Can I convert the garage in my back garden into a granny flat?

Property Clinic: Certain development types are restricted from conversion to living space

Depending on your location and the zoning of the lands in question, it may be possible to obtain permission for a stand-alone dwelling house. Photograph: iStock

Depending on your location and the zoning of the lands in question, it may be possible to obtain permission for a stand-alone dwelling house. Photograph: iStock

 

I have two concrete garages at the back of my garden. The garage doors faced out on to the street and were very damaged, so we closed it up and put a proper door into each garage. They have flat roofs which need tarring to avoid damp getting in. The garages are not connected to the house. I would like to know if I am entitled to seek planning permission to convert these two garages into one studio granny flat? There is space at the back to build on and I would look to completely insulate and refurbish these garages so that they are comfortable and warm. The two garages look out on to a street, and across the road is a neighbour’s house. I am based in a large town in the midlands. There is one garage adjoining my two garages. I understand I would not be able to rent these out commercially, but is it a viable option to convert them for personal use by my family?

Patrick Shine writes: Anyone with a legal interest in land can make a planning application for its development. In this case you hope to convert old garages to a granny flat or similar. This type of development does need planning permission. There are restrictions on the type of development that will be allowed to facilitate a granny flat. The most prevalent of these is the requirement that the flat is physically attached to the parent dwelling. The fact that your garages are remote to your house means that, in general, the type of use you propose would not be permitted.

However, depending on your location and the zoning of the lands in question, it may be possible to obtain permission for a stand-alone dwelling house. As well as a good house design, the usual aspects would need to be satisfied, such as access, private open space requirement, availability of services, impact on amenity of neighbouring properties and the like. If there is any precedent in your area for similar-type development, this would be helpful. From a planning perspective there would be no restriction in terms of letting the property if all criteria were met. Most local authorities welcome ways to reinvigorate town centre locations and provide much-needed housing.

Arrange a site meeting with your local chartered building surveyor or designer. They will be well versed in the potential avenues to be explored and can set up a meeting with the local planners to test the waters to see if they are open to this type of development.

The buildings you describe will need careful consideration in terms of correct methods to be used in refurbishment or replacement, and again the guiding hand of an experienced practitioner should be used.

Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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