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There is always one space within your home that can be turned into a home cinema, study, children’s playroom, lounge or guest room... the garage. Most villa houses in the UAE have garages that can be modified into extendable living areas. However, it will take more than just putting down some carpets and a couch to turn a garage area into a real comfy living space.
The first step is to contact the municipality, your developer or facilities management company and consult your title deed. This is to make sure that there are no legal restrictions in place if you extend your living space within your property.
The basic structure is not a problem, since the roof, foundation and walls are already in place. But here in UAE, one of the biggest concerns in making a garage a comfortable living space is keeping the temperature cool during summer. The best way is to install appropriate doors, windows, ceiling and wall and floor insulation that will keep the interior air cool and reduce the demand for additional cooling energy.
Some garage flooring are coated with long-lasting floor solutions equipped for durability rather than comfort, and most are built lower than a home’s interior flooring. While rain is not exactly a problem faced often in the Middle East, it could still be worth installing a moisture barrier before adding the carpet, so it won’t be as affected by moisture issues. Or, you may raise the floor height to allow insulation between the concrete slab before applying ceramic tiles.
The job of converting a garage into a family room becomes more costly and time-consuming when plumbing is involved. In any case, be sure to consult a professional plumber beforehand to find out your options, and never do it yourself. During planning, remember to let service providers have access to these areas even after the conversion for any future repairs.
Similarly, consult a qualified electrician well in advance. While there may be wall sockets and lamp switches already, they were probably designed for the occasional lighting of the bulb rather than for a television, electronic gadgets, stereo, a refrigerator and all other automation gadgets which could prove too much for the system.
• Hire professional service providers and never do the changes on your own
• Make sure the living space is properly insulated against heat and moisture
• Contact developer to check if there are any legal restrictions before conversion
Source: Nicholas Baker, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer