June 10


Garage Renovation: 8 Expert Tips for a Smoother, Less Costly Project (which finishes on time) 

From adding a practical space for a home office to creating a cosy living area, the possibilities of a garage renovation are endless and exciting. 

But getting the job done right isn’t always smooth sailing. 

Here are 8 expert tips which will get you on your way to enjoying your garage space in no time, and they could save you money…

How to get the most garage for your pound

The cheapest isn’t always the best when it comes to a garage renovation. You want the most ‘bang for your buck’ without sacrificing quality. When drawing up a budget, remember to include everything from materials, professional fees, and demolition costs. This will minimise nasty surprises.

Start with non-negotiables and add the ‘nice-to-haves’ if the budget allows. Keep track of your spending and allow for a contingency fund- 10% of the total garage conversion cost should do the trick.

Here is a list of line items to include. Remove the ones who don’t apply and add any that are relevant in your case:

  1. Demolition and site preparation
  2. Permits and inspections
  3. Architect or designer fees
  4. Structural modifications
  5. Insulation and drywall
  6. Flooring
  7. Electrical work
  8. Plumbing (if applicable)
  9. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)
  10. Windows and doors
  11. Interior finishes
  12. Exterior finishes (if applicable)
  13. Furnishings and fixtures
  14. Contingency fund

How to accurately estimate garage conversion costs

Estimating the cost of each line item in a garage conversion project can be approached in several ways. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make accurate cost estimates for each line item:

  1. Research costs online: Begin by gathering information on average costs for materials, labour, and professional services in your area. Websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to home improvement projects can be valuable sources of information.
  2. Visit local stores: Visit local hardware stores and suppliers to get a sense of the prices for the materials you’ll need. This will give you a more accurate idea of the costs involved in your specific project.
  3. Obtain quotes from professionals: Contact local contractors, architects, and other professionals to obtain detailed quotes for their services. Request itemized quotes to understand the cost breakdown for each aspect of the project.
  4. Use cost estimation tools: Online cost estimation tools and calculators can help you determine the costs of specific materials, labour rates, and other expenses. Input your project details and location to get customized cost estimates.
  5. Consult with friends or family: Speak with friends, family members, or neighbours who have completed similar projects to get a sense of the actual costs involved. They may have valuable insights and recommendations based on their experiences.
  6. Account for regional differences: Keep in mind that costs may vary depending on your location. Adjust your estimates accordingly to account for regional differences in labour rates, material costs, and permitting fees.
  7. Break down each line item: Divide each line item into smaller sub-tasks and estimate the costs of materials and labour for each. This will give you a more accurate and detailed understanding of the costs involved.

Do you need planning permission for a garage conversion?

In most cases, planning permission is unnecessary for many garage conversions as long as the work is carried out internally and does not involve expanding the structure. However, suppose the goal is to transform the garage into a separate dwelling (regardless of the intended occupant). In that case, planning permission might be mandatory, irrespective of the nature of the work involved. Converting a garage into a bedroom may well necessitate submitting a change of use planning application and obtaining building regulations approval.

A simple garage remodel project is unlikely to need any special permissions. But if you are intending to create a new living space (bedroom, office, gym), then it’s worth factoring into the garage conversion costs and timeline of getting the correct permissions.

How long is this garage conversion going to take?

Mum-in-law coming to visit over the Summer? Hoping your build will be finished by then?

Be realistic about a timeline. Delays are inevitable, but if you allow for them, it takes some frustration out of the process. 

Here’s the good news…If you are doing this DIY project yourself, there are things you can do to shorten the timeline and minimise delays…

  • Ordering ‘off the shelf’ cabinetry or materials
  • Ensure you are ordering things which are in stock. 
  • Save time by collecting fixtures and fittings from the store yourself. 

As a rule of thumb, add at least 20% extra time to whatever time estimates you are given.

Should I convert my entire garage?

Do you want to use the whole garage floor space for your new room or do you want to leave space for a little store room? Partial garage conversions can be worth considering. Think about where you will store the current contents of your garage.

This is a good time to clean out those nuts and bolts you’ve been hanging onto since 1980 ‘just in case’ you may need them! But you may want to keep the kids bicycles; if so, where will they be stored after the renovation? You might want to create a little utility room or create more storage space elsewhere.

Most single-car, attached garages in the UK are too small to fit an extra habitable room with doors on it but if you open plan the house into the garage that will gain you a lot of extra living space. This obviously only works if you have a house with an attached garage.

If you have a double garage you may well want to do a partial garage conversion. This means that you usually use part of the garage closest to the main house and incorporate it into the house and then you leave the other part of the existing garage to be used as storage space.

Demolition can be dangerous

You may choose to do your own demolition which may save some money but don’t underestimate the physical work this may entail. Also who will remove the demolition rubble? You may need to hire a skip- remember to add that in your budget.

If your existing structure is very old there may be hazardous materials (like asbestos or mould) which will need to be removed by a professional.

Should I Leave it to the pros or make it a DIY garage conversion?

Whether your new space is going to be a playroom, extra bedroom, exercise space or games room you may need to get a professional in even just to get advice before you start.

No matter what your garage conversion is going to be used as it will need to be a habitable room. You will need adequate ventilation, natural light and possibly advice on whether any structural changes to garage ceiling are required- for this, you will need a structural engineer or architect.

You want all aspects planned and executed correctly from the start- so call the professionals sooner rather than later. It is easier for professionals (plumbers, electricians, etc) to see what is going on in the room before the plasterboard has gone onto the walls.

Also – if there is there a boiler or electrical board which needs to be moved- this can add a large cost onto your renovation. It may be easier to build a cupboard around it. This needs to be factored in to the planning of your room.

The garage floor and garage roof need special attention

A garage will typically have a different floor height to the rest of your house. You will need to factor in getting the floor level with the rest of the house and check that you can insulate it adequately. When doing the floors, plan ahead for the type of floor covering that that you want and factor in the height of the finished garage floors. For example a painted garage floor coating will be much thinner than a thick pile carpet.

Many garages won’t have a ceiling at all- this will affect the thermal performance of the room and you will need to add sufficient insulation, ventilation, and a ceiling to make it a habitable space.

Have a look at the type of garage roof you currently have- some garages have a pitched roof and some are flat. If you do change the garage roof, you may need to apply for planning permission. You will also need to insulate and add a ceiling to make the room livable and more energy efficient.

Garage doors – should they stay or go?

What should you do about the garage door? From the road this is usually the most visible part of the garage conversion. There is a lot to be said for leaving your garage door in place- for one thing it won’t affect the facade of the house. You could add an (insulated) wall on the inside of the garage door and thus the existing garage door will only add to the insulation and soundproofing of the new space. This also allows for easier conversion back to a garage in the future.

On the other hand, you may want to remove the garage door, partially brick up the opening and put double glazing in to allow more natural light in. Just make sure that the existing garage foundations provide enough support for the new wall. You may need planning permission if you are making a change to the outside of the garage.

Implications for the walls

If the garage is attached, it is probable that the external walls consist of single skin blockwork. In either situation, the walls must be reinforced to ensure structural integrity and insulated to meet the same standards as the rest of the home, which may involve enhancing the existing foundations. Since the garage floor is lower than the rest of the house, proper insulation and a damp proof membrane (DPM) must be installed before laying the final finished floor. Additionally, the garage door needs to be removed, and the front wall filled in, incorporating the same structural improvements.

Don’t get discouraged! You will love your new room!

Garage conversions are all the rage and we can see why. So whether you are after a home gym, art studio, play room, or a separate space for your mum-in-law, chances are good that with a little forethought and planning, your existing garage can be your new favourite room.

It seems like a lot of effort, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of your garage conversion. If done correctly, you won’t regret having some extra living space or a home office designed especially for your family. 

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get an instant ballpark quote for your next renovation with our online calculator