Setting a budget for a garage conversion

In order to successfully plan your garage conversion, you will need to set a budget, based on the labour and materials required for the project. The costs will differ somewhat, depending on the size of the conversion, the work required and the intended purpose for the final room. Here are a few pointers to help you when you are creating your budget;

Labour

The labour costs for each garage conversion will be very different –depending on whether you intend to undertake the work yourself or employ a number of professionals to help you i.e. builders, plumbers and electricians. Alternatively, you may wish to carry out part of the work yourself, then employ the services of an individual or company for a specific part of the job i.e. wiring of the electrics.

When you are calculating potential labour costs, it's always a good idea to speak to a number of professionals. This will allow you to get an estimated figure for each stage of the job. Don't forget to allow for the time required for each stage of the project – i.e. building tasks will generally take longer than the application of aesthetics.

Work required

Again, the amount of work required on a garage conversion differs somewhat. For example; if you are converting an older garage, you may need to perform repairs or rebuilds on the walls and the foundation may need replacing or adding to. Insulation will be required for any garage conversion, but the extent of this will depend on the purpose of the room.

If you are unsure as to the exact work required for your project, you should contact your local authority for further advice. Under the building regulations act, a number of jobs may be required to safeguard the structure – a building control officer is best placed to advise you on your options. For guidance, here are a few aspects to consider;

  • in-fill garage door
  • wall builds/repairs
  • roof – new/repairs
  • floor – new/repairs
  • foundation – new/repairs
  • insulation
  • damp proofing
  • ventilation
  • electrics
  • plumbing

Materials

The materials used in your conversion will account for a large part of your budget. However, by shopping around, you may be able to get some good deals on your core materials. Even if you choose to get external help in for your conversion i.e. builders, plumbers etc. you can generally still choose your own materials to help keep costs down. Here are a few of the materials and components that you may need to consider;

  • bricks/cement
  • iron work/framing
  • timber
  • insulation materials
  • fibreglass
  • eaves troughs
  • windows/doors/hardware
  • plumbing components
  • electric components
  • damp proofing membrane

Tools/equipment

If you intend to tackle your own garage conversion – from start to finish – a wide variety of tools and equipment will be required. For practical reasons, you may decide to hire out a number of pieces of equipment – especially larger tools that you are unlikely to use again. Equipment such as cement mixers and diggers can usually be hired for a set amount of time. Additionally, you will require a standard set of plumbers and electricians tools – if you are planning to install your own power points and plumbing i.e. for bathrooms or kitchens. For guidance, here are a few basic building tools that you may need for your conversion;

  • ladders and safety equipment (protective clothing/goggles/gloves)
  • bricklaying tools (concrete mixer/trowels/hammers/pointing tools)
  • spirit levels, lines and pins
  • standard tools (drills/hammers/screwdrivers/saws/sanders)

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive and the tools that are required will differ on a project-by-project basis.

It may take a little time to research the above aspects – but by doing so, you can get a better idea of the costs involved with your garage conversion. Many people make the mistake of starting a conversion without setting a budget – this can be a very costly mistake. Unforeseen or unplanned expenses can result in many conversions being abandoned part way through a project or taking longer than expected as the necessary funds are generated.

Also remember that you are likely to generate an estimated figure only using the above factors. Any major building task will naturally evolve over time as new tasks are encountered and included in a project. Quite often, the extent of a job is only revealed when the work is fully underway. To this end, it's a good idea to include an extra amount in your budget to cover any unexpected expenses.

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