Tips for Converting Your Garage into Extra Living Space

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How to Convert a Garage into an Apartment

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When you buy a home, every square foot of available living space is valuable, and adding on during remodeling only adds more value. If you have a garage that's scarcely used aside from storing old golf clubs and tool boxes, you might consider converting it into an apartment. You can use it for whatever you want: an extra family room, an additional bedroom or even a separate apartment to rent out.

Read on to learn more about how to convert your garage into an apartment and what you need to know to get the job done successfully.

Securing building permits

Before you begin any construction or renovation projects, you should always plan ahead and make sure you have obtained any building permits necessary for you to complete the job. Since you won't be building anything new, but rather converting an already existing structure into a livable space, obtaining permits shouldn't be a hassle.
  • To get the necessary permits, visit your local city hall, township courthouse or municipal building.

  • To convert your garage into an apartment, you'll have to wire the area with electricity and install plumbing for the bathroom and kitchen areas. You will likely need a basic building permit to complete these projects.

  • Also, it's a good idea to schedule a time for a building inspector to come to your property, survey the space you plan on converting and approve it for occupancy and renting.

Planning the remodel

The first steps to planning the remodel are coming up with an idea of what to do with the space and how you'd like to arrange the apartment.
  • Decide what to do with the garage door. There are two options: insulate it with a layer of dry wall and foam insulation, or convert it to a large window or entryway. The garage door is the largest access point to the garage, so before you begin building, this is the first big decision to make.

  • Decide where you want the tenant to enter the apartment. Once you've closed off or removed the garage door, decide how you want the tenant to enter. Some garages have a separate door in the back that opens directly into the garage, but others provide access only from inside the main house. If you don't already have a door, you'll need to plan for installing one.

  • Plan the layout of the apartment and where you'll place the bathroom and kitchen areas. If you plan on converting the garage into a full apartment for a tenant, choose the best places for each area based on where your plumbing runs and how your garage is situated in relation to the main house. Use this plan to determine where to install the new wiring and plumbing when construction begins.

  • Decide what kind of flooring you want to install. This decision will be based on two factors-- whether or not your garage is prone to flooding and the level of moisture. High-moisture areas that flood during heavy rain are not optimal for carpeting. You should instead opt for wood floors or linoleum on top of a raised sub-floor that contains excess moisture beneath the floor.

Converting your garage

This portion of the project will vary, depending on your conversion plans and the amenities added to the new apartment. However, there are several basic things to remember when beginning construction:
  • Make sure the ground is level in the garage before installing the floor. Since many garages tend to be slightly sloped to accelerate drainage, you should make sure your garage is level before installing the flooring. If not, pour in some additional concrete to even it out.

  • Place the bathroom and kitchen area as close to the shared wall of the main house as possible. Since you will need to connect the plumbing for your new apartment to the existing plumbing in the main house, place the bathroom and kitchen area of the apartment near the shared wall to easily connect the plumbing and save money. Also, run all electrical wiring through your home's exterior wall.

  • Consider your heating/cooling options. You have two choices: run your heating and cooling ducts from the main house into the apartment or install separate electric heaters and window air conditioner units to regulate the temperature. Compare the costs of each option and choose whichever one is best for your budget.

  • Add foam insulation and drywall to cut down on heating and cooling costs. Insulation and drywall is a must when finishing the apartment. If your garage is big enough (a two- to three-car garage), consider adding interior walls to close off different areas of the apartment and create separate rooms.

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on January 15, 2014 - Moving Expert
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