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Home improvement: How to turn your garage into living space

Leigh Leigh
Courtyard House - East Dulwich by Designcubed Modern
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Some of us like our garage to simply be the space in which we keep our cars. Some of us however, don't even own a car—if you fit into this second category then this little guide might just interest you. Home improvement, let's go!

If your family is growing or if you just need an extra bedroom for guests or a larger living area for entertaining, one option could be to turn your garage into living space.

If you think about it, your garage is a structure that already exists with a roof and walls, which will make it a very adaptable to an interior living space.

This is why today at homify, we've put together some tips and tricks when it comes to turning your garage into living space. Follow these and you'll have a whole extra area in no time!

Let's take a look!

1. Plan ahead

Courtyard House - East Dulwich by Designcubed Modern

Courtyard House — East Dulwich


Speak to a design professional about your idea and let them help you to come up with an idea or plan for the building and construction. Some expert opinion can really come in handy as they will help you to truly make the most of the space available to you.

Also chat to them about your intentions for the space once it's completed as some walls may need to be knocked down or some pipes or plumping installed. This may end up costing more than you bargained for so know what you are getting yourself into!

2. Do you have permission?

Before you hire a contractor and start knocking down walls, make sure that you are allowed to convert your garage into living space. If you live in an estate or townhouse, you may have to check with the body corporates. You also need to ensure you aren't breaking any zoning laws. 

3. Comply with building regulations

AR Design Studio- 4 Views by AR Design Studio Modern
AR Design Studio

AR Design Studio- 4 Views

AR Design Studio

Once you have the necessary permissions to go ahead with this exciting project, you need to ensure that you comply with building regulations. 

For starters, choose a builder who is registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) of South Africa. This also ensures that you are covered if anything goes wrong during the building process.

You may also need to have an inspector certify the new building once it is complete. 

4. Make sure its damp proof

Many modern garages may not have waterproofing in the ceiling or be insulated, as its function is very different to that of a living space. Thus you may need to make sure that during the conversation, the roof is made damp proof and the walls are insulated. 

You want this area to be as functional and comfortable as possible!

5. Plumbing and wiring

During the construction process, some plumbing may need to be installed and you may need to have some lights rewired or additional wiring installed.

Get a plumber and an electrician in to assess the job. Don't be afraid to get a few quotes before making your decision.

6. Flooring

Wooden Flooring Modern living room by homify Modern

Wooden Flooring


Most garages feature cement or brick floors that have been designed to withstand car tyres and water and oil leaks. Your living area is a whole new space, however, which means the flooring will have to change.

We suggest going for flooring that is in line with the rest of the home design, maintaining a consistent look and feel throughout the living space.

7. Have some fun with the decor and design

Brick Tile Series by Tileflair Country

Brick Tile Series


Now comes the fun part! It's time to start decorating!

When it comes to the walls, again remember that you want to maintain a similar look and feel throughout the home, however don't be afraid to add some texture, tone and personality. Hang up some photographs that represent family memories or put up some wall stickers. 

Have a look at these 14 super wall design ideas for inspiration.

8. Natural light

modern  by Architectural Bronze Ltd, Modern Metal
Architectural Bronze Ltd

Traditional Stone Mullions with Advanced Bronze Casements

Architectural Bronze Ltd

Many garages won't feature too many windows and doors so you'll have to install some in your new living space. Do this to allow plenty of ventilation and natural light to stream through.

No one will ever know that it used to be a garage!

9. Occupation certificate

Maison Frie au Four by CCD Architects Modern
CCD Architects

Maison Frie au Four

CCD Architects

Once the building is done, apply for an occupation certificate. Once you've received it and checked all of the boxes, you'll be ready to decorate your new living area with furniture, decor and accessories!

10. The advantages of converting your garage into living space

- Everything happens on your property, under your control. You can monitor the progress.

- The building won't disrupt daily life too much.

- You'll increase the value of your property.

11. The disadvantages of converting a garage into living space

- You'll have builders on your property at all times.

- It's quite a costly and timely exercise.

- It can be frustrating applying for the relevant certificates and complying with the relevant regulations.

However, using your garage to extend your living space can be far less frustrating or costly than building a house from scratch or moving. In fact, have a look at these 5 smart ideas for home extensions for more inspiration. 

Would you convert your garage into living space?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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