Garage Conversions, part 2

February 2, 2010 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Someone in Houston found our “The Converted Garage” blog article and emailed with some questions related to her project.  Thought we should share the feedback:

We love it when someone finds one of our blogs helpful and applicable.  I definitely have some recommendations. I am a Realtor in Austin and do a lot of business is 1940-1960’s neighborhoods with plenty of garage conversions so I have seen the good, the bad and, yes, the ugly. 

The do-it-yourself jobs tend to be the worse and can actually detract from the value of the house.  The floor is important so that it either doesn’t step down or doesn’t just feel like a box laid on top of the garage floor.  A step down is not so bad if the conversion is done professionally.  You need to make sure the floor of the orginal garage was engineered properly … if it’s loaded with cracks, you’ll want some foundation and/or structural engineer input before you proceed with putting something on top of it. 

You will want the ceiling height no lower than the rest of the house.  Also the outside finish-out is important to make sure that it adds to your street appeal, not a distraction.  For example, I have seen conversions where the driveway is still intact and leads right up to the now-enclosed wall. 

Sometimes garage conversions are done in a manner that they can be “un-converted” because the next owner may want the garage back … but if you just added a new one in the back yard, you should be good here.  If you skimp on windows, the next owner may not like the house … so think about resale as you plan your room and budget. 

Make sure it is up to code on electric and take the time to do the insulation and drywall properly.  

Will the room have a heat / air vent or will you add one from the existing system?  If it has a window unit and the rest of the house has central, that is not so good.  

If the room can open up to the rest of the house, that can be very nice (but not always an option).  If you lose a laundry room or water heater closet in the conversion, how have you added it or accommodated for it some other way? 

If done properly and well, an appraiser will give it equal value $/sqft.  If not done well, it will not add $-for-$ value to your house when it comes time to sell.


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