Convert your garage to a home office
As the current situation has forced most us to work from home and we are likely to do so in some form or another for the foreseeable future, you may be considering creating a more permanent office space. This is the first of three blogs we have written covering options for creating home offices.
How will you use the space?
If you are going to work from home on a regular basis a dedicated office space which offers a sense of being away from the noise and bustle of your home life will be invaluable. Think about whether you will have the luxury of using the space solely as a home office or whether you have other family members who will want to use the space for homework/hobbies or chill out time in the evening. Will it need to adapt to become an occasional guest room. If you intend to see clients from your home office, then consider ease of access too.
Garage conversions don’t usually need planning permission, but we would always advise you liaise with your local planning department to ensure any work you do is legal. (There are planning rule exceptions, for example if your garage is detached, you live in a listed building, conservation area, or are planning to convert your garage into a separate dwelling you will need planning permission.)
As a garage conversion is a change of use you will need to submit a building regulations application and fee to building control before you start the work. In order to do this you will need the help of a structural engineer and competent builder or specialist garage conversion company to check the garage foundations and work out any loadbearing calculations.
Once you have submitted your application building control will check and approve your calculations and any plans. Your builder should then contact us so that we can make inspections at various stages to ensure your conversion is structurally sound, properly insulated, damp and fire proof and well ventilated. We work with you and your builder offering on-going advice and helping to ensure your finished project is compliant, safe and well-built.
If you are replacing your garage door, ensure the new brickwork and windows blend with the rest of your property as this is sometimes overlooked and will have a detrimental effect on the look of your house and the potential sale value in the future.
If your garage was built professionally in the last 25 years and is of brick or block construction it is likely you can convert it quite easily, however beware of old, asbestos built garages.
If you have a large garage you might not need to convert all of it, leaving room for a storage area for bikes or garden equipment too. If not, you’ll need to find alternative storage space for those items you can’t recycle or rehome but once you’ve done that, you should be good to go!
Your garage floor will often be at a different level to the rest of your house, so it will need to be raised or lowered if you want it to match the rest of your house. If your garage houses your boiler or electric meter and it needs to be resited bear in mind this will be an additional cost if you choose not to box them in situ.
Your garage insulation will need to be upgraded and in some cases, where a garage is older, it may only be ‘single skin’ meaning it was built of one course of bricks and therefore had no insulating properties. There are various options to overcome this which your builder can explain, the most common being forming an inner stud wall or adding another course of brickwork with suitable insulation in between.
Heating and light will mean that your new office conversion will need some rewiring. The cheapest option would be to add the garage onto your existing consumer unit with its own circuit breaker. You could however choose to install an extra mains supply with a separate consumer unit. Your builder will be able to discuss the options with you. You should also check with them whether this work needs to be carried out by a Part P competent electrician who is able to self-certify their own work.
As you will be working in the room, make sure you have sufficient conveniently placed electric sockets and access to a phone line if you need one. Internet access will be essential, and you can choose to run an Ethernet cable from your router to your new office or add a wireless router with a good range.
There are various options for floor coverings from hardwearing carpet tiles which can be replaced individually to more stylish wooden flooring or ceramic tiles – the latter offering some insulation against noise and draughts.
Working in good light is key, so make sure you position your desk in a well-lit area, ideally at right angles to a window and that any additional light is positioned so as not to cause screen glare. If there is potential for your clients to visit your home office or you’ll be doing a lot of video conferencing, consider what their first impression of your business or workspace will be.
If you’d like to discuss the building regulations in relation to your own garage conversion project, please get in contact. You may also find the chapter on garage conversions in our Guide to Extending your Home a useful read too.