In smaller homes, where space is tighter and there is a premium on hangout space, it can only make sense to convert your garage into that space. It can make for a great recreation room, craft center, or man cave when there is no space inside the house.
Those looking to convert their garage may be wondering if there is any additional home value to be added by doing so.
In most cases, there won’t be a noticeable increase if any at all in home value. This is because buyers place a premium on having a parking space that is protected; this is lost when the garage is converted.
Table of Contents
Garage Conversions and Home Value
Generally speaking, a garage conversion will not do anything positive for the value of a home. Buyers will typically place greater value in a protected parking space than they will on the converted space. Keep that in mind if you plan to make a conversion.
The only instance where the value would go up is if the conversion uses high-end materials, fixtures, or appliances. It needs to be a space that stands out, especially compared to other areas of the home and other homes in the neighborhood.
Why Perform a Conversion?
A garage conversion takes a space that has a designated purpose and trades it for another designated purpose. Instead of housing and protecting the car, it is now going to be used as a living space of some sort.
So, why would you want a conversion? If you plan on being in the home long-term, creating more space can make the current space feel less cluttered. Creating a recreational room or additional bedroom can provide more living space than is possible inside the house.
Perhaps the biggest reason to build a conversion is for rental possibilities.
Converting the garage into a living space offers the opportunity for additional income through a tenant. If you are looking to pay off your home far quicker and don’t mind a tenant, renting out that converted space can be a great additional source of income.
Pros and Cons of Garage Conversions
For a number of reasons, homeowners across the country are rethinking their current home to expand their living spaces. Instead of moving to a bigger home, converting a garage into an additional living area is a great way to take advantage of your current home. The following are some pros and cons to this home improvement project:
- Converting a garage is typically more affordable than adding on. If you choose to add onto your home, you can expect to incur some major costs. Although this will depend on where you live, it costs an average of 50% less to perform a garage renovation than a building addition.
- Garage conversions mean less storage space. Since most homeowners use their garages for storage space, you lose this when you convert it into a living area. Before you begin altering your garage, make sure that you have a plan that satisfies your storage needs, or consider downsizing your belongings.
- Converting a garage rarely boosts your home’s value. For some homeowners, extra living space is a major plus. However, there are others who would rather prefer to have the parking space. Many potential buyers put a premium on having a protected parking space, which is lost with garage conversions. Those who live in rural areas tend to prioritize parking space over additional living space.
- A garage conversions is a great projects for do-it-yourselfers. Although they are difficult, garage conversions can be performed by the average homeowner and rarely necessitate professional help. Since most of the structure is already built (roof, flooring, walls, and ceiling), the process is simplified.
- An extra living space can help you pay down your mortgage. Converting your garage into a usable living space that can be rented out can help speed up the process of paying off your mortgage.
Be Aware of Legal and Zoning Issues
Changing the space from a haven for vehicles into a habitable space requires meeting zoning and legal standards.
Because of the mass changes that go into a garage conversion, each garage also requires a legal transformation as well. Transforming a garage into a conditioned space means that there are requirements to be met from a technical and legal standard.
This would not have been required when the area was meant simply for storage or housing vehicles.
There are also building codes and permits to be aware of. A garage conversion will likely mean that you need permits because of the need for running drainage or water supply, moving or erecting walls, running a sewer line, installing an electrical system, or adding windows.
With the rise in short-term housing rentals, more and more municipalities are looking at garage conversions more critically. This is even if the intention is not to rent out the space on a short-term market.
Converting the Garage: What You Need to Know
While you might think the idea of converting a garage into a livable space is a good one, there is a lot more to it than you may have realized. In addition to permits, there are things pertaining to the ceiling, windows, heating, cooling, outlets, and lights that could deter you from continuing the project.
Even if there are outlets in your garage, there is a good chance that there are few of them or they may not meet current standards set forth by the municipality. You will have to change or add wall outlets to the current structure.
There are also spacing standards when it comes to these outlets. Most municipalities will dictate that there is no more than six feet in order for a cord to reach an outlet. Electrical installation costs can wind up being one of the largest in a conversion project.
Depending on the garage in question, there may or may not already be enough window space to provide both air and natural light. Still, depending on the municipality, that may not be enough to satisfy local ordinances.
Though it may vary based on where you live, a good rule of thumb is that there has to be 5 ½ square feet or a certain percentage of the garage that has to be comprised of windows.
Many garages only have rafters or an open ceiling. This requires the need for a closed ceiling to be installed in the current space. But it is rarely as simple as installing a ceiling to close off the roof of the garage.
In many areas, the ceiling height has to be a minimum of 7 ½ feet. If you planned on raising the floor height of the garage, it can make raising the ceiling height an added difficulty. It is a good idea to look into your local regulations before actually beginning a project so you know what to expect during each step of the conversion.
Heating and Cooling
Most garages can get quite hot or cold but that is because there is often little to no insulation and definitely no heating or cooling involved. Many municipalities require heating to maintain a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are retrofitting options that include extending ductwork for central heating that already exists and installing either fan-driven wall heaters or an electric baseboard.
Regulations will state that you need at least one light switch that is wall-controlled. Most electrical standards will dictate that you have to have at least one switch and many garages will already have that installed.
Any additional lighting will have to be taken into consideration and added to the total cost of the conversion.
Raising the Flooring
What you may not have realized is that most garages are built at a lower level than the house. It isn’t necessarily a requirement to raise the floor to match the height, your home benefits by adding sleepers to bring the flooring above the concrete flooring of the garage.
The vast majority of garage ceilings and walls are not insulated. This is because they are simply meant to protect from the elements, not necessarily to provide comfort. Most garages tend to not even have drywall installed.
If you’re planning on having drywall installed, plan for insulation as well. Garages can make use of sprayed foam, Rockwool, and fiberglass rolled insulation for the walls; ceilings should use fiberglass batts.
Possible Garage Door Replacement
Speaking of the insulation, most garage doors do not have any built-in. This allows for cold and warm air to get in, making it difficult to regulate temperature.
If you are planning a conversion, you’ll have to either insulate the current garage door or have it replaced with a new one that comes built-in. Replacing the garage door can add substantial costs to converting the garage space.
Conversions on a budget are tough to pull off because of all the various aspects involved. If you are certain that you want to perform a conversion, look into all of the requirements, and consult a contractor to get a better idea of what it will cost.