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Garage Conversion Ideas Worth the Effort

May 17, 2019 · 5 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Garage Conversion Ideas Worth the Effort

It’s simple: You’ve decided you need more living space. But maybe you’ve priced out building a new addition onto your home and it just doesn’t seem practical. Or maybe there isn’t even enough space on your property to make it possible. A garage conversion may be a potential solution. Redoing your garage could be one of the more affordable ways to add living space—and one of the quickest ways, too.

What the conversion will cost and how much time it takes depends on the purpose of the remodel, and we’ll talk about some of the most common reasons people convert garages into living space.

We’ll discuss how a garage conversion could add value to your home, what you might need to consider before you get started, and how to tackle some of the biggest tasks. Finally, we’ll share garage conversion cost ranges, as well as potential ways to finance this exciting project.

In general, a two-car garage might provide more space to fulfill your conversion needs—for example, if you’re making a children’s playroom, you might want the extra space. However, one-car garages, when converted, might resemble tiny houses , and those have been trending for the past few years.

Do Garage Conversions Add Value?

Value can be defined in multiple ways, and one of the most important considerations is what value this project might add to your life, in general. If you have a big family, you may long for a space where you can have privacy, and, to you, this cozy, private space might feel priceless. Or you may want to make your children a playroom to get their toys out of the house for a little more of a feng-shui feel.

Here are other ways to look at value. If you aren’t using your garage to house your vehicles, then you’re not taking advantage of its original purpose. So, if you convert your garage space into, say, a guest apartment for your parents, you could be creating something of more value to your entire family.

If your parents or spouse’s parents were able to stay with you—and yet not be under your roof—that might mean your children have more time with their grandparents. And you’d have some healthy distance between where you sleep and where your in-laws sleep. It might just be a win-win.

To help your planning process, we have some tools that could streamline the planning phase, including our Home Project Value Estimator and our Home Improvement Cost Calculator.

Ways to Use Your Converted Garage

How you use the space that was formerly your garage depends, in part, on whether it’s attached to your house or a freestanding structure. If the garage is attached, you could create a room that becomes part of your home.

This could be a rec room, a workout room, a family room, a home theater, an extra bedroom, a room where you can entertain friends, and the like. Or, if your attached garage is connected to your kitchen, you might consider expanding your kitchen into a luxurious home cook’s paradise or create the dining room of your dreams.

A detached garage could become a mini apartment for your child who’s now a young adult, you could create an art studio that has all the privacy inherent of its own building, or you could get to work without ever leaving home!

Garage Conversion to Apartment

If you’ve decided to transform your garage into an apartment, whether to make an in-law suite or for your college-age child, you’ll want to talk to your local planning board to find out what permits , if any, you need. (In fact, it’s important to double-check whether for light remodeling or a full garage-to-apartment conversion.)

Before you begin any work, you might want to know what you’ll do with the belongings currently in your garage. To streamline that process as much as possible, you could divide the items into one of three categories:

•  Keep

•  Donate

•  Throw Away

Once you’ve donated and thrown away items, where do you want to store the remaining items? What can go in your basement and attic? How can you make those areas more storage-friendly ? You could add those ideas to your list for this remodeling project.

Do you still want to use a portion of your garage for storage? If so, how will you partition off that section so that the rest of the garage looks attractive? If you don’t want to use your garage for storage after the conversion, you could consider building a shed that can store what you want to keep.

Need help funding your garage conversion?
Check out home improvement loans with SoFi.


Floors and Doors

A 2019 article on TheSpruce.com points out how floors and doors are crucial to a successful conversion. If you have a typical garage, the flooring is probably a concrete slab with no insulation. And the garage floor may be several feet below the floors in your home, sloping toward a floor drain or the garage door. Therefore, an important part of this conversion might involve floor leveling.

Then there is the garage door. If you remove it, you have a large open space. How could you address that? You might want to install a patio door to let in the light or create a new wall that contains a large bay window. What you do might depend on whether or not you want the spot where the garage door existed to be an entryway.

While planning your conversion, you could envision where entryways would go, rather than trying to make do with what you’ve got. Imagine how frustrating it would be to have a beautiful new apartment or room with a door placed in a highly inconvenient spot.

Roofing, Ventilation, and Insulation

You might want to make sure your garage roof is watertight. If not, some roofing upgrades could be necessary. If the plan is for a kitchen or bathroom in your converted garage, ventilation issues might need to be addressed. And to create a place that’s comfortable, even cozy, you may want to ensure there is proper insulation in the walls, roof, flooring, and anywhere else it’s needed.

Windows and Walls

You might need to create stud framing and fasten drywall to create your walls. Insulation work and moisture-proofing might need to be done, as well as any wiring in the walls. What closets do you want in this space? Now might be the time to lay those out properly.

One way to make a garage quickly feel like home is through natural daylight, so you might want to consider window size and strategic placement. Window styles that match those on your home give it a cohesive look, especially with attached garages.

Heating, Plumbing, and Wiring

If you have an attached garage, can your current HVAC system heat and cool your converted space? You may want to consider how to supplement what you currently have, whether through a floor heating system, electric baseboards, wood stoves, and the like in the winter, or air-conditioning units in the summer.

With plumbing, you might need to consider how to run pipes to supply water to the garage as well as how to effectively drain the water. If you need to add plumbing to the new space, this might be one of your bigger expenses .

Cost Considerations

Costs for garage conversions depend on what you’re converting your garage into. HomeAdvisor.com calculates that the national average for this type of project is in the $12,000 range at the time of writing this, with high-end projects costing up to $35,000. Of course, pricing is still likely to vary based on where you live, when you’re renovating, and what changes you’re looking to make.

Home Improvement Loans

When it’s time to fund your garage conversion ideas, an unsecured home improvement loan might be the right fit for you.

The benefits of a home improvement loan at SoFi include:

•  Quick process, with the average time from loan approval to funding being seven days

•  Fixed-rate payments

•  No collateral, which means home equity is not on the line

•  Zero fees—no surprises, no hidden fees

•  Competitive interest rates

If you’re ready to get started, it’s quick and easy. In fact, you can find your rate in just minutes.


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