Garage Conversion Ideas and Planning Permission

Garage conversions. Smart move or an invasion on the DIY expert’s place of work? 

With the whole nation improving instead of moving, the internal and external garage seems to be the next room getting the refurbishment treatment. I have certainly seen a steady rise in queries relating to garage conversions. I have been asked to convert garages turned into almost any room you can think of. Most of them are playrooms, home studies, utility rooms and one couple even turned theirs into a home recording studio!!

Here are a few pointers to help you decide whether a garage conversion is for you:

What to use a garage conversion for?

Will the room have natural light or windows?

If yes, home study is ideal. Employers are more and more open to the home working concept, but to be productive a dedicated space with natural light, ventilation and a welcoming space are essential. I work from home, so I understand the importance.

Play room for the children. great to have a room where the toys, train sets and afternoon tea parties can be left out and the door can simply be closed till tomorrow. I have spent many hours tidying up cars and kneeling on LEGO blocks. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Extra spare bedroom for quests. I love having family around, but I would also love having a room to shut them in.

Downstairs WC. Obvious reasons.

If no, some rooms work better without windows than others.

Utility room. Always handy to have a room to house the washing machine, dryer and also to have the ironing board up all the time.

Downstairs bathroom or shower room. Bathrooms can get away without windows, but keep ventilation in mind; this is a regulation to install ventilation to deal with the stale air and steam.

Home cinema. Great space to install that surround sound system with the big screen and have a dedicated room for that cinema experience. Overpriced popcorn optional….

Garage Conversion Design Tips

Natural light

Check whether you can install more windows to the room. Be it in the walls or in the roof because windows provide more than natural light, they also provide ventilation and a fire escape.

Floor levels

Most integral garages are slightly lower in floor level than the rest of the house. It is always worth making this the same level as the house. With building regulations these days, you need to install a lot of floor insulation anyway, so you might as well install enough to meet regulations and bring the floor level up. It’s not as expensive as you might think, and will connect the room with the rest of the house. A step will always detach the room and will cause problems with opening doors. You can’t have a step just before or after a door. As shown in the picture to the left….

Fire safety

Note that you are creating a new room to your house, your life safety systems need to extend to this new room as well. Extend your fire alarm system to include this room. If the door to this room is in a fire exit route (especially relevant if you have had a loft conversion) you also need to install a fire door here to match the rest.

Insulation to walls and ceiling

You are likely to lose about 150mm (about 6 inches for the imperial measurement hangers on) to all the walls and ceiling. This is to get the sound and thermal insulation installed to the room. It needs to be warm after all. Keep this in mind when space planning furniture and room functions.


Most garages, especially mine, is stocked to the brim with man stuff that I will most certainly never use. But you never know when I will need that black plastic guard to the lawnmower four models behind the one I currently own. So if you are turning your room into a habitable room, make sure you have a plan for all the items to be stored. The loft seems to be the natural secondary storage option, but you don’t really want to have to carry pushbikes and lengths of timber in and out of the loft hatch. So either have a clear out, or only convert some of the garage whilst still leaving some storage space for the essential half full tins of paint in peachy cream….

Planning permission

Most garage conversions do not require planning permission. Always check with your local planning department but advice shows that most garage conversion would fall within permitted development. Exclusions from this are homes within a conservation area, listed buildings and homes with restrictive covenants on their property deeds to exclude the conversion of a garage to a habitable room. However, ALL garage conversions will need building regulation approval.  Technical drawings will need to be drawn up and checked by the local authority or by an approved inspector. Your builder will also use these drawings to provide quotations and build to. Contact us if you would like to discuss a planning application.

Posted on February 8th 2019

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