I have two concrete garages at the end of my garden. The garage doors faced the street and were badly damaged, so we closed it and put a suitable door in each garage. They have flat roofs which must be tarred to prevent moisture penetration. The garages are not connected to the house. I would like to know if I have the right to apply for a building permit to turn these two garages into a grandma’s studio? There is space in the back to build and I would look to completely insulate and renovate these garages to be comfortable and warm. Both garages face a street, and across the street is a neighbor’s house. I am based in a large town in the Midlands. There is a garage attached to my two garages. I understand that I could not rent them 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 the land can apply for planning for its development. In this case, you hope to convert old garages into a grandmother’s apartment or the like. This type of development requires a building permit. There are restrictions on the type of development that will be allowed to facilitate a grandmother’s apartment. The most common of these is the requirement that the apartment be physically attached to the parents’ home. The fact that your garages are far from your house means that, in general, the type of use you propose would not be allowed.
However, depending on your location and the zoning of the land in question, it may be possible to obtain an authorization for a freestanding dwelling house. In addition to a good home design, the usual aspects should be met, such as access, private open space needs, availability of services, impact on the amenity of neighboring properties, etc. If there is precedent in your area for a similar type of development this would be helpful. From a planning point of view, there would be no restriction in terms of renting the property if all the criteria were met. Most local authorities welcome the means to revitalize downtown locations and provide much needed housing.
Arrange a job site meeting with your local licensed land surveyor or building designer. They will be well acquainted with potential avenues to explore and can set up a meeting with local planners to test the waters to see if they are open to this type of development.
The buildings you describe will need to be carefully considered in terms of the correct methods to be used for renovation or replacement, and again, the guiding hand of an experienced practitioner should be used.
Noel Larkin is a Chartered Land Surveyor and Fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie