Is a Garage Conversion a Good Way to Gain Extra Space?  

Is a Garage Conversion a Good Way to Gain Extra Space?  

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garage conversionCrowded homeowners get tend to get desperate when there isn’t much space. They start looking for ways to make space out of thin air. A garage conversion is a popular choice, especially in areas that are expensive and the neighbors are close. A converted garage is also a good way for homeowners to pay for their mortgage with:

  • Airbnb
  • VRBO
  • Other space-sharing platforms

However, is a garage conversion really your best option to add living space to your home?

Easy Way to Gain Room?

There are more things to take into consideration when converting a garage than refinishing a basement. This is because the positives of finishing a basement balance out the downsides. You can hardly go wrong with the basement remodel. You are taking an unusable dark space and turning it into a room that is light-filled and usable. Unfortunately, basements are rare in Florida, so many turns to a garage conversion.

A garage conversion, however, makes living space out of a space used for storing cars and other items. It’s an equal trade-off, at best. At worst, you could devalue your home.

Homeowners might also go into a garage conversion believing that all they need to do is add a few lights and flooring. It appears to be a classic project for a do-it-yourself home remodeler. It can feel like a no-brainer since there are already load-bearing walls in place. However, a garage conversion is actually a rather costly, extensive, and time-extended project.

Zoning and Legal Issues

Turing a space that is meant for vehicles into a living space can get into some legal and zoning issues. Your garage will go through a significant legal change when it becomes a livable and new “conditioned space.” This means there are some technical and legal standards for the space that were not there when it only housed vehicles.

Plus, most building codes will require you to have a permit to ‘construct, enlarge, alter, repair, change the occupancy,’ of your garage. You will likely also need a permit to ‘install any electrical or plumbing system.'”

Minimum Standards 

All converted garages need to have at least:

  • Windows: There should be enough windows to provide natural light and air
  • Ceiling: You need at least 7 1/2 feet for the minimum ceiling height
  • Heat: The heating to maintain 70 degrees F
  • Light: There should be at least one wall-controlled light switch
  • Outlets: Add or change wall outlets to meet minimum spacing standards

Making It a Comfortable Space

Here are some additional, and optional, changes that can make the converted garage a more pleasant and safe place:

  • Insulate: Most garages are not insulated, so you will need to remove the drywall and add insulation.
  • Floor height: The garage might be lower than the house. Your home would benefit from matching flooring heights.
  • Floor covering: This is the visible floor that you walk on and should reflect the feel of the rest of your home.
  • New drywall or finish job: When you replace the drywall, use one for a finished building.
  • Garage door: You will need to address if you are leaving the garage door in place or replacing it with a wall before converting the garage into a living space.
  • Box out unsightly areas: Add non-load-bearing walls around any areas you don’t want visible in a living area, such as a water heater.

Pros of Converting a Garage

Of course, there are some advantages to converting your garage into a room. Here are the main ones to consider:

  • No loss of yard: Expanding into the garage will preserve the yard space
  • The structure already built: A majority of the structure is already in place
  • Doing it yourself: A garage conversion can be done on a do-it-yourself basis if you have the right skills

Cons of a Garage Conversion

There are rarely pros without a few cons. Here is what you lose when you convert your garage:

  • Loss of storage: Most people use their garage for storage even if you don’t
  • Parking space: Not being able to park in the garage could be against the local requirements for on-site parking spaces
  • No value gain: A garage conversion does not increase property value. Most buyers want a protected parking space more than they want added living space.

If you are thinking about a garage conversion, give us a call. We’d love to help you understand the real estate market in your area so you can make the best decisions.

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