“The only constant in life is change” – so true, isn’t it? After all, if you are reading this blog, you are planning to convert your garage into a living space and wondering how to go about it smartly. Maybe your family has grown, and you need extra square footage to build a room for the kids. Or you usually park your car in the driveway, and the garage sits idle. Or maybe you have started taking fitness seriously, transitioned from a car to a bike, and want a home gym instead of the garage. A revamped garage can serve as an independent living unit as well. Whatever be your reason, it is possible to convert your old garage into a swanky new space that fits your changing needs. But remember the following garage conversion tips before you proceed-
1. Keep the dimensions in mind:
When it comes to converting your garage, consider the dimensions of the existing space first. The choices you make for your newly converted unit will depend upon the size of your current garage. If you have a small single car garage, you can convert it into a home office, utility/storage room, or treat it as an extension of your living room or kitchen. For larger two or three-car garages, you will have the freedom to convert it into a completely independent living unit. This can come in handy when friends or members of your extended family come over.
2. Make design decisions in advance:
As for the design of your new unit, you’ll want to plan carefully so that you don’t end up with something that isn’t functional. Complete garage conversions will involve new features like insulation, flooring, electricals, and plumbing. Even if you want to keep it as simple as possible, a basic drywall layer needs to be added. If adding tiles to the garage floor seems expensive, applying a coat of epoxy can help conceal unsightly spots and cracks. Remember that the placement and specifications of all improvements is important, and most of them cannot be changed later. Your design decisions will also impact the kind of value this conversion is going to add to your property.
3. Don’t ignore the furniture and décor:
It’s a good idea to visualize what you want your revamped garage to look like upon completion. It can be a rustic style garden room with simple benches for having tea, a kids’ room with bunk beds and enough space for their toys and posters, a home office with plenty of shelves, a stylish bathroom with a tub, shower, and magazine rack, or a man cave with a foosball table, bar and ample room to display trophies. So, decide what furniture pieces you want to accommodate, how you want to decorate the new space, and what kind of exterior and interior paint you wish to use beforehand. This will impact the decisions related to design, lighting, insulation, plumbing, and electrical connections.
4. Think about how to integrate the new unit with your existing space:
Integrating your garage with your house is not just about knocking down a wall or two but something that needs careful planning. A typical garage usually has concrete flooring that will require complete refabrication as well as insulation and tiling when you convert it. Also, if your garage floor is well below the house floor level, you will need to raise it or carefully plan for stairs or a ramp first. This can cause issues when it comes to integrating the new structure with your house’s existing structure and plans.
5. Spare a thought for the façade:
The front of the garage will impact how the newly converted unit will integrate with your existing space. Usually, garage fronts have rolling or sliding doors that take up quite a bit of space. While they function fine for garages, such doors prevent the influx of natural light and are not great for ventilation. Hence, converting your old garage might involve changing the façade completely, with different options for doors and windows to let in light and air. You can choose from carriage doors, French doors, bar doors, and sliding glass doors, to name a few.
6. Choose the right access points:
Depending on whether you want the new unit to be a part of your existing structure or a completely independent unit, you must choose the right access points. For an integrated structure, like an extension of your living room or kitchen, it may mean there is no separation between the two units. Access points become important when you consider independent units or if you want to make separate rooms out of the new unit. Separating the garage from your existing structure entirely will need a different access point connecting the existing structure to the new one. Having multiple access points is another option, depending on the design you have in mind.
7. Do the cost-benefit analysis:
A garage conversion might not seem that costly at first, but as you proceed with the project, your budget might feel the strain. That is because it involves many additions in terms of flooring, insulation, plumbing, doors, windows, and beautification. In fact, the total cost might go up to $20,000-$50,000. However, if your newly converted unit is well-designed, functional, comfortable, and aesthetic, it will enhance the property value by 10-20%.
8. Never ignore building regulations, permissions, and approvals:
Ordinarily, special permissions and approvals are not required before converting your old garage. However, it is a good idea to approach your local building authority for the approvals needed before getting started. Similarly, with building regulations, having your local authorities sign off on your plans before commencing is wise. Having necessary permissions will also come in handy if you want to sell your property and get good value. Plus, making sure that the improvements are compliant with local building and safety regulations will make sure that your project goes smoothly.
9. Plan the storage for your existing garage stuff:
Converting your old garage into a new space means that your car will need a different shelter. A carport is a good idea to keep your vehicle safe from the sun, rain, and snow. In case you have stashed away tools, your kids’ toys, or old household items in the garage, you will need to store them somewhere else. You can either shift them to the basement or build a small, simple shed.
10. Discuss with experts for the best outcome:
Having a discussion with an architect or structural engineer about how to manage your garage space effectively, add improvements, and make changes, will save you from unnecessary headaches. They will have the experience and expertise to guide you so that you get the living space you want without blowing your budget.
All in all, whether you are planning to convert your garage into a den, home office, kids’ room, or an extension of your living room or kitchen, having a practical plan will save you from future hassles. When converted smartly, your old garage can add much value to your existing property. And if you want to make the garage conversion process completely hassle-free while complying with building codes, contact us.