What is a Garage Conversion?

Changing your garage into something other than storage or a place to park your cars is most commonly called convert or turn a garage into a living space.

From a family room to an extra bedroom for guests, it can be anything you want it to be. It will allow your family to spread out, give you more privacy and add more square footage to your home.

We are going to go over 8 things you should think about when you are planning a garage conversion into a living space.

1. Are you interested in changing your garage door to something else?

When choosing what to do with the original garage door, there are three main options.

  1. Keeping the existing original garage door. While this will save you some money upfront it could increase your utilities costing you money in the long run. Insulating a bedroom or living room with an existing garage door isn’t going to be as effective. It is easy to go with the existing entry, but not necessarily the best option.
  2. Replace the existing door with new garage walls. You could also add windows to the wall but there wouldn’t be any access to the room from the exterior of the home. This choice is ideal for bedrooms or living areas that don’t need access from the outside.
  3. This option is the same as the second with on small change.  Adding a door so the room can be accessed from the exterior of the home.  This is ideal if you wanting to rent out the space or ease of coming and going.

2. How is a garage conversion project going to blend into the rest of the house?

One of the top concerns is how you can make the additional space look like it has always been a part of the house. The question often becomes what to do with the large openings for the garage doors.

There are large sliding doors, French doors, and window options you might consider. It’s important to make sure that your windows, doors, and bricks match the exterior materials of the house.

Matching siding and trim are needed for the exterior to blend with the rest of the house. Done properly, a garage remodel can make a big difference in keeping your newly converted garage from sticking out like a sore thumb.

Another concern you might have is making the floor level. A lot of garages have a slight slope to them. While this is important to keep water out when it is used for storage space it’s not needed when you convert the garage into living space.

Also attached garages are connected to the main part of the house. Where you enter the main part of the house might have a step or steps to deal with. Depending on your garage conversion design and what you are going to use the space for making sure the floor levels are correct could be important. While we find this doesn’t bother most of our clients it is something else you should think about. 

3. What kind of flooring works best for which type of living space?

There is a wide range of great flooring choices when you convert your entire garage into additional living space. Your floor plan design will play a major factor in which type of flooring will work best. Here are the most popular options for flooring in a garage conversion or remodel and what type of rooms they are good for.

  • Soft and cozy carpeting feels great on the feet and it helps insulate the room

Its soft and cozy feel on the feet makes carpet a popular flooring option. With carpet installation, the inner stud walls and roof must have proper insulation. To keep out dust and water, otherwise, your carpet may have a shorter life span without insulation. So remember to budget for this additional cost if you haven’t already.

  • Vinyl is Affordable, Cleans Easily, and Handles Moisture Well

It is very easy to duplicate the vinyl material, pattern, or pop of color to match how the walls are painted. The look and feel of hardwood or natural stone can be accomplished by the combination of vinyl flooring and good under-laying padding. The longevity of vinyl floors is due to their low maintenance. A vinyl floor that is cared for can give you up to two decades of use, making it a really good value.

  • Engineered Wood Flooring is Best for Moisture Control

Solid wood flooring is more expensive than engineered wood flooring. It won’t swell or buckle the way solid wood will because engineered flooring handles humidity well. It can be put down or floated on top of concrete. In most cases, there’s no good reason to glue it. A floating floor is much easier to repair or remove.

There are great wood and color options. Traditional woods like maple, oak, and cherry are available along with exotic woods like teak, bamboo, and Brazilian cherrywood. When you convert a garage into an office, living room, apartment, den, library, cigar room, or upscale man cave, wood flooring is great.

  • Ceramic Tile- flooring that works well anywhere    

This is a timeless flooring that works well anywhere. With tiles available in so many different sizes, shapes, and colors, you can customize the look of the floor space. Tile flooring handles water and most chemicals. It is able to handle foot traffic but not vehicle traffic. Ceramic tile floors are popular for a large kitchen or laundry room garage remodel project.

  • Epoxy Floors Works for Entertaining Space or Game Room

This is perfect garage flooring if you are looking for the flexibility of having a living space that can turn back into garage storage space  Epoxy can also be known as garage floor paint is applied directly onto the concrete. Epoxy flooring is very durable capable of handling cars driving on it and it’s very easy to clean. Motor oil and most other car fluids won’t harm it.

Most epoxy kits even come with a non-slip additive to help prevent falls. Garage floor coatings are usually available in an array of colors and patterns to fit your specific style. Adding a layer of decorative chip beneath the topcoat takes the appearance from good to great.

  • Natural Stone Garage Floor is Best for Living Spaces

This high-end flooring is beautiful and durable. You probably don’t want to drive your truck onto it, but if the conversion is going to be livable space only, then it can work. Natural stone makes great flooring for a man cave, home office, cigar room, kitchen, den, or billiard room. You may want to add a throw rug or two for warmth and contrast.

4. Which heating and cooling system is best?

An HVAC contractor should look at your current system. Something is not right if he or she tells you it’s enough to serve your additional living space. Most of the time, you will not have effective heating and cooling when you add another 450 to 650 square feet with your current system.

If the person tells you that the current system is capable of handling more square feet, they should also tell you that it was too large for your home. If the technician doesn’t tell you that your current system is larger than needed for your current home then they haven’t done an accurate assessment of your needs. In either case, ask the HVAC pro to show you the math to back up the claim. A full load calculation might be in order.

We aren’t trying to convince you to buy a second system when the existing system has enough capacity to take on more square footage. We are trying to avoid having a single system that does not adequately heat and cool the existing home and the new garage conversion.

Your 3 main choices when it comes to heating and cooling a garage conversion are

  1. Using your current system. We highly recommend you get a load calculation before doing this option.
  2. Install a completely new system that heats and cools the conversion area only.
  3. Get a window unit that is capable of handling the sqft of your new living space.

5. Is there any electrical that needs to be done or added?

An electrician needs to install outlets and light switches once the walls are in. They will also need to add wiring for any ceiling fans or fixtures you wish to hang. You can usually take advantage of the existing supply for your electrical wiring needs.

Also, the electrical supply in older homes may be more of a problem. It is recommended that you hire a professional to handle the electrical work in your garage conversion.

Any electric needs can be handled by the experienced electrical professional contractors at BIL Specialties.  Even if a sub-panel needs to be installed because you don’t have enough to supply your new living space. A pro’s in-depth knowledge of building codes is perhaps the most important information needed for this type of garage remodel project.

6. Will there be any plumbing work needed?

A plumbing situation can be handled in a number of different ways.  We are going to look at four situations that might apply to you.

  1. With any luck, the person who built your house had the foresight to run hot and cold plumbing lines to the garage. The rest is pretty easy if that’s the case. Above-grade water lines can be used in a bathroom, wet bar, sink, and many other places. It’s a good idea to run them in an overhead space. Make sure to run the piping in a heated space so they don’t freeze.
  2. If lines aren’t in place, it will probably be necessary to go through the concrete floor. Most of the time, you’ll want to bring additional plumbing lines to the closet point and then run them from there as suggested above. This will not cost as much as tearing up the garage floor. Of course, If you’re planning a new floor, it’s easier to do the plumbing job.
  3. Bringing a feed from the water line to the garage is another option. Those lines can then be separated into hot and cold lines.
  4. Wastewater removal is going to be a bigger challenge. Tieing the drain lines to the sewers mainline, that’s the best option. It might be easier to run the drain line to the outsides if you have a septic tank. This might be one of the most expensive parts of the job because you’re going to have additional plumbing requirements, no matter what you do.

A contractor with experience in garage conversions will be a real asset in figuring out the most cost-effective way to handle all plumbing situations.

7. What does a typical attached or detached garage conversion cost?

Costs mainly depend on two big factors

First, how close is the current structure to the desired result?

You can spend as little as $5,000 – $10,000 dollars if, all you want is a clean well-organized garage remodel but this is not possible for a legal living area. You have to remember your garage was built as a place to park your car and as an outside storage area, not a living area so it requires a lot of work to turn it into a legal (up to code) living area.

Second, do you have a one-car, two-car garage, or more?

The average project costs to convert an unfinished two-car garage to an equipped living space is between $21,000 to $30,000 but can get much higher, depending on the features included. Custom structures, like adding a loft, can raise the price to as high as $50,000. A two-car garage runs about 22-feet wide by 20-feet deep.

The average size of a single garage is roughly 12-feet wide by 20-feet deep and will generally cost between $6,000 and $19,000 to renovate, depending on the space and finished state of the garage.

SpaceAvg. Cost
Living Space or Family Room$5,000 – $10,000
Apartment or Guest House$15,000 – $30,000
Bedroom or Master Suite$10,000 – $15,000
Bathroom$3,000 – $25,000
Office or Work Space$5,000+
Granny Flat$3,000 – $30,000
Utility Room$6,000+
Average costs collected by HomeAdvisor over the years

It all comes down to what you want to turn your garage conversion into. Price always comes down to a wide range of things. The two main factors, the design you choose and the custom amenities you want. We will walk you step by step through the process and construction costs that go along with it.

8. Are you going to get the added value or ROI on your investment?

Make changes and add features that are likely to appeal to a majority of homeowners if you’re planning to maximize the value of the garage conversion living space. When it comes to resale property value, your renovation can be a worthwhile investment if done right. Turning a garage into a living space can give you up to 80% return on investment.

If you are planning a big change such as converting the garage into an extra bedroom, remember that quality of work is important. It won’t do much to boost resale value if you swap your garage for a poorly insulated “bedroom” with no windows and the garage door intact.

The work you have done must be permitted, professional, and increase the appeal of your house. To get your return-on-investment figure, you need to work with a great team that will help navigate what you are planning to spend against the increase in sale price. At BIL Specialties we will walk you step by step through the entire process.


Add Space, and Boost Your Property Value by Turning a Garage Into Living Space

Garage conversions are very popular, and they offer many advantages over other types of extra living space home additions.

Whether you have an attached or detached garage there are things you need to take into consideration before starting a garage conversion. If you are hesitant about converting your garage to living space what about adding a partial second story above the garage. Depending on your home this might be a little more costly but it won’t take away the garage area that potential buyers might be interested in.

Hopefully, you have found this information helpful. If you have any questions about getting your garage conversion or garage remodel project started we are here for you.

If you are interested in any other type of addition check out our list of 12 Room Additions That Can Increase Value & Space in Dallas Metroplex.

What type of room would you convert your garage into?

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