Background

It was always an idea, a plan to build a home office in the garage. But I certainly didn’t foresee the reason I would start working from home quite so often. For years this sort of working life was more of a distant dream. I certainly imagined a future workplace with virtual reality meetings and huge video walls for conferencing. But after the rapidly evolving situation that started early last year a large percentage of the workforce had to settle with a new reality, less virtual, more laptop-on-the-kitchen-table.

What started out as a temporary stop-gap measure turned into a few months. Now, a year after the start of the global pandemic the future of the workplace is still more than a little blurry. While nothing is certain in this ever-changing landscape, we think a dedicated station for home working is going to be a desirable element in any residential property. Mid term certainly, but likely long term too. Imagining a path back to “how it was before” is a stretch by any count.

Benefits Of A Home Office In Your Garage

The number one, and most obvious benefit, is a quiet(er) place away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Be it a barking dog, an earnestly practising musician or even just the TV; to get the most from home working the thinking brain’s environment needs to be distraction free.

Replacing face-to-face communication with today’s technology is fine. But you only get the full benefit if discussions can be had without the effort to move to another room, go outside or close a door. We should not lose our ability to efficiently collaborate as part of the bargain to WFH ( Work From Home ).

A great added benefit of the project to build a home office in your garage is to simply give you another warm and comfortable room. If you’ve been toying with the idea of an extension this could be the cheaper way to gain that extra habitable room. With the addition of a futon or sofa bed you’ve gained a guest room if needed. Room for a couple of sofas and you’ve got a second living or communal area if your house is crowded. Simply put, it’s a cost effective way to increase the living area of your property. If this is something that is of interest try to keep it in mind when planning.

Face To
Face

Working from home means that many of the physical, face to face workplace interactions are gone, moved online. However, depending on your role and responsibilities there may still be a need to meet in person. Going ahead with a plan to build a home office in your garage is suited to this.

Most garages are on the front of a house, with easy and obvious access. Replacing the garage door with a new front door gives a new way into your property. An office entrance apart from the day to day residential access.

Are you the type of person with an immaculate garage? Are all your tools hanging up in their designated spots? Labelled shelves and racks neatly bolted to the walls? If so, then this section probably isn’t for you.

If you’re like the rest of us and your garage is full of precariously piled giant cardboard boxes. Some empty, some full. Some brimming with old mugs, computer cables, damp magazines and car parts from the 1990’s. Some are simply full of more cardboard boxes, flat-packed. If this is you, please read on. A garage to office conversion can help you take back that space. That garage clear-out you keep planning could be the last one you’ll ever do. A new room, a new purpose and no longer will it be an indoor shed or warehouse.

Reclaim The
Space

Low
Impact

As far as most large scale home improvement projects go, this one is attractive due to its minimal impact on home life. Building extensions, moving walls and converting other rooms in your house are all great projects but ones that disrupt day to day living. The garage can be entered directly, so no traipsing dirt and dust thru the hall. And, generally, a garage is in no part a thoroughfare for the house, it being closed off does not affect normal movement.

As we mentioned in the opening paragraphs, a home office is increasingly a part of more and more lifestyles. With an accelerating move to “The Cloud” and more and more jobs becoming possible online we can only see this need growing. We expect a home office to quickly join “Internet Speed” amongst the most requested extras for people searching the property market. The move to build a home office in your garage will re-compensate you with extra property value.

Home Office
Desirability

What About Planning Permission, Building Warrant and Paperwork?

One question we often deal with early on in the process is regarding planning and building warrant. Generally planning permission from the council isn’t required for someone looking to convert their garage for use as a home office. There are some exceptions that we will dive into here. As for other administrative portions of the work, there will be some requirement for building regulations to be satisfied. However, there is nothing out of the ordinary or onerous.

Exceptions where planning permission might be required:

Converting a garage into an office isn’t usually a process dominated by paperwork.

Footprint

If you’re planning to enlarge the footprint of your home as you build a home office in your garage.

New Development

If you live in a new housing development. Again, check documentation and/or with the governing body. Some new developments have stipulations in place that mean a property’s garage must retain the purpose of parking a vehicle.

Conservation

If you live in a conservation area. Check your documentation and/or with the governing body.

Listed

If your property is a listed building.

Detached

Is your garage detached? If so there is a slightly increased likelihood you’ll need permission from your governing body.

Building regulations that will have to be adhered to vary depending on the work involved.

Here are some common ones for someone looking to build a home office in a garage.

Water

If you require to have a water supply or waste water alterations with this conversion there are regulations around drainage.

1.3

Structural

Structural alterations to the roof will need to check with regulations. As will any major change to the roofing material ( for fire safety reasons ). Finally, check the regulations if you’re repairing or changing more than 25% of the roof’s total surface area.

Doors And Windows

Door and windows will need to be thermally efficient. This is good practise in a conversion like this anyway as heat is a precious resource. Certain instances of glass must be safety glazed dependant on area and position. Fire safety protocols must be followed and thresholds should be no less level than prior to the conversion. This conversion is a good opportunity to improve access and fire safety.

Exterior

If you are looking to re-do render or cladding there will be building regulations to pay attention to.

1.2

Electrical

If a new consumer unit or circuit will be supplying the extra electrical requirements to the office there will be regulations to adhere to.

1.1

Partitions

Looking to split the garage space with new internal walls? Or maybe take down an existing partition wall? Best check building regulations for this one too.

Some things to keep in mind...

Heat

Your garage probably wasn’t built with the idea in mind that someone would be spending 40 hours a week sitting in a corner of it. There are 2 things to think about here; insulation and heating solutions. A full conversion requires a complete insulated envelope, floors walls and ceilings. Radiators can be fitted to work alongside your present central heating. Other ideas include a heat pump, wood burner or underfloor heating.

Power Points

It seems that in our new ultra-connected lives there are never enough powerpoints for charging and running our legions of devices. Think about where your desk will be and where the printer will sit. Are you going to have a kettle and a tv? Definitely better to overshoot this one than undershoot.

Lighting

It’s likely that your garage currently has some ugly, long strip lights running from front to back. Not a great setup for trying to create a comfortable work environment. Solutions include a skylight where possible, a window where the garage door currently resides and a change to ceiling lights. Some softer and warmer sources of light are preferable. Also consider floor standing lamps.

Garage Door Replacement

The perfect home office garage conversion would, externally, be sympathetic to the look of the house. If carried out well a passer-by might never realise that a garage was once where your office is. Care and attention must be paid to this point.

Asbestos

If you suspect your garage of containing asbestos you’ll need to get it professionally removed

Large or Double Garage

If you have a large or double garage you have options. A new partition wall could give you 2 new spaces. When thinking about the design of your office space what will all the space be used for. Think efficiently and realistically.

Garage Floor

It’s likely that your garage floor is just a concrete surface at the moment. You could just carpet it or throw down some rugs. The other option to ensure full compliance would be to add a damp proof membrane, insulate and and screed. After that you could think about adding laminate, wood floor or tiles.

Alarm, Boiler or Heating?

Does your garage currently contain any utilities for the property. Anything like alarm system units, boilers or other heating equipment and white goods? Think about if these items might need to be moved elsewhere in order to set up the office in the manner you wish.

Internet

Where does your internet router currently sit? If your job requires that you get the maximum speeds from your internet connection you might need some additions to your home network. A wifi booster can be a cheap and simple add-on. A cable running from the router to your new office would be the most robust option.

Foundations

If a new wall and door are going to replace your current garage door some investigation of the foundations might be required. That side of the garage might not have been built with strength to hold a new wall, window and door.

Ceiling

With a raised floor and insulation added to the ceiling are you looking at reduced headroom? This is worth investigating before you make any final decisions.

Alarm System

If you have an alarm system in your house keep in mind that this conversion may end up housing some high value items. Can the garage be added into the network? Might you need to be able to disable the alarm upon entering the office too?

Internal Access

Do you already have a internal door between you living space and the garage? If not this is something that’s possible and desirable. A new door linking the office and a corridor or another room. The best garage office is the one that people don’t even realise was a garage in the first place! Office today, bedroom tomorrow?

How We Can Help

We hope you’ve enjoyed what’s here and found this article useful. If you’ve any questions or comments please contact us here or use the form at the bottom of the page. Our experienced team at ABC have accompanied many customers through this and similar jobs. We can lend our expertise to your project and achieve the results you’re looking for.

ABC Architecture can deal with the entire build lifecycle, start to finish. We will assign a specialist who will join you on the journey. As ever, we promise upfront, honest communication and assessment regarding progress, issues and changes to plan.

 

    Contact Us Here...

    Please fill in anything relevant and we'll get back to you soon.