Is your garage suitable for conversion?

Thorough planning is the key to a successful garage conversion – you will need to cover the finer details before you can commence with any work. Failure to do so can result in further expenses and in some cases, you may be required to reverse the work that you have already completed, at your own cost (i.e. if the correct planning permission was not obtained prior to the conversion). Before you start your garage conversion, there are three main aspects to check;

  • Restrictive covenants or clauses – Check your property deeds carefully for any restrictive covenants or clauses. It's not uncommon for developers to place restrictions on building work that is likely to affect the external appearance of a property. In many cases, these clauses can be circumvented for a fee, so contact the developers for more information.

    Alternatively, you can convert the interior of a garage without changing the external appearance of the property. Often, this is achieved by retaining an area at the front of the garage for storage and converting the remaining space. The suitability of any such work is largely determined by the specification and size of your garage and your intended purpose for the space.
  • Planning permission – If you are planning to extend the existing size of a garage or you are working on a detached garage, you may need to obtain planning permission. Naturally, this will differ depending on your location and property type, so check with your local authority as to any precise planning permission rules that apply.
  • Building regulations – If you are converting any part of your house, including your garage, into a living or 'habitable' space, you will need to comply with any government building regulations. Generally speaking, a building control officer will need to check the progress of your conversion at regular intervals during construction.

Again, building regulation rules differ, so always check with your local council for more information. For guidance, here are a few instances where building regulations may apply to a conversion;

  • If you live in a listed building or area - the likelihood is that you will need to maintain the external appearance of the property.
  • If your garage conversion is likely to affect drainage – for example, if you are planning to concrete over a garden or any other area - and are likely to place additional pressure on existing drainage. You may be required to take precautionary measures to avoid potential flooding or blocked drains as you complete the work.
  • Where additional insulation is required – A number of councils will allow you to add extra insulation to the existing structure. However, others may ask you to dig the floor and insulate it as per a brand new construction. This can be a costly requirement, so check before you commence with any works.
  • Restrictions on parking – In the UK, a number of cities and towns have restricted parking i.e. London. Because of this, councils can deny you permission to convert a garage from a car storage area, into a room.

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