Most people think that the garage is for storing your car and other household belongings. At most, you might think to use the extra space at the back as a workshop or a place for your teen to play his drum set outside of your house, for obvious reasons. But did you know that you can actually add living space to your home just by making modifications to your garage? Take a look at these 30 sweet garage transformations that show what a little creativity can do. If you browse through the photos in that HGTV article, you’ll notice that there are many choices of how to convert your garage, and also that they vary from very little work and investment, to extreme makeovers that make it almost unbelievable the space was ever a garage.
But hold on a second, because first, depending on the extent of your plans, you’ll need to find out if a building permit is required. Even though you may own the home, there are zoning laws that must be followed. If you’re located in El Dorado Hills, you can find the county website here. Even if you aren’t changing the structure of the garage itself, there are still legal codes you have to consider; for instance, if you want your renovation to be a legal bedroom, you need at least one egress window. Do your research before you finalize your plans, because it’s always a bummer to have a vision, or worse, spend money on supplies or services only to find out what you’ve done is either structurally unsound or just straight up illegal. Rooms or structures that don’t meet code are seriously negative factors in residential real estate.
Get started by drawing out a detailed blueprint for how you want your garage conversion to look. Once you have developed a plan, you can better estimate the budget required and timeframe needed. If it’s a total transformation, you may need a contractor, and expect the process to take a month or two. Depending on your plan, you may need to install insulation, heating/cooling, and run wiring for electricity. Windows and plumbing are also possible, but the latter is more complicated and could drive costs up further.
Costs involved in renovating your garage depend on the scope of the project, with minor conversions (like a workout room) being a few hundred dollars and complete transformations (like a master suite) being as much as $40,000. When you’re working with areas like El Dorado Hills, where many of the foundations are slab cement, you really need to consider what utilities you’ll need for your project. Insulating and running electric before you drywall is one matter, but if you’re trying to alter plumbing, you have to literally jackhammer into the foundation to reach the existing plumbing (if there is any) and trench new paths for whatever new plumbing you’re installing. That is a big cost, because after all that destruction, you’ll essentially have to have that part of your foundation redone, and that takes time as well as money.
Start Your Renovation with New Garage Doors
If you thought garage door replacement would be the first step in the renovation, you’d be correct. New garage doors will help protect your investment, and provide a great starting point for your project. If you’re making a new living room or a gym, a glass garage door is a great solution. Another factor in keeping a garage door in the room, no matter how much you’re altering the space, is because when it comes time to sell your house, it’ll make it way easier to convert it back to a garage, if that is what the new owner wants. Regardless, a garage conversion definitely deserves a garage door upgrade.
If you’d rather eliminate the garage door altogether and make that area into an exterior wall, this is another time you need to consult your county’s building codes, as well as an engineer, so that whatever alterations you make are legal and structurally sound.