I want to demolish my garage and build a house. Where do I start?

Property clinic: A chartered building surveyor will advise on zoning and design

I live in a house in a residential area in Co Dublin. I have a garage that I want to knock down and replace with an additional smaller house. The garage is separated from our existing house, located on the side. We also have a fairly generous garden to build on to. What steps do I have to take to find out if I can build a property to replace the garage?

Noel Larkin writes: We are all now very familiar with larger gardens being subdivided to provide for an additional house. Minimum garden sizes have been reduced dramatically over the years meaning there is scope for subdivision of older larger properties. Provision of additional housing is generally supported by local authorities, particularly in these times of inadequate supply. This is because this type of development directs housing to where it is needed most, in residential areas, where services and the like will already be available. This type of development requires planning permission and development potential will depend on your location and the zoning of the lands in question.

As well as a good house design, the usual aspects would need to be satisfied such as safe vehicular access, car parking, a requirement to have adequate private open space, availability of services, impact on amenity of neighbouring properties and the like. In general if you have a large garden to be subdivided these aspects should typically be achieved without major difficulty.

If there is any precedent in your immediate area for similar type of development this would be helpful to you.


Arrange a site meeting with your local chartered building surveyor or designer. They will advise on zoning and a proper design solution taking account of orientation and the various requirements noted above. They will typically arrange a pre-planning meeting with the local authority. This will ensure that any specific requirements the planners may have are met in any subsequent planning application. Your designer will set out a clear route for you to follow and this will help maximise the potential you have identified in your property.

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