Garage Remodeling: Everything You Need to Know

Evelyn Long

Feb 19, 2023


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A garage has so much untapped potential. While most commonly used as storage for your belongings, toolset and cars, renovating the area can add functionality and extra square footage to your home. A lot goes into garage remodeling, from crafting a new design to leveling the ground and reconfiguring the entryway to the space.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed thinking about turning your home improvement aspirations into reality. However, this guide will provide you with the ins and outs of renovating your garage into a usable space. 

1. Deciding How to Utilize the Space

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. Hiring a Professional

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.

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. 

3. Creating a Design

Let’s say you intend to turn your garage into more square footage. If you have a detached garage, this may ultimately become a residential suite for renters or a relative who’s come to live with you.

Keep in mind that you must configure ADUs to include bathroom facilities, somewhere to sleep and a kitchenette. 

If you’re planning to create a new layout for your own use of the space, begin by sketching what you want it to look like, where you should install new walls, outlets and plumbing and how you may wish to fit furniture inside afterward.

Will this be a reading room, an extension of your living room, an office or an at-home gym? What about the existing garage door? Consider walling it up and adding a dormer to make the space an actual part of the home. 

Your contractor and an architect can assist you with your design plan and create renderings that match exactly what you envision. 

4. Paying for Your Garage Remodel

Homeowners may have a sticker shock when they find out the cost of remodeling a garage. The average cost range is $7,000 to $15,000, with many homeowners spending about $11,000 for a two-car garage renovation. However, this ultimately depends on what you plan to do with the room. 

If you intend to install an ADU, a detached garage could cost upwards of $100,000, while an attached garage might start at about $40,000.

Several professionals will have to work on your garage remodel, such as your contractor, an electrician, plumber, roofer, painter and floor installer, driving up the cost of labor. You may also need to level out the ground to prevent water from seeping in and add new framing and insulation.

Setting a budget for the renovation project is critical. You’ll want to be conscious at every stage of the project about how much you’re spending. You should also factor in a contingency fund if unforeseen circumstances arise during the construction.

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.

5. Purge 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.

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.

Remodeling your garage is the perfect time to go through boxes and create a pile of items to throw away or donate. You might even decide to sell items in a garage sale to make extra cash for your renovation. 

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. 

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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