Converting your garage into a living space
Converting your garage into additional living space is a trend that has been on the over the past decade and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. This is especially true for homeowners who don’t have attics or basements that can serve as additional living quarters that are needed to accommodate a growing family, adult children or aging relatives. In other cases, the attic can’t be converted due to a shallow roof or the basement may not be suitable for habitation.
However, garages that have been converted into a living space are both comfortable and spacious and this project is suitable for both attached and separate garages. Making sure that the converted garage is suitable for living includes making sure it has enough light, space, warmth during the winter and a cooling system for the summer and that it complies with local building codes. These are the main things to pay attention to when converting your garage into a living space.
1. The Floor
In most cases, a garage conversion to a living space will require installing a new floor. This is because most garage floors consist of a single concrete slab which can be cracked, sloped or otherwise damages by years of use and neglect. Additionally, garage floors tend to sit lower than the rest of the house. Installing a new structure typically includes building a wood framed or a concrete floor that will align it with the rest of the house floors or keep it only a step or two lower than the main flooring.
A big advantage of installing a top slab of concrete on top of an existing floor is that it offers the opportunity to install insulation or a radiant floor heating system within the concrete. This will help you have better climate control over the garage and make it an overall more pleasant living space.
2. The Garage Door
The garage door is the biggest opening your newly converted space will have and as such it has a tremendous impact on both the overall look of the space and the work that will need to be done. If you opt to keep the garage door you will need to ensure that it is completely weather-tight. The actual door itself can become a large-scale feature of the interior while the exterior of your home will remain unchanged.
If you choose to remove the garage door you may decide to close the opening with a wall, however many homeowners take advantage of the opening to bring in more light into the living space by choosing to install large windows or glass doors instead.
Garages usually have very few windows, if they even have any at all. This means that you will most likely need to install additional windows and find a way to maximize the light in the converted space. Don’t forget to check your local ordinances and building codes when deciding on the size and placement of the new openings.
If you would like to add a kitchen or bathroom to your garage conversion can be difficult as additional plumbing will need to be tied into your existing plumbing lines which may pose some technical difficulties. However, there are ways to circumvent these issues such a raising the floor to accommodate new pipes and reworking the exterior walls. Make sure you do your research and consult with a professional before attempting to add plumbing to the new living space.
Most garage ceilings are set lower than the rest of the house. Increasing the height of the garage ceiling is a possibility if you have a detached garage or if your attached garage doesn’t have a second floor above it. However, the amount of work that can be done depends on the type of framing that is used on the garage roof.