How to Turn a Garage into an Apartment

Are you thinking about remodeling your garage into an apartment? Although this can be a time-consuming challenge, it is also a very worthwhile investment. Experts have estimated that the average garage remodeling project may add up to 400 square feet to your house. This not only serves to grow resale value but can also be a great source of additional rental income.

Let's review the most important steps of remodeling a garage into an apartment:

  • Obtain the permits you will need with a trip to the county courthouse or your town hall. This tends to be an efficient process because you won't need nearly as much paperwork as you would if you were building a completely new structure. Still, you will need permits to add electrical wiring and plumbing to the garage space. Plus, you will have to arrange for an inspector to review the property before it can be rented or inhabited.

  • Come up with a plan for the door. The garage door is one of the biggest challenges in your conversion! In many cases, a contractor can help you convert the door into an exterior wall space. If you have more money to spend, you may be able to convert it into a bay window. If you decide to leave the door as is, you will have to insulate it. You should also seal the edges using polyurethane foam or basic caulk to create a tight seal.

  • Measure and evaluate the floor's slope. A simple handyman's level can help you do this correctly. When first built, garages tend to have a sloped floor so that water can drain out more easily. Because of that, leveling out the floor will be another key step for your conversion. You should remember to budget for a small amount of additional concrete: It usually only takes a very thin layer to compensate for the slope.

  • If you wish, paint the floor. Matte enamel paint is a good choice for concrete floors because it will make the floor surface less slippery. It can also add a splash of color to the room, giving you a starting point for redecorating the space. To improve the look and feel of the new apartment even further, you might wish to consider carpet or linoleum floors. This will make the space more attractive to potential renters.

  • Connect your new apartment to the pipes and wiring of the house. This is done by running the lines through the home's exterior wall and into the apartment. You can maximize savings if the bathroom and kitchen are situated close to the shared wall between the new unit and the house. The further the wiring and pipes have to travel, the more expensive it will be to connect them to the utilities.

  • Decide on the best way to heat and cool your space. Depending on the cost of utilities, you might decide to connect the apartment to the temperature control features of the house itself. On the other hand, it may be more efficient to buy a separate space heater and window air conditioning unit for the apartment. You can compare the daily wattage used by these devices to your existing heating and cooling bill to develop your estimate.

  • Install appropriate insulation or fiberglass in the apartment, then use drywall to fully cover the walls. This will significantly reduce heating and cooling expenses. If your new space permits, you can now add interior walls to define rooms in the apartment. This is best done in a multi-vehicle garage: If your garage only accommodates one car, consider leaving the space as open as possible (a "studio"-style apartment) with a private bathroom. Paint the walls with latex paint, and you're done!

More Garage-to-Apartment Conversion Ideas, Photos, and Instructions