The Converted Garage
Originally uploaded by thenelsonproject
In Austin, Texas we do not have basements. In some neighborhoods, especially older 40’s, 50’s and 60’s homes that are storage-challenged (Crestview, Hyde Park, Rosedale), many homeowners seem compelled to convert their attached garage into additional living space.
This is not typically a good thing.
I have seen more bad garage conversions than I have seen good garage conversions and I can spot ‘em a mile away. There is the typical 1-car conversion. There are the 2-car garages that are converted into 1-car and pulling half the garage sqft into the house. Better yet, garage doors still on the front and if you open them up you get a 6’-deep storage then a wall (that’s just weird). Or garage doors still on the front but they do not open because there is a wall behind them. Oh, I have seen some weird garage conversions.
Signs of a bad garage conversion include a step down into the “new room”, or a raised floor but it’s noticeably hollow (clunk, clunk, clunk when you walk on it), a window HVAC unit because the owner did not bother to spend the money to pull ductwork into the space and, typically, a multitude of minor signs that it was done by the homeowner him/herself vs. a qualified contractor.
A bad garage conversion actually lessens the value of a house because it creates more of a liability … something the new owner will have to spend money to undo to bring it up to standard. But the owner thinks they have just added 400 sqft onto their house at the same $ for $ value as the rest of the house.
So what does a good garage conversion entail? It definitely employs a qualified contractor. It comes across as seamless on both the exterior and interior. It includes central heating and cooling. It feels and looks like a natural part of the house. It’s not just a weekend project of putting up insulation, drywall, a couple windows and new carpet. And it probably costs more than you think.
A good garage conversion can add value to a house but do not expect the full $ for $ increase as the rest of the house because remember, you removed the garage and unless you built a nice big shed in the backyard (emphasis on nice and big), the house is still storage-challenged. I wish we had basements in Austin.
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