Have you often wondered what it’d be like to have a bigger house? To have an extra room for watching television or movies? To have a game room with a pool table or pinball machine? A playroom for the kids and a place to put all the toys? Wouldn’t that be great?
Well, unless you are looking to move in the near future, you might have to put these plans on hold. Unless, of course, you have a garage you aren’t using, or don’t need. For many homeowners, a garage conversion is the perfect answer to adding an extra room to your house. Most garages can be converted to living space fairly easily. After all, they already have foundations, walls, and roofs. Oftentimes, garages are already attached directly to the house. With a bit of careful planning and some time, energy, and a little cash or credit, you can convert a garage into a whole new room for family living.
Is Your Garage Right for Conversion?
There are several things to think about when considering whether you should convert your garage into extra living space. While almost any garage can be converted, the time and expense needed to do so will depend on the particular characteristics of your garage and your home. It may be easier to do a conversion if you plan to purchase a new home and know that you won't make use of the garage.
Attached or Unattached?
First of all, is your garage attached to the house or does it sit independently? If it is attached, then it will obviously be much easier to use the garage as an extension of your home, perhaps as an extra room off the kitchen, den, or family room. If the garage sits independently from the house, this might be a great spot for a playroom for the kids when they are old enough to be unsupervised, or it might be ideal for a game room to have friends over and play a bit of poker or bridge.
The Garage Floor
In converting the garage you will most likely have to do something with the floor. Most garage floors are bare concrete and often either slope toward the garage door or toward a central drain. Making this type of floor livable might require leveling the floor or perhaps installing a false floor above the concrete slab. This will be considerably warmer and more comfortable in winter.
The Garage Door
Next, take a look at the garage door. Once you remove the door for garage conversion, what will you do with that space? It is possible to frame it out as a wall or to insert windows or sliding doors. Of course, you will want the exterior to match the exterior of your home to create a seamless looking addition. Creating this seamlessness is critical to adding value to your home and not making the garage conversion look simply slapped on without care. Windows and doors created in this space should also match those of the house.
Wiring and Plumbing
It is likely that your garage is already wired for electricity for lights or to power the automatic garage door opener. If so, you may not have to add much additional wiring unless you are planning to substantially increase power use in the garage conversion. If that is the case, the addition of an extra power circuit could be necessary. Plumbing, on the other hand might be a bit more difficult. Many garages aren’t equipped with much in the way of plumbing, so adding water lines and the like could be costly. Then again, some garages are already fitted with sinks or spigots for hoses so plumbing might not be an issue. As another option, perhaps your garage conversion could be “dry,” with sinks and bathrooms in other rooms of your home.
If you live in a place with cold winters you’ll definitely have to consider heating your garage conversion to make it a comfortable spot to hang out in. This may be less of an issue in garages that are attached to the home because heating vents can be extended from existing rooms. Garage conversions for unattached garages might require installation of woodstoves or a fireplace or heating with gas or electric space heaters. Cooling your garage conversion in summer will require similar planning.
Cost of Garage Conversion
Of course, all of the above factors will determine how much your garage conversion will cost, as will the addition of any other amenities to your new room. In this category are things like lighting, furniture, and appliances such as refrigerators, bars, or stoves. Whether you hire a contractor or do the conversion yourself will also figure into the price.
Of course, adding a new room to your home through garage conversion just might pay for itself in the value it adds to your property. Garage conversions are one of the best ways to add functionality, beauty, and enjoyment to your and your family’s living space.
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