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A DIY Guide to Making the Most out of Your Garage

Garages are often thought of as a dumping ground in the majority of homes around the world. Greater London Authority identified that in London alone, there are over 3000 garages that go unused. This is most likely down to homeowners not knowing the best ways to make the most out of their garage space, likewise, they may not know how to best keep it energy efficient or even eco-friendly, therefore just use it as an indoor tip.

Luckily, we have a few tips and ideas to hopefully inspire you to look at your garage differently, and start making the most out of your extra space.

 

Convert it Into Extra Living Space

Permissions

The first thing to consider when thinking of converting is the permission requirements. There are usually no permission requirements if you are not altering the base structure of the internal house, but it is always worth reading into what permissions you may need just to be on the safe side.

If any of the factors listed below relate to you, it would definitely be worthwhile getting in touch with your local authority or council to double check whether or not you’re planning can go ahead:

·         If you live in a conservation area

·         If you live in a listed building

·         If you own a standalone garage

·         If you live in a new housing development

 

Where to Start:

With your new conversion, you need to be providing an ample living space for a real person, meaning you will need the basic household requirements, i.e. bathroom, living area and kitchen. Fitting these into such a confined space can seem difficult, so I have listed a few tips below:

Wall Partitions

A great way to even out the floor space, as well as splitting up the living space is to consider using a studwork wall partition. Plan your space, then incorporate these easy to build walls within your home. A step by step guide on how to build these walls is available here.

Insulation and Damp Proofing

Damp proofing and insulation is vital when converting into living space. If you do not have a sufficient amount of knowledge on damp proofing and insulation, I would recommend going to your nearest home depot and making the enquiry, always stay on the safe side.


Plumbing, Heating and Wiring

This guide to rewiring offers simple and easy to follow steps to rewire your garage for those wanting to take a crack at doing it themselves.

Plumbing and heating is generally seen as a more complex job, and again if you are not in the trade yourself or know anyone that is, I would recommend searching for industry specialists and getting a quote.

Flooring

Flooring is generally an easier process and will most likely not require vast amounts of expenditure. The original garage floor will be sufficiently strong, and only require additional damp proofing and insulation. The easiest route to go down would be to incorporate a timber floor built over the existing concrete. A gap of around 150mm between the joints and floor will be required, as well as damp proofing underneath the timber and between the joints. A step by step guide to installing a wooden floor within your garage can be found here.

Ventilation

The garage conversion will require ample ventilation via windows and doors. In order to meet building regulations, a window must be 1/20 of the floor space and have trickle vents. The door must also provide a valid escape route in terms of fire regulation, so take this into account when designing your new living area.

 

Making it Green

Whether you have converted your garage, or just simply use it for storage purposes, it is of many home owners’ interests to “go green”. Going green not only helps the environment, but can also save you money on your bills. You may be thinking to yourself, what else can I do to improve my garage, especially in terms of making it eco-friendly? Well below we have listed 4 ways you can make your garage eco-friendly:

Filling in Air Leaks

When garages are built, there isn’t usually a great emphasis on the comfort of the space, as opposed to building the main of a house. Consequently, many garages have gaps in the structure that were built to release pollutant gases from car exhausts, which there increases the transfer of cold air from outside, resulting in additional heating needed inside.

By plugging up the gaps, you will be saving money on heating, saving your family from pollutant gases, as well as lowering the amount of energy needed for the heating of the space.

Add Insulation

After the air gaps are filled, it is just as important to insulate the garage. Not only will this save you money, but it will also go towards using less energy and helping improve the environment.

Check Your Door

The garage door is 90% of the time the largest entrance to your home. Consequently, if the door is not eco-friendly, it will let in a lot of cold air, making your house need more heating. I would suggest investing into an eco-friendly garage door, ensuring that the door fits snug and effectively stops unwanted cold air.

Dispose of Hazardous Materials

If you are with the vast majority of people and use your garage as a storage facility, there will most likely be a lot of paints, cleaning chemicals and solvents scattered around. It is vital for your family’s health that they are not exposed to these toxic fumes, therefore disposing of the unwanted materials is a must. If you want to keep some material for later use, make sure they are in an airtight container away from the reach of children.

 

Making use of the Space

Image: Docxie

Garages are more often than not filled with clutter, making it impossible to move around comfortably. So how do you make the most of your space? By keeping it clean and using efficient storage.

I would suggest dedicating a full day to sorting through your clutter and the items you have accumulated over the past however many years. Use separate piles and spend some time separating your possessions into what you need and what could be discarded, I would be brutal at this point, so no hoarding! This phase can seem very tedious and time consuming, but it makes the next phase much simpler.

Once you have everything sorted, why not make some money? First of all, safely discard anything that needs to be thrown, but with the rest, how about putting on a garage sale and cashing in on your unwanted belongings?

Floor Plan

Once you have decided what you are keeping, it’s time to look at your garage floor plan. You will probably be surprised at the amount of free space you actually have. From here, you can start to plan out how you are going to store your belongings. I would recommend using shelving units and making use of the height of your garage, not just the floor space.

Equipment such as bush strimmers, lawn mowers, or any other large pieces of equipment can be hung on the wall using simple steel peg fittings. Your tools can also be placed alongside the wall using pegboards or even magnetic strips.

In terms of your bikes, scooters or other large sporting equipment, using the ceiling or again the wall can really open up your garage space for additional usage. Once you have used the border and ceiling of the garage for all of your possessions, you might actually be able to get the family car in!