Garage Conversions Expand Living Space

There are many benefits to garage conversions. A garage conversion doesn't require expensive foundation work or changes to the footprint of the house. The work is generally cheaper than building an addition because the exterior walls and sub floor are already in place. And ultimately, doesn't the garage become the place where all your old things end up anyway?

Check First
Before you park the car out on the curb and start slapping up drywall, it'll pay to do your homework.

If you're considering selling your home in the next three to five years, check with a real estate agent in your area. You'll want to see if the reduction in garage space and increase in floor space will have a positive effect on your home's value. If you have a multi-car garage, a partial garage conversion might make more economic sense.

Check with your local building inspector for building code specifications. Check with your local zoning board as well-some towns have a minimum off-street parking requirement. Your reduced garage space may mean expanding your driveway to accommodate an extra care or two.

Also, if you have a homeowner's association, check with the architectural review committee for their home addition requirements.

Plan Out Your Garage Conversion
Consider hiring an architect or designer to come up with a garage conversion plan. Working alone, you may not consider things like electrical outlet positioning, heating and air conditioning or plumbing. An architect or designer can also help plan for exterior changes that will be required to cover the garage door opening.

If your garage is on a different level than the rest of the house, an engineer may be required to design a load-bearing sub-floor system to bring the garage floor elevation up to the rest of the house.

Take The Time To Do It Right
A well thought out, well-executed garage conversion can create an inviting space that will add value to your home over time. Some other important points to consider:

  • Consider adding a window or door to the space where the garage door stood. An opening will break up the large empty space on the exterior and provide extra light in the garage conversion.
  • Covering the concrete slab with rigid foam and a plywood sub-floor will help insulate the room and avoid an overly cold floor come winter.
  • Consult with an engineer before removing any walls. Careful modification will be required if load-bearing walls are to be altered or removed.
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Surround yourself with qualified professionals, starting with an architect and a general contract, who can guide you through the addition process. Know what you want and what you're able to spend and save the changes for the finish phase of the addition. Get the details in writing and be prepared for some disruptions and delays along the way.

We're all familiar with the general stages of remodeling and construction. Everyone knows about the framing and the sheetrock and the plaster. Those are all the fun stages when you see a lot of progress quickly and when as a homeowner you are still enrapt with the emerging spaces and the new form your home is taking.

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