When homes get crowded, what is the first thing that homeowners want to do? Create a new space which will cost them less to nothing. The garage is one of the spaces converted into a new space in an expensive neighborhood and with closed neighbors. In addition, in this age of online platforms for short-term rentals, a converted garage is one way for homeowners to cover their mortgage payments while still living in the house.
A garage conversion is the most common do-it-yourself home remodeling project when homeowners want to create a new living space from nothing. With the walls already in place, the garage is the most obvious choice for remodeling. But converting a garage has a few negative effects that homeowners need to consider before starting a project.
Pros and Cons of Garage Conversions
In converting a garage into a livable space, it requires a lot of considerations and planning because of the downsides compared to remodeling a basement. Remodeling a basement is one of the best options but if you do not have one, the garage is the only option you will have.
A garage is far different from the basement. Remodeling a garage into a suitable living space is the only option you have for your garage. It can be a good addition to your home because of the extended living space,, but it can also devalue your house if you plan to sell it.
Garage conversions pose more work than they appear. They are also more costly, extensive, and time-extensive projects. Some homeowners believe that the remodeling will only require them to add details, lights, and flooring, but these are not even half of a total remodeling project.
Zoning and Legal Issues
Converting the space that is meant for vehicles into a safe, habitable, and conditioned living space also needs legal and zoning issues. Once it has become habitable and new conditioned, it must go through legal transformation like when building a new house.
Municipalities use one determiner to decide whether enough furnishings are being made to replace parking stalls eliminated from the garage.
The conversion of the garage to a conditioned space needs to meet technical and legal standards that were not required when it was designed to house a vehicle or become a storage area when the house was constructed. The municipal building codes also require permits for the activities that will be done during the conversion. These include erecting or moving walls, running water supply or drainage, running sewer line, adding windows, installing a full electrical system.
With the increasing short-term house-rentals, some municipalities have begun to look at the possibility of increasing garage conversions, whether it will be rented out or not on the short-term market.
Basics of Converting a Garage to Living Space
If you are planning to convert your garage to a living space, take note of the following:
- Windows: To have a natural light and air, add enough window space that is roughly around 5 1/2 square feet or a percentage of the total garage space.
- Ceiling: The minimum ceiling height should be at least 7 1/2 feet of minimum ceiling height. This may be not easy to do if you are also raising floor height.
- Heat: The heating should be maintained to 70 degrees F. The retrofit heating options will include extending existing central heating ductwork and installing electric baseboard or fan-driven wall heaters.
- Light: Per electrical code, garages should have at least one such switch.
- Outlets: Outlets should meet a minimum spacing standard. So, you either add or change wall outlets and there should be no cord to reach farther than 6 feet to reach an outlet.
Make a Garage Conversion a Comfortable Space
- Insulate the Walls.
Most of the garage walls and ceilings are not insulated, so if you plan to convert your garage into a conditioned space, add insulation. Remove the drywall and use conventional fiberglass roll insulation, rock wool, or sprayed foam insulation for the walls and use fiberglass batts for the ceiling.
- Raise the Floor Height.
A garage is built to have the floor lower than the house. Although it is unnecessary, your home will benefit from a matching floor height. Do it by adding sleepers to elevate the floor covering above the garage floor.
- Install Floor Covering.
If you have added sleepers to raise the floor, you will need a floor covering. Some popular choices are laminate flooring, engineered wood, tile, and luxury vinyl plank flooring.
- Install New Drywall or Finish Existing Drywall.
Usually, garages are installed with non-finish-quality walls. If the walls are insulated, keep the existing drywall but bring the finish up to higher standards.
- Replace or Insulate the Garage Door.
If you are planning to keep the garage door in place, insulate the door. This is a major consideration when converting a garage to a conditioned room. If you plan to replace, remove the door, and make a new wall.
- Hide Unsightly Areas.
Add non-load-bearing walls in areas you do not wish to see, such as the water heater, furnace, laundry area, or storage.
Key Takeaways of Converting your Garage into A Bedroom
- No loss of yard: Converting the garage preserves yard space.
- Structure already built: Most of the structure (walls, ceiling, roof, and flooring) is already in place.
- Doing it yourself: You can have a do-it-yourself project in converting your garage.
- Loss of storage: Some people use the garage for storage and if you plan to sell your house, some buyers may disagree with a converted garage.
- Parking space: Cars parked without a garage may defy local requirements for on-site parking spaces.
- No value gain: There is no value gain in the property even with a converted garage. Some buyers will prefer a garage and place a premium on protected parking space, which is lost with the conversion.
Converting your garage into a living space can be convenient but as a homeowner, think of the pros and cons before deciding on converting your garage.