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Top Tips for Garage Conversions

Posted by NK Lofts on 24/04/2013

The economic and space-creating advantages of home extensions have long been acknowledged, with everything from loft conversions to attractive conservatories adding value and aesthetic appeal to your property. Garage conversions are no exception, and can provide you with the luxury of an extra bedroom, bathroom, office, leisure area or even something more extravagant!

Here are a few tips for ensuring that your garage conversion reaches its maximum potential, providing you with an enjoyable and value-boosting extension to your home…

Utilise the Space:

Garages tend to be long and narrow in structure, so designing your extension with this in mind should help you to get the best out of it. In the case of a spare bedroom, installing a small en suite along the back wall could help to square off the space, making it more pleasurable to the eye. This is also particularly useful if you plan to use the conversion to house a dependent relative, as it will take having to use the stairs to reach a bathroom out of the equation.

You may notice that your garage floor is lower than that of the rest of your house. This is a method of passive fire resistance, and will need to be raised in the event of a conversion. This can be achieved with either concrete or timber floor joists, although professional help is advisable.

Don’t Count Out another Lounge:

While a bedroom or bathroom conversion in your garage may appear to be the most economically attractive option, imagine how advantageous a spare lounge or leisure area might be, especially for those with children soon to be teenagers on an eternal quest for independence!

Using the space as a lounge will also keep it neutral, allowing you to change your mind at a later date should you wish to opt for something else, and will rarely require costly additional plumbing.

Go for a Natural Fit:

Matching the décor of the conversion with the rooms or rooms it is attached to will help give it a more natural feel, as if it had always belonged to the rest of the house. Take all flooring, skirting boards, fittings and fixtures into account, as well as simple things such as paint shade. Of course, this is more applicable with the fitting of a home office space or leisure area, as a bedroom or bathroom may require a different style of interior decoration more appropriate to their use.

Similarly, don’t neglect the exterior! Try to match the brickwork of your extension to that of your existing home, and request that your builder fully “tooths and bonds” your conversion in the event of a new build. This is a process where existing brickwork has every other brick cut away to create a tooth effect, before the new construction is bonded by building into the gaps.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!

As with loft conversions, insulation is both an important and highly beneficial aspect of every garage extension. This is particularly true if you plan to use your garage as an extra bedroom or bathroom, as these rooms will need maximum heat retention to be habitable during the winter months. Fibre glass is, more often than not, the best choice in terms of availability, price and ease of installation. With instruction, it’s possible to fit fibre glass insulation yourself, although getting it done professionally during the conversion could be the most effective and straightforward method with least destruction.

Consider ventilation too – especially in the case of a bathroom extension. Garages are notorious for attracting damp and mould, and this may still ring true after the conversion – regardless of whether or not insulation has been installed. The humidity created by showers and hot taps will create havoc with condensation unless sufficient windows or extractor fans have been fitted.

Legal Considerations:

As with any building project, an understanding of the restrictions and regulations that govern the work you are planning is crucial. Simply put, the vast majority of garage conversions will not require planning permission, so long as they are not extending the size of the house in any meaningful way. However, much of the work undertaken is required to meet building regulations to ensure safe practice, including all alterations to doorways, flooring, ventilation, drainage, electrics and roofing, and any work done on walls shared by yourself and a neighbour will necessitate a Party Wall Agreement, with both sides approving the nature and timeframe of the intended labour. Information specific to each of these areas is freely available on all government or industry related