Many homeowners look around their homes and think about how nice it would be to have more space. Maybe you’d like a larger area for the family to relax and spend time together. This may lead you to wonder whether you can convert a garage into a new living room. We’ve looked into it, and we have some answers for you.
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You can usually convert an attached garage into a living room. There are obstacles that may stand in your way, though, including:
- Local building codes
- Ceiling height
- HVAC capacity
- Window access
Some of these may not completely prevent the conversion, but may make it cost-prohibitive. Others may be safety or code issues that you cannot easily overcome without major structural revisions.
Have more questions? Not to worry, we'll discuss each of these obstacles and more in more detail below, so please continue reading.
Converting A Garage Into A Living Room
When you are searching for a way to expand your living space, one of the easiest ways may be converting an attached garage. Attached garages usually have a large amount of continuous space, and in almost all cases have much of the structure needed for the conversion.
But there are some things to consider before converting your garage. Let's explore each one in more detail.
Local Building Codes
It isn’t common for local building codes to completely block a garage conversion, but each city has its own set of codes. It is possible that your city could specifically prohibit this conversion, so be sure to check that before you get too far into planning on this project.
The type of code problems you may run into is the same types of codes that all living space must meet. This includes everything from the proper emergency exits to insulation. You can address many of these items, but be careful to consider the cost of each carefully when budgeting for your project.
A garage won’t always have the ceiling height needed for a living space. While most do, this can be an especially problematic area if your home has floors that sit higher than the garage floor and you wish to raise them to match.
Most of the time people select a heating and air conditioning system to match their current living space. That means it may not have enough capacity to handle the added square footage of the garage area. You may need to replace your current system or install a standalone system for the added space. Either option may prove expensive and cost-prohibitive.
In addition to the heater and air conditioner, consider the ductwork, which will be an added expense. It is important that your ductwork is laid out properly to balance the airflow and allow proper return flow in your home. Adding this space may disrupt that and require some significant rework of the existing duct layout.
If you are converting a garage to a living room, there is a good chance you will have a lot of electrical devices in the new room. Televisions, computers, and lamps are only a part of what you’ll want in your space.
It is important that your garage has the capacity on its circuit for all these items if you’re going to convert it. You need to consider outlet spacing, which typically must be at least every twelve feet in a living space. Even if there are enough outlets to meet that requirement, they may not be where you want them, which means adding more outlets.
Another consideration is whether there is ample capacity on the circuit your garage uses. While it may have plenty, there is a chance that it does not.
Does your garage have wiring to all the areas that need lighting in your new living room? If not, you need to run new wires to those areas.
Adding outlets, moving outlets, adding lighting, or adding capacity probably requires an electrician. This is yet another added cost that you should consider when converting your garage.
An attached garage may not have any windows. Even if it does, you’ll likely want to add new windows to let more light into your living space. You also must have a proper exit route in case of emergency, which may be a window in your case.
If you add windows, you need to add the proper structure and support around it. Most of the time adding a window isn’t difficult, but it is an added expense that could put your budget over the top.
Some locations require off-street parking for your vehicles. In some cases, your driveway or an alternate parking location may suffice, but some places may require you to have covered parking. Check your local codes to make sure this isn’t the case. If it is, you need to address that before converting your garage.
Think about the weather in your area. If you plan to park your vehicles outside after converting the garage, will you need to scrape car windows or clean away snow? Will break-ins be a concern if you park your car outside?
Converting a garage can be a big undertaking, but it can be an effective way to add a living area to your home.
How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Garage Into A Living Room?
A lot goes into converting a garage into a living room. You need to calculate everything in, and it will add up. Some of the things to consider:
- Adding outlets
- Redoing ceilings, walls, flooring
- Building permits
- Upgrades to HVAC
- Labor costs
This is not a complete list, as there are many other costs involved. Take the time to sit down and consider your possible costs carefully.
Typically, people report their costs to range from $6,000 to over $50,000, depending on the scope of their work, their location, and their current structure. While this is a large range, the average is closer to the $12,000 to $15,000 range.
If you are doing a lot of the work yourself, have adequate HVAC and electrical components already in place, and aren’t doing extensive alterations to any of the structures, you may be closer to the low end of that range.
If you live in an area where materials and labor are expensive, you’re hiring someone to do the work, you select high-end materials, and need to upgrade your HVAC and electrical system, then you can expect to be in the higher end of the range. It all depends on your specific circumstances, so consider everything carefully before committing to the project.
Can You Legally Convert A Garage Into A Living Room?
You can legally convert your garage into a living room in most locations. While some places have limitations on this, there is usually a means to do so, providing the resulting space meets all the necessary building codes.
In the past, some locations banned converting garages into living spaces. Many places have eased those regulations, but some may still not allow it. You should contact your local building code department to make sure.
If you live in an area with a homeowner’s association, remember to contact them regarding your conversion. Your HOA agreement may ban you from converting your garage. If your HOA bans this, they may still allow you to apply for an exception and you could receive approval if you ask.
Does Converting A Garage Into A Living Space Add Value?
Most experts agree that converting a garage into a living space may not add monetary value to the home. In fact, if you live in an area with severe weather, it can actually lower your home's value.
In some areas, it may be a major negative when it comes to selling your home. If you live in a neighborhood where every home has a garage, the lack of one on your home is only going to stand out for potential buyers. Additionally, if you don’t blend your converted space into your home well, it’s going to look like a converted space. That may turn away some buyers, who don’t like the mismatched look and feel.
If you plan to sell the home in the near future, converting the garage into a living room may not be the best project to tackle.
Is Converting A Garage A Good Idea?
Despite the fact that converting your garage into a living space probably doesn’t increase your home’s monetary value, it may add value in terms of comfort for you and your family.
When you convert your garage into a living room, you gain a lot of space. This may be cheaper than a complete add-on, especially if you address the shortcomings of removing a covered parking space from your home. Converting your existing garage retains your yard as it is, whereas adding onto your home would take away a portion of the yard.
Most people who convert their garages into living spaces agree that it was a good idea. Many people enjoy the added space, and most seem to believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
A lot of the people who did not think it was good for them say that it didn’t increase their home value when they tried to sell, and in some cases even lowered the resale value. The general consensus seems to be to not convert the garage if you plan to leave in the future. Otherwise, you will likely enjoy the added living space.
Converting a garage into a living room is not only possible but is relatively common. While we’ve pointed out some of the obstacles, many people enjoy the added space. Take the advantages and disadvantages into account before committing to this project. If the added space outweighs the difficulties you may face, then there is no reason not to convert your garage to make your home work better for you and your family.
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