Interior Tips for a Garage Conversion

What do you use your garage for? With only 9% of household vehicles parked in garages overnight, many Brits are using this space as a dumping ground to house garden equipment or items they no longer use. Instead, why not transform this unused and unloved area into stylish accommodation that can add a minimum of 15 square metres to your home? Our garage conversions Essex team reveal some top tips when designing your interior.

Consider the layout of your home

Before deciding the purpose of your new garage room, have a think about how it connects to the rest of your home. If your garage is integral, then consider which room adjoins your new conversion – for example, a garage room leading to a kitchen might be a great place to house a new utility or boot room. Whereas a garage extension off your living room could be a great place for a playroom, teen den or home office.

Storage solutions

If you have been using your garage for storage, then this could be a great opportunity for a declutter. You may choose to use a loft space or a shed as your new designated storage area. Alternatively, you can opt to convert only part of your garage and keep a section of it for storage – this is particularly popular with larger double garages.

Power points

Your existing garage may already have power, but once you have turned it into a more functional living space, you may plan to plug in everything from a TV or fridge freezer to wall heaters, lamps and even phone chargers. If this is the case, then your garage conversions Essex team can adapt the electrical wiring to your needs. It is much easier to make these changes early on and not after you’ve decorated your room.

Natural light

Most garages are not blessed with natural light, so when you integrate yours as part of the overall living space, you will want to ensure that it is bright and airy. Depending on the position of your garage in relation to the rest of your home, some options include Velux windows, bi-fold doors along the length of the garage leading into a garden, or installing a simple window and door combination. Bear in mind how the addition of windows may affect the layout of your room when you are trying to position your furniture.

Futureproofing your room

When planning your garage conversion, you might have an immediate purpose in mind, such as turning it into a playroom for your family. But if you are hoping to stay in this property for many years to come, consider the longevity of the room. Once you no longer have a need for a playroom, could the space be converted into a teen den or even a granny annex? Should you put in the plumbing if you wish to add a small wet-room into your conversion down the line?

Your garage conversions Essex team will take you through a range of options so we can design the perfect interior for you. Contact Bigger Homes today on 01268 553648 or email [email protected].

Dormer

Do Loft Conversions Add Value to A Home?

Loft conversions are one of the most popular type of extensions, and Brits have been extremely busy committing to this type of renovation project during the pandemic when there has been a ‘race for space’. Whether you are looking to add an extra bedroom or just make room for a quiet home office, our loft conversions Essex solutions have plenty of functionality. But do they add value to your home? The answer is a firm yes!

How much do loft conversions cost?

The exact cost of a loft conversion will vary depending on the complexity of the project and the amount of space available to you.

At the lower end of the scale, you can expect to spend upwards of £30,000 for a simple Velux conversion, whilst a Mansard-style conversion might cost as much as £60,000 or more. But the average loft conversion will set you back somewhere between £35,000 to £45,000. For this price, you can expect to gain a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom as part of a dormer loft conversion.

After completing your project, you could add as much as 21% to the value of your property, according to a recent study conducted by Nationwide. Let’s just say you have a 3-bed home worth £300,000 and want to convert your attic into a 4th bedroom with en-suite. If you spend £40,000 on your conversion, but your house is now worth £360,000, then you’ve made £20,000 profit over a six-week renovation period. That is a pretty great return on your investment.

What about non-financial value?

Of course, you cannot put a price tag on the personal benefits you will experience from gaining extra space in your home. If you are not planning to sell, but rather to stay and enjoy the space, then a new upper storey of your property has unlimited potential.

Have you been struggling to find a distraction-free office space for your new remote working role? A loft conversion is your ideal solution which will keep you well away from the distractions of daily life. You can save money on the cost of commuting into work or avoid spending money on hiring work premises elsewhere.

Need to make a little extra cash? By letting out the top floor of your property as a guest bedroom, you can open up an additional source of rental income to help you pay the bills.

Perhaps you are welcoming a new arrival into your family? If you need an extra bedroom for a growing family, then the price of a loft conversion will typically be far less than the cost of moving house. The stamp duty holiday will be phased out from the end of June 2021 and the majority of buyers will be paying the full amount in tax again from the 1st October. Alongside the cost of estate agents, surveyors, removal firms and conveyancers, plus the increased mortgage to gain an extra bedroom, this can far outweigh the average price you will pay for a loft conversion.

Is a loft conversion the right choice for me?

Building upwards can be a fantastic decision for many homeowners, but ultimately it depends on the type and size of your property. It is worth considering that although you will gain room from a loft conversion, you may also lose storage space and possibly some square metres where you will need to accommodate stairs from the floor below. In some cases, a rear or side extension or a garage conversion may be a better solution for you, which is something we would be happy to discuss in more detail.

Bigger Homes are specialists in creating dream spaces for homeowners. Book a FREE consultation with our loft conversions Essex team today and we will explore the potential that your home has to offer. Call us today on 01268 553648.

Rising Cost of Moving House — Why it’s Better to Extend Your Home

 

An unfortunate fact of life in the UK is that it’s getting more and more expensive to move house every year. From taxes and duties to the simple logistics of getting all your belongings from one place to another, there are plenty of hidden fees to trip you up if you’re not careful. Here is a partial list of things to look out for…

 

Stamp duty

 

Assuming you’re not a first time buyer, you’ll be paying a percentage in stamp duty on your new home, starting at a value of £125,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or £145,000 if you’re in Scotland.

 

Valuation fee

 

This is charged by a mortgage broker before they assess how much they can lend you, and it can be anything up to £1,500, depending on the value of your property.

Legal fees

 

There’s a lot of paperwork involved in moving home, and you’ll need the services of a solicitor to ensure everything is in order. This can run you up to a maximum of £1,500.

 

Mortgage arrangement fee

 

This is a common charge in the process of getting your mortgage sorted. Expect to pay around £1,000 for the privilege, and if you’re unlucky, maybe even £2,000.

Land registry fee

 

In order to update the Government Land Registry and solidify your status as the new legal owner of your property, you’ll need to get this sorted. It can cost up to £1,000, depending on the value of your property.

 

Insurance

 

It’s important to get everything insured in case the worst should happen, but this will run you up a significant bill.

Estate agency fees

 

Selling one place to move into another? Well, you’ll be paying commission to your estate agent, potentially to the tune of more than £2,000.

 

New phone line/broadband

 

Got internet in the new place? Costs of installing a new line can go up to £75 or so.

Moving paraphernalia

 

You’ll be surprised how many things you realise you don’t have once you start the process of moving. Boxes? Bubble wrap? ‘Fragile’-marked sticky tape? It does add up! Then you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a way to transport it all, whether you’re driving it yourself or paying someone else to do it.

 

Maintenance and repairs

 

Unless your new home is brand-new, right off the shelf, then it’s an unfortunate fact that you’re likely going to have to do a little maintenance on it. Possibly more than you think — it’s estimated that the average repair bill for new homeowners is around £5,750!

 

VAT

 

Yeah… more bad news, we’re afraid. Lots of these costs are also going to have VAT slapped on top of them, at 20% of the cost.

 

If all this has got you a little alarmed, don’t panic. Moving home isn’t always the best solution, and if you’re finding the whole idea a little bit daunting, it may be best to explore other options. Are you planning on moving because you need more space, or you don’t like the look of your current home? Well, you can fix that without having to leave! Extending your home is a great way not only to improve its value, but also to make it a more pleasant place to live, spend time and make memories with your family. Give us a call today, and see what we can do to help keep you in your home and save you a thick bundle of cash.

 

Why the trend of extensions and loft conversions is BOOMING in Essex and Hertfordshire

Extending living spaces. Adding new rooms. Converting cramped old lofts into wonderful, sunlit attic rooms. There’s no doubt about it – the trend of extensions and of conversions is booming in Essex and Hertfordshire. More and more people are getting planning permission to turn their home into the dream space they always wanted — but why is this? Let’s take a look.

Moving house is getting more expensive

 

There are dozens of unexpected hidden costs involved in moving house that are just waiting to leap up and bite you. From legal fees to mortgage broker fees to the simple cost of getting all your possessions boxed up and in a van, moving house is a virtual minefield of ways to unexpectedly empty your wallet. And this is without even going into the uncertainty of the housing market and how changeable it can be. Many people believe home extensions are expensive but compared to the cost of moving house they’re a much smarter investment. We explain all in our blog 12 Myths About Property conversions

 

Finding the time

 

We’re all busier and busier these days, and moving home is a time-consuming activity before you’ve even found a house that you want to live in. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why many people are opting to take on the comparatively easier task of remaking their current home rather than finding a new one.

 

Boost the home’s value

 

Even for those who have their heart set on moving, it still makes sense to extend. Home improvements and extensions are time-honoured way of increasing your house’s value, and if you’re nervous about putting it on the market, making it into a nicer place can assuage your fears. Be careful though — you might end up liking the new, improved home so much that you end up wanting to stay put!

 

Home improvements are getting more creative

 

Architects and designers have been coming into their own with home improvements in recent years, and there have been some amazingly inspiring projects that have completely transformed the clients’ homes. No more are builders simply sticking a boxy extra room onto a Victorian-style cottage — now you can dream up glass kitchen/diner rooms, chic loft-based living spaces, glazed walkways to connect outbuildings and more, and talented builders can make them happen! There’s never been a better time for home improvement creativity. Read our blog on 7 Smartest Ways to Spend Your Money as a Homeowner For some fresh ideas! 

We love our area… and our homes!

 

And there’s no shame in that. People grow to like where they live — they find friends, hobbies, and good schools for the kids. Uprooting your entire life to move a few miles down the road feels like a needless chore, and yet you can’t imagine living anywhere further than a few miles down the road.

 

What’s the solution? Extend, extend, extend! Bring the dream home to you and turn your existing property into the happy home you’ve always wanted. Not sure where to start? Give us a call today and tell us about your ideas — we’re betting we can turn them into reality.

 

 

 

House

What planning permission do I need for a loft conversion?

So you’re thinking of having a loft conversion – great idea! Loft conversions are a great way of gaining well needed extra space without having to build an property extension. At first the amount of work may seem daunting, especially if you have never overseen a project like this before – that’s were we come in! A Bigger Home is here to do all the hard work for you. We do everything from design, planning and building control, right through to construction and completion. All you will have to concentrate on is the finishing touches to your new living space. First, lets take a few steps back and start at the beginning – planning permission. The first thing you should be thinking about, but do you even need planning permission? Well, Loft conversions are classed as permitted development and do not require planning permission, providing they meet the following conditions

 

  • Any new roofing must not exceed an additional 40 cubic metres of space on terraced houses.

 

  • Any new roofing must not exceed an additional 50 cubic metres of space on detached and semi-detached houses.

 

  • No extension must be made beyond the plane of the existing roof slope.

 

  •  No extension can be higher than the highest part of the roof.

 

  •  New roofing materials need to be like-for-like or close to original fittings.

 

  •  There must be no raised platforms or balconies.

 

  •  Side-facing windows must be set with obscured glazing and an opening 1.7-metres above the floor.

 

For listed buildings or those in conservation areas, visit planningportal.gov.uk

 

Sound interesting? Get in touch today.

 

 

What Planning Permission Do I Need for a Garage Extension?

Extending or converting a garage is a popular home improvement project. However, if this is one of the plans on your to-do list, you might be concerned about whether you need planning permission for it. In this blog we’ll look at this subject in a little more detail.

First, the good news. If you’re enlarging your garage but planning to continue to use it for the same purpose (i.e. as a garage) then you very likely don’t need planning permission to do so. The general rules are that as long as your garage is less than 15 square metres (if freestanding) or 30 square metres (if attached to the house), then you should be good to go (although we always ensure we obtain a certificate of lawfulness on your behalf)

However, converting a pre-existing garage into a habitable living space means there are a few criteria you’ll need to ensure you satisfy under Building Regulations. There are several categories of regulations that will likely apply to your proposed garage conversion.

Let’s take a look at these categories in more detail:

Doors and windows

Your garage extension and conversion will need to have doors and windows that are adequately insulated to avoid heat loss. If any panes of glass are particularly close to doors or the floor, they may also need safety glazing (the Planning Portal has a good rundown of the exact numbers). The size of the room will also affect how much ventilation is required, and this may change if you’re converting your garage into a room that produces a lot of steam, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Drainage

You’ll need to think about above-ground drainage,  and if you’re planning to connect significant plumbing to your garage extension then there’s also the matter of connecting it with the underground drainage run/local sewer network.

Electrics

Any new electrics you plan to install in your garage conversion will need to be inspected and certified by someone who is part of an approved certification scheme.

Walls

If you’re making significant changes to the external or internal walls of your garage, then there are plenty of regulations you may need to take into account. There needs to be adequate separation between the new habitable space and the remaining space, and there may also be sound insulation issues to consider. If you’re removing a wall, you need to be sure this can be done safely and structurally.

Roofs

This will depend on the extent of the work — if you’re altering less than 25% of the roof area then you are likely fine. However, any major alterations to a roof’s structure, height or appearance will likely mean you need to seek permission from the authorities.

What to do?

And lastly, some more good news. If you’re planning on extending and converting your garage and are worried about planning permission, the best thing you can do is involve a reputable, professional company in your plans as early as possible. Why not give us a call today and tell us about your project!

 

How to Solve the Problems with Garage Extensions

Thinking of extending or converting your garage? Great idea! Many home garages are less than efficient uses of space, and can be converted to much greater uses to really transform your home. It’s important, however, that the conversion is done correctly and certain common pitfalls are avoided. These include…

 

  1. Not paying attention to building regulations

 

This is where it pays dividends to have a reputable company taking charge of your extension. Your new garage will need to comply to many different types of building regulation, including energy efficiency, sound insulation, heat insulation and more. Don’t be the homeowner who charges in without thinking about these things — talk to us about your plans and we’ll make sure they’re in keeping with regulations.

 

  1. Not planning utilities early

 

You may have the look and feel of your garage conversion planned out in your head, but have you thought about electricity supply? Water supply? Heating? These things need to be planned out well in advance, before any building starts, and your best bet is to get a professional assessment of how best to supply your garage conversion with everything it needs.

 

  1. Not considering foundations and structure

 

Your garage walls and foundations may not be equipped to support your grand plans, and this is something you absolutely need to know before you start. It’s best to get a professional builder or architect’s verdict on your proposed plans. They can inspect your garage in person and verify exactly what needs to be done to make it safe for your dream conversion.

 

  1. Not taking existing features into consideration

 

Many garages are used to house necessary but unsightly home appliances, such as a boiler. When you planned your conversion, did you take this into account? Do you plan to move the boiler, or work around it? A professional can help advise you what would be most cost-effective and least disruptive, and how you can get that dream conversion without compromising on the safety and effectiveness of your appliances.

 

  1. Not using the space to its full potential

 

Here’s a question you may not have thought to ask yourself — am I dreaming big enough? Have you thought that your garage may be tall enough to handle a split level with raised areas? Could you get even more natural light in there with some extra windows? Would glass doors leading to an outside recreational area make the room into a relaxing space all year round?

 

It’s your conversion — don’t be afraid to get exactly what you want! Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help.

 

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Loft Conversions

Loft conversions are a hugely popular type of home improvement, however there are many common issues that prospective converters can run into. Here is our guide to a few of the most common and how to solve them…

 

  1. Is the ceiling too low?

 

If you want to convert your loft full of cardboard boxes into a liveable, usable space, you’ll need to take a look at the ceiling height. This can vary dramatically from loft to loft, but as a guide, the minimum height that’s generally accepted as suitable for conversion is 2.3m. If your loft isn’t this high, then don’t worry! There are plenty of fixes, including lowering the ceiling of the room below, or removing and remodelling sections of the roof to create space. This latter solution does require planning permission, which leads us to…

 

 

  1. Do I need planning permission?

 

As you might expect, whether you need planning permission depends on what exactly your plans are. Likely, you won’t, however, if you are planning alterations to the roof then you may. Additions of up to 40 cubic metres roof space on a terraced house or 50 cubic metres on a detached house do not require permission, so unless your conversion is a majorly expansive project, you should be fine. Finalise your plans with your architect and go over all regulations before you start building.

 

 

  1. Have I thought about stair access?

 

It’s all well and good planning an elaborate new playroom for the loft, but not if you don’t think about how you and your family are actually going to get up there! It’s critical to plan with the lower floors in mind, and have a concrete idea of where the access stairs for your new conversion are going to go. This is something your building firm can help you with in the planning stages.

 

 

  1. Will there be enough natural light?

 

You want your loft conversion to be a space that’s enjoyable to be in at all times, and nothing makes a space feel cramped and unwelcoming like a lack of natural light. A rear dormer conversion is the best idea, as it generally doesn’t require planning permission, and it can transform your loft from a dark, unused room to the brightest in the house!

 

 

 

  1. Have I considered building regulations?

 

This is why it’s so critical to trust a reputable firm with your loft conversion. There are many regulations to bear in mind when you’re planning a loft conversion — accessibility of fire exits, thermal efficiency, the ceiling joists below, and more. You need to be sure that your building firm understands these regulations and can make sure your loft conversion abides by them.

 

 

 

Want to avoid these problems? Put your loft conversion in the hands of the professionals. Give us a call today and let us know what we can do for you!

Case Studies: Westcliff


The area

There’s nothing like living by the sea! Westcliff-on-sea sits on the north bank of the Thames estuary, and its close proximity to London makes it a perfect place for commuters with families to put down roots. It’s always a pleasure to head out to this part of Essex for a job to get a taste of the sea air.

 

The brief

We could spot the issue here as soon as we arrived at the property! Our client at Westcliff had an old lean-to at the side of their house that was in terrible shape, leaky and shabby. It was also an impractical place for the house’s creaking old boiler to be housed. The clients wanted to do away with the entire thing, and use the space that was created to make a new open-plan kitchen space where they could entertain friends and family.

Sounds like a plan to us! Time to get to work.

 

The job

First things first — the old lean-to needed to go! Thankfully this was quickly accomplished, leaving us free to get on with constructing a new single-storey side extension. We then knocked through the walls to make the open-plan kitchen and dining space our clients were dreaming of, and what’s more we added some aluminium bi-folding doors that could be opened fully for when the sun was out. This meant the space was even more open and airy — perfect for entertaining and al fresco dining.

 

The result

With the leaky old lean-to gone and the new open space put in, the clients’ home had been transformed into a beautiful place to live, entertain and enjoy that seaside air in the sun.

 

Another success! Time for the next job…

 

12 bathroom ideas you’re going to love


Want to jazz up your bathroom a little? Take some inspiration from some of our favourite looks and ideas…

1. A sunken bath

A bath sunk into your floor is the perfect thing to slide into and relax after a hard day at work. Treat yourself to a little luxury!

 

2. Pool-style anti-slip mosaic tiles

These aren’t just stylish — they help make your bathroom safer and more slip-proof. Especially useful if you have little ones running around.

 

3. Storage shelves

If you’re tired of bottles and other junk cluttering up your bathroom, a few elegant mounted shelves can be the perfect way to free up floor space and get everything out of the way.

 

4. Uniform tiles

Using the same tiling across the floor and walls of your bathroom is a great way to achieve a uniform look and make the whole place feel a little more zen and peaceful. It’s a place you want to be calm, so make it as calm as possible!

5. A walk-in shower

If you’ve got the space to box off for a walk-in shower, they’re the perfect way to add a touch of class and make your bathroom feel more like part of your home.

 

6. Wooden floor

Say goodbye to tacky linoleum! A wooden-floored bathroom gives a home an unmistakably rustic feel while still being easy to keep clean.,

 

7. A skylight

The perfect way to let more light into your bathroom without compromising on privacy — a skylight can completely transform the feel of a small bathroom, especially an attic conversion.

8. Shower and steam room combo

No reason it can’t be done, if you’ve got the space! A bespoke walk-in shower that also functions as a walk-in steam room is a lovely luxury that could be just what you need to unwind on the weekend.

 

9. High ceilings

Bathrooms often tend to feel cramped. A high-ceilinged bathroom feels extremely modern and is a very relaxing space. A great place to perfect your morning routine!

 

10. Marble

Want that spa chic? A marble bathroom simply screams opulence and taste, and the flexibility of colour means you can get it the exact shade you want it.

 

11. A copper tub

Hey, it was good enough for the Victorians! And these days it just screams vintage charm and comfort.

 

12. Dual sinks

For him and her, perhaps? A pair of matching sinks is a lovely way for you and your partner to enjoy your morning and nighttime routines together.