Partial Conversions - With and Without Storage Space

There are several reasons why keeping your garage doors is a good idea when converting part or all your garage.

  • Architectural – You may want to preserve the design of your home and the balance of the front façade.
  • Storage – Half of a single garage can be used to retain bikes, lawnmowers, and other bulky tools.
  • Flexibility – for yourself or a future owner to easily convert the space back to a garage capable of storing cars.

Whatever your reason the key factors are; What type of garage door you have, how much of the garage you want to convert and how compatible the combination is.

First decide the layout of your conversion and determine how much garage/storage space is required vs how much new room space is essential.

plan your space accurately

It’s a good idea to measure your essential items such as bikes and lawnmowers for the storage side and leave enough room for them. Essential room side furniture and appliances should also be considered and a balance made between the two side. An architect or designer will normally use AutoCAD and provide a floorplan of your partial conversion with these items drawn to scale. Alternatively, you can make your own scale model using a ruler and paper templates.

Retaining the door and some storage space

The most difficult combination occurs when you have a garage door where the supporting structure and opening mechanism protrudes into the part of the garage space you plan to convert. Sectional doors are often a problem as the doors support frame reaches deep into the garage at just above head height.

Canopy Door Spring Mechanism

Sectional Door Mechanism

In this case the only option may be to replace the garage door with a roller shutter variant. Roller shutter doors as the name suggest roll into a box which is fully contained immediately above the garage door opening. This type of door would allow you to divide the garage at almost any depth while retaining some storage and the original style of your house. Canopy doors are also worth considering as they normally only require about one third of the doors height to enter the garage floorspace. Once you are sure the door and its frame won’t interfere with one another, you can concentrate on building a fire break partition wall.

Retaining the door without storage space

If you plan on converting the full area and want to leave the doors in place this is generally an easier task. Some garage door mechanisms may not require any modification at all. If the garage door closes and locks without any of the frame entering the area above the floor space you plan to convert then you are good to go.

If you have a sectional garage door where the mechanism enters the planned conversion space it will need to be dismantled and the door secured and braced in the locked position. We recommend you retain the dismantled frame for future use.

Dealing with the cavity behind the garage door

You will want to build your new wall in between the garage aperture, and this will normally result in a cavity between the back side of the wall and the garage door. While there is nothing wrong with having a cavity (it’s how most modern walls are built) there is a danger the small space could become clogged with leaves. To seal the bottom of the door we recommend you use a weather strip or roll of flash band prior to building your diving wall. Read this post to learn more about how to build a dividing wall.  

Bottom of door sealed to prevent leaf ingress. 

Natural Light

Replacing the garage door with a window is the obvious way to get natural light in your new room. Retaining the garage door clearly conflicts with this and other options to introduce natural light may be needed for part conversions. The is especially important if someone is planning to work from the new space. We recommend you speak with your designer about other window placement options, such as the gable end of the house.

About the Author Michael NEGC


Michael is the Architectural Designer and Surveyor at North East Garage Conversions.
Michael has a HNC in Civil Engineering and a HND in Construction Management. Previous experience includes multiple renovations, a self build plus working as an Architectural Technician, Designer and Project Manager.

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