If you need more living space in your home, turning your garage into a room is an appealing option. While price varies by location, a garage conversion costs about half of what you’d expect to spend when building a home addition from scratch. However, there are many things to consider before tackling this project.
Converting a garage to a living space is a big job that includes raising the floor, insulating the walls and adding heating, cooling and ventilation — as well as updating doors and windows. Before you begin a DIY garage conversion, think about every aspect of the job.
5 Questions to Ask Before a Garage Makeover
You should ask yourself five key questions to make sure a garage conversion is the best option for your home.
1. Can I Convert My Garage Into a Room?
If you want to make space in your home without changing the original floor plan, a garage room conversion might be the solution for you. But you should consider four key factors before making the final call. A garage conversion is the right option for your home if:
- The garage door is easily replaceable for your space: Will your new living space allow for patio doors or an additional entrance where the overhead door used to be? If not, make sure you can blend the new wall into your current home exterior and build a wall that doesn’t look like it used to be a garage.
- Heating and cooling is in your budget: To keep costs down, find out if your current HVAC system will support an additional room. If so, you can expand the ventilation to cover the garage. If not, you can update the system or purchase an independent system to provide a heating solution in the garage, but make sure you factor one of these options into your budget.
- Plumbing is accessible (if necessary): If you’re hoping to add a bathroom or kitchenette to make your garage into an in-law suite or apartment, contact a plumber. Adding plumbing lines, specifically drainage, is often the most expensive part of a DIY garage conversion and could be outside your budget.
- Adequate parking and storage are available elsewhere: Converting your garage means permanently eliminating parking and storage. Turning your garage into extra space isn’t worth the investment if you no longer have a place for your lawn mower or work bench and have insufficient parking.
“Because our house is small, converting the garage would mean losing storage space to gain living space. After much consideration, we decided the extra living space was more important to us. The big benefit of doing so was adding the extra living space. As my children got older, having the garage serve as a family room gave them space to have friends over away from the main living room.”
Roxanne Kwiecinski | The Honeycomb Home
2. Is a Permit Required to Convert Your Garage?
Since you’re changing how you use your garage, you might need a permit depending on where you live. To apply for garage conversion permits, contact your city’s zoning department for more information. You may need to work with an architect to provide a proposed floor plan when applying for a permit.
What You Should Know About Building Permits
- Building codes. Permits ensure your plans meet building codes and local ordinances for living spaces. Building codes may dictate the minimum number of windows in a space, the number of exits and entrances, the height of the ceiling, the number of outlets and other factors. If you can’t meet any of these requirements, you may be able to apply for a variance depending on the issue.
- Cost. Garage conversion permits can range in cost, but the average price is often between $1,000 and $1,500. Expect to pay more if you need to apply for a variance.
- Parking. Some city ordinances or homeowner associations require a certain amount of covered parking that may prevent you from converting your garage into a room.
- Inspections. If your space requires a permit, it will also require an inspection at the end of the renovation to make sure you met all building code and zoning requirements.
3. What Type of Room Can a Garage Become?
Wondering which room to convert your garage into? As long as you obey building code requirements, you can create any type of living space with your garage remodel. Depending on the zoning of your home, you might have to jump more hurdles when building an independent living space, such as an apartment, than converting your garage into a bedroom.
Garage conversion ideas include:
- Studio Apartment
- Art studio
- Family room
The only limitations you have when converting your garage to living space are those set upon you by local regulations and budgetary restrictions.
4. Does Converting a Garage Add Value to Your Home?
As long as you complete your garage conversion properly, it will add value to your home. The value itself depends on how seamless the conversion is and the type of room you build. Typically, you can expect to recoup about 80% of the project cost. But your home can lose value if you ignore three key factors.
A garage remodel can be detrimental to your home value if:
- Your neighborhood requires covered parking or limits street parking. If not having a garage makes parking complicated, it will lower your home’s value.
- The project is completed illegally or without permits. While permits may seem like a hassle upfront, they will increase the project’s value in the long run.
- The project eliminates necessary storage. If your home already lacks storage, removing the garage will only exacerbate the problem and potentially lower the sale price.
5. How Much Does a DIY Garage Conversion Cost?
The average cost of a garage conversion ranges between $5,719 and $24,316, according to HomeAdvisor. The total cost depends on the size of your garage, the type of room you’re constructing and the amount of professional contracting assistance you need.
A garage can become a simple bedroom or living space for as little as $5,000, but if you require plumbing for a bathroom or kitchen, the project can cost closer to $50,000. Examples of related costs include:
|Renovation Element||Approximate Cost|
|Garage conversion permit||$1,000 to $1,500|
|Garage insulation||$0.30 to $2 per board foot|
|Wall framing||$4 to $10 per square foot|
|Windows||$300 to $1,200 per window|
|Ducts and vents||$475 to $2,100|
|Electrical outlets||$125 to $300 per outlet installed|
|Plumbing||$375 to $1,900|
|Dumpster rental||$217 to $1,040 depending on the size you need|
Can’t Convert Your Garage Into a Room? Check Out These Alternatives:
If parking or zoning restrictions make converting your garage into a room an impractical way to add space to your home, consider a basement, attic or shed remodel.
- Basement remodel. You’re still working with an existing structure, so you’ll save money. However, converting your basement could mean giving up more storage space than converting your garage.
- Attic conversion. If zoning or building codes prevent you from converting your garage, consider your attic. There, you can add ceiling height while saving money since you’re working in an existing space.
- Shed conversion. You can convert your shed into a home office, “she shed” or another bedroom. However, you might have to find another place to keep your tools and lawn equipment.
Ready to Start Your Garage Conversion?
Before starting this project, consult with professional contractors to determine whether a garage room conversion is the best way to accomplish your space-enhancing goals. Who knows, you might have all the storage you need with a little decluttering.
I would like to convert my garage into a bedroom as soon as possible. We are willing to get a quote as soon as possible.
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I converted a garage into a bedroom. Unfortunately I was reported by an angry ex wife and had to tear it down. Check your zoning laws to avoid my mistakes.
Well you shouldn’t have made her live in the garage then….
Did you get fined or they gave you time to tear it down?
I’m looking at buying a house that converted a recreation room into a garage. I can’t find a permit in county records for this. Was one required? The county records show the Sq ft of the house pre conversion into a garage so it makes me wonder if this was a legal conversion. And yes, they converted a room into a garage.
Hi, I’m looking to convert my existing garage into a kitchen and then adding a 3 car attached garage. If I live in a subdivision do you think this would be allowed? I will have all necessary permits pulled before hand.
Hi Dee, thanks for commenting! The best way to be sure is to check with your subdivision’s HOA before starting any work.
We have a small carport space that adjoins a bedroom that we want to convert into a small living room with a small kitchen. Our laundry room is also next to the small room that is there now. I want to get an estimate and do I need a permit..
Hi Sarah if you cant find any records at Building and Safety then it was converted illegally.
We have a pretty large property and our son is going to attend University. He does not want to dorm because the University is 5 minutes away. We have a really big 3 car garage that has a second floor. According to the history of the house it was originally a cottage house for the butler and maids. We would like to convert it into his own studio apartment. The house we live in is a historical house. However, the garage was already altered so it would not be a problem to change. My question is… If the garage was originally a cottage home back in 1927 can I change it back to a cottage home now?
Hi Yolanda, thanks for commenting!
Before making any changes, it’s a good idea to check with your city or town’s local government to see if there are any permits required, or if there are building codes and zoning ordinances that need to be met during your garage conversion. These may have changed quite a bit since 1927, and changing a garage to a bedroom may have a few more requirements than the other way around. If you’re part of a homeowners’ association, you’ll also want to check with them to make sure you’re complying with their outlined Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). For example, in some areas, homes are required to have covered, off-street parking – if this is the case for your neighborhood, then you would need to create another covered parking area to replace your garage.
Hope this is a helpful starting point!
We are looking at converting a 32’x70′ workshop into a home. It has electrical run throughout. It has a water line outside. We know we would have to add a septic tank, HVAC, add windows, etc. but wondering about the plumbing. The article says, plumbing can cost up to 25k. Would that cover the cost to route water and drains to the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms if we keep them somewhat close together? Second, do we have to raise the level of the floor? It is even with the ground outside, but could something be done to the outside to avoid that? Burms, French drains, paved walk around exterior? Thanks for the help! Great article.
According to Homewyse, the average cost to move one line of plumbing can range between $662 and $813. The additional costs can vary depending on how much work is needed to access the plumbing (i.e. cutting into drywall, flooring, etc). As for the floor, if you are going to be putting in flooring and a subfloor (using sleeper joists), this will automatically add a little height inside. Outside, you may want to chat with a landscape expert to help you find the best solution – hope this is helpful, thanks for commenting!
Need a garage conversion to living room with toilet and bathroom
did you get any replies? My grown kids want to build a mother-in-law home within a double garage size. I’m nervous it’s too small.
We have a very sturdy carport,, which measures 15′ x 21″, with 6×6 vertical posts and a high, beamed ceiling. The carport is detached, but is only 7 feet away from the house. My idea is to add an extension on to the carport to attach it to the house, and convert the carport into the living room of the house. I’d have to raise the floor of the carport to make it level with the house, but, since the ceiling is high, I’d still have at least a 9′ ceiling. I live in a rural area of Sonoma County, CA on over an acre of land, and plan to add parking in another area of our property. Besides building permits, and consulting with an architect/engineer, what else do I need to consider? Any idea of cost? Thanks for your help.
I want to concert my detached garage to a bedroom and a bathroom and I like a quote thanks
i would like t convert my garage into living space and looking for directions
I would dispute your cost estimated: it cost me $7000 to re-locate HVAC, Sheet Rock-$15,000, Framing-$4200, windows and new exterior door $7500, leveling cement floor-$6200, dump runs- $250, new plumbing/Electrical- $86,000. New flooring (not sure yet) bathroom-$10,000, insulation- $5400, and my job is not yet finished… I budgeting $250,000 and I think it will all be used up!
Thank you for sharing your renovation experience with us! We’ll definitely factor these numbers into our research on a future update for this post.
Thanks for reading!
Is your house in Paris? Or is this garage 4,000 sq ft?
The article is about converting a garage not building a new house.
Your spending $250,000 to convert a garage to a living space? Did I miss something? Have you ever heard of being ripped off before? Lol
Wow, Colleen that seems a bit much. I am converting my garage into a master bedroom with a bathroom and a walk in closet in Miami, FL. As a homeowner, I took the owner’s quiz and was able to build my project as an homeowner and pulled the permits myself in lieu of hiring a contractor in an effort to save some money. They did require me to get a licensed electrician, plumber and mechanical person to pull their permits under my master permit. I was able to hire a handyman to do most of the building work which was relatively cheap. Blocking in with CMU some portion of where the garage door was $300.00, framing and insulation $600.00, installing some drywall for my ceiling $400.00, cutting some existing header to raise and install new side door $400.00, raising the floor with poured concrete 7 inches with wire mesh and vapor barrier and 3″ of compact fill, $1000.00 (we did the compact fill, vapor barrier and wire mesh ourselves with YouTube video and called truck and pump to pour concrete for us). For work that required licensed personnel so far my expenses has been, $3,900.00 for plumbing, $3,600 for electrical, mechanical is $1,090.00. We are not done yet as we still need final drywall on all walls and the tile on all the bathroom but getting quotes on that now. Installing all the fixtures is including on my plumbing cost stated earlier. Project is almost done and so far we have spent 11, 290.00. I think at most we would be spending no more than 20K and at worse 25K. It did cost us getting a lot of estimates and going with the lowest bids. The highest were electrical and plumbing which where coming in as high as 10k-12k and then some between 7K-9K. For plumbing we were able to reduce cost buy digging all the exterior trenches ourselves and by renting machinery at Home Depot because the city made us connect new plumbing lines and waste lines from sidewalk. We were not allowed to tap in existing because we already have two bathrooms. We have reduced cost by doing the things we could do on our own which has mostly been anything getting demolished, since I don’t have a handyman for a husband. Anyways, hope this helps anyone who is looking to reduce cost somehow.
Our garage conversion is over $110,000. I think your figures are way off
Question i have an 2 car garage that is as deep as the length of my home … do i need a permit to convert half of the garage to living space?
We’d recommend contacting your city’s zoning or building department to check if a permit is needed. This is often the case if you’re adding plumbing or electrical.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your conversion project!
I would like to convert my garage in to a living/dining space. It is to the left of the kitchen. The living/dining space would become the new main entrance to the house. I also want to add a garage to the left of the LR/DR so entrance from the garage would be into the living room. Is this an arrangement that would work or should I consider placing the garage somewhere else?
Converted my garage with a contractor, total cost about 57,000 dollars. Looks very luxurious and is renting for 1,350 every month no problem.
What do you need to do if you convert your garage into a studio without a permit?
Teach me your ways!! I live in St. Pete and the first estimate I have for only a bedroom is $24,000.
Hi, I’m very excited as I’ll be converting a small garage to a mezzanine/loft sleep out. There’ll be no bathroom/toilet or kitchen. I will be needing electricity for lights and power points as this is going to be a project for myself to live in. The main house is opposite where I’ll be living, as I’ll use the main house for showers, cooking and family entertainment. Would I be needing a permit for this garage conversion?
Hi I am purchasing a home I have a two car garage all I want to do is make it a family room no one knows Plumbing anything of that sort just the floors painted maybe with epoxy and the walls painted just to make it a family room do I need a permit for this if I have someone to come in and paint the walls and the floors and make it presentable as a family room the garage already has the light above it when you open up the garage door so I don’t think I need any lights you can always use lamps
How much would it cost to convert my garage to inlaw suit , width 17 feet depth 11 feet.
One queen bed a kitchenette a shower cubicle 3 x3 feet a wash basin and a toilet seat
Heating cooling flooring ceiling
Just a rough estimate range please
@Sam, that would depend totally on the plumbing (how far away are the existing drains/hot water feed etc) and HVAC situation. Electric could also run you a few grand depending on how far from your panel this space is – all in all WITH a Bathroom, in 2022/23, I’d be assuming $30k+.