Since October 2008 the government passed a law allowing most garage conversions to be undertaken without the need for planning permission provided certain criteria are met.

The building must not be in a conservation area. You can check with your local council either by phone or on the internet. Most councils will have a website where you can check conservation areas in your town or city.

Some new housing estates have stipulations requiring permission be granted for any alterations to the building. This can even extend to having a caravan on the drive or changing the height of a boundary fence. This must be checked beforehand.

The building must not be alterered in volume or extended in any direction. Generally the rule of thumb is that up to 70 cubic metres of extensions will be allowed without planning permission but simply changing the roof height may well require permission. The best course of action is to contact the planning department of the local council and ask for a visit from a planning advisor. These people will visit your property and assess your requirements before advising you on whether or not you need to apply for permission. It is also worth noting that any existing structures on your property within 5 metres will be taken into consideration when calculating the volume of allowable extensions and that the size is taken from the outside edge of any protrusions e.g. the gutter line as though seen from above. Known as the footprint.

Business use. If you intend to run a business from your new conversion then planning permission must usually be sought.

Should you require planning permission then you will need to submit proper drawings done to a scale of 1:100 to the planning office. These must be of the north, south, east and west elevation of both the existing property and the proposed alterations. You will also need a plan view showing your property boundary, again both existing and proposed showing its orientation north - south.

There is a fee applicable and you should check with the planning office for a figure.

Planning applications can take up to 3 months or longer but may be quicker depending on the type of alterations required. A notice is usually given in the local newspaper, flyers posted around the local area giving details and of course the entire schedule is available to be viewed in the local planning office. This gives local residents time to object.

Should the application be refused, an appeal may be made or stipulations may be imposed in order to grant the permission. These may entail the planting of trees for example to hide the building from view or a stipulation on building materials to keep with local conservation standards.

If you’re not particularly adept with technical building drawings then it’s probably best to enlist the services of an architect. Their services for a planning application usually run at around the £500 - £1000 mark depending on your location. Should you require detail drawings for building control, these will be extra.

Remember, if you do the drawings yourself, they should be clearly understandable and done to a scale of 1:100. Any other scale will be rejected.

For more information please search the internet for approved documents relating to planning permission. Ultimate handyman no longer links to any Government website as they keep moving or deleting the pages which leaves us with hundreds of dead links on our site. We cannot put a copy of the approved documents on this server as the documents are regularly updated and so you could be viewing an out of date document.

Again, if you are in any doubt whatsoever, the best course of action is to speak to a planning advisor. This service is not usually chargeable and could save you a lot of grief in the long run.