Garage Remodeling: Everything You Need to Know

Evelyn Long

Jan 30, 2023

garage remodel

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Do you have an unused garage? You can turn it into a functional room through renovation projects. This can increase its resale value as well. Although, it can be a costly and timely project. So, here are tips for your garage remodel. 

1. Create a Vision for the Finished Space

The first step is to determine the goal of the project. How did you plan to use the new space? Is it turning into a home office or workout room? Then think about the furniture and decor you want to include. Pick an overall style for a more cohesive look. You can review design magazines or scroll through Pinterest for inspiration. 

Remember to include fabric swatches, paint colors and various storage ideas in your plans. Your budget will also help determine what realistically fits within the space. Having these plans ahead of time helps prevent costly changes down the line. 

Garages are prone to clutter, whether we try to hide things when guests stop by or pile items to get them out of the way. You may even have boxes of holiday decorations you’re unsure about. 

According to a previous survey quoted in Remodeling magazine, nearly one in four homeowners can’t fit their cars into the garage due to too many unorganized objects. 

Garage remodeling can be as straightforward as adding additional storage and organization. It also could mean extending the area to make it larger and more practical for your needs.

A more ambitious renovation could include drafting a new layout by turning your garage into extra living space, such as a den, office or accessory dwelling unit (ADU). With over one in four Americans living in a multigenerational home, extra square footage is a must-have for many homeowners.

Your needs and desires for the space can help you determine the best approach to your garage remodel.

2. Draw Out the Plans

Write out a project wish list and contact a general contractor to determine what’s possible for your garage vision. 

A professional will be able to provide important information regarding the project’s scope, potential setbacks, costs and a timeline for completion. They’ll also be able to tell you whether your garage is conducive to the type of project you’re interested in doing.

The average garage remodeling cost is around ​​$7,000 – $15,000. It’s essential to speak with several contractors to get multiple bids. You’ll also want to research their experience, licensure and certifications and portfolios of past projects. Ask for referrals and speak with people who are familiar with their work. Most importantly, make sure your general contractor is insured.

Garage remodeling is a huge undertaking. A contractor can make the process easier by helping you create a rendering of the new layout, submitting design plans on your behalf for permits and executing your garage renovation efficiently. 

Once you have agreed on a plan, it’s time for the finished drawings. Hire an architect to create the blueprints. Before talking with them, have as much figured out as possible from new walls to outlets. 

3. Create a Budget and File for Permits 

Have a set budget in place ahead of time. Overestimate the project costs, especially when adding new walls or routing plumbing. As you start to create your wish list, total up all the estimated expenses. Remember the simple things like nails and rags. You also want coverage for hidden expenses like water damage or demolition. 

Then add some extra cash for emergency funds, such as incorrect installations. The other cost you might not consider is permitting. You need a permit when making any structural changes. The process can take time and is filed with your local building officials. While meeting with them, schedule any required inspections as well. 

Finally, have a set plan for how you will pay for the remodel. Have you been saving up to cover all or most of the costs? You might be eligible for home improvement loans, a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or cash-out refinance. 

Speak with a financial advisor to understand your options and what would be ideal for your situation.

4. Clean up the Space 

A garage remodel is impossible without a blank slate. Once you’ve completed all the essential prep work, you’ll need to clear out your garage. This involves emptying the area so contractors can move around freely. How long it will take depends on how much stuff has accumulated. To make it go by faster, recruit your whole family for help. 

Even an uncomplicated home improvement project, such as creating a more organized, sufficient storage space, demands a purge of excess stuff. After all, you might be looking to make room for your car to fit indoors. During this time, consider donating any unwanted items or selling them online. The Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity are all great options. Donating can be an easy way to make extra cash and clear up some space. 

If your garage remodel is more extensive, consider storing those items in the attic or renting out a storage unit until the project is complete. Of course, added living space or a suite may require you to find a new, permanent location for the items you initially kept in the garage. 

5. Choose Your Contractor Carefully

Unless you’re extremely handy, going with a professional can save you time and stress. Check reviews and verify they have proper licensing and insurance. See if you can contact past clients and learn more about the builders recent projects. 

Skimping on a contractor can lead to costly mistakes down the line. So, the higher upfront costs may be worth it. You may end up paying around $250 – $58,000. However, this can help ensure the job is done right.

6. Make Sure There is Plenty of Natural Light

Turning the garage into a livable space will require you to replace your current windows. You might also need to add a few more than what you have. Bringing in more sunlight can make the room feel open and welcoming. 

You can update to egress windows. These are at the right height and size for a quick escape during an emergency. They also improve indoor ventilation. However, they must comply with International Residential Code (IRC) requirements and building codes.

7. Create a Functional Space 

Creating a comfortable space is an essential step in the garage remodeling process. The first step is to ensure the room is heated and cooled correctly. So, you’ll need to install ductwork for an HVAC system. If you’re using your current system, tie the pipes into the available ducting. If it’s an entirely new installation, add the necessary ductwork and equipment. 

With the walls still open, add in the proper wiring for electricity. You’ll want to hire a professional for this project. Before closing your borders, add insulation. This will prevent energy loss and keep your internal temperature consistent. 

8. Prepare Yourself for the Process

While all the work is going on, it can disrupt your everyday routine. So, you want to plan for any inconveniences ahead of time. For example, determine where you will park your car for the next few weeks. 

Also, discuss when your contractor will be on-site and set non-access hours. Plus, let them know which rooms they can enter, like your bathroom. If you have younger children, inform them which areas are unsafe. 

Suggestions for a Budget-Friendly Garage Remodel

The reality is that remodeling your garage is going to be very expensive. Naturally, you might be wondering if there are ways to make the process easier on your wallet. 

To save a bit of money, you could choose to do the demolition yourself. Thankfully, there shouldn’t be much demolition needed in a garage, so you may only have to remove items hanging on the walls or disassemble cabinetry you no longer need.

Do your own research on materials costs, as well. Online stores offer lots of bargains and discounts for what you want to include in your new space — and place your orders as soon as possible. The National Association of Home Builders says that 90% of builders reported materials shortages in 2021, likely continuing throughout 2022. 

It would be best if you also tried to stay away from customizations and expensive finishes. For example, luxury vinyl flooring and stone flooring are a fraction of the cost of engineered hardwood and still look beautiful in any space.

Of course, a surefire way to save a bit of money on your garage remodel is to create a detailed plan you can stick to. Having everything written down — contractor schedules, deadlines, deliveries, etc. — will help prevent mistakes and delays that can add additional costs to your project.

Turn Your Garage Into the Space of Your Dreams

There’s a reason why you’re interested in renovating your garage: It likely isn’t serving a purpose for you as is. Although you have a lot to consider before diving into a massive garage remodeling project, your unique design ideas for the space can become a reality. 

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