27 April 2023

Everything you need to know about garage conversions

By Brooke Crisp Manager

Have you ever looked at your garage and wondered how you could make better use of it? For so many homeowners, a garage inevitably turns into a dumping ground. But garage conversions are one of the easiest, quickest and most cost-effective ways to enlarge your home – giving you more living space and boosting your property value too.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know to help your garage conversion ideas come to life.

What are the benefits of garage conversions?

Converting your garage to living space can be highly beneficial to both your lifestyle and the market value of your home. These days, many properties have driveways – and it’s common for homeowners to use a garage more as a storage space than somewhere to park. But a garage can be an incredibly versatile space.

Extra living room

Depending on the size and layout of your garage, you can convert it into a wide range of living spaces, from a bedroom to a bathroom, kitchen, living room or playroom. Since home working has become so popular, it’s increasingly common for homeowners to convert their garage to an office. Other small garage conversion ideas including converting your garage into a gym – another popular trend in the UK.


When it comes to adding extra living space, garage conversions are more affordable than either a loft conversion of adding an extension. As the structure is usually in place, it rarely needs planning permission – saving you time and money – and, of course, improving your current home is always going to be cheaper and less hassle than moving house.

Higher property value

If you do decide to move, a garage conversion could well increase the value of your home. According to Virgin Money, garage conversions can boost your property value by 10-15%, making it a worthwhile investment.

Speedy process

Once the building work begins, a typical garage conversion is pretty quick to complete if the structure is already sound. A rough guideline is between three to six weeks to turn your garage into living space, while some projects might not take as long as that. Converting a garage to office or gym can be a very efficient renovation project.

Where do I start with my garage conversion?

How you convert your garage will depend on a few factors: what you want the space to become, the state of the existing structure, and your budget.

An integrated garage is one of the easiest to convert into extra living space within your own home, and a big double garage offers the most flexibility for converting into a couple of rooms, for example a guest bedroom with en-suite, or a gym and a playroom, or even leaving some space for storage or parking.

Small garages can still offer around 15 square metres of floor space, making them ideal for an office, small living room or downstairs bathroom – while a detached garage is great for a quiet home office, garden room or even a separate annex for guests or relatives.

If you like, you can discuss garage conversion ideas with your builder or an architect to get a feel for what’s possible. They will be able to assess the structure, including the walls, roof and foundations to determine how suitable a conversion will be. It’s possible you may need the structure to be strengthened or repaired to facilitate the conversion process, and ensure compliance with building regulations.

Do garage conversions need planning permission?

One of the many benefits of garage conversions is the simplicity of build, especially when your garage is attached or integrated with your home. The majority of the works are internal – it’s only the addition of a window and removal of the garage door that affect the outside of your property. This means you rarely need planning permission. In fact, according to RESI, only 10% of garage conversions are thought to need planning permission – the rest fall under permitted development rights.

Permitted development essentially enables you to make changes to your home providing the works are internal, you’re not enlarging the structure of your home and you use similar building materials. However, you still have to comply with Building Regulations, and it’s recommended you apply for a lawful development certificate to prove the quality of the build.

In some cases, a garage conversion may not fall under permitted development rights, and you may need to apply for planning permission or consult your local authority. This is usually for the case if:

  • You live in a conservation area or your property is listed
  • There are restrictive covenants on your home that state the garage must be kept for parking – these can be discharged, but at a cost
  • Your garage is detached and you’re changing its use
  • You’re significantly changing the outside appearance, for example if you want to use different materials, add windows that could affect your neighbours, or if you’re adding an extension as part of your garage conversion.

Don’t forget: if you live in a listed building you will need to apply for listed building consent for any changes, and if your garage is adjoined to a neighbouring property, you will need a party wall agreement.

How much do garage conversions cost?

The cost of a garage conversion differs depending on the type of conversion you’re after, and the condition of your existing garage. For example, converting a large double garage into a seamless space within your home with the help of an architect and structural engineer will cost considerably more than a DIY garage conversion where you do the majority of the work yourself.

Average figures range from anywhere between £5000 to £20,000 – which is considerably lower than a loft conversion or standard extension. However, the overall cost might be affected by any work that needs doing before the conversion, for example reinforcing the foundations, raising the ceiling height, repairing the roof, or installing insulation.

Time to get planning

If you are considering garage conversion ideas, take some time to do your research and plan out how the space will fit in with your home. Considering where you’d add windows, the type of insulation you might need and the materials and finishes you’d like to use will go a long way to helping sketch out a budget.

Don’t forget you’ll need the advice of a builder and structural engineer, while an architect can help you make the most of your space. Just make sure you factor in garage conversion insurance when you get going. This type of cover makes sure the works – and the rest of your home – are protected at all times. At Renovation Plan, we offer flexible short-term policies that are perfect for a garage conversion – just get in touch with our friendly team to find out more.