Need More Living Space? Consider a Garage Conversion Remodel

A garage conversion is a remodeling job for a professional design builder. Learn why.

As families grow, there's always a search for more space. Converting a garage into a master suite or family room is one way to create additional room without investing in a large addition project. There are a number of unique challenges contractors face when undertaking a garage conversion that should not be taken on by a homeowner alone.

The garage conversion big question: family or the car?

According to Home Advisor, the national average for a garage conversion can cost between $20,000 and $50,000 -- no small amount for the average homeowner but a value when considering alternatives like a new addition. Before making such a sizable investment, think about if the project makes sense for your family. 

How much do you need the additional space? Are you looking to build an in-law apartment for an aging family member or a place to conduct business from home? By analyzing how much space you will need and if there are other areas in the home where the added room can be found, like an attic or finished basement, homeowners can keep storage for their car. However, if your garage is already serving as a workshop or storage space, why not make the upgrade?

What's your budget? A garage conversion is pricey, but a full-scale home addition costs even more. A savvy design team or contractor can help you build a space that meets your needs within the garage, usually for less money.

How important is storage for your car? It's easy to give up on the garage when it's summer, but how much will you hate shoveling the car in winter? Some homeowners treasure their attached garage, but if the garage isn't meeting your needs, a conversion can help you better utilize the space. Consider that in Wisconsin, a multi-car garage is virtually mandatory for the average homeowner.

Where to start

Before talking to a contractor, make a list of goals for the space and outline a budget. With the help of a professional, you should be able to find a way to do both or at least prioritize your wish list. Next, discuss your plans regarding zoning and local regulations. For instance, additional living units may be restricted in your area, and a contractor can discuss ways to add a bedroom within the local regulations and codes while still meeting your needs.

Construction and design

A sunroom was placed above the garage at this 1970's transformed home. While converting the garage to living space might not be the right answer in Wisconsin, sometimes additional space above the garage is the solution.

Converting a garage has its own set of design consideration, so hiring a professional to do the design work and construction is key to keeping within budget and saving you from headaches. 

Upgrade the floor -- garage floors are typically made of concrete and sloped to allow for proper drainage. The floor will need to be raised and leveled before a living area can be constructed. 

Plumbing and electrical -- If the garage conversion is for an additional bedroom, kitchen or living space with a bathroom, plumbing will need to be added. The cost of this will depend on the proximity to the existing home and plumbing system. Many garages also have electrical wiring installed, but if the room is for a home office or entertainment room, upgrades may be required.

Windows and doors -- The most noticeable change from a garage to a home addition is eliminating the garage door. Talk to your contractor or an architect about preserving the look of your home and whether removing the door is the best choice. A carriage-style garage door or installing large windows can be an attractive way to preserve the look of the home while also making the space functional. 
Most garages lack windows, limiting natural light options. Homeowners will want to consider adding windows or skylights to improve on the natural lighting. 

Making the space part of your home

One of the common criticism of garage conversions is that the space doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the home and still has that garage feel. Ask your design-build contractor if they can use materials, fixtures, and colors or even change the roof slope so that it matches the existing home for a more seamless transition from one area to another. 

If you have questions regarding the need for additional space in your home and would like to speak with an expert about garage conversions, refinished basements, attac conversions or an addition, we are here to guide you through the pros and cons of each. Schedule a call or in person meeting by clicking here.

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 6/25/2018

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.