Turn Your Garage Into Valuable Living Space

Turn Your Garage Into Valuable Living Space


Home Improvement on a Budget!

cluttered garage

When it comes to unused spaces in many homes, garages are usually at the top of the list. After all, who really parks their cars in them anyway?

Seriously, if garage space could be better utilized for something else, then why not convert your garage into living quarters? Homeowners looking to add a spare bedroom, living room, or an office are the chief reasons to convert a garage and, compared to the cost of extending your home in a bid to add living space, a garage conversion makes perfect sense.

Of course, before you convert your garage for residential use, you’ll have to find a place to stash all of the stuff now stored in it. Do the following and you’ll get garage clutter under control in no time:

Hold a garage sale – Yes, sell off whatever you don’t need by holding a sale in the very room to be converted. If too cluttered for that, your driveway or lawn will do, but make this a top priority. Likely, you have boxes of old dishes, books, and knick knacks that aren’t ever going to be used again, so why not devote part of a Saturday to selling unwanted stuff off?

Rearrange the shed – Snow tires, tools, outdoor furniture and the like can be stored in your shed. If you don’t have an “out building” head over to the local big box retailer and invest in one big enough to store your seasonal items in and then some.

Recycle, reuse – Some stuff in your garage you may not find reusable, but throwing everything in the dump isn’t particularly environmentally responsible either. Give away what you don’t need as, even if something is broken, a handy person could see that piece of trash as a potential treasure find.

With all that stuff in your garage moved to the shed, up to the attic, or off of your property, you’re ready to begin the job. Of course, if you can do-it-yourself you’ll save thousands of dollars on a home renovation, but if you want to contract the project out you’ll need to hire someone to do the job for you.

When contracting out, consider:

Hire a general contractor to handle everything – Having one person in charge of the project is usually the best way to go. The contractor can determine exactly what needs to be done and get the right people to complete the walls, ceiling, floor, carpeting, electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing, etc.

Do some of the work yourself – Maybe you have a talent for drywalling or you prefer to hang your own lighting fixtures. Give those projects you don’t want to do to your contractor and handle the rest yourself.

Assemble a team of weekend professionals – If your garage conversion isn’t all that complicated, that is, only the garage doors need to be removed and replaced, one wall added, and flooring put in, assembling a team of handy friends could help you knock out the project in just one weekend. Naturally, if plumbing or electrical work needs to be done, then you’ll have to have one or two professionals among your team or hire these people to step in as needed.

What Will Your Town Say?

In some areas converting a garage to a home isn’t a simple process especially where local governments are concerned. Familiarize yourself with local building codes and check your association’s compact as any type of conversion could be a “no go”. Some municipalities will allow you to convert your garage as long as the exterior of that space still looks like a garage. In that case you can place a wall behind the garage doors or leave everything “as is” and convert the rest of the room.

Special Touches That Make A Difference

Natural lighting can be a problem in some former garage areas, necessitating the addition of a skylight or the conversion of a pair of regular windows into a bay window. Most certainly you can add recessed lighting throughout the room, but if you want to cut down on energy usage, considering maximizing natural lighting.

If extending the current heating and cooling system to the garage is too expensive, consider utilizing portable air conditioning and heating units to do the job instead. Modern, updated, and safe heating and cooling appliances can be a wise way to control your new room’s climate, regulating temperatures to meet the specific needs of that room. Besides, if you have plenty of computer equipment in the room, you may find having dedicated cooling equipment the best way for you to protect your investment.

Built in shelving can help you maximize floor space while keeping everything in order. A built in ceiling to floor wood cabinet unit can hold your television, stereo equipment, books, files, and much more.

Lastly, when deciding to choose a garage conversion, realistically assess how that new room could impact the value of your home. You may not have plans to sell, but if you do, would buyers want to change the room back into a garage to protect their Porsche 911 and Lexus LS? The more permanent your renovation, the less likely it could be easily changed. Then again, the addition of a new living area could add value to your home.


Finance Your Home Renovation

Look Over House Plans

Renovation Tips — Working With A Contractor

Take Out A Home Equity Loan


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Categories: Home Improvement

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".