Could you use some extra room at your house? Is your garage currently unoccupied? As a home improvement project, transforming your garage into liveable space can be thrilling. This blog post will provide you some great advice for transforming your garage into a comfortable living place.
When living quarters are cramped, residents may become creative in their attempts to create more space. Areas with high real estate costs and close proximity to neighbours are fertile ground for garage conversions. One strategy for homeowners to save on their mortgage while still residing in their own home is to rent out a converted garage, especially in this age of online platforms for short-term rentals.
Why Convert Your Garage To A Living Space?
The most basic question: why do people decide to turn their garage into a living space? While many homeowners opt to transform their attics or cellars into new living quarters, a garage can also be repurposed from its original function as a location to park cars.
If you need more living space than what your present layout provides, you may want to consider converting your garage into a bedroom, playroom, office, or other type of living quarters. In spite of their initial unattractiveness, garages can be transformed into comfortable living quarters with a little bit of work and creativity.
Pros And Cons Of Garage Conversions
Due of the substantial negatives that counteract the positives, converting a garage requires more thought than finishing a basement. You can't go wrong by transforming a dark, unusable basement into a bright, functional living area. However, a garage is an exception. In exchange for a space that can be used for only one, rather than multiple, purposes, a garage is typically built. This turns into, at best, a straight swap. There is always the risk of decreasing your home's worth.
Moreover, converting a garage is more labour-intensive than it first appears. Some homeowners may rush into converting their garages because they think it will only take some electrical work and new flooring. However, converting a garage into living space is an expensive, time-consuming project that borders on the category of "new addition."
Zoning And Legal Issues
Converting garages and parking lots into apartments raises zoning and building code concerns. When a garage is converted into a new, usable space with climate control, it undergoes a substantial legal transition. Some governments base their decisions on whether or not adequate plans are in place to restore garage parking spots that are being removed.
When a garage is converted into a climate-controlled facility, it must adhere to technical and legal requirements that were not in effect when the space was used just for parking cars or storing goods. Moreover, a variety of licences are typically needed from the local authorities in order to carry out the operations connected with this conversion:
- The Building or Relocation of Walls
- A system of delivering and draining water
- Sewer line installation
- To instal windows
- Incorporating an entirely new electrical infrastructure
As the popularity of short-term rentals for homes continues to climb, many local governments have begun to scrutinise garage conversions more closely, even if the space will not be offered for short-term rentals.
Benefits Of Converting A Garage To Living Space
In order to gain living space in your house, you don't have to resort to converting your garage. If you need more space than your garage can provide, consider building an addition. However, expansion typically means giving up yard space, which might be an issue if you have a little yard but enjoy spending time outside.
Converting a garage is a great way to make use of unused square footage. Having a driveway or garage at your house also eliminates the problem of finding a place to park. The fact that you'll be working with an already-built building is another plus of converting your garage.
Adding on to one's home, on the other hand, sometimes necessitates tearing out existing structures and replacing them with new ones, which can be a time-consuming, expensive endeavour.
If you're handy around the house, you might be able to turn your garage into habitable space on your own, saving you the expense of paying professionals for a traditional addition. Furthermore, if living space is at a premium in your area, a garage conversion could be a smart investment.
That's fantastic news for when you want to sell the house or take out a loan or line of credit against its equity. Let's start with the benefits of turning your garage into a new room in your house. The most noticeable benefit is, of course, the increase in usable space.
By increasing the size of your house in this way, you may be able to increase its market worth. This area isn't added onto like it would be in a standard home remodel; rather, it's already there. Therefore, the cost is far less than if a brand new room were to be constructed. Even though there won't be a garage, most households only have a single car anyhow, so it's not a big deal if it has to be parked on the street.
For many households, the garage has become a place to store boxes and other goods that are rarely used and are therefore easy to forget about. It makes more sense to use this as a place to actually live.
Converting a garage into habitable space is the only method to increase your home's square footage without major renovation costs or the sacrifice of an outside living area. By simply weatherproofing the door, installing insulation, and covering the floor, you can turn your garage into a cosy retreat.
Drawbacks Of Converting A Garage To Living Space
A garage conversion can add a lot of usable square footage to a home, but it can also mean giving up a lot of storage space. And we're not just talking about storage space for your tools and sports equipment; we're talking about storage for what's undoubtedly one of your most expensive belongings — your car.
Imagine for a moment that you do not have a driveway or a garage. If parking is scarce where you live, you should probably not convert your garage unless you enjoy the hassle of finding alternate parking and taking the chance of receiving parking penalties.
You may come to long for the option of storing your vehicle indoors, where it is safe from the elements and won't be so unbearably cold when you go to start it up on those 14-degree days, even if you have a driveway or parking spot outside your home that is yours free and clear, if you live in an area prone to cold winters or extended bouts of rain.
If you have an unfinished basement, you could use that instead of the garage, which would then be used just for parking. Another thing to think about is that while expanding your home's living area indoors could raise its value, eliminating unused room for storage might have the reverse impact.
If you're unsure how things will play out, chat to a real estate agent who knows the neighbourhood well and get them to take on the matter before investing money into that conversion. If you have a sizable yard and can afford to give up a section of it, you could find it more cost-effective to invest in a house addition rather than renovate your garage. Now that you know the benefits of converting your garage, what's the downside?
The most glaring drawback is that you can no longer utilise the garage as a place to park your car or store other items. You'll have to find a new home for all of the things you'd usually keep in the garage. If you don't have a basement, storage shed, or spare closets, this may not be a workable solution.
Climate is another factor to think about. When living in a colder area or one with frequent storms, a garage is a need to keep the family car safe. More insulation, cooling, or heating will need to be built if the garage is to be converted during periods of particularly hot or cold weather.
Last but not least, while it's true that expanding square footage to your home can increase its value, you might reduce just as much weight by eliminating your garage. The need for garages is high in both cold and warm regions. Additionally, many families enjoy having these areas for storage or handy works, so a home without a garage may be less appealing to them.
Basics Of Converting A Garage To Living Space
- Increase the number of available windows to provide for enough ventilation and daylight. For some communities, this equates to 5.5 square feet, whereas in others it's a certain proportion of the garage.
- Keep a ceiling height of at least 7 feet, 1/2 inches. If you are also increasing the height of the floors, this may be difficult to accomplish.
- Heat: Keep the house at a constant 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Extending the central heating ducts or adding electric baseboard or fan-driven wall heaters are both viable retrofit heating alternatives.
- Bring in some light by installing at least one fully-operable light switch. At least one such switch must already be installed in garages to comply with electrical codes.
- In terms of electrical outlets, you should instal new ones or relocate existing ones so that they are spaced a certain minimum distance apart. You shouldn't have to run a line more than six feet to get to a plug.
Challenges Of Converting A Garage To Living Space
Assume for a moment that you have carefully considered the merits of turning your garage into an indoor living space. As such, you should check with your municipality to ensure that your plans won't run afoul of any zoning regulations. The next step is acquiring the necessary building permits, for which you will likely be required to pay a fee.
If you haven't already, it's a good idea to get in touch with your city's planning and zoning division to find out the specifics of the procedure in your area. To make sure your garage conversion satisfies local building codes, you'll also need to research what standards of construction you must adhere to. Think about these things:
Height of ceilings: Local governments may have minimum requirements (and you should, too, for your personal comfort). When discussing electrical components, the quantity and spacing of available outlets is of primary importance. It's possible that you'll need to put windows in that area, so you should prepare for their presence. Keep in mind that you want your new home to be a place where you enjoy spending time, therefore you should plan for certain additional expenses, such as:
And finally, you'll have to choose whether or not to keep your current garage door or to replace it with a wall. It's unfortunate that the electronic door opener will need to be kept if you decide to keep the door.
What Will You Use Your Converted Garage For?
If you're planning on converting your garage into something else, you should probably have a plan in place before you get started. Would you be working from home? We need a family room. What, you have an extra bedroom? If you're working with a limited budget, it's especially important to think about how the new room will be used. Plan the garage's placement in relation to the rest of your home's layout. Unless it's secluded from the rest of the house, you generally shouldn't designate the space as an office if it's located just off the kitchen.
How To Make A Garage Conversion A Comfortable Space
Insulate The Walls
To a large extent, garage floors, walls, and ceilings are not insulated. To remedy this, any previously placed drywall should be taken down and insulation added. Walls should be insulated with either traditional fibre glass rolls, Rockwool, or spray foam. The ceiling should be made of fibreglass batting.
Raise The Floor Height
It's common practise to construct garages at a lower level than the main house. Though it's not strictly required, it looks nicer if the garage floor is the same height as the rest of the house.
Install Floor Covering
It is still necessary to use a mattress cover even if you use sleepers to lift the base of the bed. For the floor, many people who transform their garages choose laminate, engineered wood, tile, or luxury vinyl plank.
Install New Drywall Or Finish Existing Drywall
Walls in garages are typically not installed to a final quality. You can keep the current drywall and upgrade the finish if the walls are insulated.
Replace Or Insulate The Garage Door
Do you want to keep the garage door or have a wall put in in its place? The door needs to be insulated if you decide to keep it. When planning to turn the garage into a living space, this is a crucial question to answer.
Hide Unsightly Areas
You can hide unsightly features like the water heater, furnace, laundry room, and storage by constructing non-load-bearing walls around them.
Things To Consider Before Your Garage Conversion Project
Car, Tool And Equipment Storage
McBroom suggests that you also plan for a place to keep your vehicle, tools, and other equipment. If you reside in an area where a carport will keep your vehicle dry and safe from the elements, you may want to consider constructing one. Unless you can locate something else quite nearby. Check the area for any parking garages that need payment or ask neighbors if they have any spare garage space you may use. A basement or a garden shed are both suitable locations for tool and equipment storage. Assuming your plumbing system is prepared for it, your new garage living space can serve as a new home for existing laundry room appliances. That would clear out some room for storage of tools in the cellar.
Permits And Laws
Before deciding to turn your garage into a living space, it's important to learn about the rules and permits in your area. A building permit is required and can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on your location and the scope of your project. Some jurisdictions are infamous for making it difficult to convert garages into living quarters, so be prepared to jump through some hoops for permits if you plan on doing so. Brown points out that you will need to acknowledge the increase in square footage of your home in addition to obtaining the necessary permits.
Since you may have just raised your taxable square footage, this is something to think about if you live in a high-tax area. In densely populated areas, off-street parking sites may be mandated. That's why it's not always easy to gain permission to turn your garage into living space. Additionally, your HOA must approve the development if you are a member.
Are There Better Alternatives?
The question of whether a superior option exists is another factor to think about. It's possible, for instance, to construct a new wing onto the main house. With a house addition, "you know structurally and code-wise, everything is solid, so it's a lot more comfortable to add on and you end up with a better product," adds Brown.
Garage additions are yet another plan of action. If you need more living space but want to keep your garage, adding an extra room on top of it could be the preferable option from a resale standpoint. While it's possible that you'll still need the same number of permits, many governments are fine with these sorts of additions, so getting approval for the construction may be much simpler. The bad news? It will most likely cost more than converting a garage.
Should You Convert Your Garage?
Finally, you must decide for yourself if it is worthwhile to transform the garage into a habitable room. It could be a terrific method to add the extra room you've always wanted if you expect to stay in your house for a long time and have a pressing need for it.
On the other hand, it may be better to wait until you can afford a larger home with the space you're looking for if you don't plan on staying in the house for very long. Though not as labour-intensive as building a totally new room, transforming your garage into liveable space is still a major renovation.
Is A Garage Conversion Right For You?
If you need more living space inside, converting your garage can be the answer. The resale value of your home can rise as a result. However, you might want to consider other options for expanding your living quarters, such as building an addition or, if you already have one, finishing the basement, before making such a commitment. Space is gained without the loss of a garage, protecting both your automobile and your sanity.
The space in a garage can serve as a variety of functional rooms in a house. Garage conversions thrive in areas with high real estate prices and close proximity to neighbours. However, transforming a garage is a costly and time-consuming project that can be considered an expansion. Many municipalities have started to look more seriously at garage conversions as the demand for short-term rentals for properties rises. It is possible to convert a garage into liveable space without hiring expensive contractors if you are handy around the house.
The only way to increase the square footage of your home is to transform the garage into living quarters. Your garage may become a comfortable getaway with just a few inexpensive upgrades to the door, insulation, and floor. Converting your garage is not a good idea if there is a lack of parking in your area unless you prefer the inconvenience of locating a new parking spot. Changing the use of some qualities is more economical than changing the use of others. Think about how much stuff you'd like to store in the garage and if there's enough place for it.
Before you begin transforming your garage into a new indoor living space, there are a few things you should think about. The first thing you need to do is apply for and pay for the appropriate building permits. Converting a garage into liveable space is notoriously difficult in some regions. Off-street parking spots may be required in high-density urban areas. Adding a room above the garage may be the best solution if you need more living space but would like to keep the garage.
Converting your garage into habitable space may be the answer to your demand for additional interior space. Your car and your sanity are safe as you add living space without giving up your garage. Nonetheless, you may look into other alternatives, like constructing an addition or finishing the basement, to increase the size of your current living space.
- Converting your garage into a habitable room is an exciting home renovation project.
- Excellent suggestions for making your garage habitable are provided in this article.
- Converting your garage into a bedroom, playroom, office, or other living quarters is an option to consider if you need more space than your current setup affords.
- The work involved in transforming a garage is also greater than meets the eye.
- Converting a garage into liveable space, on the other hand, is a costly, time-consuming undertaking that is on the cusp of being classified as a new addition.
- Technical and regulatory standards are applied to a converted garage that did not exist when the space was utilised for parking automobiles or keeping commodities.
- The Pros of Turning Your Garage Into a New Living Quarters You can avoid transforming your garage into habitable space by looking at other options.
- Add on to your garage if you need more living space than it now provides.
- A garage can be converted into useful living space.
- In addition, a garage conversion may be a good idea if available housing is limited in your region.
- First, let's talk about all the great things that can come from converting your garage into a living space.
- You might be able to get more money when selling your house if you expand it in this way.
- Many homes' garages have become dumping grounds for unused boxes and other items.
- This would function better as a place of residence.
- In order to increase the square footage of your home without incurring significant construction costs or giving up an outside living space, the only option is to transform a garage into liveable space.
- Consequences of Using a Garage as a Living Quarters However, while converting a garage into living space can increase the home's overall square footage, it can reduce the amount of storage available.
- We're not just talking about a place to keep your lawnmower and fishing rods; we're talking about a place to keep your car, one of your most valuable possessions.
- Let's pretend for a second that you don't have a garage or driveway.
- Those who have an unfinished basement can put their cars in the garage and use the space for other purposes.
- Consider, too, that while adding square footage to your home's interior may increase its value, making use of previously underused storage space may have the opposite effect.
- It may be more cost-effective to build an addition to your house than to repair your garage if you have a spacious yard and can afford to sacrifice some of it.
- The most obvious negative is that you can't use the garage to keep your car or any other belongings.
- All the stuff you usually keep in the garage will have to be relocated.
- Converting a garage in the middle of summer or winter requires extra work in the form of insulation, air conditioning, or heating.
- A garage is a need in both chilly and balmy climates.
- Converting a Garage into a Habitable Space: The Basics A sufficient amount of air and light must be allowed in, so window space must be increased.
- Problems That Can Occur When Changing a Garage Into Living Quarters Let's pretend for a second that you've given serious thought to the idea of converting your garage into a habitable room in your house.
- Getting the needed building permissions is the next stage, and this will certainly cost some money.
- Don't forget that you want your new house to be a place where you want to spend time, therefore you should budget for things like: Aesthetics Heating Flooring Insulation Last but not least, decide whether you want to keep your current garage door or have a wall put up in its place.
- You should probably have a strategy in place before you begin transforming your garage into something different.
- Think about how the garage will fit into the overall design of your property.
- Raise the level of the floor Garages are typically built at a lower level than the rest of the house.
- The garage floor should be at the same level as the rest of the home for aesthetic reasons, although this is not a requirement.
- If the walls are insulated, the current drywall can be reused and a new finish applied.
- If you opt to keep the door, it will need insulation.
- What to Think About Before Converting Your Garage Project Vehicle and Equipment Garage McBroom recommends arranging for secure storage for your car, tools, and other equipment.
- Tools and equipment can be safely stored in either a basement or a garden shed.
- Your new laundry room appliances can find a new home in your garage living space, provided your plumbing system is ready for it.
- That could free up some space in the basement for tool storage.
- Applicable Regulations Changing your garage into a habitable space requires research into local ordinances and building approvals.
- Be prepared to jump through some hoops for permits if you want to convert a garage into living quarters, as some jurisdictions are notorious for making the process tough.
- Brown notes that in addition to securing the required permissions, you'll need to acknowledge the increase in square footage of your property.
- This is why converting your garage into liveable space isn't always a cakewalk.
- Your homeowners' association (HOA) must also okay the construction before you may begin construction.
- The possibility that a better choice might be available is yet another consideration.
- One option is to add on to the existing structure, for as by building a new wing.
- Another option is to construct an expansion on the garage.
- Assuming you want to preserve your garage but also need more living space, putting a room above it may be the best solution.
- It's likely that you'll need the same amount of permits anyway, but many local governments view such additions favourably, making it easier to secure building permissions.
- If you compare the price to converting a garage, you will see a significant price difference.
- At the end of the day, only you can determine if it's worth it to turn the garage into a usable space.
- Converting your garage into liveable space is a substantial makeover, yet it requires less work than building an entirely new room.
- Converting your garage into habitable space may be the answer to your demand for additional interior space.
- Your home's resale value may increase.
Frequently Asked Questions About Garage
For the most part, experts agree that converting your garage into a living space does not add value to your home. This isn't always the case; it depends on where you live. And if you're planning to sell your home within three to five years, a garage conversion is usually not a good idea.
Garage conversion building regulations apply to:
- Fire safety: escape routes and fireproofing must be put in place.
- Ventilation: moisture proofing and good ventilation are essential.
- Thermal performance: floor, wall and loft insulation is required.
- Acoustics: soundproofing will be necessary.
A one-car garage in a small home can add $5,000 to the home's value, according to MSN Real Estate. If the conversion is done in an area with plenty of space for the homeowners to park off the street, even in a smaller garage, the home's value might increase by 6 per cent or more.
In general, garage conversions are seen as a pretty quick job to do – as long as the existing garage building is in good structural condition. You can expect a standard, single garage conversion to take roughly 3 – 6 weeks. That's the time it will take to turn it from a garage into a livable space.
Like any other new habitable room, a garage conversion must have adequate ventilation. This includes rapid ventilation like an openable window as well as a trickle or background ventilation like a vent in the top of the window frame. Generally, a habitable room needs an opening window area of 1/20th of the floor area.