You need space and your garage is just sitting there, inviting you to turn it into something wonderful. If you are considering a garage conversion, here are 6 things to consider.
You need a separate living area for a relative or just another bedroom. You’ve always wanted a family room big enough to accommodate a pool table and an arcade game. You simply don’t park in the garage and there it is – all that square footage already under roof. Here are 6 things to address if you are thinking of a garage conversion.
1. Plumbing. If you want to add a bathroom, kitchen, wet bar or just a utility sink, this can be one of the hardest issues in a garage conversion. To have a running water supply and to the drain lines needed to go with that water, you’re going to have to install water and drain lines. Usually these will be set into the concrete slab. You want this to be one of the first things you should address so you know how you are going to handle the lines before you get started. For a toilet, you can use an up-flush system which grinds up waste and then has a pump to send it to the sewer or septic tank.
2. Flooring. This is easy – except for those plumbing issues. If you have a nice flat and dry concrete slab in your garage, you can tile right over it using ceramic or vinyl tile. If you’re going to go with wood or carpet, you will probably need a plywood subfloor. Be sure the slab is sealed – polyethylene sheeting is one safeguard. If you add height with wood or carpet, remember you’ll have to have a plan in place for dealing with the extra height at the door.
3. Wall and Insulation. Hopefully, your garage already has insulated walls, drywall and texturing. If not, that’s your job. You’ll need to add studs and insulate between them. If you have drywall but no insulation, consider spray-foam insulation. As you work on the walls, remember the electrical wires you’ll need.
4. Electric. You want a pro that knows local building codes to handle this and make sure that any wires that need to run through the walls are in place before you finish the walls. You may want to add the new garage circuit to your breaker panel or install a separate breaker box. All work for a pro.
5. Heating and Cooling. You have a few options, but, again, you might want to call a pro to evaluate the situation. You can extend the ductwork from your home if you have forced-air heating and cooling – but beware that you don’t leave another part of the home without the air circulation it needs. Baseboard heaters and window air conditioners are another option. A mini-split heating and air conditioning unit may do both jobs. If you live in a cold climate, you might want to consider radiant floor heating. Again, unless you are certain you can create year ‘round comfort, a professional opinion may help.
6. Doors and Windows. You can make a garage door work and it may be a cost savings for you. For example, a coach style door with windows and a wood-paneled look can be complimented by a chair rail and wood paneling on the other walls. A very modern door will give you a chic, industrialized look. If you go with a garage door, you don’t have to replace that big door area with a new wall. Make sure you have sufficient light – you may want to add a window or use that windowed garage door to make up the difference.
That big, enclosed space is a great start for an addition. Just be sure to have a plan, the correct building permits and don’t be afraid to call professionals for help. Whether it’s a plumber or electrician or your garage door replacement company, you’re going to get the advice you need!