I met a lovely couple this week who were considering converting their single garage to create a self-contained annex for their daughter who is expecting. It was clearly too small to convert in this way, especially once you allow for the insulation etc you need to the external single skin of brickwork that most garages are built of. The problem is that they had few alternative options since the garden was small, and so they were loath to give up some precious external space. The third option was to convert the loft, but they could not see how to do this to give the degree of separation which was required. In actual fact this may be the answer to their problems, but until we are commissioned to do a feasibility scheme and carefully analyse how we can configure the space, given the usual structural and access constraints with a loft conversion, we will not know. Sadly, we may never know because the budget probably won’t stretch to a loft conversion (with all the trimmings, en-suites and all).
It is true that the garage conversion would be the cheapest option if it were an acceptable solution, whereas a loft conversion and small extension would cost more. Of course you’re not comparing like with like. So how do you decide on what is the best solution? It is not always straight forward but clearly some permutations are not workable. For instance you cannot put a garden room in the loft and you cannot put a nursery on the ground floor of a two storey house. So once you have thought about what space you are trying to achieve the range of choices may be narrowed. Then I suppose the budget is the next thing to consider and you have to be realistic about your objectives. For a basic garage conversion you are probably talking about a minimum of £10k, a loft conversion £18k upwards and a small single storey extension about £20k. But I would also argue that for value for money the extension is still the best. You may lose some garden space but with the others you will lose either garage (storage space) or at least part of a an existing bedroom (space for the stairs, to access to the attic rooms). These are non monetary costs but none the less should be considered as something you will sacrifice.
We know that for some, the garden is so important that extending over the garden is also too much to bear. The option that is often overlooked is to extend your house at the front. This of course takes some design skill so that it can be designed in to look comfortable with the original house. Another more obvious option to satisfy some requirements is to extend over an existing ground floor extension or garage, and we at Building Tectonics do plenty of these too.
But we won’t know what’s best until we have carefully looked at the options and often, sadly, the only way to do this is by a thorough investigation of the possibilities.
The client on this particular project wanted to have somewhere safe to park their cars and van, somewhere they could lock it up (which would vastly improve on their temporary ‘anti-theft’ precaution – putting a clamp on the front wheel every time they left it outside the house). Their current garage wasn’t large enough for all of their vehicles and so they wanted to expand.
We designed an interesting garage for them, which would improve the overall aesthetics of the property as well as being functional. This garage was a new building built next to their existing garage and had a specific space built especially for the van to park in – this was an area with brick and steel gates(but looked like iron), much like the sort you might find around stately homes, as well as additional space for two more cars to be stored there.
This new garage with its metal fencing and space for the van gave the clients peace of mind about the safety and security of their vehicles. It also gave a feeling of enclosure, as if they had their own courtyard. But it’s got to be better than putting a clamp on your van every day.
Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.
Our client wanted a space to allow his growing family to relax and get away from it all. Somewhere they could go and potentially make some noise, or just make a mess, whatever they wanted to do, without disturbing the rest of the family. We had to create a room in which the adults could relax and the kids could play.
As you can see from the photographs we agreed upon a garage conversion, the garage roof was lifted to create the room. With this type of project it is essential to plan the interior with care so that it links with the existing house in a satisfactory way.
Over garage extensions can be ideal as music or games rooms. It’s just a nice place to go and relax. Although over garage conversions can be an ideal room to add a room away from the house for mess or noise, you won’t see many in Bedford as in Victorian times, cars weren’t really around yet, so what need would they have for a garage? However, you would probably have more of a chance of seeing a garage conversion in Milton Keynes.
Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.