Conversions of garages to living areas and their associated problems

Garage conversions & associated problems. Courtesy of Peter Weddell, owner/operator of Qld Home Buyers Inspection Service and Queensland Building Inspection Service, QBIS.

Associated problems from garage conversions to living areas


Ceiling height of this previous garage was well under 2.4 metres as required by Council also Building Code of Australia.

High moisture meter reading indicating rising damp to slab of a converted Garage to Bedroom:

  • Meter screen showing red and wet indicators caused by seepage also rising damp.
  • This reading was taken in a dry period.
  • The slab was originally built for a garage and highly unlikely to have a plastic membrane fitted below to stop rising damp.

Rising damp can cause deterioration, attract termites and cause health respiratory problems with inhabitants.

Conversions of garages causing associated problems

Garage conversions & associated problems. 

All lower floor areas of this large western suburb house had been converted from a garage-storage to habitable areas.

  • This conversion did not comply with Council also building code of Australia requirements for use as habitale areas.
  • Water had seeped through walls that were retaining soil.
  • Rising damp had occurred from the slab.
  • Ceiling heights were too low for use as habitable areas.
  • Proper drainage and water-proofing were not fitted.

Areas being used for other than their Council approved purpose are highly unlikely to be covered by insurance.

It is extremely important for your inspector to inform you in their report, whether the house has been built as a purpose built two storey house or having the lower level converted from a garage-storage area to a habitable area.

Important notes:

  • The house was advertised by the agent as being “Council approved” for legal living, to all of the lower level and according to the prospective buyer, priced accordingly “high”
  • A purpose built two storey house would be constructed taking into consideration drainage, seepage, rising damp and required ceiling height (for use as habitable areas).
  • Conversion of a garage-subfloor area to a compliant fault free living space (without associated problems) is impossible to achieve without totally removing and rebuilding (at a considerable cost).

Building Inspectors must make a buyer aware of these problems caused by garage conversions. This would prove to be a costly mistake, especially when reselling!

Related information that may be helpful:

Ceiling height requirements for habitable rooms

For independent Building Inspections Brisbane in all suburbs, Qld Home Buyers Inspection Service.