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What to Consider Before Converting a Garage into a Room
When you need more living space in your home, converting your garage into a room can be an attractive option. Although costs will vary based on your location and specific plans, a garage remodel will generally cost about half of what you’d expect to spend when building a home addition from scratch. However, there are many things to consider before beginning a project like this.
Converting a garage into a living space is a big job that includes raising the floor, insulating the walls, adding heating, cooling and ventilation, and updating doors and windows. Before you begin a garage makeover, take the time to consider all aspects of the project.
5 Questions to Ask Before a Garage Makeover
Before you start tearing off your garage door, ask yourself a few questions to make sure a garage conversion is the best option for your home.
1. When is Converting Garage to a Room a Good Option?
If you’re looking to add living space to your home without starting from scratch, converting a garage to a room is an option to consider.
A garage remodel is the right option for your home, if:
- The garage door is easily replaceable for your space: Will your new living space allow for patio doors or an additional entrance where the overhead door used to be? If not, make sure you can blend the new wall into your current home exterior and create a wall that doesn’t look like it used to be a garage.
- Heating and cooling is in your budget: To keep costs down, find out if your current HVAC system will support an additional room. If so, you can expand the ventilation to cover the garage. If not, you can update the system or purchase an independent system to provide a heating solution in the garage, but you’ll need to make sure you can afford one of these options.
- Plumbing is accessible (if necessary): If you’re hoping to add a bathroom or kitchenette to make your garage conversion project into an in-law suite or apartment, start with contacting a plumber. Adding plumbing lines, specifically drainage, is often the most expensive part of a garage makeover and could be outside your budget.
- Adequate parking and storage are available elsewhere: Converting your garage means permanently eliminating parking and storage. Turning the garage into extra space will not be worth the investment if you no longer have a place for your lawn mower, toolbox or have insufficient or unreliable parking.
“Because our house is small, converting the garage would mean losing storage space to gain living space. After much consideration, we decided the extra living space was more important to us. The big benefit of doing so was adding the extra living space. As my children got older, having the garage serve as a family room gave them space to have friends over away from the main living room.”
Roxanne Kwiecinski | The Honeycomb Home
2. Is a Permit Required to Convert a Garage?
Since you are changing how the space will be used, you will most likely need building permits, though this can vary by location. To apply for garage conversion permits, contact your city’s Zoning Department for more information. You may need to work with an architect to provide a proposed floor plan when applying for a permit.
Permits will ensure your plans meet building codes and local ordinances for living spaces. Building codes may dictate the minimum number of windows in a space, the number of exits and entrances, the height of the ceiling, the number of outlets and other factors. If you cannot meet any of these requirements, you may be able to apply for a variance depending on the issue.
Garage conversion permits can range in cost, but the average price is often between $1,000 and $1,500. Expect to pay more if you need to apply for a variance.
Be aware, some city ordinances or home owner associations may require a certain amount of covered parking that could prevent you from converting your garage.
If your space requires a permit, it will also require an inspection at the end of the renovation to make sure you have met all building code and zoning requirements.
“We did need a permit. Many townships will not allow garage conversions. At the time, ours did but they’ve since changed it. We were grandfathered in because we were allowed to at the time we did it.”
Roxanne Kwiecinski | The Honeycomb Home
3. What Type of Room Can a Garage Become?
Your project is completely customizable. As long as you obey building code requirements, you can create any type of living space with your garage remodel. Depending on the zoning of your home, you may hit more hurdles when attempting to build an independent living space, such as an apartment, than you will when converting your garage into a single room.
Garage conversion ideas include:
- Studio Apartment or In-law Suite
- Art studio
- Family room
The only limitations you have when converting your garage to living space are those set upon you by local regulations and budgetary restrictions.
4. Does Converting a Garage Add Value to Your Home?
As long as a garage conversion is done correctly, with permits and obeying building codes, it will add value to your home. The value itself depends on how seamless the conversion is and the type of room you build.
Typically, you can expect to recoup about 80 percent of the project cost in home value.
A garage remodel can be detrimental to your home value if:
- Your neighborhood requires covered parking or limits street parking. If lacking a garage will make parking complicated, it will lower your sale price.
- The project is completed illegally or without permits. While permits may seem like a hassle upfront, they will help to increase the project’s value in the long run.
- The project eliminates necessary storage. If your home is already short on storage, removing the garage will only exacerbate the problem and potentially lower the sale price.
5. How Much Does a DIY Garage Conversion Cost?
The average cost of a garage conversion is between $6,000 and $19,000, according to HomeAdvisor.
The total cost will depend on the size of your garage, the type of room you are constructing and the amount of professional contracting assistance you need. A garage can be turned into a simple bedroom or living space for as little as $5,000, but if you require plumbing for a bathroom or kitchen, the project can cost closer to $25,000.
|Renovation Element||Approximate Cost|
|Permits||$1,000 to $1,500|
|Insulation||$1 per square foot of wall and floor|
|Wall framing||$2,000 or more, depending on the size and number of rooms|
|Windows||$1,000 per each added window|
|Ducts and vents||$500 to $2,000|
|Electrical wiring||$50 to $100 an hour|
|Plumbing||$300 to $1,800|
|Dumpster rental for waste removal||$415, average cost for a 20 yard dumpster rental|
Garage Conversion Not an Option? Check Out These Alternatives
If parking or zoning restrictions mean a garage conversion isn’t a feasible way to give yourself some additional living space, consider a different renovation to add a room to your home.
- A basement remodel. You’re still working with an existing structure, so you’ll still save money. However, converting your basement will mean potentially giving up even more storage space than converting your garage.
- An attic conversion. If zoning or building codes prevent you from converting your garage, check out your attic. There, you’ll have the ability to add ceiling height if needed while still saving money by working in an existing space.
Ready to Start Your Garage Remodel?
Before making a final call, consult with contractors and other professionals to determine whether a garage conversion is the best way to accomplish your space-enhancing goals efficiently, safely and with the value of your home intact.
Then, get started on your renovation by cleaning out your garage.