How to Convert A Garage Without Losing Resale Value
Converting your garage is a big decision
And many home owners are scared away from converting a garage because they fear that doing so will ultimately reduce the resale value of their home. A quick google search will pull up pages of nay-sayers, but there is one aspect to these claims that is important to recognize - the vast majority of people who are opposed to converting a garage are talking about poorly executed conversions which have no permits. Legal garage conversions, (ones in which the proper paperwork and permits are completed, and all of the workmanship is both expertly executed and up to fire codes), generally add value to homes. Unfortunately, many people do not seek out the proper, legal avenues to garage conversion, and it is those illegal garage conversions which can be detrimental to a home's resale value.
How to Convert a Garage without Losing Resale Value
1.) Off-street Parking:
If you've ever had to live in a busy metropolitan area without a designated parking space, you can see why the lack of off street parking could turn away potential buyers. Before you decide to do a permanent conversion, ask yourself whether or not the garage conversion will take away the only off street parking from your house.
“I have seen numerous examples of homes with converted garages that have little on street or driveway parking and/or have nowhere to store the junk that would normally go in a garage. If someone were to want to do a conversion, they should have ample additional parking and a shed or some other type of storage space for typically garage stuff. “-Patrick Hake, RE/MAX Gold, and Real Estate Broker in Auburn:"
2.) Storage Space:
If you want to convert your garage without detracting from its resale value, an important consideration you should make is whether or not the property has a place to store all of the odds and ends that would ordinarily be stored in a garage. This is a mistake many home owners with converted garage's make; they add the bedroom but in doing so remove highly desirable storage space. If you intend to convert your garage, take the extra step to set up a tool shed or other similar structure on the property so that tools, appliances and everything else that would usually be stored in a garage has a place to be stored.
The importance of legality in any home renovation cannot be stressed enough. Having an illegally converted garage can turn away upwards of 60% of potential buyers. Here at GarageConversions,org, we help our clients sift through the various legal docs and paper work required for a legal garage conversion. A good, reputable contractor will do the same and will make sure that your garage conversion meets all the legal requirements before any work is started.
4.) Keeping Garage Door:
Deciding whether to keep a functioning garage door, or to replace the door with a wall can make a huge difference in the resale value of a home. More often than not, a potential buyer will inquire about restoring the garage back to it's original function. When a garage door is replaced by a wall, the restorating becomes substantially more difficult, and much more expensive. This is a big red flag to potential home buyers, but one that can easily be avoided by opting to keep a functioning garage door incorporated into building plans.
A full garage conversion is not a DIY project.
The complex steps involved to complete a high quality garage conversion is something that should only be attempted by seasoned professionals with expertise in home building. The sad truth is that more often than not, garage conversions are done poorly, without the use of seasoned professionals,
“Most conversions are poorly executed, have issues with HVAC and access to bathrooms. Buyers want garages for vehicles and storage."- Jeff Grenz, Real Estate Broker in Sacramento
If you intend to resell your home after a garage conversion, don't sacrifice workmanship to save a few bucks, because in the long run, using sub-par contractors , materials, or attempting a DIY garage conversion will cost you much more in the long run.
6.) Surrounding Neighborhood:
Another important factor to consider when deciding on a converted garage is the surrounding neighborhood. Are garage conversions popular in the area?
"Are they common to the neighborhood? Some older neighborhoods of mostly two-bedroom homes have seen a large number of garages converted to additional living or bedroom space, and in neighborhoods like this it makes sense. "- Rob McQuade, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate – Realtor in Sacramento
The more common garage conversions are in the immediate area, the less likely a converted garage is to detract from the amount of potential buyers.
Achieving the Perfect Garage Conversion:
- Leave off street parking options available to potential buyers
- Provide alternative storage solutions for tools and personal items (such as a shed )
- Make sure your conversion is up to any and all codes, fire codes, and is completely covered by necessary permits
- Consider keeping a functioning garage door. It is not necessary, but is often times beneficial
- Use only the highest quality materials, and only licensed and qualified contractors
- Preferably, garage conversions should be done in areas in which garage conversions are more common
If a full garage conversion seems like too large a step, you should also consider remodeling your garage. The difference is the permanence of the changes. For example, having additional sockets, air conditioning, lighting, shelving, or changing the flooring of your garage is a good middle ground which may still allow you the ability to utilize a garage as an additional room. Smaller changes like these won't offer the same comfort as a complete conversion, and are better suited for using a garage as a place that isn’t constantly used such as game room, or secondary TV room. If you plan to resell your home, then these less permanent options may be more appealing.
Garage Conversions Should be considered on a Case-by-Case Basis
There is no guarantee that a garage conversion will subtract from home value- in fact in many cases, the additional square footage is appealing to home buyers and will increase the resale value of your home. The housing market fluctuates constantly, so there is no correct answer when it comes to garage conversions. You should make a decision based on your own individual needs, and a trustworthy contracting company should help you to explore your options and determine whether or not a garage conversion is best for you. However, following the steps above is a great start to being able to convert your garage without risking your home's potential resale value.