Are you ready to convert your garage to an office? This large-scale home renovation project may seem a little overwhelming at first, which is why we’ve taken the liberty of simplifying things for you. In this guide, we’ve broken things down into smaller, achievable steps to conquer in your quest to convert your garage to a living space.
How to Get Started
With a renovation of this magnitude, how do you know where to start? We suggest completing these three important steps before anything else. The following actions will help you establish a clear understanding of the scope of the project and make the entire process a whole lot smoother.
Consult With Experts
Speaking with an expert is the best way to gain a clear understanding of the process, what it will take, and what to avoid. Speak with local contractors about the job, get some helpful advice, and learn how to handle common obstacles.
Going into a major renovation such as this one warrants careful planning and research. Speak with experts who can provide counsel on carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and any other aspect that you’re not already familiar with.
Plans and Blueprints
Before you invest a lot of money into the garage conversion essentials, create a clear, detailed plan for your remodel. List out the components that you’ll need to add or take away. Format your plan into a checklist to help break down the project into smaller, realistic steps.
Whether you’re planning an extensive renovation or a basic remodel, you’ll want to draw up some blueprints as well. These will help you map out a realistic vision and save you a lot of time throughout the process as you shop around for quotes, flooring options, etc.
Take measurements and illustrate your desired end result with sketches, blueprints, and maybe even some vision boards to help you stay true to your original design while you browse aesthetic components.
Hire Out or DIY?
Another important consideration is whether you’ll convert your garage to a living space all on your own or enlist the help of professionals. Garage renovations are nothing to sneeze at; they require a great deal of time, money, and effort. Whether you choose to DIY or hire out will tip the scales one way or another.
On one hand, a DIY garage conversion can save you a great deal of money in terms of labor costs. You do, however, run the risk of making a costly mistake. Additionally, a DIY renovation typically takes longer to complete since you’re working on the project whenever you can, whereas professional contractors can work on the renovation for several hours a day, multiple days in a row.
On the other hand, leaving all of the work to the professionals can end up costing you a whole lot more. You may have less control over the project, depending on your budget and timeframe. Lastly, you’ll have a garage full of strangers for at least a couple weeks. However, you won’t have to do the labor yourself, which is worth the cost for many homeowners.
It’s a toss-up. If you’re a skilled handyman craving a long-term, challenging project, then by all means, go for it! If you don’t have the required tools or skillset, the easier and safer route would be to leave the renovation in the hands of experienced professionals.
If you do choose to tackle the project on your own, we highly recommend that you hire a professional to handle the plumbing and electrical work. Also, keep in mind that while you can save a substantial chunk of money on manpower by doing it yourself, that doesn’t mean that converting your garage to a room won’t be costly. You’re still going to need supplies and professional-grade tools for a job like this.
We know you’re excited and eager to get started, but unfortunately, there are a few legal matters to take care of before you get to dive in. But don’t worry; it’s really not as complicated as you might think.
Do You Need a Permit to Convert a Garage into an Office?
Yes, you need a building permit to convert a garage to an office. While the submittal requirements will vary according to the laws and regulations enforced in your local jurisdiction, homeowners should expect to obtain a building permit for the renovation, as well as permits for any plumbing or electrical work.
Do You Need Planning Permission to Turn a Garage into an Office?
Building plans are also required to convert a garage to a room of any kind. Such plans should clearly illustrate the work you plan on doing. Cities will carry a copy of your as-built plans which you can acquire so you won’t have to start from scratch. In addition to accurate dimensions, your building plans should include walls, windows, doors, alarms, plumbing fixtures, stairs, and pretty much anything else that has to do with plumbing, electrical, or mechanical work.
Building plans should be submitted with the building permits, and if all goes well, you’ll receive planning permissions and acceptance for your permit requests.
For detailed information regarding the legal requirements of converting a garage to a living space, view this helpful PDF by My Building Permit.
Does a Garage Conversion Add Value?
No, it does not. In the best case scenario, you’ll break even with your garage conversion. You see, the problem with a garage conversion is that you’re not utilizing an otherwise unused space, such as a basement or attic; You’re taking away a space with a very specific purpose that can’t be fulfilled by another part of your house at a later date: sheltered parking or storage.
By choosing to convert your garage to an office, you’re sacrificing one useful room for another. For this reason, you’re not likely to increase the value of your home with a garage renovation. If you have plenty of alternative off-street parking, then you may add to the value of your home, but only slightly. Parking requirements are definitely a factor to consider before going through with the garage conversion. Alternatively, a different option would be to build another garage in the future if space is permitting.
How Long Does a Garage Conversion Take?
A lot of homeowners wonder how long a garage conversion will take once they get started. The answer depends on the availability of the person or people who are doing the work. With the help of a full-time professional crew, your garage could be converted in a week’s time.
However, if you’re doing all of the work yourself on weekends or after work, you should expect it to take a lot longer. Most garage renovations can take anywhere from a week to a month from start to finish, but the timeframe can be a lot longer depending on when the work can get done.
Another deciding factor for the timeline is the complexity of the job. If you’re doing an entire floor-to-ceiling renovation in your spare time, the job could take you six months or longer. If you’re doing a basic remodel, you could probably knock it out in a couple weekends.
It’s uncommon for a garage to be insulated; after all, it’s intended to store heavy machinery, right? If you want to convert your garage to a room that will be comfortable, you’ll definitely need to add some proper insulation—especially if you live in a climate that dishes out harsh weather conditions.
Most standard garages have one window and basic lighting. In order to convert your garage into a home office, you’ll need to add some lighting. This project often includes adding more lighting fixtures and at least one additional light switch. An alternative could also be to add doors, windows, and skylights for additional lighting.
Some garage renovations include the addition of another bathroom or a sink with running water. If you want to take your makeover to this level, you’ll definitely need to hire a professional plumber to help you make it happen. A working sink is a great idea for a home office/craft room.
How Much Will a Garage Conversion Cost?
The cost to convert a garage into a room will vary greatly depending on how much work you do yourself, what tools you’ll need to invest in, and how much your local professionals will charge to handle the work that you can’t. According to a study by Home Advisor, homeowners paid anywhere between $6k-$20k to turn their unused garage into a proper living space.
The best way to obtain an accurate estimate for the cost to convert a garage into a room is to take some time to gather quotes and do some research. Make a list of tools and supplies you’ll need accompanied by pricing. Call around to some local hardware stores, check pricing online—do whatever it takes to create an accurate budget.
Once you’ve got your budget, make sure you add some wiggle room for unexpected obstacles and pitfalls.
Small Garage Office Design Ideas
Once you’ve handled all of the legal matters and have established a comfortable, temperature-controlled space with adequate lighting, it’s time for the fun part: the design! One of the best parts about converting your garage into another room is the freedom you have to design your dream space.
Chances are, your garage is equipped with not-so-lovely unfinished drywall. For insulation and aesthetics, you can finish your walls and make them look however you’d like. Faux exposed brick, shiplap: you name it. Once you’ve got the base walls to start with, adding texture and color is super easy.
For a home office space inside a garage, we suggest you stick with clean, light walls that won’t be too much of a hassle to change later if you decide you want your garage back. Choosing light colors will help the space feel more open and better lit, which is ideal for a workspace.
You may also want to consider a multifunctional wall that can double as storage space. By installing wall panels, you can easily craft an entire wall of shelving and cabinetry to keep your office supplies neatly stored and organized. This can be extremely helpful, especially when you consider what used to be in the space before.
As far as flooring goes, we suggest laying over the concrete with insulation and finished flooring. The type of flooring you choose should depend on the type of work you’ll be doing, the feeling you’re trying to create, and your level of insulation.
How about a spacious vaulted ceiling for your new office space? Many garages already come equipped with the bare bones of a high ceiling, but just in case yours doesn’t, you need to make sure to keep it at least seven and a half feet high.
If you’ve only got one small window in your garage, you may want to consider adding more for some natural light that won’t be too harsh on your eyes. It’s likely that your city will require a window addition for converting a garage to a liveable space, so make sure you do some research on your local residential building codes, including fire codes.
In addition to the natural light from your new windows, you’ll want to add some artificial lighting. Replace that garage lighting fixture with some accent lighting—and make sure to choose bulbs that won’t be too big a strain on your eyes.
Types of Spaces to Convert Garage Into
If you’re not entirely set on converting your garage to an office, you might be wondering what else you can use the space for. Here are just a few awesome ideas to convert your garage into a different type of living space:
- She-cave/Man Cave
- Art studio
- Family room
Convert Your Garage With Flow Wall
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Convert your garage to a living space or home office that suits your lifestyle perfectly with Flow Wall.