Converting a Melbourne garage into a self-contained unit

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Garage conversion into a self-contained unit with one bedroom

Melbourne Renovation Specialist Leigh McDonald converted an existing double garage into a self-contained unit with one bedroom, ensuite and open-plan kitchen/living area.

Before After
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After putting some thought into the idea of converting his double garage into a self-contained studio for his brother to live in, homeowner Jonno contacted Refresh Renovations Specialist Leigh McDonald. Unsure of the costs and work involved, Jonno wanted some expert support in developing his ideas, figuring out costs, designing and carrying out the conversion.
“As an inexperienced renovator with no trade skills, contacts or ideas; heading into a renovation is a very daunting process”, tells Jonno in a 5-star Google review. “When I called Leigh to come out and give me a rundown on the process involved in a garage conversion I felt immediately assured that I’d made a smart decision in outsourcing this overwhelming task.”
In an initial consultation, Jonno and Leigh discussed the possibility of converting the garage into a livable space with a bedroom, bathroom and living area. Turning the garage into a habitable space was no small task, and Leigh needed to attain council approval in order to change the class of the building. He took care of this, along with the design, planning and costings. 
“We were able to design it so that he had a good-sized en-suite, a bedroom with a good-sized wardrobe and a living area that had a small kitchenette in it”, says Leigh.
Once the design and costings had been finalised, Jonno gave his approval for the project to progress onto the build stage. While there were restrictions due to COVID-19, there was very little disruption due to the garage being separate from the house. 
To make the garage suitable for living in, Leigh’s team carried out demolition work and then rebuilt. They installed sliding doors, carried out drainage work, waterproofing, concreting, wall framing, electrical, plumbing and more.
“Connecting to the sewer was going to cost a lot of money so we suggested a Saniflo pump for the toilet, vanity and kitchen sink”, explains Leigh. “We used a Sanifloor for the shower with a serviceable door located behind the tiled wall outside, by building a small hatch door.”
For the plumbing, Leigh’s team installed fixtures from Burdens Bathrooms. Combined with the walk-in shower, the simple white colour palette with black accents has resulted in an ensuite that looks clean and spacious. 
In the bedroom, a grey carpet from Choices Flooring was installed, along with a large wardrobe which blends in with the room’s surroundings. 
A minimal, Scandinavian theme is visible throughout the new studio, which now features timber flooring, white paint throughout the interior and modern recessed lighting. Modern cabinetry and a new kitchenette are the central focus points of the main living area, which enjoys year-round comfort thanks to a newly installed A/C unit. 
“The entire process from start to finish was entirely stress-free, the only hands-on involvement I was required to have was choosing flooring, fittings and finishes (the only parts I felt reasonably comfortable in having input)”, says Jonno. “All the trades were organised and managed, materials and deliveries coordinated, as well as a skip bin for demolition and a cleaner to finish it all off. All I had to do was give him an “OK” via text. All this right through the stage-2 and stage-3 lockdown restrictions.”
“It really feels like an extension to the house and not a double garage”, says Leigh, of the final result. “I like the small kitchenette and the way we were able to design it so that he had separate living areas.”
“The finished product significantly exceeds our expectations”, concludes Jonno. “I could not recommend Leigh and the team at Refresh Renovations East and South East any higher!”

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This project was completed in
November 2020
Project description
Converting an existing double garage into a self-contained unit with one bedroom, ensuite and open-plan kitchen/living area.
Project duration
55 days
Cost estimate
Actual cost
COVID-19, council approval
Interesting aspects
The client opted for a black and white retro theme
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Leigh McDonald is Renovation Consultant of 27 MAC Pty Ltd (CDB-U 61358), a franchisee of Renovation Franchise, doing business in Melbourne

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