Cost to Build a Garage With Apartment Living

Olivia Elsher

Mar 31, 2023

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Suppose an older relative is coming to live with you, or you hope to get some rental money in a robust housing market. You should start factoring in the cost to build a garage with apartment living. 

According to Generations United, one in four Americans live in a multigenerational household, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and rising living expenses. Likewise, mother-in-law suites and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) were the most sought-after home features buyers looked for in eight states in 2021.

Adding square footage is different from creating an apartment out of a garage — you need more than just a space for a sofa and television. The cost to build a garage with apartment living could range between $6,019 and $25,246, depending on what you include. 

Yet, while renovation expenses are typically high, there are less expensive ways to construct a garage apartment. Here’s a breakdown of the essential costs.

1. Insulation

Garages get cold in the winter, so insulating the interiors is crucial if you plan to convert the space into an apartment. Most homeowners spend $4,500 to insulate the walls and ceiling of a two-car garage, although it could reach upward of $6,000. 

2. Plumbing and Electrical

You’ll need to be able to turn on lights, crank up the stove or flush the toilet in a garage apartment, so plumbing and electrical work must get factored into the costs. For example, homeowners may spend around $900 to $1,300 to install plumbing lines in the garage. Labor costs are unavoidable with plumbing and electrical work — you always need to hire a contractor for this type of work.

3. Wall Materials

You’ll need to cover the insulation with drywall and sheetrock to make the garage a safe apartment space for comfortable living. Most homeowners spend $1.30 to $4.00 per square foot for drywall. A two-car garage will cost about $2,850 to cover with drywall, with separate insulation costs.

4. Paint

The converted garage space will come to life with a fresh coat of paint. Assuming you’re building a studio apartment, the cost to paint could run between $3 and $4 per square foot, including the walls, trim and ceilings. The color is more of a personal preference, although painting the space white will evoke a feeling of cleanliness and make a small area feel much bigger.

5. Doors and Windows

You’ll likely close off the traditional garage door and create a separate entryway for the new apartment. Adding windows will also help draw in some natural light. On average, windows cost between $150 and $1,800 — of course, this depends on the size, type, labor and quantity. Likewise, you’ll spend about $230 to $3,630 on an exterior door for the garage apartment, including labor costs.

6. Flooring

Tie the whole look of the converted space together with new flooring, costing about $3,067 for 500 square feet. Hardwood and engineered hardwood are the most expensive choices, while many people oppose carpeting. 

Fortunately, luxury vinyl flooring is a highly durable, aesthetically pleasing and a much more affordable option. Homeowners spend between $1,500 and $20,000 for 1,000 square feet installing vinyl.

7. Kitchenette

You won’t fit a full-sized kitchen in a small garage conversion — yet, you’ll need a kitchenette for renters to prepare meals. A kitchenette usually includes a small-to-medium-sized refrigerator, microwave, oven, sink and storage. Some homeowners add a countertop convection stove to appeal to renters who want to prepare hot food in a limited space.

Ultimately, the average cost to build a garage with an apartment kitchen could cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $45,000 — a steep price for a tiny area.

8. Small Bathroom

Adding a small bathroom is necessary when converting the garage into an apartment. You should expect to pay between $3,000 to $20,000, which accounts for fixtures, features and labor. A bathroom should include a small shower, toilet, sink and vanity and mirror at the very least. Some clever storage is also a good idea for comfortable living.

Living Comfortably in a Garage Apartment

The cost to build a garage with apartment living can be steep, but you can always create a beautiful space by choosing simple, less expensive finishes for renters or family members. Of course, putting money into features with excellent value can also boost your return on investment.

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