Home Decor Ideas and Tips

What You Need to Know About Converting Your Garage

If you have a garage, converting it into living space may be the way to go. The average cost of a garage conversion is anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

Converted garage home improvement project

Updated: 6/22/2020

Who doesn’t need more living space in their home? Your house might feel huge when you first move into it, but by the time you’ve lived there a while, that can change. Converting your garage into living space could be the answer. Sure, if you need extra storage space, your garage will come in handy. But if not, you can take your garage and turn it into a rumpus room, a home office, an extra bedroom, a playroom for the kids, a workshop or a man cave.

But why give up your garage? Does converting your garage to living space add to the value of your home? No, it usually doesn’t, but if you need more room, converting your garage to living space will be cheaper than adding a brand-new addition. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of an addition is $45,084 as of 2020. If you have a garage, converting it into living space is a much more affordable option  — the average garage conversion is $13,135. 

Cheap – And Not So Cheap – Ideas for Converting Your Garage

Maybe you already know exactly what you want the end result of your garage conversion to be. Perhaps you’re interested in only converting your garage attic to living space, or maybe you want to convert the whole garage into a mother-in-law unit that you can rent out to generate some extra income. Or maybe you’re tinkering with the idea of converting your garage into a home gym, a children’s playroom or a home office. Whatever your preferences, you should know that some types of garage conversions are generally less expensive than others.

Typically, any conversion that involves blocking up the garage doors and finishing out the walls, floors and ceiling with insulation, drywall and carpet or other flooring material is going to be on the cheaper end. Think of a bonus room, family room, playroom, game room or man cave.

On the other hand, any conversion project that requires installing additional plumbing, data cables or expensive fixtures will be more costly. A home gym may not be expensive in terms of converting the garage itself, but filling it with exercise machines may drive up the price. Likewise, a home movie theater might be nice, but the chairs and projector screen are going to be pricey. Other expensive garage conversion ideas include changing the whole space into an accessory dwelling unit for rental, a lounge with a full wet bar, an art studio, a music room, a billiard room or a library.

Finishing Your Garage

Converting your garage into living space means you’ll need to make other plans for your storage space, so you might need to rent a storage unit or lug all your stuff up to the attic. You’ll also need to consider what goes into making a space liveable, like adding insulation to ensure that your new living space stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If your walls are unfinished, you’ll need to finish them. Drywall, paneling or plywood are the traditional options, but, if your garage conversion budget is small, cheaper materials like shiplap or sheet metal are also available. Flooring can be as simple as applying an epoxy-based concrete paint to your concrete floor, or as complex as building out a well-insulated wooden subfloor and installing carpeting. Some other flooring options include tile, vinyl, laminate and wood. 

Flooring, insulation and even finishing the walls are fairly simple DIY projects, although you may want to hire an electrician to run any additional wiring and install any additional light fixtures, switches and receptacles, or to change existing ones.

Perhaps the biggest, and most obvious, concern when converting a garage to living space is removing the garage door. If you want a garage conversion but you’re interested in keeping the door, you can use a DIY garage door insulation kit to maintain comfort without sacrificing the flexibility of turning your converted space into a garage someday. You can also buy garage door veneers that go over metal doors, changing the look of the door itself to match the rest of the décor in your conversion. If you’re turning your garage into an apartment, bonus room or other permanent living space, however, you may want to hire a contractor to remove the garage doors entirely and build out the exterior wall to fill the space.

You may be able to use your current HVAC system to heat and cool an attached garage after its conversion. An HVAC technician can tell you whether this is feasible for your system and garage or if you’ll need additional ductwork and vents. If you can’t expand your current HVAC system to cover your new living space in the converted garage, you may need to use space heaters and window A/C units, or install a wood-burning heater or a ductless heating and cooling system.

If your garage doesn’t have any windows, or only has one or two, you may need to add more in order to let in additional natural light. If you’re removing garage doors, you can add windows to this wall fairly easily. When shopping for new windows, you should be careful to buy modern, energy-efficient ones.

Converting your garage into a livable space can increase your home’s square footage significantly for a much lower price than a new addition built from scratch. But you’ll want to make sure your home is covered. With a home warranty from American Home Shield®, you can protect the new appliances and systems in your extra room. Shop our plans online today.

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