Need to add more room to your home without adding onto your existing structure? Your garage may be the answer. Converting your garage into a livable area can add around 600 sq ft for a 2-car garage. On the up side, it will cost less than an addition. But the down side is your car may suffer.

What Does It Cost?

Converting a garage has the benefit of the existing structure. So it will cost about half of an all-new addition. You can expect to pay between $20,000 to $50,000 on a 2-car garage, depending on features. Want a bathroom as well? Add another $15,000 to $25,000.

What All Does It Involve?

Don't go thinking that converting a garage is a cheap project. A quality conversion may take 4-6 weeks and include:

  • Raising the floor height to allow for insulation over the concrete slab
  • Fully insulating walls and ceiling
  • Providing heating and cooling for the space, either by tying into the house’s main system or adding an independent one, such as a ductless mini-split system
  • An electrical service upgrade to accommodate the larger load
  • Opening up the partition wall between your house and the garage to create an open floor plan
  • Replacing garage doors with fully insulated stud walls
  • Adding windows and doors

How Do You Make Look Like It Was Always a Living Space?

If you go to the trouble of converting your garage, you may not want people asking "wasn't this a garage once?" You need to eliminate any evidence of the old garage door openings, install plenty of windows, and perhaps add rooftop design elements, such as dormer windows.

An architect can help you add design elements. Expect to pay $50 to $150 per hour for the services of a registered architect, or 5% to 20% of the cost of the whole project.

What’s the Downside?

The downside is where you now park your car(s). If you never parked them in the garage to start with, then great. But if you did, then you should look at the risks of parking outside, such as potential weather damage or theft. You may also lose storage for landscaping tools and lawnmowers. For that purpose, you might think about adding a shed for lawn tools.

What Are the Alternatives?

What about your basement, if you have one? If it's full height, then remodeling it will cost the same as a garage, and you won't give up your parking and tool storage.

Another approach is to leave the garage parking intact, and add new living space above it. It’s rare for a garage roof to be able to accommodate a full second story, so this project typically involves tearing off the existing roof, beefing up the garage’s structure, and then building the new space over it. But that can be a lot more work, and can cost much more.

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