the added benefit of retaining the sites character & charm where as a complete new build can often stand out like a sore thumb.
Garage conversions are a case in point. Converting a domestic garage (normally integral or attached to the main dwelling) is a growing trend that I cannot see declining in the coming years.
Peoples desire for additional living space is by far more important than the the requirement to store a motor car or general household storage which is more often the case.
With the general superior build quality of most modern day cars the need for undercover parking in order that they start in the morning has now diminished. This combined with the relative cheapness of cars makes that valuable garage area look very under used.
Off road car parking is till very important but a physical building to store it in overnight in is not.
So what are the issues relating to converting an existing garage into habitable room space? Well firstly, most garage conversions do not require the benefit of a separate Planning Approval unless there is a condition on the original Planning Approval restricting the garages use. Always check with your Local Planning Authority first but in most cases specific Planning Approval should not be required (subject to conditions & Planning criteria).
If the garage is to become a useful additional to the main dwelling then it should ideally be converted in a way that makes it hard for the ‘lay person’ to tell that the space was originally a garage.
This means that the new room (previous garage) should be preferably accessed off the main hall way, have follow through floor levels (rather than step downs), have similar floor to ceiling levels, have all the meter services relocated to outside meter boxes, be centrally heated, thermally upgraded for the floor walls, & ceilings, & have a quality in-fill construction for the old garage door opening. Most of these items are covered within the Building Regulations for which the conversion must comply also to.
As a guide, a good single garage conversion incorporating these element will be in the order of £12 to £20K. Cheaper conversions can be achieved but they will always feel like a ‘converted garage’ & may not add the full value to a property.
If the converted garage can only be accessed off another room such as the living room or kitchen, they can still perform a useful functioning extra room but they may not have the flexibility of use compared to access form a common circulation area.
So what are the typical uses for garage conversions? The most common use is for a study area whether it be for the business dealings of the parent working from home or the children having a dedicated place to study homework outside of their bedroom which is not very desirable.
Another common use is for a ground floor bedroom for an elderly relative or even a son or daughter unable to purchase a property but now requiring some extra space for a baby for example.
Separate dining rooms are now a thing of the past really but if the garage adjoins the usual 3M x 2M developer designed pokey kitchen then by knocking through into the garage area often creates a great full sized family kitchen/eating area that is so much in demand these these days (the Jamie Oliver effect).
When should a conversion be avoided? – generally if the garage is detached or some distance away from the main dwelling. Also, if the loss of a car parking space within the garage means that the property is unable to park at least 2 cars unless your have adequate on road parking available right outside the property.
Future trends for new build? – Even the Planning policy design guidance is now erring away from dedicated garages for densely populated developments preferring to have the space released for extra habitable rooms. A dedicated off road car paring space or two in the open is now preferred over garages – Planners also realise that most garages are not used for the storage of cars so they are now doing something about it.
To emphasis the point further, we have never yet been asked to convert a habitable room into a garage space but we are asked several times a year to complete the opposite. I am sure in London & such places such ‘reversionary garage’ schemes have been completed but this is certainly not typical when compared to the larger picture of what the current development trends are.
Garage Conversions Study By RAC & Virgin Money | Extra Living Space and Add Value To Your Home
A study by the RAC carried out in 2014 found that 62 % of motorists no longer use their garage to park there car. Whats more 9 % of those who do not keep their car in the garage said it had been converted into extra living space, Which the RAC estimates equates to 678000 garages nation wide !!
When looking to add an extra room to their property, most homeowners will opt for an extension, loft conversion or conservatory to provide the additional space they crave.
But with a new extension costing an average of between £1000 – £1500 per square metre, costs can quickly add up and outweigh any potential profits from an increase in the house price.
That’s why so many homeowners have instead chosen to convert their garage into that extra living space they need and desire.
Garage conversions are cheaper to complete than a new extension, as foundations don’t have to be laid and the bare bones are already in place.
To see whats included within this price please click link for FAQ’s