Should you convert your garage into a living space? Is this something you should do for your home and how will this change affect the value of your home? But first, why would you even want to convert your garage into a living space?
There are valid reasons why you or anyone, would want to consider this project. For most people the primary reason is space. Maybe, you need more space than your home currently provides but you are not just ready to buy a new house.
It could also be that you do not use the garage. Although your garage is always occupied, most times it is not your car taking up that space. Instead of a car, you have the room crammed from top to bottom with all kinds of stuff.
If you have a two-car garage that is not being put to good use and your family is struggling to find space, it makes sense that you would want to convert the garage into something else. But there are important questions to ask yourself before you make this change.
How will a garage conversion affect the value of your home?
Given that some buyers place nearly as much value on a garage as they do on an updated kitchen, is it a good idea to convert the garage to a living space? Is this conversion not limiting, in that a garage can be used in many ways, but as a living space that has only one possible use?
Here are factors that determine if a garage conversion enhances or reduces the value of your home.
- Parking space vs. living space
Before you complete the conversion, how much on street-parking and off-street parking will the property have? Secondly, how much additional living space will you actually create inside the home, and will the space be worth sacrificing your garage for?
- Yard space
If you add an outdoor room to your home, will you still have enough yard space for outdoor activities? If you have sufficient yard space even after adding an outdoor room, buyers will generally prefer to have an outdoor room along with the garage.
- The cost of parking spaces
In some locations, a square footage of parking space costs more than a square footage of living space. If your home is in an area where parking is at a premium, it makes no sense to convert the more expensive garage to a cheaper living space.
- Outdoor lifestyle
If your home is in a region where there are lots of outdoor activities, like a rural area, converting your garage into a living space is not a smart idea. That is because the garage serves a lot of purposes as people typically use them to store their outdoor gear.
- Income opportunities
In locations where real estate is expensive and there is a market for short-term rentals, converting the garage to a living space could provide an additional source of income, says Realty Management Associates Inc. Doing this will help you defray the mortgage or provide funds for other projects.
Lastly, you want to think about the cost of converting your garage into a living space. Contrary to what most homeowners believe, it takes more work to convert a garage into a living space than it does to convert your basement.
How to convert a garage into a living space
If you decided that converting your garage into a living space is the best thing for improving your home, here is what you should know. It is possible to get an ROI of 80% and over from a garage conversion? Yes, but to get that kind of return, you must pay attention to the design of the new living space.
The finished product must look as if it was part of the home’s design from the beginning. It must flow naturally with the rest of your home. Additionally, you will need to finish the resulting space with finesse if you expect buyers to pay you enough money to cover the cost of the project.
A note of caution: homeowners often embark on a project to convert their garage into a living space based on the illusion that this is something they can do themselves. But garage conversions are mostly beyond the abilities of many homeowners because of the complexity of such projects.
Here is what you can expect when converting your garage into a living space:
In some localities, you need a permit to convert your garage into a living space. Depending on where you live, you may also need permission from the HOA.
Raise the garage floor
Depending on if your garage is below, at, or above grade, you may need to raise the garage floor before you can convert it.
If the garage is below-grade and you don’t raise it, you will need complex waterproofing and drainage. This is usually the case and raising the floor will reduce ceiling height.
You need a minimum of 8 feet of ceiling height. If the ceiling is too low to give you the height required for a habitable room, you need to excavate the garage floor.
You must add at least one window to admit natural light and air into the space. Some municipalities specify the minimum required dimensions for windows.
The created living space must have plumbing for running water supply and drainage. You also need to install heating and a full electrical system for lights and power outlets.
Wall insulation and drywall
Since most garages are not insulated, you will need to add insulation to the walls. You may also need to add drywall or finish any existing drywall.
The current floor – concrete or cinder blocks – needs to be covered. Popular flooring options for garage conversions are laminate, engineered wood, tile, and luxury vinyl plank.
Replace the doors
In most areas, you will be required to replace the existing garage door. If this is not a requirement in your location, you will still need to insulate the door.
Finish the space
Before you put finishing touches to the space, you may need to hide unsightly features in the garage, such as laundry areas, water heater, or furnace.
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