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​Make the most of your garage

Kate Warren Image By Kate Warren
​Make the most of your garage Image

So often used merely as storage areas for the odds and ends that haven't found a place somewhere else in the home, garages are the ideal candidates for conversion into something new. Not only are they used less often nowadays to store vehicles, but they're usually located in a position that enables them to be used to extend the room next door, breathing new life into a kitchen or utility area.

Creating space, adding value

The creation of more living space is probably the most important factor in deciding whether or not to convert your garage into something more useful. However, you shouldn't forget that a successful conversion can also add significant value, possibly increasing the potential market price of your home.

When considering what to do with your garage, the size and location are the two biggest restrictions. If the room backs onto the kitchen or utility room, then it's probably less suitable for use as a bedroom (although not impossible). Similarly, a single garage may be too small as a bedroom in its own right, and would be better put to use as a home office, kitchen extension, shower room, gym or play room.

Multiple options

Of course, double garages offer considerably more scope for conversion. It's possible to divide a double garage in two, converting just one half and keeping the remainder as a garage. Similarly, there can be greater freedom with detached garages, as they can open up the option of demolition and rebuild - although there's no question that such a project would need planning permission.

If you're thinking about extending your kitchen, then you may want to think beyond just making the existing room bigger. Adjusting the layout can create multi-use spaces, great for entertaining. Living kitchens are great for families: with the new area used for sitting and relaxing in, they are perfect for parents who want to keep an eye on children whilst preparing dinner.

Get the right permissions

A smaller garage can become a larger downstairs toilet or bath/shower room, or could be used as a large utility area. If you live in, or are looking to buy a property with a large garage, then conversion to a bedroom becomes a real possibility, and may even be able to encompass en suite facilities. This can open up the type of property you are looking for if you specifically need a bedroom on the ground floor and can’t find a bungalow, which are hard to come by.

If you are looking to convert you must check with the Planning Department as to what planning permission you'll need. As a minimum the conversion to habitable space will need enhanced insulation, damp proofing and most importantly be compliant with the Fire Regulations.

If your garage constitutes one of the property’s designated parking spaces, (a rough guide in Jersey is 1 parking space for each bedroom), then you may not be allowed to convert it from parking to habitable space. Be aware that whatever work you do, it will need to comply with building regulations and bye laws, so it’s worth engaging a professional to guide you through the process.

Planning permission

Guidelines for when to seek planning permission are provided on the States of Jersey website, as follows:

You are able to convert your garage without the need for planning permission provided that:

  • the garage is attached to your house and the room will be directly accessible from within the main house
  • it will not be used as a separate unit of accommodation
  • it will not be used for commercial purposes
  • any previous permission relating to the property does not state that the garage must be retained for parking
  • your property is not registered as a listed building or place (LBP) or a potential listed building or place (pLBP) and does not fall within an area of archaeological potential (AAP)
  • no new window or door openings are created or any existing openings blocked up, if the building is in a conservation area (CA)
  • no windows or doors are created or altered above ground level

Note: you will need to apply for planning permission if your 'permitted development' rights have been removed by a condition on a previous Planning Permit in the last 30 years or so.

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