Trouble in store – home defects in garages19/04/21
When you are appraising the condition of a home, additional aspects, such as the garage, can often be forgotten about. They are part of the property too – literally, if the garage is an integral one.
Sometimes, a garage is a project that has been added to a property at a later date and may have been carried out as a weekend, DIY or self-build project. In some cases there is conversion potential too and garages may have been transformed into living accommodation. It’s worth giving them a thorough examination – or asking professional surveyors such as ourselves – to make sure that there are no surprises ‘parked’ in the garage.
Garages - a useful addition
Garages – either double or single berth – are a valuable asset to a property. They offer additional storage, wall and floor space, and can be useful for keeping such things as furniture, boxes or shelves of items. If they have a pitch roof then further storage can be created in the ‘attic’ space beneath the rafters. They can also be used as workshops, or with the addition of washing machine or tumble dryer, they can be an outside utility room. It’s odd, but they are rarely used for what they were meant for, the storage of vehicles.
The reality is many garages are tight on space, even for a reasonably-sized hatchback. You really have no chance with some of the bigger people carriers, SUVs and 4x4s on the market these days. If you have a garage however, they can offer the potential for protection for vehicles, especially in the winter months, and also off-road parking if you have limited space outside. They’re just so useful to store everything else!
Finding fault with a garage
Garages are subject to all the same defects over time as any other property – such as settlement, deterioration and rot. Common faults to look out for specifically in garages are such aspects as brick and blockwork garages which have inadequate piers and/or roof strapping. This can cause structural problems, especially if the rafter space has been converted for storage. Garages are usually only a single skin of brickwork or blockwork, as there is no need for cavity walls and insulation, as are needed for a living space. Of course, if the garage has been converted into living accommodation, a playroom, spare bedroom or even in some cases a more spacious kitchen, then you need to make sure the walls and floor have been upgraded. This is another fault to look out for – the garage will need lining with insulation, to ensure it meets Building Regulations. If walls have been added to the garage doorway opening, or windows inserted, you’ll also need to check that the correct measures have been taken for the inclusion of such features as foundations and lintels, etc, which should comply with construction legislation.
The fact that garages are covered by ‘Outbuildings’ in Building Regs means that in some cases they can be built without planning permission. It’s worth checking if the garage was a later addition and how and by whom it was constructed – was it a DIY project, or was a professional builder engaged to design and construct it? If the garage is an integral garage, connected to the main house via a door or connecting passage, there needs to be adequate protection against the spread of fire into the main building. This is a common fault and is worth checking with an expert, to make sure the garage floor is lower than the main house (this is to protect against a hazardous spillage in the garage as much as anything) and a suitable fire door and other protection (such as alarms) are installed.
If you’ve bought a property with a garage and have any doubts about how safe it is structurally – either as a garage or as living accommodation – or would like to look at the viability of converting your garage into an extra room, then get in touch today. Our experts will be happy to answer your queries.