Add value with a garage loft conversion

With the current state of the housing market in New Zealand - house prices rising above the realms of reality and interest rates set to soar - it makes sense to add value and versatility to an existing property with a home renovation. Extending the footprint of said property might gain the largest spaces but will also usually require consent, upheaval and a big budget. Let’s consider renovating the space above an existing garage to create an extra bedroom, guest space or even a small apartment.

A standalone garage with a pitched roof may be the ultimate conversion-worthy starter, but even an attached garage might have an untapped resource in its loft space. The first thing to do is to calculate the area to find out if your space is large enough for conversion, based on the required roof height standard. The minimum head height is 2.4 metres in at least 60 per cent of the floor area. Allow for some extra clearance when you measure, the height must still be 2.4 metres after the conversion is complete. 

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Above, a cost-effective DIY garage loft conversion, turning a rarely used storage area into a fort for a growing family.

If you want to extend the roof space, it will have a big impact on the overall cost and scope of the building works. In most cases, this would be a Dormer conversion – where an extension is built to protrude from the slope of the roof.

You’ll also need to ensure there is adequate room on the floor below for a staircase that complies with the Building Regulations, in terms of fire escape and protection.

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Above, this loft apartment was created above a working two-car garage to house the owners while a major renovation took place on their home. A loft such as this could be used as student accommodation, an Air B'n'B rental or a guest suite.

The next step we recommend is to get some professional advice on whether the ceiling joists that are destined to support the floor of your new space are strong enough. Remedial work such as the installation of steel beams or deeper joists may be required to support the loading.

Next, decide your budget and whether you’ll use professionals or complete the project yourself. Unless you truly know what you’re doing, we strongly suggest the former option for the structural components.

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Above, clockwise from top left: Classy extra living spaces can easily be created with a little design flair; when space is lacking, create visual interest with wallpaper; if ceiling space doesn't allow for a whole room, you could still create a storage loft; this garage loft office space features multiple skylight windows for natural light to stream through.

You may need to apply for consent. This part is determined by the type of conversion, the existing building and what you plan to do with it. 

Here is some advice we found on the renovate.org.nz website:

“Some of the work involved in a conversion may require a building consent. Installing a small wet bathroom or retrofitting thermal insulation to an external wall both require consent, for example. Any work that involves load-bearing walls and bracing will also require professional input from a chartered professional engineer, registered architect or similar.

Simple, lower-risk work does not require building consent – installing a small window in an outside wall, removing or adding a section of non-loadbearing wall, adding plasterboard linings to ceiling and walls. Councils can provide more advice.”

You could also take a look at this online government resource: Building work that does not require a building consent or this website, BuildIt.

Remember that even when a building consent is not required, all work must still comply with the Building Act and the Building Code. Works must not make a building structurally worse than it was before works began.

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Above, clockwise from top left: This David Reid Home sports a loft above the Sierra garage door; just a peek of a dormer-style loft extension above this Futura garage door; the loft area above this Sierra is likely suitable for conversion.

Converting a loft can increase the value of a property by as much as 20%, according to this article. It's essential though to weigh up all the costs beforehand if adding value is the intention. A converted garage loft could add value as a spare bedroom, teen hangout or study area, second living room, media room, sewing or craft room, guest accommodation or holiday rental and more. As well as creating extra space and adding value, a loft conversion can even make your home more energy-efficient. The extra insulation created by lined walls and floors can help bring down the cost of your utility bills.

If you're considering a garage loft renovation, you might also consider upgrading your garage door. For the latest in hardwearing, durable and tough garage doors to protect your assets and your family, talk to your local Dominator professional.

Please Note: Information provided on this blog is intended as inspiration and should not take place of professional or regulatory advice. 

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