6 things to consider when converting a garage

A garage conversion is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to add extra living space to a home. You already have the foundation, roof, wiring and walls in place and if it’s an attached garage you have an entry.

The goal is to create a garage conversion that blend seamlessly with the existing. Generally, the location makes them perfect for converting to a family room or a bigger kitchen/dining area. You need to do a thorough assessment of the space and the pros and cons on going ahead with a conversion. Here are some of the factors you will need to think about before moving ahead.

1) Garage Doors

The biggest consideration when looking at a garage conversion is what to do with the garage door. When the door is removed, you have a big empty space that needs to be filled in so that it both blends in with the rest of the house and is useful to the living space. Some possible ideas include installing a panoramic or stacking door if you have an outdoor space to open out to or a bay window. Another possibility is to create a new entryway where the garage door was located.

2) Floor

Typically, a garage floor is a uninsulated concrete slab, which is sometimes be several inches below the floor level inside the home. The slab may also be sloped toward the garage door or toward a floor drain. When these circumstances are present, you will need to fill the bottom of the garage door opening with a curb to keep water out of the converted space and protect the wall framing from moisture. You will also need to decide if the floor needs to be leveled.

3) Heating and Cooling

In the instance of an attached garage, you may be able to extend the existing heating and cooling system into the new space. If that is not an option, you will need to look at independent systems. Add your insulation to walls, floor, and ceiling first then decide how to heat and cool the space. Another option is a floor heating system–a relatively easy thing to install on an existing concrete slab.

4) Wiring

If you expecting to substantially increase the electrical usage in the converted space, adding additional wiring is essential with minimum of at least one new 20-amp circuit. Usually garages have a single lighting circuit, and a large room will require a more electrical service than that. It is likely to take several additional circuits if the converted garage will be used for a kitchen with multiple appliances. If you are converting a detached garage, additional wiring can be run from the house through an underground conduit.

5) Plumbing

This can be the biggest hurdle of a garage conversion. Organizing water supply to the garage is usually simple, but drainage can present problems. Speak with a qualified plumber about your options. If you are lucky enough to have a laundry connecting the garage to the house, you may consider turning it into a bathroom. Adding plumbing lines is often the single biggest expense in a garage conversion project.

6) Blending in

You don’t want the conversion to be an obvious add on but rather blend seamlessly with existing structure.

Try to match the colours, window and door styles and the landscaping. When done well, a garage conversion will be a seamless addition to your home.