Garage conversions: how much they cost and how they add value and extra space to your home

More than half of the UK’s estimated 11 million garages are not used to park cars in. Instead, they are a dumping ground for household items, according to RAC Home Insurance. Fifty-three per cent of drivers with garages claim never to put their cars in them.

The most common reason for this is that the garage is full of everything from DIY and gardening tools to garden furniture, bikes and camping equipment.

The second most popular reason is that there’s not enough room in there to comfortably get in and out of the car.

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While using the space as storage may be helpful for those with limited square footage in the house, there could be a much better and more lucrative option for garages deemed redundant in regards to their original purpose.

The garage after it was converted into living and work spaceThe garage after it was converted into living and work space
The garage after it was converted into living and work space

Research by Admiral Money shows that homeowners could significantly increase the value of their home by converting their garage into living space and there are plenty of options for those who go down this route, including home offices, hobby rooms, utility rooms, bars, home cinemas, gyms and self-contained annexes.

The Federation of Master Builders, whose members are small to medium size firms, has an excellent and very detailed guide to converting garages on its website.

It points out that planning permission to convert a stand alone garage is not necessary in many cases, although it is always best to double check with your local authority first, especially if there are significant changes to the appearance of the garage, including raising the roofline or larger areas of glazing.

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Almost all integral garage conversions fall under permitted development which means there is no need to make a planning application but again, check with the council’s planning department.

The garage before it was converted by RSJThe garage before it was converted by RSJ
The garage before it was converted by RSJ

However, anyone living in a designated area, including a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park will normally be required to gain permission and if you live in a listed building you will need to seek listed building consent.

Some new-build properties also have planning conditions attached, which means garages have to be retained as a place to park, though you can apply to have the restriction removed.

The FMB also suggests that whether you need permission or not, applying for a lawful development certificate from your local authority will be useful if and when you come to sell the property.

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You will also need to consult a builder and/or a structural engineer to see if the walls, foundations and floors are suitable for a new use and, if not, what needs to be done as there are solutions.

Inside a garage conversion turned into living spaceInside a garage conversion turned into living space
Inside a garage conversion turned into living space

What is a given is that the old garage door will need to be replaced with a new wall and usually a window and/or door, the floor will need to be damp proofed, the walls insulated and the roof too will almost certainly need to be replaced or upgraded.

A garage conversion is also classed as a change of use so your project has to comply with building regulations.

While it is the responsibility of the homeowner, your builder should be well aware of the regulations, which will include fireproofing and escape routes, ventilation and moisture proofing and insulation.

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You will need to submit a building notice to your local building control office and the project will be checked and you will get a final certificate on completion.

Inside Kelly's garage conversion, which is now a home office/studio and a guest room with showerInside Kelly's garage conversion, which is now a home office/studio and a guest room with shower
Inside Kelly's garage conversion, which is now a home office/studio and a guest room with shower

Jonathan Reed is a director of Leeds based RSJ loft and garage conversions and says that his company started to see a rise in the number of homeowners enquiring about garage conversions due to the pandemic when more people opted to work from home.

He says: “There is definitely more call for them than in the past as more people are working from home and they want to create a completely separate work space.

“Nowadays, garages are no longer being used for what they were originally intended for and people are realising that converting them into a habitable, multi-purpose space not only gives you extra room, it also adds much more value to your property than a traditional garage does.”

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It’s difficult to give a definitive price for the work but the average garage conversion costs between £15,000 and £28,000, according to the Rated People website.

Daniel Law had a large double garage attached to his house that was largely wasted space.

He hired RSJ to convert two thirds of it into a home office and a snug while leaving the other third of the former garage for storage.

“It’s been fantastic. I used to use the back bedroom as an office but now I have a dedicated place to work and it’s much more spacious.

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“The conversion is also seamless and you would never think that there had been a garage there. Altogether, the conversion cost £18,000 and it was a great investment and this house will probably be our forever home because of what we have now got here.”

Kelly Davieson and her partner also used RSJ to convert a 1930s detached garage into a work studio at her home in North Leeds.

“It’s got windows and a door and a new pitched roof and inside it has a studio space and a shower so it can also be used as a guest room.”

The work was completed in 2016 and cost £13,000. The price of materials has shot up since then but an estate agency valuation revealed that the studio/annexe had added £28,000 to £30,000 the value of the property.

Useful contacts: RSJ,; Federation of Master Builders,

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