garage empty space living room

In cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, homeowners are finding cost-effective ways of increasing their living space – and garages are first in line for a makeover.


A standard garage is typically big enough to be converted into an extra bedroom, a games room, a home cinema or a workshop. With more than 55 square metres to play with, a double garage can be converted into a standalone pad, with an open-plan kitchen nook and an en suite bathroom.


But before you start bashing down walls or ripping off doors, there are some things to consider.


Planning permission

If you’re planning any structural changes to an existing garage, you’ll need planning permission from your local council. Structural changes include relatively minor changes, like building an interior wall or adding a door.


You’ll have to hire an architectural draughtsman to draw up the plans, and wait for the council’s approval before you can get going.


If you’re not sure whether your garage conversion requires planning permission, consult this helpful information from the City of Cape Town. Alternatively, you can contact your local planning department.


Plumbing and wiring

Your garage conversion will usually entail an upgrade of the available electrical power points and plumbing inlets and outlets. This will require the services of a qualified electrician and a plumber.


If you’re intending to rent out garage space as accommodation, it may be a good idea to install a dedicated pay-as-you-go electrical mains supply that’s separate from the one in the main house.



Garages aren’t usually adequately insulated for human habitation. You’ll need to insulate and damp-proof the floor and walls, and possibly even add a properly insulated ceiling.


A quick and easy solution for concrete floors is a paint-on damp-proof membrane or epoxy coating. Products such as Isoboard can easily be retrofitted into an existing building to provide the requisite comfort levels.


Ventilation and light

You’ll have to comply with building regulations regarding lighting and ventilation. This may involve adding windows, doors and even skylights to the existing structure. Local authorities are usually quite strict about this aspect of a conversion.


Cost and time

Despite having to submit plans and hire specialised contractors, the estimated cost of a garage conversion is generally half that of a new addition.


Converting a garage is also one of the least disruptive ways of unlocking extra living space – for a family member or as a passive income generator. Within just three to four weeks, your garage can be transformed into a comfortable pied-à-terre.


Pros and cons of garage conversion

Converting a garage has both pros and cons.



  • Cost effective
  • Adds value
  • Allows control over design
  • Quick turnaround time.


  • No interior parking
  • No extra storage space
  • Potentially disruptive
  • May not blend in with the existing living space.

How XtraSpace can help

At XtraSpace, we don’t handle or help with garage conversions. However, we do offer secure, affordable self-storage, ideal for storing the contents of a garage so you can get to work on a conversion.


For example, you can store tools, painting supplies, gardening equipment and other garage contents at a fraction of the rental income you might receive for your brand new living space.


For more information, contact XtraSpace on 01 09 777 777 or call a branch near you.

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