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Garage Conversions

Planning Garage Conversions: What You Should Know

At some point in their lives, every homeowner will at least think about this possibility. Do the cars really need to go into the garage? Thinking about what to do with all that extra space gets some people’s juices flowing. While garage conversions seem like one of the simplest home improvement projects out there, they still have their challenges.

garage adapted to the car

Do Garage Conversions Require Permits?

The first challenge that will come about is figuring out whether a permit is necessary to get the job done. When it’s just a garage attached directly to a house, permits are usually unnecessary. It would be different if there were going to be a change to the exterior of the building.

Another thing that could make a permit necessary is having a garage separated from the main house. Those garages fall directly into the accessory dwelling unit category.

Getting a license for these types of garage conversions could be a good idea, even if the local code doesn’t require it. It’s a good idea because, as an ADU, the separate garage will be easier to rent out to generate extra income.

Main Elements of a Garage Conversion

Turning the garage door into a wall is the first step towards converting a garage into a room. Then it’s going to be time to take care of the floors. Most garage floors need to be leveled and may be stained. These are just two of the many things that need to get done.

Turning a Garage Door into a Wall

In most of these cases, what’s going to happen is that the existing door, usually an electric garage door, will be taken down. This takedown process includes the system that powers the electric gate. From there comes the process known as reframing.

In this process, creating the frame where the new door will go is done. Then comes the insulation and the actual walls on both sides of the frame. A more straightforward way to do this could be to leave the metal frame from the garage door and use that as the frame for the new wall.

Before deciding how to change the garage door into a wall, choosing which type of materials will be used to build the new wall could be a good idea. One of the simplest ways to get this job done is to add drywall panels to the aforementioned metal frame.

Don’t Forget About the Ceiling

A garage conversion usually comes with the challenge of adding lighting to the room and more wall sockets to the side walls. The existing ceiling may need to be more appealing for anyone lying in bed and looking at it every night.

One of the quickest ways to fix that issue is to use drywall to create a new ceiling. In many cases, the drywall ceiling covers the existing structure. That’s going to give the place better lighting right off the bat.

Floors May Need a Hand as Well

In most homes, driveways run up to a garage. There’s a bit of an uneven area that marks the border between the garage floor and the driveway. When doing garage conversions, many contractors like to go in and do some concrete leveling.

The other common theme for floors in garage conversions is to re-stain the floor or add a new element like hardwood. There are many options to choose from when it comes to garage floors. What’s typically never recommended is to keep the original flooring.

Most of the time, these floors tend to be very dusty. There could be grease stains and tire marks on the ground from when cars were parked there. It’s better to at least stain the floors and cover up some of those elements left over from the garage era.

What About the Sidewalls?

Leaving the sidewalls in a garage as they are can have the same effect as the ceiling issue. What most people opt to do is set up drywall or other types of materials. That’s going to stabilize the temperature in the room.

The room also becomes less dark in most cases if white drywall panels cover the walls. Changing the side walls is not a part of garage conversions that would be absolutely necessary. It depends on what the garage will be used for moving forward and if there’s a clear design idea in place.

Pros & Cons of Leaving Sidewalls as They Are

Pros Cons
It’s a budget-friendly option. It may look like an unfinished product.
The project can be finished much quicker. The area can become too dark and damp to be a bedroom.
The room can remain darker and damper, which can benefit specific uses. Not using proper insulation can lead to moisture issues in other parts of the garage.

How to Ensure the Right Contractors Are on the Job

One of the best signs that indicate a contractor understands the task at hand is that they can provide various options. It’s harder to work with a company that executes the same idea repeatedly.

While garage conversions are not necessarily the most complex home improvement project, picking a contractor that uses quality materials will ensure the final product will endure. As with any project, verifying that the contractor has relevant experience in similar situations is always a good idea.

Final Thoughts

There is a danger of trying to oversimplify a garage conversion project. Yes, it’s true that out of all of the significant accessory dwelling unit projects, it’s technically the simplest one. That doesn’t mean, though, that it should be taken lightly.

Homeowners who go the DIY route often have rooms in their former garages with deplorable living conditions. These projects are more complex than just sealing off the existing garage door so the wind doesn’t blow into the room.

Electrical facilities have to be updated for the room to be fully functional. Plumbing and creating a bathroom within the space is another overlooked element. It makes more sense to hire the right people for the job and then enjoy the results.

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