Do you feel as though you could be getting better use out of your garage? Maybe you could use it as a storage space for your bikes, or perhaps a home gym. Most of the garages I’ve seen look as though they could use a complete conversion, and they should; because when used properly, garages can be the most versatile areas in your house for storage or recreation.
Converting your garage not only has many benefits, such as increasing your house price, it is also relatively cheap, easy, and quick to do. Although, you must be wary, as you may need to consider building regulations and planning permission. However, there’s no need to worry as this guide will show everything involved when converting your garage.
Why Should you Convert your Garage?
• Add value to your house: As previously mentioned, your house value will most likely increase if you choose to convert your garage. In many cases, your house value may increase by more than the amount you spent converting your garage, making this a wise investment.
• The options are endless: Finding it hard to work at home because of your crying baby or loud dog? Perfect. Garages make amazing home offices where you won’t be disturbed and can finally hear yourself think. Likewise, fancy a home gym? Storing your equipment outside is only viable in the summer. Therefore, garages make great spaces for pumping some iron, and it’s unlikely you’ll disturb anyone while you do so.
• It’s cheaper than a house extension: Garage conversions, if done efficiently, can cost as little as $5000. That’s much cheaper than getting a house extension, which usually costs tens of thousands of dollars, it’s a no-brainer.
How Much does Converting your Garage Cost?
Garage conversions, as previously stated, cost much less than a house extension. This is due to not needing to spend money on building new walls and laying new foundations. Your garage may also have electricity and plumbing already, meaning you’ll save even more money.
Therefore, the cost of converting your garage simply depends on want you want to do with it. Either way you can expect to pay around $1000-$1500 per square metre.
Garage Conversion Costs:
• Flooring: $25-$100 per square metre
• Insulation: $750-$1000
• New doors and windows: $600-$1500
• Utilities: $1000-$4000
• Removing a wall: $300-$1200
• Removing garage doors: $1500-$2000
There can be additional costs involved with planning permission and admin costs, but that depends on your local authority. This will be discussed later on in the post.
You also need to consider labour costs when installing features like central heating. Labour costs for this type of work can range at around $100-$200. The good news is that most jobs will only take a couple of days.
Speaking of planning permission, this is something to bear in mind as some local authorities may have strict rules on certain types of home renovations.
When you will need planning permission for a Garage Conversion:
• If your garage conversion increases your property beyond permitted development rights
• If you are converting your garage for business
• If your local authority has restrictions on reducing parking
• If you live in a listed building
However, as long as the exterior is untouched, you shouldn’t have to worry. It is worth checking with your local authority if your conversion increases your garage size. Better safe than sorry!
Assuming you own your property/have a mortgage, you need to check that you are complying with building regulations. Again, this depends on how complex your conversion is going to be.
If your conversion is simple and doesn’t require any major work, a notice to your local authority sent by either you or your contractor 48 hours prior to work commencing will be sufficient. However, for more complex conversions, you need to also consider having your structural plans drafted. This means that the local building authority can inspect your drawings and confirm them (hopefully).
The local building authority may also look at other areas such as your ventilation, insulation, energy efficiency, fire safety, plumbing, electrics, and damp proofing in addition to structural safety.
So now we’ve got costs and permission out of the way, let’s take a look at the different aspects of garage conversion you need to consider.
With heating your garage there are a few options, you can:
Install electric underfloor heating:
Electric underfloor heating is relativity easy to install, it also works well with renewable heating sources and can save you money. You can install wet heating, which works with hot water, or dry heating, which works with electricity. Wet systems are versatile as they can be used from hot water from a boiler, or work with renewable sources such as solar panels.
You can expect to spend around $100 per square metre for water systems and half of that for electric. This makes electric systems the much less expensive option especially for areas up to 20 metres squared.
Next, radiators can be a good, easy option as it will be connected to your main source of heating. However, you must consider if your boiler can cope with another radiator and the pipework involved. Consult your local plumber or heating engineer to see if this option is viable.
Use electric heaters:
If you fancy an easier option, using electric heaters can work very well, especially if your insulation is good. This option speaks for itself and you can find some great electric heaters on Amazon which will heat up your whole garage in minutes (given that it is well insulated, see below).
If you’re looking for some great garage heaters, check out: The Highest Quality Garage Heaters of 2021.
Contrary to popular belief, insulation doesn’t actually make your garage (or any room) warmer, it simply prevents the warm air from escaping, and if you’re like me and you hate the cold, then you’ll need this for the winter!
For this you will need:
• Expanding foam
• Gloves and sleeves
• Fibreglass insulation
• Garage door insulation kit
Insulation done wrong can result in a cold, damp room, so ensuring each part of your garage is well insulated is definitely worth your time. Each part of your garage that you need to insulate is as follows:
You may not need to worry about this if your garage was built to the same standard as the rest of your house. However, if you do need to insulate your walls, fiberglass is most commonly used. You will first need to remove the drywall in your garage (if you have it), clear up any dirt and remove any mould and chemicals.
Then look for gaps or cracks in the wall, use your expanding foam to fill them in, and then basically remove anything that shouldn’t be there or anything that will impact heat escape. After that you can install the fibreglass installation with drywall covering it, and you’re done.
This is the most important part to insulate in your garage as heat rises and escapes by exiting out the roof. The process is very similar to insulating your garage walls, using thicker, R-40 insulation will do the trick.
Garage door insulation:
This is as simple as buying a garage door insulation kit, these can be found on Amazon, and the process is similar to insulating the walls and ceiling, or you can buy an already-insulated door.
If you’re looking for guidance on how to install your garage door, check out my article on garage door installation.
Door and window insulation:
This is the same as anywhere else in the house, Double glazing for the windows and insulating tape for your door should be more than enough.
Garage floor insulation:
Although garage floors can get freezing especially if they’re concrete, you may not need to worry about this as much if you’re using underground heating. That being said, assuming your floor is concrete, you need to make sure it is level and moisture free. From there you can install wood sleepers with foam panels placed in between, or rigid foam insulation.
After you’ve insulated your garage, it should be fit to combat the cold winds of the winter. However, insulation isn’t everything, you must keep a good air flow as well, this is where garage ventilation comes in.
Proper garage ventilation will make sure your garage doesn’t get too hot or cold, as this isn’t just unpleasant for when you’re in there but it also impacts adjacent rooms, and can incur strong and unwanted odours.
Ventilation can be as simple and cheap as keeping a door or window open, but if you’re keen to take extra step, you can try several other options:
• Ceiling fan: this will also deal with dust and debris if your garage conversion will result in a workplace.
• Garage exhaust fan: These can either be mounted on the wall (at extra cost) or stand on the floor and be moved around. I prefer the second option, personally.
• Roof ventilation: Since hot air rises, this is another great option, try installing the vent in the highest place on your roof.
• Portable air conditioner: These are space-friendly and can be placed wherever you like. Nice and easy.
Plumbing and Electrics:
If you need these features for your garage conversion, you must survey your house and garage for plumbing and wiring. However, both Plumbing and Electricity installation are best done by professionals.
The cost for Plumbing can vary depending on if you want a kitchen, bathroom or both. For this you can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $1800.
For installing a solid electricity flow to your garage, you can expect to pay around $1000-$1500. Contact your local electrician for their pricing.
Insuring Yourself For a Garage Conversion:
Lastly, but a very important aspect to consider when converting your garage is conversion insurance. This is very much worth thinking about if you are the one managing this project and hiring workers to aid in your conversion.
This insurance will cover materials and equipment involved when converting your garage, may it get stolen or damaged (some costing thousands to replace) as well as insuring the garage/property itself. This is important to consider as your home insurer may not cover you for garage conversions. Therefore, it is worth asking your home insurer their policies on garage conversion insurance to know for sure.
Don’t Forget the Garden
Remember that your garage is your living space and your garden and/or your patio area is just an extension of that. Therefore, it’s worth investing in improving your garden area if you want to take the extra step in your home improvement journey.
There are many ways you can go about this, the obvious thing to do is replace your old fence, grow flowers and/or a vegetable patch, if your feeling really fancy, maybe put a fountain in. But if you want to add something in that will really make your friends flock to your garden, it’s a good grill.
Grills are a great option when improving your garden since everyone likes food right? Meat eaters and vegans can rejoice (without too many arguments I hope) in your garden. If your looking for a great meal to cook, check out the Frugal Flexitarian: Venison Burger Recipe. This will definitely please your guests, and you can show them your wonderful new garage at the same time!
Garage Conversion – A Good Option For You?
Garage conversions can be a cost-effective way to extend your living space, when done correctly, they make it feel like a completely new space with endless possibilities. However, don’t forget that you may be sacrificing parking space which may be an issue if you don’t have a drive and could potentially knock some value off of your property if it puts buyers off.
That being said, garage conversions are usually a fraction of the price of home extensions and involve more DIY, which may be good to save money and also if you’re a DIY enthusiast. I would recommend creating a list of ideas of how you would like to convert your garage and gauge the price of each one so you can plan ahead.
Thank you for reading until the end, I hope you have learned the process and costs involved in converting your garage. It is a big project most of the time, but if you break it down into smaller, manageable steps, you’ll have replaced your waste of space into your dream garage.