Getting the best out of your garage

According to a study by Santander, only 34% of garages are actually used for parking a car. So, if you are lucky enough to be considering buying a property with a garage, you have a decision to make. Do you use the space for what it was originally intended for, or do you take the plunge and turn it into extra household space. One thing is for sure, if you have a garage, you also have options.

When selling your house, you should consider your garage as a market differentiator. That means you should attempt to show it in the best possible light, even if the new owner may also use it to house old lounge suites, discarded toys, or unused exercise equipment purchased on a whim.

If your garage has become a bit of a dumping ground, be ruthless and get rid of those old pots of paint and broken down lawnmowers. You will also want to show off its features such as power and lighting, bench space and storage potential.

If you have just moved into your property, you have a decision to make. It is very tempting to use the space to store all the things you didn’t get rid of when you moved. Once again, you have to be ruthless if you are to maximise the true potential of your garage.

However, should you decide to cast your car to the elements, for a small investment a garage can be converted into a space that better matches your needs. A key determinant on the likely use will be whether the garage has direct access to the house. If this is the case, the structure can be easily converted by removing the garage door and sealing off the access point. Extra windows can be added to encourage extra light and ventilation. You might also investigate partitioning off the interior to gain more than one room if you have the space.

On the practical side, you do need to check your title deeds to ensure there are no prohibitions on converting. If you are not extending the size of the garage, you may not need to get actual planning permission though you should always check with your local authority before getting the sledge hammer out. You may also need to get a building warrant from your local council’s building standards department to ensure that the work you are doing complies with building regulations.

A quick Google search will find you a list of companies that specialise in taking the hassle out of your garage conversions and dealing with all the practical issues for you, in addition to creating your new space. They will give you advice on things like ventilation, drainage, wall insulation (to bring them up to habitable standards), foundations and damp-proofing.

The cost of your conversion will ultimately depend on what you are doing. An internal infinity pool will cost a little bit more than a play room, but a standard conversion should cost around £8,000 to £10,000.

If you are part of the minority, you may actually like your garage as just a garage. Your car may be your prized possession and keeping it out of the elements your ultimate goal. So changing your garage into something else may not be the option for you.

If the garage door is looking a bit tired, consider a lick of paint to give it new life, or if you want to go the extra mile, adding a new door will provide the wow factor and doesn’t have to be that costly. Electric garage doors are the simplest way to maximise accessibility, allowing you to go straight from the wind and wet outside into the snug warmth of your garage at the press of a button.

If your garage is big enough and in the right location, you can consider moving your kitchen utilities into the space to free up valuable storage space in your kitchen. Or if plumbing and other considerations make this unfeasible, simply adding a second freezer or beer fridge in your garage could make your life that little bit easier.

If you wanted to take it a step further, there are storage solutions to suit any use for your garage. From humble Ikea shelving units to specialised workbench options, there is a solution for every garage owner. So, think outside your garage – use the space and resist the urge to use it as a dumping ground for all the things you might never use.