Ideas for a garage conversion

If you are looking for ways to add more living space to a home floor plan and have a garage (single or double) that isn't being used, perhaps you should consider utilising this valuable space in other ways with a garage conversion.


A single or double garage takes up a substantial amount of valuable space - a space on which you pay property taxes - and a sizeable percentage of the total value of a property. No matter what the condition of a garage, if it has a foundation in place, brick walls and a roof, converting an unused garage into a useable space requires only minimal output for high return on investment.

If you park your vehicle in a carport and leave the garage empty perhaps you might want to consider converting the garage to living space. A garage conversion is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to add extra living space to a home.

A garage conversion is more than just sealing cracks and painting walls; opting to take the do-it-yourself route for a garage conversion can save you a bundle, as long as you research the project before starting out. If you plan on letting a contractor do the job, set up consultations with a number of contractors for quotations.

Here are some of our top tips for a basic garage conversion:

Planning approval: Any structural alterations to the existing footprint for a garage conversion will require planning approval from your local council. This means you need to contract the services of a architectural draughtsman or designer to look at what you want to do with the space and draw up the plans for submission. However, cosmetic changes such as re-plastering, minor alterations and flooring do not require planning permission. If in any doubt, get in touch with your local planning department.

Set up a budget: After meeting with a designer or drawing up rough plans look at what will be involved to do the garage conversion to turn this into a habitable space. This could include some or all of the items mentioned in this article and will allow you to put together a guideline estimate for the costs involved. Once you have an estimated budget you can then decide how to proceed with the project and where to start first. 

Remove a garage door: Most automatic garage doors operate either with side springs or a centrally mounted (above the door) torsion spring. Extreme care needs to be taken when removing a torsion spring, as these are tightly wound and the tension needs to be released for safe removal. You will find instructions for this on the Internet, or have a garage door technician do the work for you.  The removed door will need to be replaced with a new wall, door or window. This may require new foundations or adding a lintel over the top.

Electrical: Have a qualified electrician install any additional light or power sockets to cater for appliances and equipment to power up a converted garage. The same applies for any plumbing that needs to be added.

Roof: In some instances the garage roof may need to be upgraded to ensure it is waterproof. This can be anything from minor repairs to the existing roof, to a total replacement using materials that match those of the main roof. If you are going to be replacing the roof, consider a roof design that will add to the design, such as a raised pitch with a skylight.

Structural: Repairs to brick work and/or plaster finish, adding or replacing windows, resurfacing a floor or adding walls should be taken into consideration when doing a garage conversion. As a garage, the building is not designed to be lived in and will need to be improved upon if you plan the use this as a living space.

A garage that is not being used and left standing empty is a waste when you consider how little cost is involved in transforming this into extra living space. Removing a garage door and fitting a sliding door or large window is a minor cost when compared to building a new structure from the ground up.  You can use this new-found space as a family or living room, a home theater, a granny flat or, if conveniently situated, as an outdoor entertainment or patio extension.

If you and your family are into heath and fitness, a garage conversion to add on a home gym or fitness room is one of the most popular garage conversions done today. Other than aesthetic touches, turning a garage into a home gym requires very little in the way of alterations, and if the garage already has a toilet/basin or shower added, converting this into a shower for after exercise will bump up the convenience and the investment value.

Another family-friendly option for a garage conversion, especially a large family, is to turn a garage into a fun playroom for the kids. Once again, little alteration is required and it's just a matter of adding a few touches here and there to create a safe place where the kids can play and let off steam. Plenty of natural light and ventilation are must-haves no matter what purpose the new space will serve.

An unused single garage provides the perfect space for setting up a home entertainment room. Insulation in the ceiling space, underfelt and carpeting, and plush upholstered furniture, and you have a room where you can sit back and relax while you enjoy the latest movies or listen to music.

For a growing family where moving is not an option and you need extra living space, a garage conversion can provide a space for a family room or den where the family can gather or the kids can use  for gaming, relaxing or entertaining friends. Fill the space with dual-purpose furniture such as sofa beds and floor cushions to create a versatile space.

All the comforts of working from home - a garage conversion allows you to set up office with or without making a lot of changes. If you don't need to section off the space and don't mind leaving the garage door in place, you can very quickly make use of the valuable floor space a garage provides. Plus a garage conversion is great for a home office because they are usually separate from the rest of the house. Ensure the space has plenty of natural light by adding windows or a skylight and invest in adjustable blinds or insulate the space.

If you don't need extra living space but still aren't putting an unused garage to good use you could look at turning the space into a craft or hobby room. Kitting out a garage with cupboard and shelves or a length of countertops and you can utilise the space to cater for almost any activity.

If the garage is easily accessible and close to the house you can create a laundry or utility room, or divide the room in half using drywall partitioning to create a dual-purpose space - perhaps a laundry and playroom.