Essex builders regularly undertake garage conversions in Harold Wood, and across Havering, as a cheaper and easier way to add space and value to your home, compared with other types of builds. You won’t need to resort to moving to get a house; so you’ll save on fees for stamp duty, solicitors etc. A garage conversion can also increase your home’s value.
What are you using your garage for? For most people it is usually a storage room for the stuff that we don’t ever, or barely use. If that is the case, then maybe it’s time to consider making better use of it and not only turn it into something more useful for the family, but it could also be a valuable asset.
A garage conversion is one of the speediest and most affordable routes to adding an extra room to your home. What could you turn it into? Do you need a home office, playroom or guest room with ensuite? Do you have a small kitchen and would love a larger space for entertaining? If you have a detached structure, you could use it as an annex or quiet home office. What you turn your garage into, is up to you. Often the work can be completed in little more than a week. What’s more, unlike a conventional home extension, it won’t eat up any of your garden space.
Designing your garage conversion in Harold Wood
The first thing you must do is assess the existing structure, in particular the soundness of the foundations, walls and roof. This will help you get a better idea of how much work is involved, and more importantly, if your budget needs to increase or not. If your garage is in a a bad state, it may be cheaper to knock down and start over.
For higher-end projects, working with an architect could help to identify creative ways to maximise the potential of your garage and establish a space that flows naturally into your home.
With many garage conversions – particularly integral or attached spaces – most of the work is internal (with the exception of changing the front aspect and adding a window or two).
This is likely to be considered permitted development, so it won’t usually need formal planning consent. You’re more likely to need formal permission to change the use of a detached garage. In some cases, such as in conservation areas, permitted development rights for this change of use may have been removed – so consult the local authority before you begin.
As this type of conversion involves a change of use, a garage conversion will always be subject to the Building Regulations.
For straightforward schemes, the building notice route may be sufficient, whereby you or your contractor informs the local authority of your intent to start work 48 hours prior to commencing on site.
With more elaborate conversions, you may want to obtain full structural plans. This gives you peace of mind that building control has inspected the drawings and confirmed that – if it’s constructed as per the approved schematics – your conversion will conform to the regulations.
Other key areas your building control officer will look at are damp proofing, ventilation, insulation and energy efficiency, fire safety (including escape routes), electrics and plumbing.
Key works when undertaking a garage conversion
You must ensure that the walls and roof are sound and watertight. Thereafter, most of the work will take place inside the existing garage.
The existing concrete floor might be strong enough, but it may need to be levelled, damp-proofed with a suitable membrane and insulated. Garage floors tend to be lower than those in the main house, so it may want to level it up to the main house, rather than step down into it.
Infilling the old garage door
The most common route is to replace the main garage door with conventional walling matching the rest of the building.
The simplest way to insulate a garage roof is at loft level. Warm roof setups, which are insulated at rafter level, are also possible and can enable the use of rooflights to bring in more natural brightness. Flat roofs will need to be fitted with rigid insulation between and under the ceiling joists, with a ventilation gap above to prevent condensation.
Integrated garages are usually built to the same standard as the main house, so the walls may not need upgrading. Attached or detached garages that are single-skin construction can be insulated internally by erecting stud walling using timbers deep enough to insert insulation. Or for garages with cavity walls, they can have insulation blown into the gap, so that you don’t lose any of the internal floor space.
Windows and doors
If you’re keen to keep costs down, aim to work to standard-sized units. For larger spans enabling a more open-plan feel, a reinforcing steel beam may be needed. This kind of work may require calculations from a structural engineer.
Heating and electrics
Heating-wise, plumbing in a suitably-sized radiator will be the cheapest solution – but slimline underfloor heating is an alternative that can maximise the floorplan and free up wall space. If you’re planning a kitchen or bathroom, you’ll need to account for hot and cold water supplies as well as drainage.
Ventilation is another key issue. Windows that can open, fitted with trickle vents, will be sufficient in most cases – but if you’re incorporating a bathroom or kitchen, you’ll need a powerful enough extractor fan to manage moisture build-up.
These are just some of the ideas our builders in Romford have come up with. If you need help with any garage conversion in Essex, call the team on 01708 578 014.
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