Five things to know before you convert your garage

In a heated property market, converting your garage can seem like a simple, cost-effective way to gain more living space without having to move or change the footprint of your home. But, as with most building projects, there are a few important things to consider before you commit to a garage conversion.

Kris MacGregor, of MyHome Renovations in Auckland, has five key tips to consider before you book a builder to convert your garage.

1. Building Consent

If you want to convert your garage to a bedroom, living room or media room, it will need to be re-classified from a non-habitable space to a habitable space. This requires a building consent.

2. Dishes or laundry?

“Including a kitchenette and laundry into your garage conversion is a much bigger deal, as your garage will essentially become a separate dwelling,” Kris says. A resource consent from your local council will be required, in addition to building consent.

3. Level up

When constructed, your garage will have been built to different requirements to the rest of the house, Kris says. “It will need to be brought up to the applicable NZ Building Code for habitable spaces – for example, installation of building wrap and insulation, addition of a window(s) for ventilation and damp-proofing the floor.”

4. Raise the roof

Check the ceiling height of your garage – it must be a minimum of 2.1m from the finished floor to the finished ceiling to be turned into a habitable space. If your garage ceiling height isn’t enough to accommodate this, you’ll be looking at a much bigger project.

5. Where will you park?

Will you still have space to park vehicles? The bylaws for parking vary for each council, so it pays to look up how many carparks you are supposed to have before you sacrifice one or two for more room to live in. “For example, under the Auckland Unitary Plan, your property must still have enough space to park a minimum of two cars offstreet.”

Once you’ve considered these five things, you’ll still need to talk to a NZCB builder to ensure there aren’t any other hiccups you may have missed, Kris says.

“It’s always best to consult a professional to determine whether a garage conversion is the best way to achieve your goals, while keeping the safety and value of your home intact.”

To get started on your next project, find your nearest NZCB builder here.

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