Dear Barry

Dear Barry, I'm a landlord in Belfast; most of my properties are in the North of the city. I'm getting more and more enquiries from prospective tenants who want a garage or carport in a rental property. What do you think - is this a worthwhile investment, what are the average costs involved and do I need to apply for planning permission? Kind Regards, Rajesh.
Ask Barry Image

Hi Rajesh,

Thanks for taking the time to read and get in touch with me here at The Belfast Property Blog. My answer is - possibly annoyingly - it depends!

What is your business model for this property - are you focused on yield or do you want to increase the value of the property as much as possible? Do you maybe want to live in it one day or pass it on to kids as a home or investment?

If it's more important for you to maximise your yield then I probably wouldn't advise investing in building something like a garage - best to keep that cash for essential repairs and maintenance. Rental demand is fairly steady in your part of the city (and if you're having trouble in that regard - give me a call and I'm sure we can put that right for you!)

However, if adding value to the property over the long term is your ultimate goal, then a good quality, well-built garage may add value, particularly if it is done in a way that allows it to be converted into additional living space in the future. Although, as we know, adding value to a property is never something that's 100% guaranteed, so bear that in mind with all property advice you receive.

If you build an attached garage it will be classed as an extension and you will need to apply to Belfast City Council's Planning Department for approval under building regulations. If the internal floor area exceeds 10 square metres, then you'll need to submit a full plans application, otherwise you can submit a building notice applications.

The latter is, as you might guess, usually slightly less detailed and less expensive, but you can still be asked for additional information if it's needed after you apply. 

A detached garage will not need approval if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Single storey
  • Contains no sleeping accommodation
  • Internal floor area of less than 30 square metres.

It must also be either:

  • Built mainly of non-combustible material
  • At least one metre from the nearest point of a dwelling, boundary or road

If your detached garage doesn't meet those conditions, you'll need to apply for approval.

You can also build a carport without the need for approval if it:

  • Is at ground level
  • Has an internal floor area of less than 30 square metres
  • Is open on at least two sides

Pricewise, there are set approval application fees for detached garages with a floor area of less than 40 square metres, and for those with a floor area of less than 60 square metres. For larger garages, the fee is calculated based on the overall construction cost. 

There is also a handy online calculator you can use to tot up your fees.

In terms of how much it will cost you to build or erect a garage - that is more difficult to advise upon, as there is simply such a breadth of options available, from temporary and pre-fabricated structures you can pick up at DIY stores, to sturdy brick or timber-frame extensions designed by architects and built by construction firms.

You won't be surprised to hear that I think it's wise to get the professionals in if you're going to the bother of adding a new structure. Make sure the construction work is carried out by a reputable firm - nothing beats good old word of mouth, but it's worthwhile checking Trust Mark and the NI Direct site also has some sage advice.


I hope this has been an interesting and informative read. Do you have any Belfast property questions or problems? Anything I can help or advise with? I'm only too happy to help; drop me a line to, join the conversation over on my Facebook page, Twitter account or Linked In profile or indeed - pop into the office or pick up the phone