Park your garage, drive up value

A house with integral garage
A house with integral garage

Do you use your garage as more of a dumping ground than anything else?

As important as storage space is for bikes, power tools and things you hardly use, converting the garage into a playroom, kitchen extension, bedroom, dining room, home office, or any other room you need, could be a brilliant way of making your home bigger and better.

The size of an average single garage is around 150sq ft, which isn’t big enough to fit many family cars comfortably, but it could be valuable living space if you’ve outgrown your home.

While converting the garage may involve upgrading the walls, insulation and foundations, etc, the main change externally will be replacing the garage door with a window, window and door, or French windows and then rebuilding the wall to blend in with the rest of the house, so it should be relatively straightforward.

A garage conversion is usually cheaper and quicker (in most cases, two or three weeks, rather than months) than moving home or building an extension.

And, unlike a loft conversion, you’ll have the new room on the ground floor, where it may be more useful than at the top of the house.

The conversion should add also value - and who doesn’t want that?

Another plus point is that planning permission isn’t usually required to convert a garage, as you can do the work under your home’s permitted development rights.

However, councils can remove these rights, so check this hasn’t happened with your home.

With listed buildings, you’ll have to apply for listed building consent from your local council. You should check, too, that your home doesn’t have any restrictive covenants in the deeds about changing the appearance of the front of it.

Some companies specialise in converting garages and if you get one of these to do the work, they should be able to deal with all aspects of the process.

You may prefer to employ an architect and builder instead, or if they’re happy to work without architect’s plans, just a builder.

If you’re a really experienced DIYer, you may even be able to do the conversion yourself.

Whoever does the work, it must comply with building regulations. A good garage-conversion company or builder should know what’s involved, but ask the council’s building control department if in doubt, and check out as a starting point.

Building control will want to inspect the work to ensure that it complies, so speak to them before you begin to find out what the process is.

As with any building work, if the conversion involves a shared wall or boundary, you may need a party wall agreement with the adjoining neighbour, and if your home’s leasehold, you may need the permission of the freeholder.