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When people mention outbuilding they tend to think of barns or stables. However, even homes in cities could have outbuildings that are no longer used. They could have originally been coal sheds or storage spaces. Many of these are left to deteriorate, but with some work, these existing outbuildings can be turned into an extra room for your home. Whether you need an office, a playroom or an extra bedroom, you should consider converting outbuildings if you have one and you may find that the extra room is more useful than you imagined.

Decide On Its Use Before Anything Else

You need to decide what your converted outbuilding will be used for. If it is to be a summer only space for eating and relaxing it will need much less doing to it than if it is to be an office, for instance, that will be used all year round.

There are lots of ideas online for making the best use of your outbuildings, but also look around locally and see what other people have done. Ask friends and relations for ideas, as someone might just suggest something that you had not thought of.

Planning Permission

The next thing you need to do is find out if you need planning permission. The rules vary from state to state, so be sure to find out the regulations for your locality. Some states restrict the uses, some the height and others will not allow them to be lived in.  Some states are much stricter than others when applying these rules. As an example, there are some that will allow someone from the family to live in the converted building but will not let them be rented out or sold separately from the main house.

This could be really important when you are considering converting the outbuilding, and the way around it might be not to use it for your original intention. For instance, if the state you live in does not allow you to use them for commercial purposes, change a bedroom inside the house to an office and make the outbuilding a bedroom to replace it.

With all the rules and regulations, it may well be worth employing a professional to help you get the right planning permission for your outbuilding. This may feel like an unnecessary expense, but using an architect could mean you do not breach the laws and have to stop using your new room.

Start With The Structure

You need to make sure that any repairs or any bits that need replacing in the main structure are dealt with. Is the roof OK or does it need a new one? Does it need a new floor? Are you putting a damp course in? Will it have a toilet, if so is it connected to the sewers? Will it have running water? All these things need considering so that the necessary adjustments can be made to the structure before anything else is done.

The other thing to ensure is that the structure has power to it. No matter what it is going to be used for there will be times it needs lights and maybe power for other things. Really there are two choices for this, and it probably depends on how far the outbuilding is away from the main house. You can either have it connected to the mains electricity, or you can use a generator just for this building. If you do the latter you’ll want to check out some basic generator safety tips. You should never take power lightly, no matter what form it comes in because one simple mistake can cause major health and safety issues.

Check that all the windows and doors are in good condition as now is the time to replace them is that needs doing. Heating should also be considered, and if the building is not close enough to the main house to be connected to the central heating system, look at the different types of portable heaters that are available.


Insulate the walls and the roof of your conversion. This will help to keep it warmer in the winter months and cooler when the sun is blazing down on it. Insulation comes in various different forms, and it is worth investigating which is the best for your type of outbuilding.

If any electrical or plumbing work is being done, it is best to get that finished before you start on the insulation.

Getting The Inside Ready To Use

Now the structure is sound, it has power and water if needed and any insulation work has been done, you have a building that is almost ready to use. You can start on the inside and turning it into the space you wanted.

Remember that the amount of space you have is limited. So do not overfill or clutter it. Use furniture that is not too big and clunky and often in outbuildings blinds are the best option for window dressings.

Do It Yourself Or Not?

This all sounds quite easy and you may think you will just get on and do the work yourself. If you are at work in the day, that only leaves a short period in the evenings and the weekends for you to do all the jobs. This could take you many weeks of hard graft to make the room useable and compliant with the local rules and regulations.

Consider using professional contractors instead. Call several of them to get a quote of how much they can at least handle all the structural work for, and you may find that it is worth paying them to get the work sorted in just a few days. They should have more idea about things such as the insulation, getting power and water to the building and having it connected to the sewers. These are all problems that require solutions and a professional builder may just have the answers you need. You can do the decor yourself, if you wish, but leave the tough stuff to the pros. I mean, the decorating is the best bit anyway, right?

However you decide to deal with converting your outbuilding, you will find that when you come to sell your property it will help to increase the value and make it more saleable. Having an extra room in the garden has become very popular over the last few years, and if you have an empty shed or storage room sitting there, perhaps the time has come for you to think about making that conversion.

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