For homeowners in search of new living or work space, a garage conversion makes sense. A garage offers a ready-made enclosed space where the heaviest construction work---framing, roofing, and siding---is already done. That doesn't mean that a conversion project is simple: some jobs are beyond the capabilities of all but experienced remodelers. But almost any do-it-yourselfer can tackle some tasks.
The keys to successful completion are having a plan for the new space, and tackling the steps to get there in a logical order. Each of the building's systems is affected by a conversion, so prepare to learn new skills or get professional help.
- Skill level:
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Plan the conversion from start to finish. Make note of any changes or additions that will be needed in basic systems such as plumbing and electricity. Draw up the plans or hire an architect to draw them, as plans that address building codes will be needed to obtain permits.
Begin the conversion by removing the garage door or doors. The openings must be framed and closed off as soon as possible. Many garage conversions use these ready-made spaces to install windows and exterior doors.
Add water, power, and climate control. Hire an electrician to add a new circuit to your home's electrical system and a plumber to extend water (and natural gas, if necessary) lines. Install new electrical sockets and lighting as needed.
Enclose the interior space. Construct any new walls required for planned storage space or other rooms, and drywall the interior. Add thermal insulation, especially in the ceiling and exterior walls. Consider adding a skylight to allow in natural light for an artist's studio.
Build up the floor so it's level where the doors were removed. Concrete floors are cold and hard, so consider laying a built-up floor of underlayment on furring strips. Lay insulation between the furring strips. This floor can be completed with carpet, tile, or engineered wood.
Install fixtures and appliances such as cabinets, counter tops, and bathroom facilities, if called for in the plan.
Finish the ceiling, walls, and floor; working top to bottom. Add paint and wallpaper before installing floor coverings. Install all moulding and trim, interior doors, and electrical fixtures.
Tips and warnings
- Unless you are confident in your skills, hire a professional for any job that can be dangerous, especially electrical work.
- Familiarise yourself with national and local building codes before beginning planning.
- Always use safe practices when demolishing or building, especially when using power tools. Use safety glasses, hearing protection, and gloves.
- Garage door springs, especially single torsion springs mounted above the door, are under high tension and can unwrap with great force. Consider hiring a garage-door contractor to remove the doors if you have this style spring.
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