Turn Your Garage Into A Functional Workshop or Den

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The benefits and feasibility of converting an underused garage into a usable space such as a den, workshop, home office or similar; what to bear in mind.

Repurpose that underused space at home to create your special haven

There’s a definite trend towards repurposing certain areas of the home to extend its capabilities rather than let an underused space go to waste. The garage is one popular space and many have been turned into dens, offices, workshops and much more whether to provide a home business facility like a small workshop or relaxation area such as a den.

The rise of garage conversions

More people are creating extra space or making their home more versatile by converting spaces such as their garage rather than commit to the expense and upheaval of moving or even having an extension built. Some garage conversions may cost less than the stamp duty they’d pay if they moved house let alone the other costs and maybe having to increase their mortgage.

In the last two decades, around 4 million garages have been converted with the most popular conversion being into workshops. The next most common conversion is to an office with others being a mixture of new bathrooms, extended living areas such as lounges, home gyms and dens.

A sign of the times

Costs of moving, changes in work patterns with more people working from home either self employed or remote working, more people living under the same roof for longer as escalating property prices make it difficult for some to buy their own property have fuelled the rise in converting areas such as garages.

Also, the increased sophistication of home entertainment such as HD television and advanced games have inspired people to create dedicated spaces in which to enjoy them.

Lower costs and flexible heating options such as inexpensive to buy and cheap to run tube heaters for garages and other spaces mean keeping comfortable is possible without necessarily having to run a gas supply into the space or install pricier storage heaters.

Your personal space

Garage conversions can be highly personalised, sophisticated areas tailored to your specific requirements. Fancy a games room in the style of a gentlemen’s club? That can be arranged as can a high tech media hub with access to all types of entertainment including wide screen television.

You’re only limited by your imagination.

The practicalities of converting your garage

Take account of certain factors:

Costs of conversions – likely to prove reasonable compared to building an extension and especially moving. Because the garage is ‘already there’ then there’s no need for new foundations or building new walls – and it may even already have a power supply.

In general, base your thinking on £5,000 to £7,000 and up (or £1,000 to £1,250 per square metre) for your conversion although that heavily depends on specification. This assumes it’s already structurally sound with a water tight roof and stable walls and floor.

If it isn’t, then it may be more cost effective to demolish it and build from scratch.

Design – factor in design and structural engineer costs; from around £1,200 to £2,500 for a designer and £300 to £400 for the engineer.

While you may have a fixed view of how you’d like to use you new space, a proper designer can help translate your ideas into a coherent, achievable design – and may have some useful suggestions.

Planning permission

In general, so long as your garage conversion doesn’t alter the appearance and size of your garage, your project would be classed as permitted development but it’s important to check anyway.

Some people have abused planning regulations by going to extremes such as turning their garage into another full home without seeking permissions.

Some newer housing developments have a condition where the garage should stay as vehicle parking, so you’d have to apply for change of use. Certain other restrictions may apply:

  • Converting the garage for business
  • Local authority parking restrictions
  • Listed buildings

Building regulations approval

Since a garage conversion is a change of use, you’ll need to notify your local authority. As with other changes made to homes it will have to comply with the following:

  • Wall, floor and roof insulation to ensure energy efficiency
  • Well ventilated and moisture proofed
  • Structurally sound
  • Fire proofed with approved escape routes
  • Existing and new electrics would require testing to ensure safety

Once the building inspector is happy, you’ll receive a completion certificate.

Checking house value implications

While there are many pros for having an underused space such as a garage converted to make more use of it, do consider the implications on house value.

Of course it may well add value, but if you live in an area where garage parking is important – perhaps where street parking is restricted for example – then don’t run the risk of harming your property’s worth. Check local conditions perhaps via estate agents first before commissioning that den or high tech home workshop.

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