Garage Conversion Dreams
My dream is to be able to design and build my own eco home one day. I absolutely love watching those self build TV shows like Grand Designs where they always end up running out of money half way through and never complete it on time! Maybe my dreams will come true in 20 years time when I'm a millionaire (wishful thinking!!!!) but I'll have to make do with what I've got for now. Until then a much more realistic dream is to convert my garage into a practical, multifunctional and usable living space.
I live in a new build home, with a small garden and a little garage still full of boxes that we put in there 2 years ago... and still haven't got round to sorting out yet. Our garage just about fits my Fiat 500 car in and I haven't even parked my car inside it since we moved in two years ago. I don't think anyone on our housing development has either! I feel this space could be utilised in a much better way.
Gym, Office, Guest Room, Snug, or Workshop?
When we first moved in we said we would convert the garage into a gym and slowly but surely it has turned into a bit of a dumping ground/storage space for my second hand furniture (ready waiting to be upcycled). I really want to transform this small space into a usable area separate to our home and I'd love it to be a multifunctional zone encompassing an office/workshop/guest room/snug. Our garage doesn't have a door directly connecting it to our house so we'd need to create a door to enter it from our back garden. I don't see that as a bad thing though.
If any of you work at home within your normal home environment, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of not being able to focus with the distractions of day to day life, but at the same time you may find it hard to switch off after you have put your laptop down. There is no differentiation between work and home when everything is combined within the same building. So by keeping the garage space separate to the house as a workshop/office, it will probably work out much more beneficial in terms of being able to switch off once you have re-entered your home through the garden.
Many of our neighbours have converted their garage into another room by taking out the garage door and turning it into a double window but I want to go one step further. I want to make a mezzanine level within my garage so I can maximise the space within the roof as a platform for a bed for guests (freeing up our spare rooms in the house for when we have kids).
English Heritage Buildings
Whilst doing some research into double level garages I came across a self build company called English Heritage Buildings who's products range from home extensions and mezzanine garages to granny annexes, swimming pools and orangeries. They are the only oak framed building constructer in the UK with a TRADA (excellence in the wood industry award) and they specialise in marrying historical and modern home designs together.
English Heritage Buildings began in 1979 with one man's fascination for oak framed buildings. In 2005 the founder handed over the business to his son Darren , the same son who had learned all about oak framed buildings as a 10 year old boy. Oak framing and traditional craftsmanship remain the backbone of the company to this day. The reason I was interested in this company is because I value eco friendly design highly. For every oak tree cut down in the UK for home construction, English Heritage Buildings plants a further two trees in its place.
Darren has kindly taken part in a Q&A especially for this blog post to share his expertise on mezzanine garages. He has given me some useful advice so I hope you all find this useful too 🙂
Q&A with Darren Hook - Director of English Heritage Buildings
Why would you personally recommend a garage with an upper floor?
Many of our customers have chosen an upper floor garage as a cost effective and dynamic way of creating additional space that does not infringe on, or call for a redesign of, the interior of your existing home. This additional upper floor can be utilised on so many levels… for instance, as a granny annex for a parent who might need assistance but still wants to maintain a level of independence, as a storage unit, or perhaps as a home gym. In an era of Generation Rent and ‘The Bank of Mum and Dad’ this option could even be utilized as a place for grown-up children to stay with the family home, and yet still enjoy a level of independence. It could even be used as an investment opportunity to take in a renter to assist with monthly bills.
Do you need planning permission to have one built in replacement of an existing garage?
This very much depends on the local planning authority within any given area. However a good rule of thumb is that if your new building does not exceed four metres in height and 30 sq. metres in circumference, you are very likely going to be able to work within the existing planning permission of the previous garage.
Can you work with existing brick built garages and convert them into a double height space? If so would you need planning permission?
Unfortunately this is not possible, however customers are able to make an addition to the side of an existing brick built garage. Our team will even come out to view your current garage or home and will be able to advise you on the most effective and aesthetically pleasing design. This includes creating bespoke plans that will complement the existing architecture features and materials of your property, finding the right extension to fit your home.
Why would you recommend using oak as opposed to brick?
The most popular reason for choosing oak as a building material is always going to be for its stunning aesthetic qualities and longevity; but oak frames also allow for a significantly increased speed of assembly that brickwork construction is never going to be able to compete with. However a lesser-known aspect of oak, and wood in general, is that it is the only truly renewable building resource. All English Heritage Buildings’ timber is sourced from managed forests where two additional oak trees are planted for each one felled. These growing trees activity assist in the reduction of greenhouse gases as they absorb more CO2 than a mature tree might. On top of this, oak is also more energy efficient to produce compared to other man-made building materials.
There is a fantastic potential for flexibility when working with all oak framed construction, including personalised garages. The materials can be designed to accommodate many different features.
In this instance that would encompass log stores, brick retaining walls, open carports, slate or thatched roofs, dormer windows, roof lights, gable ends, and internal or external staircases. It can even be finished off with an oak clock tower on top!
What is the price range for a single bay garage with an upper floor?
While we do offer a selection of single bay oak garages, it would not be possible or even ideal to build an upper floor within this calibre of structure. Generally speaking a two bay garage is the optimum starting point when considering a second storey, in order to maximise on the benefits of an upper floor. Pricings for a two bay, second storey garage will come to approximately £24,000, including assembly and excluding roofing and groundworks – although the self-build option is always available for customers who are curtailed by a more circumspect budget.