Garage conversion: learn the process and costs with our step-by-step guide

We help you understand the process, costs and building regulations you'll need to expect if you want to convert your garage into an extra room

Garage house

If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, it’s quite unlikely you use it to simply store the car. For most of us, it’s somewhere to keep the lawnmower, family bikes, garden tools, barbecue, outdoor furniture and various bric-a-brac without an obvious home.

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If you’re running out of usable space inside your home, maybe it’s time to think about converting the garage into something much more practical. Here’s our step-by-step guide to the questions you will encounter when planning your garage conversion, including the all-important question of how much you can expect to pay.

Converting a garage FAQs: all your questions answered

What are the benefits of a garage conversion?

Converting an existing space is far cheaper than a brand-new extension, and should take considerably less time. Plus, you may find your family life has simply outgrown the current layout – a conversion can make it possible to stay in a much-loved home and spare you the time and cost of moving to a bigger property.

An unloved garage could become a guest room for overnight visitors, a hangout for growing teenagers, a playroom for toddlers, or perhaps a home office, gym or hobby room. Maybe even a laundry area and boot room that runs off the kitchen or simply a larger, open-plan kitchen space.

Does a garage conversion add value to a home?

As well as saving on the cost of moving to a larger house and all the legal fees involved, converting the garage could potentially add up to 20 per cent on to your home’s value. To get a specific idea of how much value a garage conversion could add to your property, invite local estate agents to your home to give an estimate.

And click here for more ideas that could add value to your home.

Do you need planning permission to convert a garage?

A garage conversion typically does not require planning permission, but as usual there are exceptions! It’s usually the case that you won’t need planning permission to convert your garage if your goal is to create additional living space, so long as the work is internal and doesn’t involve enlarging the structure at all.

You’ll most likely want to change the garage door into something more attractive and light-friendly, and you may need permission if you are installing windows and doors – always check with your local planning department before you begin.

Some new-builds require the garage to be retained as parking and you will most certainly need permission to alter the use of a detached garage, or if you live in a listed building or a conservation area.

And remember, you will definitely need to make sure all work is carried out in accordance with current building regulations. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to use an architect or specialist conversion company, as they can submit any paperwork on your behalf and guide you through the process.

How much does a garage conversion cost?

As with any home project, it’s important to work out your budget – one you can comfortably afford – and stick to it. As a rough guide, you can expect to pay between £6,000 and £10,000 for a basic conversion of a single-car integrated garage.

Budget for a couple of thousand more for a two-storey conversion and the same again if it’s a detached structure. Add up to £3,000 to your costs to cover the plumbing and electrics, plus the cost of kitting it out with furniture, lighting and other fittings.

Remember to include costs for any planning applications (from around £250 for basic householder planning consent) plus professional costs, materials, glazing, build, interior design and the finishing touches.

Where possible, try to build in 10 per cent extra as a contingency fund too, in case of any unforeseen costs, such as reinforcing the floor, raising the roof or dealing with dubious walls.

Before you commit, get a professional to assess the garage’s existing structure – walls, foundations and roof – to see what your options are and the potential costs involved. You could get a specialist garage conversion company in or ask a structural surveyor, builder or architect to give you some ideas.

What insurance do you need for a garage conversion?

If you’re project-managing the conversion yourself, arrange for conversion insurance to cover both the existing structure and any new works. Site insurance will ensure your home is covered in case of damage during the work as well as all temporary works, materials, tools and equipment. Public and employers’ liability is automatically included.

If you’re using a specialist company, make sure they have all the necessary insurance to cover your home and everyone working on it. It should be in place from the minute you start the project to completion. And, of course, make sure you speak with your current buildings and contents provider to include the new room.

What about garage conversion decor ideas?

No matter what purpose the new room will have, ideally you want the exterior to match your current property for a seamless look to make the conversion appear as if it’s always been there. Ask your builder or conversion specialist to ensure all brickwork, windows, doors and all other materials, such as the guttering and roofing, match with the rest of your home.  All new brickwork should also be fully bonded into the old.

You’ll want your new room to be full of natural light so consider floor-to-ceiling windows or bi-fold or sliding doors if the back of the garage leads on to the garden. You could also install skylights for an even brighter space. Expect to pay upwards of £600 per window or door, depending on size, design and finish.

Decorate inside with pale, neutral tones or a fresh white colour scheme to keep it light and airy and plan the artificial lighting carefully with a mix of task, feature and ambient illumination.

■ Find a structural surveyor at www.rics.org and a reliable builder at www.fmb.org.uk. ■ Search for an architect at www.architecture.com or use www.architect-yourhome.com. ■ Visit www.planningportal.co.uk for up-to-date information on planning permission and building regulations.

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Feature Hayley Gilbert

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?