…custom deck or gazebo, home gym, kids playroom, home theater, game or gaming room, arts and crafts studio, or a revenue-generating apartment or Airbnb spot. It’s fun to think of the possibilities for taking a storage space and turning it into something that better fits your lifestyle and personality (and could give you more curb appeal).
As with any project, there’s more to garage conversions than meets the eye. Your Denver-area outdoor carpentry experts at SRI Decks are here to help you explore the ins and outs of garage conversions to determine if it’s right for you.
More Than Auto Storage
Garage conversions are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason! Turning a car cache or clutter catch-all into a functional living space adds utility to your square footage while potentially increasing your property value.
Over the years, cars have moved out of garages while work, hobby, and holiday decorations have moved in and taken over.
When an estimated one out of four Americans doesn’t actually use their garage to park their cars anyway, why not turn it into a bonus indoor or outdoor room of some sort?!
What’s the Deal With Detached Garages?
Detached garages (garages that are not connected to the house) are more likely to become something other than their intended car storage areas. In theory, keeping odorous and explosive materials (like gasoline) away from the house and its occupants was better than having them attached. In practice, however, homeowners preferred being able to enter the house from inside the garage. Plus, it turned out that cars didn’t explode very often, and fumes didn’t seem to be a bother!
The Appeal of Garage Conversions
Generally speaking, because the foundation, roof, walls, and support beams already exist for your garage, converting it into something else typically comes together faster and more affordably compared to adding on to your home.
For those not wanting to part with their storage space, partial conversions are a great alternative. Turn one part of the garage into work or living space while sectioning off the other for storage purposes.
Getting Professional Help
We recommend speaking with a couple of professionals before proceeding with a garage conversion. First, talk to a real estate agent to determine if living space is more valuable than a garage in your area. With Colorado’s relatively high incidence of hail storms, you don’t want to take away your garage space to have it work against you when you’re ready to sell.
Next, speak with a contractor who can verify the structural integrity of your garage, help you with designing, and keep you in line with building and fire safety codes.
And suppose you plan on selling your home in the future. With a contractor’s help, you can transform your garage into something that works for now but could be easily reconverted back into a garage for potential buyers.
Finally, check with a tax professional and an insurance agent—the first to learn about the property tax implications of a garage conversion—the second to figure out what additional insurance you’ll need during construction and on the finished product.
Don’t Overlook These
Depending on the scope of your garage transfiguration, there may be more little changes than you expect that add up in time and cost. Your building must be structurally sound. The floor, walls, windows, and roof must be insulated if you convert it into a living or sleeping area.
For fire safety, you need working smoke alarms and windows of a specific size. Dividing walls must withstand fire for a certain amount of time.
You may need to work with an electrician to establish extra electrical points. Plus, they can help you with additional heating and cooling needs if you have any. An electrician can guide you on whether or not you should use a radiator, connect to your existing heating/cooling system, or install a separate system.
A detached garage tends to be more expensive to convert than an attached one. Detached garages typically need more insulation, design changes, and permits.
Smaller, Cost-effective Ideas
Sometimes, small changes can make a big difference. For instance, adding insulation, drywall, some coats of paint, and storage solutions can take your garage from looking like a Medieval torture chamber to literally anything less depressing.
See Your Garage in a Different Light
The traditional garage door can be swapped out or fitted with something that allows light in while still giving you your privacy when closed. Check out screen frames that let the sunlight and air in but keep bugs out. Or look into vinyl glazing that looks like glass window panes but is lighter, more durable, and more budget-friendly.
Time to Think Outside of the Box (That Is Your Garage)
If your garage is a cobwebbed, cluttered mess, AND it doesn’t even house your vehicles, there’s a world of alternatives and opportunities awaiting it. While garages aren’t our specialty, we wanted to cover this topic because we are passionate about making outdoor spaces beautiful and liveable.
Check out our photo gallery and let us know how we can help you “up” your curb appeal game. Our Colorado outdoor carpentry professionals at SRI Decks can help build an integrated passageway from a detached garage to your house or convert your garage into a deck for festive gatherings. We look forward to hearing from you soon!