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How To Renovate A Garage Into An Apartment?

Are you thinking about remodelling 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 remodelling project may add 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 remodelling 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, you will have to insulate it. It would help if you also sealed 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, levelling out the floor will be another key step for your conversion. It would help if you remembered 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 colour 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 maximise 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. 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 fibreglass in the apartment, then use drywall to cover the walls fully. 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!

Converting A Garage Into An Apartment

Children coming home from college have been living above their parents’ garage for years, and as older family members live longer, they’re also moving closer to family. However, these garage apartments aren’t limited to families. If you convert your garage to an apartment, you can rent it out to tenants for extra income.

garage into an apartment

Before The Renovation

Any home renovation starts with a good plan. Because there are often unexpected obstacles in a home renovation project, a solid plan will help you to stay focused and complete your project as close to your timeline as possible. 

This includes any budgeting and permits that you may need to convert your garage into an apartment. However, the most important aspect of your garage conversion is what you plan to use it for.

Tiny Homes

Many people have decided to join the recent trend of tiny homes and convert their garages into fully functioning homes. This garage conversion is popular among those looking to save money and live more simply. Your garage apartment can be kept to a single floor, or you can incorporate a loft bedroom design. Some homeowners decide to live in their new tiny houses while renting out their larger, more traditional homes.

Rent Out Your Garage

If you want to continue to live in your main house but want the extra income of renting out your property, turning a garage into an apartment may be your answer. The beauty of being a landlord on your property is the proximity between the two living spaces. 

You can easily convert your garage into a studio apartment by keeping it to one level. If you want the apartment but don’t want to lose your car’s parking spot, you can create a garage loft. You can use an exterior entrance to keep the two spaces completely separate.


Home renovation costs will always vary based on the home and the design ideas. An approximate price for a full garage conversion is $20,000. This includes any material and labour costs you may acquire during the conversion process. 

A DIY conversion can be as low as $7,000. However, many people want a high-end renovation, especially if they plan to rent it out. While the initial cost may seem high, you will see a larger return on investment for a more expensive conversion.

Permits & Building Code

If you plan to renovate any part of your home, you need to find out if you need building permits. While there are some exceptions to these laws, a garage conversion will need permits. 

You are creating a new living space that will require the altering of walls and rewiring of electric panels. Both of these things require permission from your local municipality. While it may seem like you are doing internal work, it doesn’t matter. You can face major fines for not acquiring the proper permits. The best way to find out what you need is to call your local municipality.

Building code is of equal importance. A building code is a collection of safety standards that all buildings should meet. If you plan to rent out your new apartment to tenants, you will be required to meet the building code. 

Your space cannot pass inspection without meeting these safety requirements. Even if you’re not planning to rent out your garage, you will want to meet the building code if you ever plan on selling your home.

During The Renovation

Several steps and considerations go into converting a garage into an apartment. When you look at the original purpose of the building, it was a storage unit for your car. However, you’re not creating a living space that requires some major construction. 

Your garage starts as a blank canvas, and you’re rebuilding the interior structure to create the space you want to live in. This includes everything from basic construction elements to utilities.

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Garage floors are typically concrete slabs poured, sealed, and left to age and weather over time. If you want to keep the industrial style of a garage conversion, you can strip and stain your concrete floor. There are two different kinds of concrete stain: acid-based and water-based. Acid-based concrete stains react with the concrete to create unique patterns in earth tones. 

Water-based concrete stains are more similar to paint and create a uniform opaque colour across your floor. You can use a sealant on your concrete after staining it to create a marble-like finish. Tiling is another common option for garage renovations as they are easy to install on the existing concrete floor. 

Homeowners use both ceramic and vinyl tiling depending upon budget and the design style that they want. The two flooring options that require a little extra work are wood flooring and carpet. These options require a subfloor to be installed on top of the concrete. 

This will raise your floor, which will need to be accommodated in the entryways. While they are more complicated to install, they are the most traditional flooring options.


There are a few different decisions that must be made with the walls while you’re converting your garage into an apartment. The first project to tackle is to evaluate the existing walls and see where they need to be renovated. 

Normally these walls are sturdy and don’t need too much work. They normally need the addition of new drywall. If you plan to use the garage as a studio apartment, you only need to add the interior walls for the bathroom. 

However, if you want to separate all of your living spaces, you will need to build more interior walls. For this reason, many leave their garage apartments with open floor plans.


Windows can transform your garage from a small dark room to a beautiful open apartment. Windows allow natural light to fill your space, making it look much bigger. It’s not common for garages to have a lot of windows. 

This means that some extra construction will be necessary to install the windows. Skylights are a popular option for those that may not want to alter any of the exterior walls but want the benefits of natural light.


The most iconic part of a garage is the door. Whether you manually pull up the door or use an electric door opener, the wide door is a defining feature of the structure. You have a few options when looking to renovate your garage door. The first is to leave the door the way it is. You wouldn’t use it as the main entrance and exit point, as it's huge for a residential door. 

However, it can be used as an interesting architectural element. This is also a great option for those who go through a Homeowner’s Association. Most HOAs require that you leave the exterior of the building intact, meaning that it still looks like a classic garage from the outside. 

You can add a second door that the resident would use daily. If you want a more modern look, you can replace the garage door with all glass. If you’re living in an area that has mild to nice weather all year round, this can help you to enjoy the outdoors. 

The glass can be giant windows, sliding doors, or a combination of the two. This allows the maximum amount of natural light into your home. If you want to close off the space a little more, you can add curtains to the inside of the glass doors.


Many tiny homes utilise loft bedrooms, and garage conversions are no different. To maximise your space, use a tiny house stair option to access the upstairs room. Ladders are always one of the most popular options to access a loft in a small space. 

It has virtually no footprint and can easily be moved around your space. However, it might not be the best option for those looking to rent their space or garage apartments for elderly family members. 

They aren’t stable and don’t have the benefits of a full step. When looking at those drawbacks, your honest thought may be to look at a traditional staircase. It’s stable and has full steps. Traditional stairs have a large footprint that may not fit into your garage apartment.

Spiral stairs are a happy medium between the two. Spiral stairs are a popular option for garage conversions because of their small footprint. There are plenty of customisable options on indoor and outdoor spiral stairs to meet your design ideas. The full steps are perfect for those looking to rent out their garage.

Insulation & Temperature Control

One of the most common problems homeowners run into when converting a garage is temperature control. If you’re renovating the garage from top to bottom, you can add extra insulation to the ceiling and exterior walls. 

This will help keep the warm air in the building once it’s there. However, you need to get the warm air into the common cold apartment first. If your garage is attached, you can easily have it on the same heating and cooling system as the main house. 

This is the most economical solution. However, detached garages are becoming more common in newer home designs. In this case, you can utilise space heaters and window air conditioning units for the most economical solution.

Electricity & Plumbing

The basic utilities are probably the most expensive part of your garage renovation. If your garage is attached to the main house, the cost won’t be as painful as the existing wires and pipes can be rerouted to the new apartment. 

A detached garage will be more complicated. You will have to run the pipes underground from the main house to the smaller building. You can expect the average price to be about $3,000 each for electric and plumbing.

Using The Space

Floor Plans

Many garages utilise a studio floor plan, with the only separate room being the bathroom. This is due to the space constraints that usually come with a garage conversion. By eliminating walls, you can use as much space as possible. 

Open floor plans help the apartment feel larger and more spacious. If you want a separate bedroom area, consider a loft. Bedroom lofts are popular in tiny homes and urban apartments. They create a room by separating it from the other common living space.

Outdoor Spaces

Homeowners want a plan to enjoy the outdoors during nice weather. For many, this means a backyard deck. However, a deck is too big for a garage apartment. The perfect solution is a balcony! A balcony can be described as a deck’s younger sibling. It has the same idea of an elevated space outdoors but on a smaller scale. Just like decks, balcony designs are unique to the home!

Design Styles

Garage apartments commonly share design styles with their more urban counterparts. Both studio apartments and garage conversions usually have industrial and minimalist design aspects. 

You don’t want to crowd an already small space with lots of furniture. Minimalism features clean lines with basic furniture frames. This keeps your apartment open and light. The industrial design uses features of the building itself to support industrial furniture that uses both wood and metal. This plays on the repurposed aspect of your space.

Garages are the perfect place to incorporate a new living space into your home. The previously open structure is typically used for extra storage or is left open for your car. However, with the right design, your garage can become a unique and beautiful apartment. 

Whether you decide to use it as an extra form of income or as an in-law suite, the apartment will be an added value to your home!

FAQs About Garage Renovation

Can a garage conversion become a living space? Yes, your garage conversion can most definitely become a living space! To legally do this, you must convert a garage by turning it into either a guest quarter or an accessory dwelling unit. A guest quarter is a living space with a bathroom and a wet bar but no kitchen.

A garage conversion is not a job to tackle on the cheap, cautions Cambridge, Mass., contractor Charlie Allen. For example, a quality conversion may take 4-6 weeks and include: Raising the floor height to allow for insulation over the concrete slab. Fully insulating walls and ceiling.

Convert your garage. If you have off-road parking and depending on where you live, you may find converting a garage can significantly increase your home's value – by as much as between 10 and 15 per cent.

Still, most homeowners usually convert their garage into an ADU or an "accessory dwelling unit. An accessory dwelling unit is a garage that has been converted into an additional dwelling on a residential property.

Experts agree that the costs for converting a garage can range from $8,000 to $25,000 or more. Major variables include plumbing and electrical work. Plumbing can quickly become a big expense, depending on what you plan to do in your living space.

Contractor Vs DIY

Many homeowners have become ambitious over the years and have started to make their home renovations DIY projects. This is easy for simple projects, like painting a room or refinishing a table. 

However, a full garage conversion can quickly become complicated. If you’re turning your garage into an apartment to rent, you will need to meet building code, and it will have to pass inspection. 

The best way to renovate your garage to ensure the passing inspection is to hire a contractor. Not only will you know that your building meets code, but the craftsmanship will most likely hold up better over time.

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