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Garages can offer a very versatile range of usage options and not just be limited for either vehicle or personal item storage. Many people are considering them as a way to add additional living space whilst also increasing property value. If you have never made any major renovations or upgrades to your home it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are four commonly asked questions people have when considering a garage conversion:

1. Are planning permissions necessary?

This is largely dependent on whether or not you seek to increase the external area of the garage. If not, the conversion will typically be covered under ‘permitted development rights’ (PDR).

2. Exactly where do I start?

Once it is clear that the work is allowed under PDR or planning permissions are acquired, then it would be best to consult a building surveyor, architect or structural engineer to help design your conversion plans.

3. Will a garage conversion add to my property value?

Typically, yes. Anything that improves and creates additional living space to your home will add value. You just need to ensure your project is properly planned, managed and controlled so that the expenditure does not exceed the value added.

4. How much do garage conversion typically cost?

This will depend greatly on the materials you chose to use and whether you employ a builder for the work or if you project manage yourself. Additionally, if you use individual trades people or do some/all of the work yourself. Depending on what you are having done and by whom, pricing could start around £8,000.

One of the most common areas of security weakness for a home is the garage. They can be seen as easy targets as they are not typically included in a home security system, they are usually separated from the home so may be less noticed during a break-in and most of the time a garage will be housing high value items. To help prevent garage theft, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

• Simply having a home security system, should help to deter theft. Security systems, especially monitored ones are a great deterrent especially when advertised on the exterior of the home.

• Ensuring your security system includes security of the garage is even better.

• Exterior motion-operated lights are an additional way to keep your property safe and less appealing to thieves.

• Ensuring garage windows are locked and secured is also important. You can have these covered so that light still gets through but people will not be able to see inside.

• You can also invest in window bars, if your garage has windows.

‘Tracking’ refers to your car’s wheel alignment and if this alignment is off, it can cause several issues for your vehicle. A few signs that your tracking may need correcting are:

1. If tyres seem to be wearing out quicker than usual, poor alignment could be the cause.

2. Whilst you are driving, if you feel that the steering wheel is pulling to one side or the other, on a straight flat road, you should get your tracking checked.

3. If the steering seems crooked, unstable or loose it could be due to an alignment issue.

4. The steering wheel may not seem level during driving or may stay at an angle even when driving in a straight line.

5. You may even experience your tyres ‘squealing’ on occasion if the tracking is off.

There are several things that can cause wheel misalignment, including worn suspension springs, general wear and tear, hitting a pothole or curb, and is quite common after a small collision.

Connected Services are increasingly prevalent in modern vehicles, and once you understand what they are, it’s very easy to see why – they’re an excellent revenue-generator for the manufacturer and their dealer network.

Originally only present in the premium marques, these are now filtering down to the more middle-of-the-road manufacturers like Vauxhall. Essentially Connected Services entails your vehicle having an in-built telematics system, that transmits data about your vehicle directly to the manufacturer for use by the dealer network.

On the face of it, this does have a number of key benefits for the end user, particularly in terms of safety and convenience. If you get into an accident, the car calls the emergency services and transmits your location. If the car breaks down, it informs the breakdown service where you are, and what’s wrong. If you have a fault with your vehicle, the car transmits that to the manufacturer so you can book into a dealer for repairs without them having to then waste time doing diagnostics when you get there.

However, it’s important to remember that this service will always direct you to a dealer network, and as we’re well aware – that may not be the cheapest or best way to go, particularly if your car is out of warranty.

As small businesses go, car garages give you the opportunity to set up a really profitable venture. After all, most families now have at least one car, and cars are always going to require work. For someone with experience in cars, this is going to be a very good business opportunity.

It will also benefit you to have business experience behind you. If you don’t personally, think about having an investor or employing someone to help with the running of the business. If you do this, it is important you listen to their recommendations and are willing to follow their advice.

You need to be strategic about where you set up a business. Make sure it is in the right kind of area, where there is the potential to get plenty of business. Carry out market research and make sure there isn’t too much competition in your immediate local area.