Would you believe me if I said that many people have an untapped resource in their homes that is often overlooked and completely wasted?
Sure, if you need space for a growing family or elderly relatives, many people decide on converting their loft into a living space. It could become a bedroom with en-suite bathroom or even a self-contained bedsit.
But how many of you even thought about converting your garage into a living space?
Just like loft conversion companies, there are also garage conversion companies, which specialise in converting your existing ‘waste of space’ into a fully functioning domestic living space. And if you can’t find a company near you, then ask a local building company to do the job for you.
House prices continue to rise and the cost of moving rises with it. So, buying a new home to satisfy your living space requirements can work out really expensive. Instead, why not convert your garage into a spare bedroom, living room, hobby room or granny-annexe. Take your pick!
By the way, we’re talking here about a garage that’s connected to, or better still is integral with, the rest of the house. If you’re attempting a detached garage conversion remember that you’ll probably have to do a lot more work. You’ll need stronger foundations, a cavity wall and lay a new concrete floor, and that’s not all. You’ll also need damp proof membranes and insulation to make everything dry and warm. Not so with an integral garage. These are constructed within the shell of the house, and so have the same foundations, cavity wall and appropriate insulation already present. Integral garages usually already have an electricity supply too, so this will further reduce your costs.
Cost of a garage conversion
So, we all agree that converting an integral garage is the easiest option. Most of the difficult bits are already built and the room is crying out to be used to its full advantage. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a simple job. Converting a garage into living space has lots of elements in the project and needs skilled workers to do the project to a satisfactory standard. So, let’s just list a few and see what they entail.
Doors & Windows
Yes, a garage already has doors and possibly windows, but they’re not really suitable for a living space, are they? For starters, you’ll have a large vehicle sized door at the front. You’ll have to remove this and fill the open space. It’s a good idea to either install patio doors or build a dwarf wall with a large window above. This job should cost about £1,300 to complete.
Your garage may or may not have a small window and a personnel door into the house or into the back garden. To replace these will cost about £500 each. Possibly more if you’re looking for a high-quality finish.
If you’re converting a double garage into a single garage and living room or even if you’re converting a single garage, you’ll need to build internal stud partition walls. Similarly, if you’re working on a garage that’s not integral with the house, you’ll probably have a single skin brick wall with no insulation. So, you build stud partition walls within the garage and fill the gap with insulation. A stud wall for an average-sized garage costs about £750 to build, including materials. The total amount will depend on how many walls you need to build.
It’s unlikely you’ll have a finished ceiling already in place unless you’re converting an integral garage. However, if you need to build one then the average cost will be similar to the price for stud walls.
You’ll probably have to lay a new floor too. At worst, the old floor will be crumbly and uneven. Also, it’ll probably have vehicle engine oil soaked into the concrete. So, to have a new concrete slab laid by a professional will set you back about £1,000.
On top of that, you’ll need a plush carpet or vinyl floor covering to bring the room in-line with the rest of the house. Depending on the quality of floor covering, that’ll set you back anywhere between £300 and £1,000.
Now, you’ll be converting your garage with a specific purpose in mind, won’t you?
You may be building another living room or a playroom for the kids, in which case you’ll need electricity and some form of heating. Similarly, if you’re converting the garage into a bedroom. All these scenarios should be pretty straightforward to accomplish. However, if you intend incorporating a bathroom, you’ll need hot and cold water, drainage for a shower and a toilet as well as heating and electricity. If you’re thinking of a new kitchen, however, it becomes even more complex. As well as the basics already mentioned for the bathroom, you’ll also need gas pipes, more power points, and separate electricity supply for the cooker. Supplying electricity to the room should be straightforward, but adding drainage, water, and gas plumbing makes the job expensive. The total cost for adding utilities will be between £1,000 and £3,000
Plastering your converted garage will incorporate the room into the rest of the house. Laying plaster is a skilled job and should always be left to a professional. However, plastering can be an expensive addition to the list of necessary jobs.
Most plasterers work for a set price based on the area to be covered. Remember that the ceiling as well as walls need plastering, and might be charged at a slightly higher rate. Although you’ll be given an overall estimate for the job, the plasterer will calculate the price based on a ‘cost per square metre’ basis. Therefore, the total cost will vary depending on the area to be covered. But generally, the price for plastering a small room is about £600 to £700, whereas a large room will be £1,000 to £1,500. Furthermore, to plaster, a small ceiling will be between £200 and £400.
It’s always difficult to quote an exact price for a project like this because there are so many variables to consider. Factors such as the room’s purpose and the quality of finish are two of the most important.
You’ll also have to consider the cost of architect’s plans, Building Control and project management, and add these into the total.
As a general rule of thumb, the total cost of a great new living room or bedroom will be between £6,000 to £8,000. If you’re considering a kitchen or bathroom then the outgoings will be considerably higher.
Is a garage conversion feasible?
Let’s think about a garage conversion sensibly, shall we? There are pros and cons and each one has to be considered. Let’s just look at a few of these.
First of all, can you do without a garage? Many people use it for storing items that won’t fit in the house. You’ll have to find another resting place for all those old bikes and tins of paint, but it’s not insurmountable. Furthermore, if you own a classic car or have problems parking on the road, you’ll have to rent a garage somewhere else.
Next, is your garage integral with the house, separate or joined onto the house? You’ll need access from the house without having to walk outside. So, is there a doorway already there or can you make one?
Finally, the purpose. Building a hobby room, games room, home gym, office or something similar, will be simpler than a living room, bedroom or kitchen. Furthermore, you’ll need fewer frills, and you don’t necessarily need the garage conversion joined onto the house (although it would be nice if it did).
There are more things to consider, but each person’s situation is unique so it’s up to you to decide based on your requirements.
Garage Conversion F.A.Q
Does a garage conversion add value to your home?
Without a doubt! A single garage conversion will definitely add value to your home, up to 10% in fact. Most people value an extra living room more than a garage unless you need one for a specific purpose. Plus, if you have a double garage, you can convert one half and use the other for the car.
Which planning permissions are required to convert a garage?
Planning permission won’t normally be required as long as the building isn’t being enlarged and all the alterations take place inside. However, if you intend converting a garage into a separate house, you probably will. Your house might also have restrictive covenants preventing work such as this, especially if you’re on a new housing development or in a conservation area. Furthermore, if you intend converting a listed building, you’ll need ‘listed building consent’.
It’s always a good idea to discuss your plans with the local planning department, to ensure that all the work is lawful and complies with the local regulations.
Remember, even if you don’t require planning permission, you’ll need to contact the Building Control department and comply with the Building Regulations. These cover all manner of safety and material quality considerations. Examples include fire prevention and escape routes; electrical fittings; water, drainage and gas plumbing; as well as ensuring you have adequate insulation and safe windows.
Do garage conversion builders require membership or certifications?
This depends on what work the builders are doing.
Firstly, although anyone can do the work, it’s always worthwhile getting a skilled and experienced builder or specialist garage conversion company. Find a builder through the Federation of Master Builders who inspect all their members. They always operate to a code of conduct and give a warranty for their work.
Most electrical and plumbing work has to be done by a qualified and certified operative and the professional will provide evidence of certification on demand.
Windows should be fitted by a Fensa registered installer. Otherwise, the Building Control Officer must certify the work.
What should I ask my garage builder?
Ask for evidence of certifications and professional memberships. Ask for recommendations from previous work. Contact the garage converter’s references and ask to see the quality of work.
After vetting the builder, find out how long the job should take and how much it will set you back.
Once the job has finished but before you pay the final payment, ask for all warranty certificates for the materials as well as inspection certificates for work such as electrical, plumbing, heating etc.
On average, how long does a garage conversion take?
This is very difficult to accurately estimate. It depends on various factors such as how large, the level of quality and the purpose of the room.
However, it’ll take between 2 to 4 weeks to convert a basic garage and provide
- Plastered walls
- Screed floor
- Bricked upfront with window
- Knock-through a new door from the house
- Skirting boards and doors
If you want a bathroom added so there are two rooms with water and drainage, the job can take from 4 to 6 weeks.