In most cases the answer to this question will be no. If the existing garage is integral or connected to the house the works will likely fall under permitted development which means you do not need permission from the council although we always recommend applying for a lawful development certificate.
Plans will be submitted to the council and they will issue a certificate of lawfulness which is helpful if you come to sell the house as any additions or changes could be picked up by a solicitor and put off a buyer or slow down a sale.
It is best to speak to an expert or to the local council to make sure the proposed works fall under permitted development prior to commencing works on site. Also, if your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building you will more often than not need to apply to the council under a house holder planning application.
Some properties that have been heavily extended in the past or are new can also have permitted development rights removed. The guidelines are clear but spending some time researching this to make sure will save you far more time and money in the future. Better to do this than assume it is okay and then run into issues with the council.
If you have a garage that is detached from the house, you may still be able to convert this but may have to apply to change the use of the building. It is also possible to build detached outbuildings; they must be behind the forward elevation of the house and depending on the proximity to the boundary there are certain heights you must adhere to. Any outbuilding must not have self-contained living accommodation, you can have a toilet or a shower, but both will raise alerts with the council.
What can I use my converted garage for?
This is dependent on the size and location of your garage. A lot of properties have a single garage on the side of the house or within the footprint of the house. Generally, these will be around 2.65 metres in width by 5 metres in depth. You will lose some of this space when you insulate the walls, but it still leaves a space that allows you a number of options on how you use it.
You can get a double bedroom to work in a room that is 2.65 metres x 2.65 metres which allows a lot of garages to be converted into a bedroom and leaves plenty of space to create a ensuite shower room or down stairs toilet.
On a lot of properties, we have converted we have split the room into two creating an office or playroom to the front and a utility room to the rear. Depending on the location of your garage it can be possible to place a doorway to the utility room directly from the kitchen.
On a property in Surbiton we recently used the garage space to extend the footprint of the current kitchen to create an open plan kitchen and dining room, it also freed up enough space to install large bi-folding doors to the rear elevation allowing more natural light into the space. We left the garage door on the front and used the remaining space to create a storeroom for the garden furniture and bikes. For more infomation on this project please click here.
Will my garage conversion require Building Regulations approval?
You will need to adhere to the Building Regulations when you convert your garage as you will be creating a habitable space. The conversion may also require structural works to be carried out which will also need to be signed off by Building Control. For more infomation on building regulations please click here.
You will need to submit a full planning application to the local council Building Control Department or private inspector, you could also submit a building a notice for the works, it is best to discuss this with your builder. Also, make sure it has been applied for before works commence on site.
I have seen comments online where people think that because the works fall within permitted development or are an internal change that you will not require any Building Control approval, but this is not the case.
What works are involved when converting my garage?
This really depends on how your garage has been constructed. Two of the main factors are insulation and foundations. Some garages do not have any footings, this is not ideal if you are adding more weight to the structure or using it as a habitable room as there could be movement in the ground which will cause the structure to move and create cracks and can cause major structural damage to your house.
Before any works are carried out you will need to check the foundations. This can be done by digging a small hole next to your garage to expose the existing foundations, once these have been exposed the width and depth can be checked. If they are not sufficient it could mean that you will have to completely rebuild the garage so that it can be used to create a habitable room.
The other key factor when converting your garage is making sure that the walls are insulated. Most attached garages will have a single skin of brickwork, this can either be insulated on the inside within a timber stud frame and covered with plaster board or external insulation boards and render can be used.
The roof of the garage will need to be assessed to see if it can be retained. This will also need to be insulated using either glass fibre quilt or rigid insulation boards.
Garages will not have any insulation in the floor and will be set slightly lower than the main house. By adding a damp proof membrane, insulation and screed not only makes sure your new space complies with building regulations, but it allows the level of the floor to be brought up to match the rest of the house. This avoids having any steps in the property, which is important when the space is being converted to be used by an elderly parent or so that it can be accessed by a wheelchair.
On some integral garages, especially when they have a habitable room above them the external walls may well be insulated but again don’t assume this is the case, it is best to check before agreeing a price for the works with your builder.