It can be easy to focus on the favourites in the home: the kitchen and bathroom. These certainly provide the greatest yield in terms of increasing the value of your home after renovating, but there is one giant space in your home that is easy and affordable to freshen up or even convert into a new living space in your home.
What laws relate to converting your garage into a room?
In Australia, you are free to convert a garage into an additional room in your home (i.e. bedroom, media room etc.) as long as you comply with the Building Code of Australia and receive planning approval from your local council.
While converting your garage into an additional room can be a more affordable and financially beneficial alternative compared with the costs of upsizing (i.e. stamp duty and the hidden costs of buying a house), there are a number of considerations for converting a garage that help you comply with the law.
- Flooring. If you have a concrete garage floor, you need to make sure it complies with the Building Code of Australia, especially in regards to termite risk management.
- Ceiling height. The minimum height requirement for a room is 2.4m according to the BCA, but for a garage this is limited to 2.1m. If your garage does not meet this minimum, you may have to either extend your roof higher or, if you need to replace your flooring, consider lowering your ground level to increase the height of the ceiling. This is, of course, all reliant on the local council approving your planning permit.
- Insulation. Many garages do not have the same wall or ceiling insulation as the rest of the house, which may mean you have to make considerable structural changes to the garage walls to allow for new circuitry and insulation.
- Car space. Some states may require that you maintain a space on your property to house a car if there was an existing garage.
- Natural light. The BCA requires that you have windows amounting to 10 per cent of the floor space of a room, which is where the garage door can come in handy as an opportunity for floor-to-ceiling fenestration.
How to refresh your garage
Giving your garage a makeover can be an affordable and a great way to increase the attraction of your home on the market. While buyers may not be swayed by a garage alone, having a well-lit, organised and attractive space will help to present your home in its best light.
Flooring. While you might have to overhaul your garage flooring if you want to convert it into a new room, if you simply want to refresh your garage you have the choice to give your flooring a makeover. Concrete flooring is affordable and can provide a high sheen if polished, which can be a great way to quickly spruce up your garage prior to sale. This does require a significant amount of work to effectively polish concrete, which is why the expense of hiring a professional may put some people off. Rubber flooring is an alternative that is a great choice for those looking to DIY refresh their garages, as it is easy to install and maintain/replace.
Lighting. Refreshing your garage lighting is an easy way to inject new life into the space. Artificial lighting can be used in a range of ways, mixing accent, ambient and utility lighting for various effects. For instance, accent lighting can be used to highlight your car (for when you want to show it off to visitors) while ambient lighting might be a better option if you want to use the garage as a space for recreation (pool tables, etc.). Consider opening up the garage to more natural light to make it a more inviting workspace within the home.
Storage. If you want to keep your garage functioning as a garage, there may be little you need to do to refresh it apart from some solid sorting. Garages tend to be the destination point for a lot of unused items in the home, so after doing a thorough clean of everything you find, consider storage solutions. Consider exploring space beyond wall space and look towards floating ceilings to make the most of the unused volume in your garage.