One of the cheapest ways of adding more living space to your home is to have a garage conversion.
Particularly where the garage (or garages) are integral to the house, although don’t be put off if yours is a detached garage. The only difference, assuming the structure is suitable, will be the conversion costs.
The bulk of the conversion work will be in bringing the garage up to the building regulations of the day in terms of its insulation and build.
Very often, integral garages will not have been finished to the same standard as the rest of the house – particularly the floor.
The trouble with the floor is that a) it’s usually a few centimetres lower than the rest of the house (this is a deliberate planning point and aimed as stopping leaking fuel running through the rest of your house – when it was a garage) and b) it won’t be insulated to the required standard for the interior of a home. Fine for cars but not for people.
So don’t be shocked when the conversion company start talking about skips and digging up what looks like a perfectly good floor. The floor will need breaking up and removing, digging out and the latest building regs insulation layers being added before the whole lot is re-covered in concrete and bought up to the same level as the rest of the floor throughout the property.
This is a good thing since an uneven floor, apart from being a trip waiting to happen, is a tell-tale sign of a garage conversion. The whole idea for maximum return on your investment, should you come to sell your home at a later date, is that the conversion looks like just another room.
Exterior walls will need bringing up to building regs. standard for their insulation. It’s all about energy efficiency. If you’ve got an integral garage, and you’re using the full width, then it’s only the ‘door wall’ that will require work most likely. If you’re only using 1 of two garages, then the dividing wall between the garages will have to be made solid and a new fire-rated door put into access the garage.
If your garage is detached, then it’s quite likely that the walls are only single brick thickness. Not to panic but be prepared for a higher conversion cost as we said, because all exterior walls will have to be made good (and the chances are the roof too).
The finishing touches.
We’re not referring to what colour you paint the walls (although choosing a shade that matches the rest of your home will, again, help give the illusion that the room’s always been there). We’re thinking about things like choosing the same style of window to match the rest of your house and for the interior, choosing wooden architrave – skirting boards and door trims – even the doors themselves, which match that already present in the rest of the house.
It’s these kinds of details that will ultimately bring the most reward when you finally decide to move home.
If all that sounds like a lot of fuss, then don’t loose sight of the end goal – adding more interior space to your home.
And as we said at the beginning, garage conversions are very good value since much of the building work has already been done. There’s no footings to be dug or walls to be built from scratch (depending on the age of your property and what the existing garage is built with obviously) and although the floor and wall insulating sounds complicated, it’s actually really straightforward and hence, the timeframe from start to completion can be only a couple of weeks.
This story first appeared in our homeowner newsletter – 21 march 2011 edition – read the full newsletter here.