Converting your garage: Foundation and walls

When you are assessing your garage for a conversion, the foundation and walls are likely to be determining factors. Certainly, any building work required on either of these areas can prove to be the most expensive and time-consuming part of a conversion project – but absolutely necessary to ensure that the building is structurally safe and sound. Please find below general advice on wall and foundation building regulations and a few tips on wall requirements for your conversion.

Please note: this guide is not exhaustive, if you have any questions about the foundation or walls in relation to your specific project you should seek professional advice before commencing with any work.

Building regulations for Foundation and Walls

A number of building regulation rules apply to the walls and foundation of your garage. It is vital to adhere to any regulations when you are converting your garage – failure to do so can mean that your building may become structurally unsafe and this may have consequences on other aspects, such as the floor, roof and drainage facilities. Here are a few general guidelines;

  • Wall thickness: If existing garage walls are of a single brick construction they must be checked for stability. At this point, they will also be checked for any defects. If the condition of the walls is deemed to be satisfactory, they are likely to be considered as suitable for a conversion product. However, further assessments will be required to test their resistance to weather and ensure that the correct insulation methods have been used.
  • Foundations: If additional masonry loads are required for a conversion project, such as the building of new external wall inner leafs or a garage door infill, a new foundation may be required. There are generally three acceptable ways to replace a garage door with a wall (infill);
    • The building of a completely new foundation – the depth of which will be dependent on ground conditions.
    • The installation of two pre-stressed concrete lintels from the footings of each pillar.
    • The installation of a steel cavity lintel with a minimum bearing of 150mm either side onto the brickwork.

The weight of a structure and its foundation can also have an impact on the surrounding area. Care must be taken when building a new foundation, as the weight will be transferred onto the soil/ground below and surrounding areas – this can have an impact on nearby drainage systems. To this end, it is important to assess the impact of a new foundation on any surrounding features.

Wall requirements

As with any other room in a home, you may want to decorate the walls of your garage conversion. The same rules will apply – any small defects will need to be repaired and the wall will probably need plastering (after any necessary insulation/sound proofing work has been completed). It can be a good idea to enlist the services of an experienced plasterer to get the job completed – they will know the best techniques for the type of wall.

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