Garage conversions? Convert your garage to a living space

Do you still park your car in your garage? We've lost count of how many homes we've visited with garages, it's a lot. Out of all those garages the total number that actually had vehicles parked in them was two, yes two! One had a vintage car under a old dusty blanket and the other had a quad bike. So if you do actually use your garage for parking your car, in our opinion you're in the minority.

What if you could make efficient use of your garage and convert it to extra living space? Which could also make pretty good financial sense too. Garage conversions that have been converted to high standards could increase your property value by 10%-12% and that's quite a substantial increase.

So you may now be wondering, do you need planning permission to convert your garage?

Firstly we advise you to check whether you have permitted development rights for your house and that there are no restrictions on the garage when it was originally granted planning permission preventing other uses. If you do not have permitted development rights, you will automatically need to apply for planning permission for your proposed changes.

If you do have permitted development rights and want to convert an integral/attached garage, then as long as the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building, you will not usually require planning permission.

If your garage is detached from the house it may not require planning permission if the proposed conversion is to be used 'incidental' to the enjoyment of the main house. However if the conversion involves the installation of a kitchen, bathroom or sleeping accommodation then your conversion may require 'change of use' planning permission to convert the building to habitable rooms, due to the greater degree of independence from the main house.

So, planning to convert a detached garage to an annexe under permitted development could be possible if it's only to be occupied by guests or dependents of the main house. However, if you want to let it out, you will have to obtain planning permission for independent use. Our advice here is to seek help as this can seem like a grey area and internet research can leave you even more confused about whether you need planning permission or not. 

The issue here is the potential for the garage to become a self contained unit as a dwelling house is only considered as one planning unit. So now the converted garage becomes an 'ancillary' use rather than an 'incidental' use. In simple terms ancillary use would mean it could possibly be used as a standard house (separate unit), where as if the use was incidental it could not exist without the main house. In this case you would likely require planning permission.

In both situations if you intend to develop within your permitted development rights, we would advise applying for a certificate of lawful development (CLD) for the proposed use. A CLD will mean you'll receive a legally binding decision as to whether a proposed development is lawful and doesn't require planning permission.

Building Regulations:

In most instances you will require building regulations to bring your garage conversion up to date with building regulations. Each garage will be different and require different works to bring the building up to standard, such as moisture proofing, insulation, fireproofing, means of escape, ventilation and structural soundness. An inspector will want to check your project as its constructed and will issue you with a completion certificate when satisfied with the finished conversion.

We hope this helps answer your questions with regards to converting your garage. As always if we can be of any further assistance then please get in touch or email us at