Converting a Garage to a Living Space: Questions Every Homeowner Should Ask


If your garage is currently underused, housing tins of old paint and stacks of boxes packed with forgotten belongings, then you’re definitely missing out. Converting a garage to a living space is a cost-effective way of adding extra space to your home without the hassle of extending or moving to a bigger property.


Perhaps the biggest advantage is the potential; there’s so much you can do with a garage conversion and the demand for family rooms, studies and playrooms is certainly in high demand right now.


That’s why we’ve compiled this list of questions every homeowner needs to ask when thinking about converting a garage to a living space:


How much will it cost? 

A basic garage conversion typically costs in the region of £15,000, whilst converting a double garage can be anything from £20,000 and above. Compare this to the average cost of a loft conversion (£25,000 to £30,000 depending on size and location) and it’s easy to see why a garage conversion may be the best option if you want more space.


Of course the price will vary depending on the nature of the job. But when you consider the limitations and potential stumbling blocks involved in converting a loft into a living space, then a garage conversion might be preferable.


Do I need planning permission? 

Planning permission isn’t usually necessary if you’re only converting the internals of your garage. It’s only when you’re altering the structure of the building, extending for example, is permission needed.


Changing the purpose-use of your garage to a habitat room will mean compliance with building regulations. This is to ensure your new living space meets health and safety requirements.


How do I make best use of my garage space?

The physical dimensions of most garages is typically longer and thinner than you would expect for most rooms. To achieve a more practical and natural space, consider stud or block walling to convert your garage into two separate rooms. You can vary the square footage of each room depending on where the wall is placed, creating a smaller room for storage, perhaps, and a larger space for function.


Will it need weatherproofing and ventilation?

Your garage walls will more than likely be made of a solid single wall with no thermal insulation. If this is the case, it will need to be augmented with a new internal ‘skin’ or waterproofing compound. It is also likely your floor will need a proofing membrane, at the same time as being laid, to avoid rising damp.


The space where your garage door used to go is usually filled with a cavity wall incorporating a damp proof course lapped to the damp proof membrane on the floor and to the waterproofing compound at wall junctions. 


If you are converting your garage into a bathroom, kitchen or utility room then you will need to fit a mechanical extractor fan. In all conversions, however, an opening window must be installed with an opening of at least 1/20th of the floor area.


What about heating and electricity? 

If your existing boiler in your home is inadequate to heat an extra room then you will need to install a new one. As long as your garage is properly insulated, the overall use of heating should be reduced anyway.


Regarding electricity, if your garage is detached then you will need a new electricity supply from house to garage with a fuse box providing a circuit for socket and a circuit for lighting.