A Guide to Planning a Garage Conversion

Tips for creating the perfect Garage Conversion.

garages

Undertaking a garage conversion could be the perfect way of extending your living space without encroaching upon the land surrounding your home. Nowadays, many old garages are not fit for the purposes of housing our cars as the vehicles have increased so much in size, and garages often sit empty and without use or are utilised as storage space for old bits and pieces which are ultimately intended for a charity shop or the local recycling plant.

A garage conversion can take as little time as a fortnight, and when done well will add valuable space to your home with minimal disruption to your daily routine during the conversion.

Give a garage conversion thought before going ahead

Have a word with local estate agents who will know whether a garage or an extra room from a garage conversion is worth more in your area when it comes to selling on, and consider whether the work is worth the trouble at all to begin with; do you really need more space? If so, perhaps it is the best way forward.

Take time to think of what the extra space could be used for. Kitchens, playrooms, utility rooms, and offices are popular choices, and you could even incorporate the space into the surrounding existing rooms, creating an expansive open-plan ground floor.

Think about Dimensions

A garage is not shaped like most rooms in the home, and if converted as it is will create a long, narrow room which could be difficult to work with when it comes to decorating and furnishing.

WCs

Incorporating a WC behind a stud wall at the rear of the room should shorten the room by around 1.1m, making the overall proportions much more practical whilst adding utilities to the home. If you decide to take this route, you may also choose to add a shower to the rear space, therefore lending the converted space to use as an extra bedroom for guests or elderly relatives.

Adding a WC to a garage conversion will of course mean having to think about drainage in the garage conversion. The ideal situation would mean relying on a traditional gravity drainage system, but where this cannot be achieved there are other options to consider. A pumped macerator is a good second option where conventional gravity drainage is not possible. Ventilation is another issue, as it might be difficult to ventilate such a small and hidden space within the house. However, a simple extractor fan should easily remove smells and condensation.

Doors

Adding doors to a floor plan that wasn’t supposed to have another door fitted into it can pose another problem. Using the existing door from the garage to the main part of the house could make the new room awkward to use or furnish, whilst installing new doors could be difficult if contending with stairs or other rooms on the opposite side of the wall. Compromise is often essential in these cases, making sure to get the best of both the garage conversion and the existing hallway, lounge, or kitchen on the other side.

Getting the Aesthetics right

The look of your new room will be just as important to you as its functionality. You will need to think carefully about the look of the garage conversion both from the outside and on the inside.

Outer Beauty

The best way of going about redesigning the outside of the home is to stick to a neutral and minimal palette of materials and colours. Try to match up the design as closely as possible to the existing parts of the house insofar as materials and paints are concerned. Always try to avoid ‘bolting on’ the new brickwork and instead ask that the builder responsible fully tooths and bonds the new work in. Before moving on to interior finishings, you will probably notice that your garage is filled with electric and gas meters as well as surface-mounted pipes in all of the most impractical places. If boxing these in looks messy and clumsy, you might find it best to try to re-site them.

Inner Beauty

Once you have perfected the proportions of a garage conversion, there are various things you can do to make the new room appear as if it had always belonged to the rest of the house. It is a good idea to try to create a sense of harmony as far as the décor is concerned between the new room and the adjoining room. Select a similar flooring, and have the same or similar window and door fittings installed. Have made a skirting that matches that in the next room and the rest of the house, and choose light fittings which complement not only the new space but the rest of the house too.

Paint should ideally be in a colour which will make the room appear bigger and brighter than it is, as the space will most likely be fairly small in relation to the other rooms. Keep windows free of clutter and hang mirrors to enhance the feeling of space.

Try to keep the furniture to a minimum, or of a small size, so as to not overcrowd the garage conversion, and to keep it feeling as spacious as possible.

Image: John Brightley

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