Although it can be done without them, most garage conversions will require approval, see the table below for a breakdown by project type. The good news is garage conversion building regs are not complicated or expensive. They are the most common requirement from what I consider to be your three main legal/administrative tasks. The other two, planning permission and dealing with restrictive covenants are less likely but should be researched prior to starting your project.
Do you need building regs to convert a garage ?
Because most garage conversions need building regulations its easier to discuss scenarios when they don’t. Detached garage conversions can be a grey area as they may be able to undergo conversion without building regulations depending on:
- Their size – is it under 30m2?
- Conversion type – does it include plumbing or sleeping accommodation?
- Location within your plot and Construction type– is it at least 1m away from the boundary of its curtilage or largely built from non-combustible materials?
If you are planning a detached garage conversion and would like to discuss building regulations use our contact us form for some free advice. The legislation is quite clear on what is and isn’t allowed however some inspectors are unaware of the exemptions that exist in specific scenarios.
Any room type including partial conversions
Any room connected to house via a doorway including partial conversions
Hobby Room, Home Office, Gym etc
Possibly Not – Contact Us
Hopefully the table above has clarified your situation, the rest of this article will focus on.
Pushed for time?
This article is a deep dive into the subject, to skip to the summary and get our general recommendation click here
Why you need building regulations for a Garage Conversion
Laying bricks for the infill wall is an obvious one, you can't lay bricks without a foundation and a foundations needs to be inspected for depth. But there’s a lot more to garage conversion building regulations, and the list can often shock would be DIY garage converters.
The local building inspector will ensure your conversion complies with the following building regulations which are referred to as “Part A, Part B etc”.
- Structural – Part A
- Fire Safety – Part B
- Noise / Resistance to Passage of Sound – Part E
- Ventilation – Part F
- Access and Use – Part M
- Conservation of Fuel & Power – Part L
- Electrical Safety – Part P
If your garage conversion includes drains for an en-suite or utility room, then you can add part H to the list as well.
While these are the legal reasons another and equally important reason is that without proper approval your home may become difficult to mortgage or sell without expensive retrospective work. Property surveyors working for your bank, or a prospective buyer are trained to detect alterations to the original building. The conversion will be flagged by the surveyor to the solicitor who will then be required by the bank to obtain a certificate for the works. Without the certificate the bank is unlikely to lend on the home which is an inconvenience during a remortgage and potentially heart-breaking when trying to move home.
How to apply for building regulations approval
Applications can be made online to most local councils who provide their own process and forms. You may also be able to use the online service from the planning portal, while as the name suggests they are more commonly used for planning applications, it is now possible to submit building regulations applications online. There are two types of applications which are discussed below, they both have the same outcome and have a very similar if not identical cost.
Full Plans Application
A full plans application will require drawings and detailed specifications of the intended works. These plans are inspected and approved by the council prior to the work starting, a process which takes around 4 weeks. This method provides confidence in the technical design and can save the pain and cost of having to redo work that does not comply. I would highly recommend this process to anyone considering a DIY garage conversion. Start by getting some professionally drawn plans which should be around £295-400 for standard conversions.
An added benefit of getting professionally drawn plans is that builders quoting for the work are all quoting from the same specification. This makes your task of comparing the quotes and choosing a builder far easier, many a homeowner builder relationship has broken down over a misunderstanding about “what is” and “is not” included in the original quote. Having detailed drawings goes some way to removing the ambiguities and completing the project on budget.
The advantage of this method is that it is quicker, work can start within 48 hours of submitting the building notice. The reason for the speed is that no plans are submitted for approval prior to the work starting. Therefore, this method comes with an increased risk and places a heavy reliance on the knowledge of the builders doing the conversion and their understanding of the building regulations. The inspector will attend site during the build and any work falling foul of the regulations will require remediation. This method is not recommended for DIY garage conversions or projects managed by the homeowner who arranges the individual trades for each portion of the work.
How much are Building Regulations for Garage Conversions?
Most local councils will have a specific rate for garage conversions which includes a set number of on-site inspections. Expect to pay between £300 and £500, the table below shows the rates including VAT charged by councils in the North East.
*Fees correct at time of publication.
Full Plans applications are made up of two parts and corresponding charges. A charge for submitting the application and plans for approval and a further charge for site inspections. The amounts shown in the table above are for both parts but may include a discount for payment in one instalment. For example, Newcastle Council charge £228 for the Plans to be approved and a Further £288 for the inspections, which is £516 in total. However, you can get a discount of £60 if you pay for the inspections when you submit your plans. This gives a total of £456 which brings the cost in line with the Building Notice method.
No Building Regulations - Unauthorised Garage Conversions
If you are in the unfortunate situation of having started or completed your garage conversion without applying for building regulation approval don’t worry. Councils offer a “regularisation” service which gives retrospective approval to your works assuming they have been carried out to the correct standards. This route will probably require invasive surveys and corrective works, but it offers a way to compliance with the regs and that all important certificate of completion. A borescope survey may be useful for anyone looking to gain retrospective approval. This survey involves drilling a small hole and inserting a camera to look behind the finished surfaces, this could save a lot of mess and money if the local inspector has questions about the materials used and wall construction method.
The table below shows the local authorities charges for regularisation building regs applications which are only slightly more expensive than normal. If you need a quote on borescope surveys and corrective works complete this this form for a free quote.
Building Regulations for Partial Conversions
We are often asked “does a partial garage conversion require building regulations approval?” Some people believe that because they are retaining the garage door and not adding brick work that they can divide their garage in half without applying for building regulations. This is especially true for homeowners who already have access to the garage via an existing door and see no harm in building a stud wall to split the garage and create a new office or utility room. They are, however, wrong. Numerous building regulations are required for such conversions. Fire protection between the remaining garage storage and habitable room is one serious consideration as well as escape routes from what could be an internal room.
As highlighted at the beginning of this article most garage conversions will need building regulations approval and conversions completed without approval can come back to bite you. Fees for building regs are reasonable and inspectors in my experience are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful people. Your first task is to decide between the full plans process or the riskier building notice application, with full plans being recommended unless you are extremely confident in your builder. Drawings will cost from around £295, get started with a free quote from a local professional here. Having drawings will not only improve the outcome of the project but they can also be used to get more accurate quotes from competing builders.