How To Convert a Garage Into A Living Space: A Step-by-Step Guide

Convert a Garage Into A Living Space

Converting a garage into a studio can be a worthwhile investment. It bolsters privacy and provides extra income. This article guides how you can transform your garage. Let’s get into it.

Benefits of Converting a Garage Into a Living Space

Additional Living Space

The obvious benefit of converting your garage into a living space is that you get more extra living space. It can be used as a bedroom, family room, office, or separate apartment (if you have a large garage).

Increased Property Value

A garage conversion can significantly increase the value of a property. The conversion adds living space and can improve a home’s overall layout and functionality. And this is what most home investors are looking for.

Bolsters Privacy

For households with multiple generations living under one roof, converting a garage into a living space can provide more privacy for each member. A separate living area can be used as a private suite or apartment for elderly parents, adult children or guests.

In addition, if you work from home, turning it into a simple office can significantly bolster the privacy needed for work and related activities, such as videoconferencing.

Improves Flexibility

Converting your garage into a studio can allow you to play with your creativity. For example, you can incorporate a home gym, a workspace, a home theater, or a playroom for children. Besides, since it is a studio room, you can have a separate dining area, kitchen area, and sleeping area from the main house.

Facilitates Sustainability

Garages often lack proper insulation and can be drafty, making them difficult to heat and cool. Converting a garage into a living space provides an opportunity to improve the space’s energy efficiency by adding insulation and modern windows.

Allows for Better Use of Existing Space

A garage conversion allows homeowners to use existing space better than building an addition or purchasing a larger home. For example, you remodel the garage instead of making an ADU in your backyard, saving you money and time.

Saves You Money

A garage conversion can be more cost-effective than building an addition to a home, especially if the garage already has a foundation and a roof (which most garages have).

Source of Additional Income

If you convert the garage into a rental unit, it can provide a secondary income source. You can rent it out to students or low-income earners. You can even list it as an Airbnb. The rental income can also help offset the conversion cost.

How To Convert Your Garage Into a Living Space

Now that you know the benefits of garage transformation, let’s look at the steps involved.

Planning and Preparation

  • Identify Your Goals

Before converting your garage into a studio, determine the space’s intended use and create a design plan. Some reasons one might have for converting it into a living area include the following:

  • Space for an elderly family member
  • For additional rental income
  • Providing space for a caregiver
  • Housing disabled loved one
  • Providing room for your child in college, and more.

As you’d imagine, each reason will have a distinctive approach. For example, the goal of converting the garage for the elderly differs from that of additional income.

  • Research Local Building Codes and Zoning Laws

After identifying your goals, it is time to research the building codes. It is to ensure that conversion is allowed in your area. You need the lot size, zone designation, address, and the assessor’s parcel number (APN), to determine if the garage transformation is possible in your area.

Residential areas are typically designated with a code starting with “R” followed by a number. For instance, an area marked as “R1” would indicate a single-family residential zone.

On the other hand, “MF” would indicate a multi-family zone, in which case you may have certain restrictions regarding constructing an additional, separate living quarter.

  • Hire an Architect or Contractor

Converting a garage into a studio is not an easy feat. As such, you need to consult a contractor or an architect (if you will hire builders). Nexxus Remodeling is a leading garage conversion contractor that can help you transform your garage into a studio apartment. It all begins with a call.

Prepare the Garage for Conversion

Once done with the planning and preparation phase, it is time to prepare your garage for conversion. First, you must clean the garage and remove any debris or items that will not be used in the garage that is turned into a living space.

It would help if you also inspect the foundation and walls for any cracks or damage that need repairing before the conversion begins. It is to prevent accidents in months or years to come.

Finally, inspect the roof, ensuring it is in good condition and can support the weight of the additional living space. Luckily, if you hire a contractor, they will inspect for you.

Framing and Insulation

Walls and Doors

The exterior walls of a building fall under the jurisdiction of building codes and must comply with certain moisture resistance and insulation standards. The exterior walls will automatically meet building regulations if the garage is part of the main house.

Otherwise, install an additional interior wall made of either concrete block or framing studs. This interior wall would serve as a barrier, behind which insulation, plumbing, and electrical lines can be placed.

The interior walls of the garage turned into a studio also need to meet fireproofing requirements. As such, you need to add a layer of fireproof plasterboard on stud walls. The doors ought to withstand fire for 30 minutes.

Windows and Ceiling

You must provide windows for ventilation to comply with local building codes. Building codes mandate that a room must have at least a window that accounts for 1/20th of the room’s total floor area. Ensure the window has trickle vents to ensure optimal ventilation. Insulate the ceiling to ensure the garage is turned into a comfortable living room.

Electrical and Plumbing

The next step is to install electrical wiring and outlets to power lights, appliances, and other necessary electrical devices. Ensure to check your garage’s ceiling and walls for wiring. As you’d expect, rewiring for appliances and lights can place additional strain on the household mains.

As such, you may need to install a separate consumer unit. When it comes to plumbing, garage transformation will require you to run plumbing lines to provide space with water and a means to remove waste.


While the existing floor might be strong to accommodate the garage turned into a studio, it will require insulation and damp proofing to meet building regulations. You can create a concrete floor and add a damp proof between the two layers.  

While you can add insulation under the new floor, we recommend creating a new layer to prevent chemical reactions with damp proofing.

Finishing Touches

Finally, install drywall and paint to meet your preference. You can also add wallpaper to add a personal touch. It is also the phase to add necessary fixtures such as doors, window coverings, and light fixtures.

Once the project is complete, you need a completion certificate to indicate the project met local regulations. Prospective buyers will want the completion certificate to ascertain that hidden things like under-floor damp proof were installed correctly.

What To Consider Before Transforming Your Garage


To convert your garage into a living space, collaborate with experts, such as electrical contractors, architects, and engineers to complete the project. It is an expensive undertaking that can take a significant amount of time.

The Current State of the Garage

Evaluate if your garage is suitable for converting into a living area. For example, garage concrete floors are ‌unsuitable for residential use and may need to be removed. Consider factors like the level of natural illumination the converted room will have or how much drywall will be required. If there are visible wires, new walls may have to be constructed.

Parking Alternatives

Consider possible alternative parking options when you will not use the garage for vehicles. Some houses may have enough space in the driveway, but parking on the street might be necessary for others.

Heating and Cooling

Unlike the rest of a standard home, garages do not have electrical wiring or insulation for temperature control. Consider the additional energy consumption required to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the converted room.

Ensure that your HVAC system can service an additional room and evaluate the expenses associated with heating or cooling the converted space.