Converting a garage into living space.

If you are thinking of turning your garage into another room in your house read on.  A “well done” garage conversion can net you up to 80% return on your investment. The greatest increase in value will come from a useful design and a space that flows naturally and looks like it has always been a part of your home. One of the best things about converting your garage is that you get extra space to work with in a way that is relatively fast, unobtrusive, and inexpensive.

Due to the rise in popularity of house sharing in some communities, garage conversion permits can be more difficult to obtain. You will need to investigate local requirements for transforming vehicle space into habitable space before you begin. You may not need planning permission, but building regulations mean that if you are converting a garage, or part of one, into habitable space, you would normally need approval from your local authority. Garage conversions in general can be a quick job to complete. This is true if the existing garage building is in good structural condition. You can expect a turnaround time of 3-6 weeks for a single, standard garage conversion.

Many people choose to convert their garage into a space for the kids, a guestroom, home office, recreation room, or any other extra space that might not fit into their current floorplan. It is usually quite easy to convert a garage. If you have an integral garage, the job should be simple and straightforward. If you need to make structural changes, or if your garage is detached, it will be a more complex job involving knocking down walls and will therefore cost more. If it is done well, a garage conversion can add a whopping 20% to the value of your home. If you decide to convert your garage to a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom you will achieve the biggest added value.

How to make a garage conversion into a comfortable living space:

  • Insulate the walls –  most garage walls and ceilings are not insulated. If drywall is already installed it must be removed and insulation must be put in.
  • Raise the floor height – garages tend to be lower than the house. Although it is not necessary, your home benefits if you match the flooring heights. Some localities may require floor insulation.
  • Install floor covering – Laminate flooring, engineered wood, tile, and luxury floor planks are popular choices for garage conversions.
  • Install Drywall – garages are usually finished with non-finish quality walls. Bring them up to a higher standard with new drywall.
  • Replace or insulate the garage door – many areas require that the door be replaced with a wall. If you keep the door, insulate it. This is a major decision you need to make before you convert the garage into a living space.
  • Hide Unsightly areasnon-load bearing walls should be added around areas you do not wish to see such as the water heater, furnace, laundry area, or storage.

Converting a garage requires more consideration than refinishing a basement because the positives are balanced out by significant downsides. Remodeling your basement is always a win. You are elevating an unusable dark space into one that is light-filled and usable. With a garage, you trade out space that is usable for one or several things for a space that is usable for just one thing-living space. Expanding into the garage preserves yard space, which many may prefer to build an addition. This means more living space but less yard for outdoor activities. Many people use their garage for storage. This may be ideal for you, but future buyers of your home may disagree. Removing the cars from the garage may defy local requirements for on-site parking spaces. Keep in mind that a garage conversion will rarely increase property value. Many buyers place a premium on a protected parking space, and this is lost with a garage conversion.

Garage conversions can be more work than they appear. The pros of a complete conversion are you have no loss of a yard, and your structure is already built. The cons are your loss of storage, parking space challenges, and no value gained on your home.

Finally changing space meant for vehicles into habitable, safe living space invokes legal and zoning issues. Each garage must go through a significant legal transformation when it becomes habitable. One determiner used by some municipalities is whether adequate provisions are made to replace the parking stalls eliminated from the garage. They also require a range of permits for the activities associated with this conversion: erecting or moving walls; running water supply or drainage; running sewer line; adding windows; installing a full electrical system. Due to the rise of short-term housing rentals, many municipalities have begun to look more critically at garage conversions, even if the area will not be rented out on the short-term market.

If you decide that garage conversion is something your family would like to do, please contact Scarano Architect PLLC., and we will be happy to assist you. Visit our website where you can see some of our completed projects. Your dream is our vision.


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