5 money saving tips for a garage conversion

28/03/2018 /
Electric Radiator Solutions Team

Ways to save money with a garage conversion

With moving house becoming increasingly more expensive by the year, more and more people are starting to convert their garage into an efficient and cost effective living space. Not only can this provide that much needed extra room, but it can add up to 10% to the resale value of your home when the time does come to sell too.

Moving house for the sake of gaining an extra bedroom can not only increase your mortgage costs but can also have additional fees attached such as; stamp duty, potentially a higher council band category and those excessive solicitor costs to name a few. Instead of upping your monthly outgoings, you can simply opt for a garage conversion to reach the same goal - They are considered to be one of the most cost effective home improvements, so here’s some handy tips to think about beforehand in order to keep it that way!

Regulations and permissions:

Planning permission

Unless you’re altering the structure of the exterior of the garage, in most cases the conversion will be considered a permitted development. However, there can be restrictions if you live in a listed building or a conservation area. If this is the case, you may need to be more sensitive with your designs so they can settle well into the existing environment, in order to have planning permission accepted. Similarly, if your property is situated in a relatively new estate, there could be strict guidelines in place that could affect your plans.

It’s also worth noting that if you want to convert your garage into a space for business you would also need to apply for planning permission. It costs £172 to apply for planning permission across England and even if restrictions do apply to you, you should be able to convert the interior with no issues if you leave the exterior as is. It’s always worth double checking before work begins though or you could end up spending a lot more financially to resolve the problem.

Building regulations

You will always need to deliver a building notice to your local council to receive approval and consent for your plans as it falls under regulations for a “change of use”. For your council to accept your plans, your garage needs to be structurally sound, damp proof and have insulation upgraded to particular standards for energy efficiency. There needs to be effective fireproofing around doors and windows and at least one identifiable escape route. For full details of what is required check with your local council.

Previous owner permission

In rare circumstances, there may be legal restrictions set by a previous owner who has to give permission for any alterations. Although rare, it’s still worth checking that this isn’t the case - read through the deeds to your house in order to identify if you need pursue this.

The Party Wall Act

This legal framework is relevant to those who own terrace or semi-detached homes, as the work they plan to do may affect a structure that’s shared with an adjoining property. You should serve notice to the affected neighbours at least 2 months in advance, detailing what work you’re having done and estimated duration of the alterations. Work can begin once an agreement is reached so the earlier you get your neighbours on board, the quicker you can start!

Do it yourself:

Employing architectural designers and building contractors can absorb a huge proportion of your budget and may not always be entirely necessary. If you are on a tight budget, the more you do yourself, the more money you’ll save. Luckily, we’re in the midst of a generation that has access to plenty of DIY youtube tutorials, television programmes, and instruction guides that offer ‘do it yourself’ tips to complete almost any project.

Do bare in mind though, as we mentioned previously, your garage conversion will be inspected by building control officers to ensure all work carried out is up to local council standards and most of all, safe for use. Any alterations that do not reach these standards will have to be re-done and this will be at extra cost to you.


Building regulations dictate that walls, windows, floors and roofing are required to be insulated to a particular level for energy efficiency. Simple tips to achieve this are: dry lining the walls, using sealed double glazed windows, and adding polystyrene under your flooring. Garage floors are commonly set to a lower level in comparison to the rest of your home, so utilising polystyrene as an insulator under your flooring will have an added benefit of raising the flooring levels.

The purpose of your room will also affect how much insulation is needed. For example, you may be able to compromise on the extent of insulation if you convert your garage into a utility room, in comparison to a bedroom. External garage walls usually consist of single course brickwork which won’t meet the desired building regulations for insulation. To combat this you can add an interior insulated stud wall before plasterboarding. Although these additions may increase costs, they will decrease long term spend by reducing your energy consumption. It’s also cheaper to add insulation while walls are under construction so best to tick off your list now instead of having to return to this in the future.

Plan the wiring and plumbing first:

For any home improvement, planning is essential to avoid missing important steps during the project. It would be a catastrophic waste of time and money to complete the plastering and decorating of your new space, to then realise there is necessary rewiring and plumbing work that needs altering behind the walls. Think about whether you need plumbing to be installed for the use of your conversion - if it’s for something like a home office or bedroom then heating can be taken care of via electric radiators, cutting out the cost of a plumber.

You also need to consider if your current mains supply will be able to withstand any additional strain from extra lighting sources you install in your new room. It may be worth installing an extra mains supply, which start at around £500. Ensure that you install enough electrical points in your plans to accommodate for any extra electric items in your conversion such as lighting, heating and phone outage supplies.

Avoid unnecessary projects:

As mentioned, fiddling around with your plumbing system or hiring a professional plumber to provide gas central heating for your garage conversion can be costly and prove difficult when fitting new pipework. There’s also the added concern of overloading your boiler by installing more gas radiators. The simple solution is to instead go for electric radiators. Like previously discussed, doing the odd job yourself can save you big money in your budget to spend on other things like decorating.

The good news is electric radiators are extremely easy to install by screwing to the wall you desire and plugging in to a power supply. Smart electric radiators will help save money in the long run, as you can control your heating while you’re out with 24/7 digital programming, keep an eye on your usage, and can set other features such as detecting a sudden change in temperature from the draft of an open window- all helping to lower the heating costs over the years to come whilst avoiding energy waste.

As you can see there is a lot to consider when choosing to convert your garage into a new living space. But if you follow these simple tips you’re sure to save precious time and money during the process. The key to success is to plan your project! For additional help and advice on heating your new living space contact our team at Electric Radiator Solutions, the UK’s leading electric heating company.