Giving an underused garage a makeover can unlock precious space in your property – and increase its price.
But where to start? Before you book the skip and reach for the sledgehammer, there’s a lot to be considered.
Give it some thought
It’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about what you want to use the extra room for.
“The most popular garage conversions are to add extra living space,” says Alan Batchelor, Managing Director @ Build8.
“This could be converting to an open plan living area, adding an extra living room or extending a kitchen.
In some circumstances, adding another bedroom could be a better option in terms of value as bedrooms are a key comparable tool for valuations.”
Alan adds that he has also seen garages converted into office space, a gym or a playroom. You could also decide whether to do a partial conversion so that you still have storage space for things like lawnmowers, ladders and that extra fridge.
“One more thing to bear in mind, and it may sound obvious, is that if you’re currently using the garage as a garage, don’t forget to think about what you’ll do with the car”. “The loss of the garage and possible parking space may be overlooked so it’s important to weigh up just how important its current use is to you.”
Do your research
A good starting point, Alan says, is to see if any of your neighbours have converted their garages, which can give you inspiration. Then get some quotes and advice from experts.
“Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you would ask local tradesmen to attend for pricing and advice,” he says. “Based on this initial research, you will get a better feeling whether architects or specialists need to be instructed. I always recommend getting professional advice and you may also need planning permission or building control.
Steve Hill at Slater Hogg estate agents adds: “We would always advise to speak with a builder as the first step and they should be able to advise if there is any reason why a specialist company may need to be involved.”
You’ll also find that a quick web search reveals a host of companies, from architects and general builders to dedicated specialists, offering to work on garage conversions. And some companies do the whole job from planning and building regulations to finishing touches such as decorating. You may, of course, do the work yourself.
In terms of price, Alan says, garage conversions can cost from £5,000 up to £50,000, depending on specification, planning and finish. But, he adds: “In the standard three bedroom, semi-detached [house] a decent garage conversion would cost around £10,000.
According to Planning Portal, under what’s known as ‘permitted development rights’, garage conversions don’t usually need permission ‘providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building.’ But there are obviously exceptions.
Where you might need permission can include if you want to make your garage into a separate home, or you live in a listed building, conservation area, new housing development, flat or maisonette.
If you do need to put in a planning application, there will be a fee. For example, in England and Wales, you’re looking at around £200. And there are different planning application sites for England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.