The Renovation Project You Might Seriously Regret
When you're living in a home where living space is on the tight side, but upgrading to a larger home isn't an option for the foreseeable future, you start to get creative. You take a look at the layout of your living room and you consider whether you really need a dedicated dining room. You start to evaluate whether your musty basement could ever be finished into a worthwhile bonus space—and if you have a garage, you think about turning it into additional living space.
Well, before you start running through all the exciting potential options of that last project (an extra bedroom! An in-law suite! A separate TV room for the kids!), let us be the ones to serve you with a strong dose of reality. Even if you can see endless positive reasons to convert your garage into a room (or rooms), there are a lot of potential downfalls that ought to be considered before you dive headfirst into this project.
First, let us go ahead and say that a garage conversion can make a lot of sense. If your family is bursting at the seams and you just absolutely need that extra bedroom, converting your garage can be a convenient solution. Aside from moving or building an addition onto your house, converting the garage is a great way to add more living space to your house. And if losing the parking and storage space isn't a big deal for your family, the benefits are obvious.
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That said, you should always consider what any renovation project will do for the value of your home when it comes time to sell (which might be sooner than you think). Increasing your 3-bedroom house to a 4-bedroom house is awesome for buyers, but losing enclosed parking and a large amount of storage space is a pretty significant loss for your house. And if the room you create isn't a bedroom (i.e. a living room without closets, a door, or close proximity to a bathroom), you might actually see your renovation project devalue your home in the long run. Similarly, creating an in-law suite or rentable apartment with a separate entrance may be a brilliant solution for your family, but not every buyer will be able to take advantage of that layout.
There are other potential downsides with a garage conversion: Although the basic structure is already there, garages are not built to the same standards as the rest of your house. Consider the costs of insulating, adding windows, replacing the exterior wall where the garage door was, connecting the HVAC system, and potentially adding plumbing. Because it's somewhat easy to complete this project in a shoddy way (without consulting an architect or getting permits), many cities and municipalities have actually banned garage conversions, or will allow them only if sufficient off-street parking will exist afterwards.
At the end of the day, you want your home to work well for your family while you're living there. And if you're to the point of considering converting your garage into extra living space, clearly it isn't. But before you decide you've come up with the perfect solution, consider all the costs and potential concerns this project will create. Losing such a large storage area (for furniture, toys, seasonal items—not to mention cars) can be problematic. Make sure you have optimal alternative options—otherwise, this might be a renovation to regret