The 6 Questions You Need to Ask Before Converting a Garage to a Bedroom
If you don’t use your garage a lot, it’s awfully tempting to remodel it into a bedroom, and perhaps even rent it out for extra income. But a garage isn’t a remodeling project like the rest of the house, and here’s why.

What Happens to the Garage Door?

Most new garages have doors that come up and sit inside the garage, as opposed to the old doors that would swing way outside onto the driveway. One of the biggest hurdles facing remodeling homeowners is just what to do with the door.

Most of the time, remodelers just remove the door, but that raises another question: what goes in its space? There are typically three options: a wall, a will with a big window, or a patio with a door. Whichever option you choose, make sure it blends in with the rest of the conversion.

Do You Have Insulation Plans?

For the most parts, garages lack insulation because, well, they don’t need to. Cars don’t shiver and get cold the way we do, but once the garage is converted into a bedroom, it will need to be. Further, the base of the garage is usually a giant concrete slab, which can get cold very, very quickly. It can also be sloped down, which may mean you need to level it.

How Will it be Heated and Cooled?

Unless the garage is already equipped with a heating and cooling system, that’s another thing to consider. Putting in a window sill air conditioner is easy enough, but heating can be trickier. Will you use gas, electric, or a wood-burning stove? And if you choose the latter, what’s the ventilation system like in there? Wiring also needs to be installed because unless the inhabitants are going to be going about their daily activities by candelight, they’ll need outlets to plug everything into.

Can You Go Right Ahead, Or Do You Need Permission?

A lot of the time, a major remodeling project like converting the garage into a living space may need codes and permits, depending on your city and what exactly you’re planning to do. For instance, installing plumbing very often comes with contacting the city and getting permission, while windows probably don’t. As well, heating will have to meet with city or town regulations. And if you’re in a listed building or another special exception, it’s always a good idea to talk with a real estate lawyer so you don’t end up getting in major trouble down the road.

It’s a Garage--It Can’t Get That Decorative, Can It?

To quote Sarah Palin, you betcha! This page here shows lots of great converted garages that are now bedrooms and offices.

How Much Will This Cost?

This one is really difficult to predict because of so many factors (parts, labor, permits, excavations, decorations), but a general answer is “thousands”. For example, the windows alone, if you got up-to-date ones that blended in perfectly, could run a few thousand, while installing the heating, cooling and plumbing is easily another few thousand right there. This is definitely a project to research and speak to more than one contractor about.

Amy Wright
Amy Wright is the Lead Editor of Remodeling Central. When she isn't playing with her dogs she is trying to remodel a classic Chicago style brownstone with her husband.

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