New baby on the way? Running a business from home but fed up of having to clear away breakfast dishes before you can start your admin? Elderly relative needing round the clock care? Can’t afford to move but desperately need more space? One relatively cheap way to gain an extra room or two is to use your garage as living space, but before you do there are a few things to bear in mind.


Clearing the Space

Very few garages are used to house cars these days. Before work can begin making your garage into a living space you will need to decide how you will replace the storage it offers.

You might have space to be able to add a garden shed to store tools and gardening supplies in.  Sorting out the garage contents also gives you a good chance to ditch some items you don’t use and to finally get rid of all of those pots of dried up paint.

A lot of garages are longer and narrower than living spaces are, so often the back of the garage is retained for storage.  Whilst the work is in progress you could consider hiring a cheap self storage unit to keep everything safe. Storage units can come in handy and are quite cheap to rent, so you may want to consider keeping it on even after all your renovations are done.

Design Tips

It’s very easy to end up with a room that always feels like a converted garage because the conversion is done as cheaply as possible. If your budget allows then there are certain things that will help make it seem more like a proper room.

  • Try to avoid having a step down into the garage by raising the floor level.
  • Make sure the insulation and damp proofing is adequate.  Nothing highlights the original purpose of a room faster than it feeling cold and damp, especially in winter.  Single skin garages will need special dry-lining to avoid this.
  • Consider moving the door (if you have one) to a more natural location.  Going through the kitchen or ducking under the stairs might be fine for a garage but knocking through from the hallway might be more natural for a living space.
  • Check your boiler will be able to cope with an extra radiator or two. You may need to factor in getting it upgraded or using a different system to heat the new room.

Planning and Building Regulations

A detached garage might require change of use permission but if your garage is part of the house you probably won’t need planning permission to convert it.  Listed buildings and those in conservation areas probably will though so it’s worth phoning the planning office to check if you need to apply or not.

Whether or not planning permission is needed, you will need to comply with building regulations and get your conversion signed off by the council’s building control officers.  You can do a lot of the work yourself but electrics, plumbing and heating will also need to be signed off by qualified tradesmen.

Now you’re aware of the possibilities your garage offers, why not think about the best use for yours!