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Convert your garage, change your life

Compared to our ancestors of 100 or 200 years ago, most of us live cluttered lives. Modern consumerism means that our homes are filled with all manner of gadgets and gizmos so space comes at a premium.

Just think of the reaction of grandparents today when they see the sheer number of gifts showered upon their grandchildren at Christmas or on their birthday. Even in the toughest of recessions, many of us still find the money to upgrade our mobile phone or buy the latest coffee machine.

Is it any wonder then, that with our homes filling up with the needful things of contemporary living, more and more of us are converting garages and other outbuildings into additional living and working space?  It’s not just additional storage we’re seeking; according to Dave Simms, head of home contents insurance at Ecclesiastical, the range of uses we’re putting our extra space to is varied and often surprising.

So here’s a guide from the Ecclesiastical team to some of the possible uses to which you can put those draughty, old outbuildings, in the process turning them into a valuable part of your living space.

Home office

Now that technology has made it so much easier to work from home, it’s become common to spend some or all of a week tucked away in the spare bedroom hunched over a laptop. But not everybody wants to settle for that. You can convert your garage into a sleek, modern home office for £6,000 or some companies will convert a large shed. For the more dedicated home workers who like the idea of getting out of the confines of the house, a purpose-built timber-frame office can be erected in your garden starting from £6,000-£7,000.

Playroom

Children make mess. They also have a heck of a lot of toys and are not exactly focused on tidying them away. So rather than having their living rooms looking like a toy shop after a riot, many people convert their garages into playrooms.

Think of all those toys and pieces of messy craft equipment confined to a single room – and not the one in which you’re trying to watch the latest Twilight movie. Playroom conversions start from around £3,000 depending on the quality of the garage.

Hobby room

Whether it’s needle craft, woodwork, playing a musical instrument or operating an outsized model train set, garages and some outbuildings make the perfect home for hobby activities and all the paraphernalia that goes with them.

With well-thought through storage, a hobby room means not having to pack everything away in the attic after a craft session and its keep some of the more dangerous types of equipment such as metalworking tools well away from children.

Gym

With such an emphasis on personal fitness and weight, Britons head to the gym in their droves – especially after the festival of excess that is Christmas and New Year. But why not move the gym inside your own home and cut out the long term cost of gym memberships?

We’re spending over £300m a year on home gym equipment, so rather than hiding it away in the spare bedroom, why not consider converting your garage into personal workout spaces where you can pump iron and jog to your heart’s content?

Home cinema

Over the last decade, televisions have swollen in size and grown increasingly sophisticated. At the same time, the behaviour of modern cinema audiences with their inability to stop talking and switch their smartphones off has driven many away from the multiplex cinemas.

The result has been the rise of home cinemas: big screen TVs hooked up to surround sound speaker systems and showing the latest hi-definition Blu-ray discs – and all in the comfort of what was previously your garage.

Extra bedroom

For the hard-pressed growing family needing space for that extra child or an older relative, an extra bedroom makes life easier and can add considerable value to your home.

Do I need planning permission?

As long as all of the conversion work is internal and the building is not being enlarged, planning permission is not usually required. The main exception to this is if you’re altering a listed building. However, bear in mind you will need to comply with building regulations. Contact your local planning authority for more information.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.