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A couple of questions about converting garage to a railway room


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Hi all,

I'm upgrading my existing garage to improve the insulation and generally make the place more habitable all year round. 

I've two or three specific questions that hopefully you good folks might answer.

 

Q1. Insulation. The garage is made from breeze block with an outer brick layer. It adjoins my neighbour's garage and I'm assuming that it is a single layer of breeze block between our two garages. I've seen quite a lot of recommended insulation levels for single skin brick garages but would like to know what insulation people would use for breeze block+brick. The temperature in winter here in Hampshire gets down to about -5oC and I'm aiming for the garage room to be habitable to about 20oC with only a small heater required. The roof space is already converted to an loft, so has plenty of inherent insulation already. I envisage using a combination of either insulation foam block or fibre space blanket, with soft wood battens and skinned with plasterboard. 

 

Q2. Shelving.  As mentioned above I'm considering using plasterboard over the insulation.  Can I put brackets direct on to plasterboard with long screws going through to the breeze block? If I did this would the brackets dig into the plasterboard and sag? Or do I need to line up the brackets with the soft wood battens and screw the brackets in to these? The eventual layout will be quite narrow and sit on the brackets. I don't envisage using supporting legs for the shelf/layout as there are plenty of brackets on the market which will support many times the weight of the layout - provided that the plasterboard doesn't compress and allow sagging!  

 

Hope these questions make sense and thanks in advance for any advice.

Best, Andy 

   

 

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The technique my neighbour used on his garage (couple of houses ago) was to batten out, insulate with 50mm kingspan and board over with duplex plasterboard.

 

As you already have the ceiling sorted this should be fine and my neighbour didn't bother with any vapour/damp membrane and the installation is still sound 7 years on - it's in Wales too so prone to silly changes in temperature and humidity.

 

If you are certain that brackets are the way you want to go then definitely screw them to the battens not through the plasterboard & insulation into the block work, but legs don't take too much work and you could then tie the free standing layout to a wall with a small L-bracket and a simple plasterboard fixing.

 

Don't forget to put something on the floor like carpet - you'll be surprised how much more comfortable it will be for you in the long run.

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If you are going to be out there a fair bit of time, then it's worth spending a bit on the floor. Lay down a poly sheet, then jablite, with glued t&g wp chipboard on top. It gives a nice sprung floor, very comfortable and warm. After a while a plain concrete floor, even with carpet will give you aching feet. For something easier, go to your local agricultural supplier, and get some sheets of 'cow matting' - 8 by 4ft, half inch or so thick rubber sheets, it'll be soft, but not so warm.

 

Best wishes,

 

Ray

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Thanks for the tips and advice gents.

 

Ian, I think the toggle anchors have the advantage that you can be flexible where you put them - not having to hit a batten. However, I wonder whether these might pull against the plasterboard and perhaps, over time, yield? 

 

An insulated floor is definitely on the cards, and I'm likely to go down the route of a 25mm layer of foam with chipboard. Yes, the garage will in part be for my layout, but also as a workspace, so I'd be spending plenty of time out there. 

 

Clagsniffer's link is worth a good read and hopefully will save me a few mistakes!

 

Thanks again - time to clear out the tip that I currently call a garage. I may be some time!  

Best, Andy

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Did it myself, last year, before starting my Minsterley layout. Went for battens, 50mm celotex, plasterboard for the walls. Floor beams(battens), 50 mm celotex and tongue & groove for the floor. The roof I insulated with fibre.

 

Dave

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Edited by Doughnut
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Hi AndyB,

 

I'm about 90% of the way through converting our garage.  Apart from the plastering, I have done everything myself.  This isn't for a railway room but my recommendation would be that you consider spending a few hundred extra and doing the room to comply with Building Regulations, especially if it is an attached garage.  That way you will have a room that adds value to your property and will keep your insurers happy too (vital I'd have thought if you ever have to claim for, say, a water leak or storm damage that damages your expensive stock).

 

The government Building Regs site is quite useful though it can take a while to wade through the Approved Documents: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations/

 

Building Control have also been great as far as I'm concerned.  Very helpful.

 

My garage is only single brick and I used 50mm battens, 75mm battens with PIR insulation (Celotex, Kingspan etc.) between, 25mm PIR across that (helps prevent cold bridging), 12.5mm plasterboard, 3mm plaster skim.  You'd have to read up to check what you'd need for your thicker walls but the suggestions of 50mm sound about right.  The Celotex and Kingspan websites have the necessary information.  If you are only partly converting the space then you will have to consider fire regulations too.  For the ceiling I insulated with 300mm of mineral wool (garage has a pitched roof so there was plenty of space).  For the floor the easiest method would be to lay a DPM before putting in joists and insulation with glued and screwed boards on top.

 

I'd definitely fix into the wooden battens as others have recommended and if the walls are newly lined you'll know exactly where they are.

 

And I strongly recommend a brief on-line search to establish prices for materials prior to ordering from you local builders merchants.  The first prices quoted are always daft.  I literally saved hundreds each time I placed an order simply by knowing I could get it cheaper elsewhere.  Like me you'll probably have to order in stages since you are converting the space you'd normally use as a materials store.

 

Hope this helps.  Good luck!

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Thanks, Teaky.

The garage isn't attached to the house, so I'm guessing that makes life easier re the regs. You are quite right about the garage being the place where the materials are stored - it's going to be a mess till it's sorted. But should set the room up nicely for many years of enjoyable modelling, winter and summer. 

 

Karl, should have responded to your suggestion about the legs to support the shelf layout...

One reason for not putting legs on is that I'm trying to keep the clutter to a minimum in the new, improved den.

The current layout, 2 feet wide, that runs the length of the garage is a "belt and braces" job with legs every few feet. This seems to have resulted in each "bay" becoming a dumping ground for all sorts of stuff. Part of the reason for having a narrower layout - maybe 12-15" is to make this a lot harder to get away with! I'm also going for a very lightweight construction technique for the baseboards on which the layout will be made. 

Best, Andy

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There are a few threads on here regarding garage conversions, but in short.

 

Min 50mm celotex on the walls between battens with 25mm over if possible, then plasterboard.  50mm polystyrene/Jablite on the floor with T&G chipboard glued together to create a "floating" floor, ceiling will have to have plasterboard as fire protection (if it doesn't already have it) for room above with as much insulation as possible.

 

regarding toggles and screwing through plasterboard for brackets.......forget it, there will be too much slack and movement on the bracket, it would not be so much the weight of the boards but the span, if you lean on the edge of a board 600mm from the wall there isn't a lot to stop it moving apart from a leg below it. With a bit of substructure you only have to drop a leg down every 1.2-1.5M wheras if you use brackets they will have to be every 5-600mm and everyone will have to be accurately mounted.

There is an alternative to the brackets and that is to make a dwarf stud wall for the rear of the boards and incorporate into this "Gallows" brackets - legs that rise at 45* max from the base of the stud to fix at the front (think of a triangle).

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If you need to keep the under-baseboard area clutter free and don't want legs running from the front edge of the board straight down to the floor, then gallows brackets are a good idea. Commonly used in porch construction, they do a good job of transferring downwards force to the rear support.

 

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Thanks, Dave. 

Putting a layer of Jablite and T&G down on the floor will also give me a neat way of sealing the up and over door. I'd thought of some kind of brush-type seal but raising the floor by an inch or so and bringing this up to the rear of the door will make this a lot easier.

Lifeboatman - that's the kind of bracket I had in mind. The brackets I found online can carry 50kg per pair with width of 400mm. These brackets from Screwfix take up to 200kg.

400mm width in N gauge should be sufficient! Probably should save details for a layout planning thread, but the two ends of the layout will be wider to allow for turn-around fiddle yards and most likely will have legs to support their width. 

Good points made about not leaning on the thing. 

Best, Andy

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Can I just add a word of caution regarding planning permission - you wouldn't normally need planning permission for what you are doing, but I have come across the occasional planning permission (mainly on new builds) that stipulated that any garage built with the property was not to be converted from its use as a garage unless planning permission was obtained.

 

So to be clear its not an statutory bar on the conversion of the garage but an extra condition that was imposed on the planning permission granted when the house was built.

 

regards

Dean

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I would still seal the garage door, otherwise you'll find a colony of mice under the floor. Those little blighters can get through surprisingly small holes!!

The Q

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I would still seal the garage door, otherwise you'll find a colony of mice under the floor. Those little blighters can get through surprisingly small holes!!

The Q

 

Thanks, but I have to keep the up and over as functional.

I believe the mice got eaten by rats a while back!  Thankfully that was in the house, not near my layout in the garage.   :O

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Can I just add a word of caution regarding planning permission - you wouldn't normally need planning permission for what you are doing, but I have come across the occasional planning permission (mainly on new builds) that stipulated that any garage built with the property was not to be converted from its use as a garage unless planning permission was obtained.

 

So to be clear its not an statutory bar on the conversion of the garage but an extra condition that was imposed on the planning permission granted when the house was built.

 

regards

Dean

Yes, I hadn't thought of that. (even though some of my houses have been subject to it !)

 

Check that you have not had permitted development rights removed as part of your planning permission, many modern builds are subject to strict conditions on the number of parking spaces that are provided and these include the garage, just make sure that these rights have not been removed when your house was built (in the last 10 or so years) planning wouldn't necessarily have a problem with conversion but like to know what is happening. If the rights haven't been removed then isn't a problem.

To find out, if you bought your house recently and it is fairly new build you should of had a copy of the planning permission as part of your purchase documentation, it would be a specific condition attached to the planning consent.

 

I would check, all you need are pain in the ar*e neighbours (as I have) and they can cause mayhem. Although in my case Planning have told them to politely "go away".

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:jester: 

Thanks, but I have to keep the up and over as functional.

I believe the mice got eaten by rats a while back!  Thankfully that was in the house, not near my layout in the garage.   :O

Well you had better make sure that you have plenty of Class 25's on the layout ....... :jester:

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Yes, I hadn't thought of that. (even though some of my houses have been subject to it !)

 

Check that you have not had permitted development rights removed as part of your planning permission, many modern builds are subject to strict conditions on the number of parking spaces that are provided and these include the garage, just make sure that these rights have not been removed when your house was built (in the last 10 or so years) planning wouldn't necessarily have a problem with conversion but like to know what is happening. If the rights haven't been removed then isn't a problem.

To find out, if you bought your house recently and it is fairly new build you should of had a copy of the planning permission as part of your purchase documentation, it would be a specific condition attached to the planning consent.

 

I would check, all you need are pain in the ar*e neighbours (as I have) and they can cause mayhem. Although in my case Planning have told them to politely "go away".

A lot of the time planning on the conversion of garages will depend upon what 'off road' parking the property can offer if the garage is no longer able to accommodate a car. If the garage is not being converted into accommodation / living space you should not have a problem and in the case of yours being used for a model railway it is going to become a workshop. By keeping the outside appearance unaltered any neighbour issues will be overcome if fact I know of several people who have kept the door in place and simply bricked up behind it.

I would also add that the concrete floor will be well worth insulating in one form or another as not only will it make it more comfortable to work on but will help with any heat loss. I have in the pasted used wood laminated flooring with fibre board underlay which is better than a carpet as if you drop any small items they can be found rather disappearing into the fibres of a carpet. Just remember that what ever you do drop it will have bounced in the totally opposite direction than you thought it had :no:

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Thanks, gismorail,

We're lucky - well actually very lucky - here to have the best neighbours you could wish for. We've found in the past if you talk to them about what you are thinking of doing first it gives them a chance to object, voice concerns, or even volunteer to help! For the garage upgrade it's the latter!

 

As you say the external appearance will remain unaltered. We have 2 car parking spaces on our drive and the garage hasn't been used to keep a car in for well over a decade.

The floor might well be better as a laminated wood floor as if there are any spillages of paint etc then wiping them up will be easier.  

 

Without wishing to go off topic I note that a row of houses was built nearby with 5 bedrooms and space for 2 cars off road. The row of houses was on a T junction so not possible to park on the road. It's taken about 3 months for the new owners at each property to introduce a 3rd car onto each driveway with about half of the car hanging over the pavement.    

 

Best, Andy

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Quote  ["Without wishing to go off topic I note that a row of houses was built nearby with 5 bedrooms and space for 2 cars off road. The row of houses was on a T junction so not possible to park on the road. It's taken about 3 months for the new owners at each property to introduce a 3rd car onto each driveway with about half of the car hanging over the pavement.] "Quote 

 

How considerate for any Blind People about with a Guide Dog.  Selfish is a polite way of describing such people, the Car owners.

Edited by CUTLER2579
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Council's are very aware of the problems caused by on street parking in residential areas. In areas where properties are of terrace type street parking is a major problem so where properties have off street parking the councils tend to be very protective of this area. In my previous property the deeds stated that an area of lawn had to be present on the front of all properties and that the first metre of the boundary line had to be available for the use of buried services therefore no hedges or fencing were permitted. Also residents were not allowed to park commercial vehicles or store caravans so it is very important that these restrictions are checked out during purchase. I was fortunate that the property had plenty of frontage and the integrated garage had been converted into living accommodation prior to my purchase. The strange thing was that a stand alone garage had been erected at the back of the house and the space down the side of the property might at a push leave access for a smart car if one was careful, therefore I had no problems bricking up the up and over doorway . The walls were of single skin brick work with supporting abutments so I fitted 2x1 battens to the interior and lined the walls with King-span insulation and plasterboard throughout. the floor was again battened with 2x1 and insulation board and the whole area was fitted out with tongue and grooved chipboard.

It did cost above £1500 to convert be was well worth the expense in the long run.

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Thanks, gismorail,

We're lucky - well actually very lucky - here to have the best neighbours you could wish for. We've found in the past if you talk to them about what you are thinking of doing first it gives them a chance to object, voice concerns, or even volunteer to help! For the garage upgrade it's the latter!

 

As you say the external appearance will remain unaltered. We have 2 car parking spaces on our drive and the garage hasn't been used to keep a car in for well over a decade.

The floor might well be better as a laminated wood floor as if there are any spillages of paint etc then wiping them up will be easier.  

 

Without wishing to go off topic I note that a row of houses was built nearby with 5 bedrooms and space for 2 cars off road. The row of houses was on a T junction so not possible to park on the road. It's taken about 3 months for the new owners at each property to introduce a 3rd car onto each driveway with about half of the car hanging over the pavement.    

 

Best, Andy

You may have good neighbours now but your best bet is to check your paperwork, they can easily move and be replaced by someone who may not like the idea of parking/garages being changed, and there is no such thing as "grandfather rights".

In planning there is no such thing as a "workshop" it is either a room with habitable use or it is a garage.

 

Off topic slightly but the amount of spaces is partly relative to the size of the house and distance from town centre, the new houses you mention may well be closer to what is defined as amenity, work and retail and under sustainable planning means that people are supposed to walk or use a bike. The reality is that no-one asked the homeowners where they are likely to work and we have this silly situation where people commute for 50 miles to work or shop !

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