Elderly and family annex

Conversions for independent or semi independent living is growing in popularity for the elderly. It’s no wonder with care home costs rising dramatically.

At County Garage Conversions Ltd we have experience of designing and implementing conversions that reflect the on-going needs of the elderly or in many cases those with mobility issues. We have spent valuable time with Occupational Health workers who are an absolute treasure, and have assisted us in developing a viable, thoughtful and positive way of creating an annex.

What do occupational therapists do?

An occupational therapist’s job is to help people of all ages to overcome any permanent loss or lack of physical, sensory, mental or communication function.

Their aim is to help people improve their ability to function as independently as possible so that they can participate in whatever activities are meaningful and important to them. Occupational therapists do this mainly by identifying and eliminating environmental barriers to independence and participation in normal daily life.

Careful thought is needed for both current needs of the elderly and future requirements.

After liasing with many families to provide independent accommodation through a garage conversion the most inappropriate solution is to provide a solution which suggests, Gran/ Dad/ we are putting you in the garage. So from living in a 4 bedroom £750k home to a proposed garage conversion is not a great start.

A more constructive approach is required and an involvement as to what are the benefits to such a major change is. Can they can continue as best with some independence. Even to the extent of introducing new friends and new groups of friends. It’s a potential very scary move when they have spent 25 years in the same home. How would you feel?

Lets take a look at some of the questions that need to be answered but of course it must be recognised that individual needs will vary considerably and please note, that we are not purporting to be Occupational Therapists. They are well educated and highly qualified persons, but we have learnt from them and we continue to do so and when required, work with them.


A double garage converted into a bedroom, shower room and living area with basic cooking facilities Is in the region of £50,000 fully completed and ready to move in. Compare this to on-going care home costs in your area.


Is paramount and, as we have said, we take into consideration possible future requirements.


Safety is a prime consideration with plenty of wall handrails. Consider a privacy bathroom that does not have a door, safety alarm pulls and of course seating within the shower area. You will also need to consider if assisted bathing will be required together with water temperature controls

Insulation and Heating

Whilst there are Building Regulations to be adhered to, these are minimum requirements and any opportunity we have, we increase these standards.

Living Space

This is where the majority of time Granny will spend time. Good natural lighting is a must and where possible a floor to ceiling view of the garden with perhaps a private patio area. We have seen some dreadful designs over the years with no consideration as to how it would feel to be in the living area. One such design was implemented by an Architect which left the occupier stating a brick wall through a window when the rear of the garage could have accommodated bi fold doors over looking a fabulous spacious garden. We refused the work on the basis of inept design and cruelty to the elderly. It’s true


Our advise here is be minimalistic. Is an oven really necessary? Maybe a microwave or even an Air Fryer is a more sensible and safe solution. Stocking a freezer with home made meals is a safer proposition. Clearly washing up facilities are required as well as some storage but don’t think a row of 5 double storage units is a necessity.

General Design considerations

Plain white walls in a conversion of this size is not very imaginative or warm. There are many interior design solutions we can provide that do not cost a fortune, they just simply create a warm and welcoming environments. Equally electric and light switch positions are important.


Can have a dramatic effect on the ambience of the room. Whilst dimmer spot lights might be a standard route consider fixed wall lighting for example. Bedroom lighting is important and having really easy access to light switches / lamps is paramount in a bedroom. Leaning over to switch a light off is not condusive to elderly living, there are better solutions.

What level of care will you offer. Apologies, this becomes a little personal

This decision is yours and your grannies. However it will affect the design required and the final fit out.

Will you be cooking. Will you be cleaning. Will you be helping in bathing. What is the current state of health. Is there a long terms diagnosis. How active are they. Do you think wheelchair access will be required. Will they be eating with you on a daily basis. Will they have friends visiting.

In Summary

Each project will have different requirements, each individual / family  will have different desires and more often than not the elderly may see this as a “cheap alternative” leading to resentment as they have no idea of the final product. In proposing a change of living space, a possible new geographical location you will need to approach this with thought and sympathy. You will need to budget appropriately and you will need to work with an appropriate flexible vendor.

What’s the difference between Building Regulations drawings and planning drawings?

This is a Frequently Asked Question and the simple answer is, the planning drawings illustrate a schematic layout and general concept, while building regulation drawings or a construction set actually tell the contractor via drawings, details and descriptive labels what they are supposed to be actually building.

Planning drawings are a set of simplified drawings that allow the local planning department to establish the scope of the works whilst only paying particular attention to the newly proposed materials, aspect and features of the building. They bear no reference to the construction methods used and contain no detail as to how the building is to be constructed (wall build ups, floor constructions, roof thicknesses, insulation depths) etc.

Building Regulation Drawings are a set of detailed drawings and construction details that are submitted to the local building control department and go into much more detail than the planning application drawings. They incorporate structural information from the engineer, thermal insulation calculations and proof of full compliance with all relevant parts of the Building Regulations. They also include enough information for a contractor to accurately price as well as detailed set of construction specification notes and full product specific information to allow the contractor to price and ultimately build from

What is Building Notice?

Building Notice is a way of applying for Building Regulations but the construction is not pre-approved by your Local Authority. The majority of jobbing Builders will operate using this system. The issue is that if the Building Control officer requires a specific construction detail you may well find the builder proposing that additional money is required to undertake this work.

Do I need Building Regulations for a conversion?

Yes, you do need Building Regulations. There are isolated cases where Building Regulations are not required.