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You may have been thinking about converting your whole garage or part of it for some other use than just storing some stuff and cars there. Let’s look at some options.
The problem with most garages is that they are unfinished or uninsulated. And depending on your region, those can be a big problem if temperatures vary wildly in your garage. And if you want to turn your garage into a usable living space for the whole year.
You have to insulate and finish your garage walls and floors and, in some cases, attic and lower the inner roof. Then there are building codes depending on the usage you are planning.
But most of these garage conversion options don’t require all of that. It’s more about how you prefer to use the space and what really is needed.
Do consider the air quality in the garage too. Good ventilation is an essential minimum, and not storing some things that emit strong odors that can be unhealthy to inhale.
Converting Your Garage Can Add a Lot of Enjoyment to Your Home.
The first things to do in any case is:
- Clear out everything non-essential
- Throw out, sell, give away, repurpose anything you don’t really need or have used in a year.
- Maximize and clean the space
- Make a floor plan where you want everything to go.
- Use overhead and wall storing solutions and make the place nice and tidy, organizing everything.
- Coat the concrete floor with some other material if needed.
- Upgrade the garage ventilation if there is none. Upgrade the lights too if needed.
- Depending on the usage/region. Install insulation and finish the walls.
- Depending on the usage/region. Install air heating and/or cooling.
- Consider sectioning the space for leaving one part a garage and the other room for whatever you need.
Convert Garage to Living Space
Properly converting the garage to an entirely usable living space is not fast or cheap. Using experts can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take weeks.
You need to add insulation, finish the walls and floors, and add heating or cooling. Add windows, doors and upgrade the electrical system. You should also consider the legal and zoning issues. Turning space meant for vehicles for habitable, safe, and conditioned living rooms involves significant legal transformation.
A transformed garage needs to meet the technical requirement and building codes in most municipalities. A range of permits may be required if erecting or moving walls, running water supply or drainage or sewer line.
Some codes govern ventilation, insulation, light, floor covering, and minimum room size.
If you are adding a bathroom or shower, hire an architect to conduct a feasibility study.
You may have to raise the floor or at least install floor covering. Popular options are laminate, tile, wood, and vinyl plank.
- The ceiling must be at least at a minimum of 7 ½ feet height. Take it into account if you need to raise the floor.
- Natural ventilation that is at least 1/20 the size of the floor space or 5 square feet at a minimum.
- Heat should be maintained at least 70 degrees F or 21C. for at least 3 feet above the floor.
- Sleeping areas need a window that is no more than 44 inches off the ground. Also, has an opening of at least 5.7 square feet.
- Outlets need to be changed to meet the minimal spacing standard requiring no cords to reach farther than 6 feet from an outlet.
- A room used for sleeping cannot have a garage open into the room.
- Windows should provide enough natural light. In some municipalities, this means 5 ½ square feet or a percentage of the total garage space.
- Light. Electrical codes already require garages to have one light switch.
- All rooms need a smoke detection device installed.
- The room cannot have a gas water heater in it if it is a sleeping space.
Check with your local housing, permits, and building departments to see what is needed and whether or not you can turn a garage into a living space.
The good news is converting a garage is cheaper and faster than building an addition to your home or buying a new home. If you have a detached garage, even better. You won’t be annoyed by the work being done.
If you have an attached garage, you can consider taking the wall down between your garage and home to create a larger space. Consider also adding second story above the garage.
A quality garage conversion can be done on a DIY basis.
Convert Garage to Gym
Create your own garage gym. Let’s look at the recommended equipment. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
And having a gym in your garage saves your time and money in the long run. You’ll save in gas and commute time, and gym memberships. And you’ll have your own private gym that’s open 24/7!
Maybe your spouse and kids get excited about working out too.
Focus on the gym equipment and machines you get the most use out of. Stick to the basic machines you may be using already at the gym. Get cardio and resistance training equipment. Crossfit too. Depending on your needs.
Install good speakers and listen to your favorite music if you don’t like earbuds during workouts.
Maybe paint the walls. Coat the floor. Install wall storing solution for gym equipment. If you live in a hot climate, ventilate and install air conditioning, so you don’t sweat too much.
Basic Equipment for Getting Your Home Gym Started
- Good quality weightlifting barbell
- Squat rack with a pull-up bar
- Weight plates with a bumper or metal plates. Bumper plates are better for a garage gym as you can drop them without damaging the floor.
- Bench press. It can also be used for many upper and lower body movements beyond bench pressing. Look for something portable and versatile if you need to move it out of the way sometimes.
More Gym equipment
- Air fan bike
- Rowing machine
- Single column cable machine
- Gymnastic rings
- Mobility bar, stability ball
- Different belts and straps
- Spring or lock Collars for weight plates
- Kettlebells, resistance bands, foam roller
- 3 sided plyometric boxes
Remember to ventilate and lower the humidity in your garage correctly when using it as a gym. Add HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Bedroom
The same rules usually apply as in living space.
Although you can’t have a door from a garage open into a sleeping area in some states or countries. There are also the size and headroom requirements for a legal bedroom. There is also a requirement that walls dividing garages from living areas must be fire-rated.
Converting the garage into an extra bedroom can be a practical and low-cost solution for growing families.
Convert Garage to Family Room
Do you need a playroom for kids? Plenty of room in the garage to play more freely. You can even build a mini sports area for the kids. Basketball, floorball, football, you name it. Kids can play around the whole year indoors, and in the summertime, the area can be expanded by opening the garage door. Add HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Office
Being productive and efficient can be difficult without a proper workspace.
Bring in the computers and work desks and storage cabinets for binders. You can build a mini office for you or several people. Add windows for natural light or LEDs. Insulate and add heating and cooling.
Convert Garage to Studio
You can convert your garage to any kinda studio. Create music, media, art, yoga.
For a music studio, you can insulate the space for added soundproofing. And if you really need a monitor quality music studio. Add some soundproofing foam to the walls. Add HVAC if required.
Convert Garage to Apartment
The same rules apply as in living space.
Convert Garage to Man Cave
Fridge, couch, television and digital games, or pool table or bowling alley. Poker table for your game nights, retro pinball machine, golf simulator, Sports Memorabilia.
Transform the garage into a place to spoil yourself and your friends.
Finish the wall and upgrade flooring. Get new lights. Add custom stuff. Add HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Cinema Room
Build your own cinema/home theatre and entertainment room with a large tv or projected screen and sound system, with rows of comfortable recliner seats.
Insulate and soundproof and finish the walls and flooring. Add HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Bar
How about a bar with a pool table and dartboard. Bar counter, Bar Stools, Shelves for your liquor. Comfortable couch and board games. Big screen tv for football. Sports Memorabilia. Custom stuff. Add HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Workshop
Install cabinets and proper workbench. Get proper tools. Install counters, shelves, drawers, pegboards, and bins. Improve lighting. Install insulation and HVAC if needed. Upgrade electricity if needed.
Convert Garage to Craft Room
Same as requirements as a workshop. Paint the walls. Install counters, shelves, drawers, pegboards, bins, and containers to store your craft supplies and Paints, threads, brushes, paper, pens and pencils, fabrics, and more. Add HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Greenhouse/Garden
Due to its size, a converted garage is a perfect choice for a greenhouse.
Replace the south side of the garage door or walls with glass walls to let the sun in. Open up the roof, too, with polycarbonate panels if possible. Install cabinets to store your supplies and tools. Improve lighting. Add solar lamps, Install insulation, ventilation, and HVAC if needed.
Convert Garage to Haunted House
For scary Halloween time. Turn the garage into a scary house for kids easily by erecting temporary walls, lights, and props. Cover the place with black tarps and black plastic sheets. Add blind corners. Build a maze. Use a fishing line to hold props from the roof. Use black lights to set the mood. Tape the windows shut with black plastic bags. Rent a fog machine.
Convert Garage to Guest House
Loss of Storage and Selling Your Home
Converting your garage to extra space can be relatively fast, unobtrusive, and inexpensive, depending on what you plan to do with space.
Though remember, you will lose some or all storage space that used to be a garage. Consider how much you really need the space for some other use. Or do you need to keep your car inside, or if you have lots of tools, yard equipment, bikes, and other things.
Consider also if you will live in your home for a long time or are selling your home and moving on the near future. Some home buyers look for households with a garage specifically because they really need the garage. So a permanently converted garage can be a big deal-breaker for buyers.
Done properly, your renovation can be a worthwhile investment when it comes to resale value.
The work you have done must be permitted. It must be professional and must increase your home’s functionality and appeal.
You can always look for ways to convert your garage and not make permanent changes. That way, you can convert the space back to the garage easily.
Some jurisdictions require there to be covered on-site parking for local residences. You can build a carport for your car if you have space outside.
Garage Conversion Costs
Expect to pay between $5,000 and $35,000+ depending on your location and the job’s specs.
Design fees for a garage conversion range from $75-$300 an hour, plus $100-$150 an hour for structural engineering.
For a bathroom, factor in around $4,500 to $25,000+ for the plumbing and fittings.
- For flooring, budget about $5 to $15 per square foot depending on the material you choose.
- Adding an interior wall costs on average $1,700 per wall.
- For drywall, $2-3 per square foot, plus paint.
- Adding insulation to the garage costs about $1-2 per square foot
- The cost of installing windows is about $1,000 per window
- Outlet installation is between $75 and $500
- Telecom is about $300 to $500 to install a wireless network
- Interior design is between $500 and $11,000.
Ductless mini-Split is a cost-effective way to add heating and cooling for your new room. The unit itself will cost around $1,000-$1,500, plus the cost of installation. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on your space’s size and location.
Permits and inspections cost you about $1,000 – $1,500
For each category of products and finishes, your designer can help you pick low- and high-end choices.
All the things mentioned in this article can convert the basement or attic to extra space too. If you decide to keep your garage, just a garage.
Some cities don’t allow or enforce special regulations around garage conversions.
Remember. Municipal codes regulate everything from window and door requirements to electrical outlet placement.
Legal and building codes render the vast majority of changing garage space easily into habitable and livable space plans to impractical or even hazardous.
Always consult local experts if you are planning permanent or temporary changes to your garage, basement, or attic.
To apply for garage conversion permits, contact your city’s Zoning Department for more information.
Check with your local housing, permits, and building departments to see whether or not you can turn a garage into a living space.
If your space requires a permit, it will also usually require an inspection.
If you break some municipal ordinances, you do it at your own risk.