Whether you want to gain a little extra income from a rental or you have adult family members who need a place to stay, converting your garage into an apartment can bring a great return on investment. However, you need to seriously evaluate the costs and plan in advance. Here are 6 things to consider when coming up with a layout, a budget and ways to shrink the costs of your garage conversion.
You'll need to understand and obtain the permits necessary for a remodel project of this size. Failing to get and factor in the costs of permits can derail your garage conversion from the beginning, so be sure you do your research when it comes to permitting needs.
Depending on the size of your garage, you'll have to decide how you want to structure the new apartment. If you have a multi-car garage, you'd likely be able to add interior walls and create an apartment with separate rooms for the bedroom, living room and kitchen. However, if the space is small (such as a single-car garage), this might chop up the apartment too much and make it undesirable. In this case, a studio-style apartment might be a much better idea.
When deciding on layout, work with a professional contractor to determine where the existing home's water and electricity are so you can try to tailor the locations of the bathroom and kitchen to what's already in place. This will save money when it comes to extending the utilities.
The most complete option for your new apartment is to remodel the garage door into an exterior wall (preferably with a nice big window for light). However, this will add a lot of expense to your project budget. If you can't change the door into a wall, you'll need to have a good quality, insulated garage door instead. Work with a professional garage door installation service, such as Garage Door Systems Inc, to figure out which door and type of insulation will work the best with your new apartment space. Then be sure to seal all the edges with polyurethane foam and caulking.
Garage floors are utilitarian, so you'll probably need to make some kind of change for an apartment. Painting the floor with a matte enamel is the least expensive option and it gives the space a good splash of color to use as a base. However, if you choose to add carpeting with a carpet pad, you will likely save energy and help keep the apartment more comfortable.
Unless your garage has already been used as an interior working or living space, it's probably going to need additional insulation to keep it comfortable. Before adding drywall to the exterior garage walls, be sure to add good fiberglass insulation. If keeping warmth in is a concern where you live, consider building a drop ceiling and placing more insulation above it.
Connecting the new apartment's bath and kitchen to the main home's water and electricity can be a tricky part of the process. Having worked on a layout that keeps the new rooms closer to the existing wiring and pipes will help save money and time. If you are able to extend the heating and ventilation system outward to the new garage apartment, this will keep the area as comfortable as possible for whomever lives there -- especially if temperatures vary widely in your area. However, if you live in a fairly temperate climate and wish to save money, you could simply add space heaters and a window air-conditioning unit.
It can be daunting when you understand what a big remodel this can be. But by working to save money where you can, adding what's needed to keep the place comfortable and planning a good layout, you can create a new apartment that will add value to your home and enjoyment to your life.