Garage conversion plans

When you are starting a garage conversion job – either as a DIY project or if you plan to call in experts, it's a good idea to make detailed plans of your requirements. This usually involves the creation of diagrams to illustrate any structural changes, contacting the relevant authorities to find out about any legal issues associated with your conversion and identifying the materials that you will need to use in each step of the project. Following are a few steps to help you when you are creating your garage conversion plans;

1. DIY or call in the experts?

This will depend largely on your knowledge of garage conversions, your DIY competence level and your budget requirements. If you do not have previous experience of dealing with structural work, it may be an idea to get advice or employ help with certain aspects of your garage conversion i.e. by getting qualified builders in to deal with the laying of new foundations and the building of walls.

2. Dealing with the legalities

Before you even consider starting a garage conversion project, it's vital to contact the relevant local authorities. You may need to obtain planning permission before you start the job and/or may have to adhere to government-set building regulations. It's important to establish the facts before you finalise your plans as any clauses or regulations could affect the kind of room you are able to create. At this point you will also establish the extent of work that is required to complete your conversion i.e. insulation, wall, roof, wall and window/door requirements.

3. Measuring up

Once you have obtained more information about any clauses, planning permission requirements and/or building regulations that you need to adhere to, you can start to measure your space. This will give you an indication of the area that you will be working with. For example; if you have a double or tandem garage, you will have a larger area to cover – this will have an effect on your budget.

4. Defining a purpose

You may have a set idea of how you plan to use the space i.e. as a kitchen or utility room, or you may be considering the creation of a multi-purpose area i.e. a combined home office and entertainment area. Now is also the time to decide whether you want to convert the entire garage area, or a partial area, allowing a section to be retained for storage. Again, this will differ depending on your individual requirements and the size of your garage.

5. Draw up your plans

It's a good idea to make detailed drawings of how you expect your garage to look post-conversion. Include every aspect you can think of – from the positioning of the door and windows, to the number of power sockets required in the room. If possible, use scaled drawings to help plan the space better – enlist the help of an architect if you are not sure how to tackle this stage, they will have the experience required to make the most of your new space.

6. Identify the work required

No doubt you will have received advice from your local authority when you contacted them about planning permission and/or building regulations. In particular, building regulations can determine the amount of work required. Here are a few examples of work that may need completing, if necessary, get further advice from an expert;

  • In-fill garage door – generally speaking, a traditional garage door will be unsuitable for a garage conversion, to this end, the door will need to be filled in – either by building a full wall or a combination of a wall and a new window. In many cases, new foundation will be required to support the wall, although this is dependent on the ground conditions.
  • Walls – depending on the existing condition of your garage walls, some repairs or re-builds may be required. You may also need to build an additional interior wall with a cavity space – allowing for thermal insulation and providing stronger structural support.
  • Flooring – you will probably need to upgrade the flooring in your garage to make it suitable for a living area. For example; damp-proofing and thermal insulation are usually required. You may also choose to raise the height of the floor to align with the current floor heights in your home – using either suspended timber flooring or a solid concrete floor.
  • Roof – the chances are that your garage roof will need upgrading. Although your existing roof may be suitable for keeping rain and other elements off of a car, it may not be up to scratch for a bedroom or office. You can choose to install a flat roof, or a pitch roof, depending on your requirements and budget.
  • Ventilation – any living area will require sufficient ventilation – and the kind of ventilation required will differ depending on the intended purpose of the room. For example, bathrooms and kitchens will require more ventilation than bedrooms and home offices. As a building regulation requirement, an opening window must be installed which equals one-twentieth the rooms total floor-area. Additional trickle ventilators and mechanical extractor fans may also be required – this is generally assessed on case-by-case basis by a building control body.
  • Electrics – as with any other room, any electrical work in a garage conversion will need to be carried out in accordance with the British Safety Standards 767. More information on standards can be obtained from the British Standards Institution (BSI). Unless you are fully qualified, it is recommended that a credited electrician should undertake all electrical work, including the fitting of power points and the servicing of electrical equipment.
  • Insulation – you will be required to insulate your walls, roof and floor sufficiently and in accordance with building regulations.
  • 7. Create an action plan

    Finally, you will need to create an action plan for you work i.e. a step by step list of all of the work required to fully complete your job. Identify any areas that you can safely do yourself, and those that may need the help of an expert. Keep your action plan and any room drawings in a safe place as you are likely to refer to them throughout your conversion.

    In our other articles, we offer advice on creating a budget – taking into consideration the amount of work, materials and any labour costs required to get your garage conversion underway. We also explain each area of work in more detail.

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