ADU Garage Conversion: How to convert your garage into living space

Turn Your Garage into A Small House

7min read
by Olesia Chikunova, ADU Specialist.

converted garage ADU

Things To Keep In Mind When Turning Your Garage Into A Living Space

A garage is a great place to store your car, tools, and other belongings. But what if you don’t use it as a garage?

If this is the case, then you might want to consider turning your garage into a living space. This can be a great way to add an extra room to your house without having to actually build an addition. Plus, it can give you some extra space to spread out and use as you please.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about turning your garage into a living space:

  1. Check with your homeowner’s association or local zoning laws to see if there are any restrictions on using your garage as a living space. If there are, then you’ll need to obtain the proper permits before proceeding.
  2. Insulate the garage properly. This will help to keep the temperature inside the garage consistent and comfortable, even in extreme weather conditions.
  3. Make sure the floor is level. You don’t want any tripping hazards in your new living space.
  4. Install proper lighting. This will help to make the garage feel like a more inviting place to be.
  5. Add some comfortable furniture. This will make the space more functional and enjoyable to spend time in.

Turning your garage into a living space can be a great way to add some extra square footage to your home. Just be sure to check with your local laws and regulations before proceeding. And, of course, make sure the space is properly insulated and comfortable before moving any furniture in!

You may need to look up the features of tiny homes to get the floor plan of your garage conversion right!


garage as storage

Garage conversion ideas

There are two types of garage conversions, and the way you as a homeowner look at what makes the space livable and how the city determines livable may be completely different.

Local regulations require a building permit for one type of garage conversion – when your garage conversion project turns it into habitable space. This will drive the requirement for the city permits. Then you will need to figure out what works best in your situation – positioning this conversion as an addition or as an ADU garage conversion.

What can pass as non-habitable?

A garage is a versatile space that can be used for a variety of purposes, from storage to a workshop. However, if your garage is cluttered and unorganized, it can be difficult to use it for anything other than storage. If you’re looking for ways to make better use of your garage,

Turn Garage into Storage Space

Adding some storage to your garage will help you keep it organized and make better use of the space. You can add shelving and cabinets, or even install a pegboard to help you keep track of your tools and other items.

Create A Workshop

If you’re handy, you can turn it into a workshop where you can work on projects or hobbies. You’ll need to add some power outlets and lighting, but you can also install a workbench and other storage options to make it more comfortable.

Use Garage As A Game Room

If you have a lot of extra space in it, you may be able to turn it into a game room. You can add a pool table, air hockey table, or even a foosball table to make it more fun.

Add A Home Theater

If you love movies, you may be able to turn it into a home theater. You’ll need to add some soundproofing and insulation, but you can also install a projector and screen to make it more enjoyable.

Use It As A Home Gym

If you’re looking for a place to work out, you may be able to turn it into a gym. You’ll need to add some flooring and equipment, but you can also use it as a place to store your weights and other workout gear.

Turn It Into A Bar

If you love to entertain, you may be able to turn it into a bar. You’ll need to add some refrigeration and kegs, but you can also install a bar and other furniture to make it more enjoyable. These are just a few ideas to turn into a new space. With some creativity, you can find many more uses for this versatile space.


These types of projects add comfort but do not add to property value.  Turning your garage into a habitable living area would mean converting a garage into a home addition or an accessory dwelling unit. Both, home addition and ADU garage conversion add value.

Turn Garage Into A Home Office

If you work from home, you may be able to turn your garage into a home office. You’ll need to add some insulation and soundproofing, but you can also install a desk and other office furniture to make it more comfortable. Of course you can design it in a way that your office space can be quickly converted into a guest suite when needed.

Add A Bedroom and A Bathroom

If you need an additional bedroom in your house, you will be able to turn your garage into a bedroom. You’ll need to add some insulation and soundproofing,  you can also add a bed and other furniture to make it more comfortable. If your garage is large enough, you may be able to add a bathroom. This can be a great way to make better use of the space and give you some privacy when you need it. Look at our 400 SF ADU plans for inspiration.

Use it as a Guest House

Do you have family members who visit often? Use this additional living space to house in laws with long term stay plans.

Use it as a Rental Unit

With the growing popularity of house sharing, you can add rental income with the new place.


Lots of things to considers. We like to learn from the best – check out these lessons from house flippers that will work well for your converted garage.

future ADU converted out of garage

How to convert your garage to living space

If you can live without a garage, ADU garage conversion may be the least expensive way to add living space. Converting garage to accessory dwelling unit requires permits. Costs to convert your garage to ADU will start at $90,000. Less if you can DIY. In any case, read on to avoid common mistakes.

Why You Should Convert Your Garage into an ADU

TLDR of garage conversion advantages over a newly built ADU (both add space and increase property value):

  1. Costs less than new construction if structurally safe.
  2. Age friendly by definition, easily converted to ADA compliant – one level, no steps, easy access.
  3. Flexible use for a lifetime – suitable for family members, extended family and even strangers when the family has no need for additional space any more;
  4. Does not have the same tax consequences as a traditional home addition for those who bought home 10+ years ago;
  5. Trains you on how to tackle major construction projects on a small scale without disturbing the life of the main house;
  6. You can live in it while you are doing that remodel in the main house and save on rent.

ADU has many advantages as a solution to add space.

More Pros. Less Cons.
before garage conversion

There are many reasons you might want to opt for ADU garage conversion. Perhaps you need the extra space for a home office or guest room. Maybe you want to rent it out to generate some extra income. Or perhaps you just want to add value to your home.

Whatever your reason, there are many benefits to converting your garage into an ADU.

Benefits for ADU garage conversion:

1. Boost Your Home’s Value

Adding an ADU to your property can increase its value by 10-20%. This is because ADUs provide additional living space that can be used for a variety of purposes. So, if you’re looking to boost your home’s value, converting your garage into an ADU is a great way to do it.

2. Generate Extra Income

If you decide to rent out your ADU, you can generate some extra income to help offset the costs of mortgage, taxes, and other expenses. This can be a great way to make your home more affordable or even completely pay for itself.

3. Increase Your Home’s Flexibility

An ADU can provide much-needed additional living space for your family. Whether you need a home office, guest room, or simply want to downsize, an ADU can offer the perfect solution.

4. Save on Construction Costs

Converting your garage into an ADU is often cheaper than building a new home from scratch. This is because you’re already have the foundation and walls in place. So, if you’re looking to save on construction costs, this is a great option.

5. Get More Use Out of Your Garage

If you never use your garage or only use it for storage, converting it into an ADU can be a great way to get more use out of it. By doing so, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of having an ADU without giving up your valuable parking space.


The cost of converting a garage into an ADU will vary depending on the size of the garage and the extent of the conversion. However, you can expect to spend anywhere from $90,000 to $250,000 on the project.

Why does it cost so much? The city inspector will be looking at this building and checking against current building code requirements for residential structures. Remember, previously it was built for cars, now it will house people.

Foundation footings and framing will be checked. Structural improvements if needed will be the biggest items in your budget. Ceiling and wall insulation will have to comply to current energy efficiency measures. Utilities will need to be run to allow bathroom and kitchen facilities. Windows and doors will need to reflect ingress and egress fire code requirements.

An attached structure may raise questions of fire and sound barriers.

An experienced ADU consultant will be able to tell you what exactly needs to be done during the property assessment visit.


How To Convert Your Garage into A Small House?

If you’re considering an ADU garage conversion, there are a few things you’ll need to take into account.

First, you’ll need to determine if your garage is large enough to be converted into habitable space. Minimum size is 150 sq.ft. without separate bathroom or 220 sq.ft with a separate bathroom.

Second, you’ll need to consider the cost of the conversion and if you have financing to cover it.

Third, you’ll need to make sure that property value in your municipality allows for such conversions. You do not want to get rid of the garage only to find out that it is at a premium in your neighborhood, and not having one will decrease property value.

Assuming that your garage is large enough and that you’re able to obtain the necessary permits, the next step is to begin planning the conversion itself.

Will You Convert Garage to ADU or JADU?

Converting an attached garage, you can decide where to make it into ADU or JADU. Rule of thumb? Convert into ADU if there is no space in the backyard for a full size ADU down the road. Convert into JADU if you are planning to live in the main house, as owner occupancy is one of the JADU requirements.

When you are converting a detached garage, it can be an ADU only. If you keep the same footprint, then you can keep current setbacks (distance from property lines). Depending on how solid the structure is, you will have to decide where to keep the framing or re-build in the same dimensions. Replacement parking is not required.

To get started you will need a structural engineer to confirm the structural integrity of the building. If this checks out, you can proceed with the plan set for the submittal to the city. It should contain the regular architectural drawings, structural calculations and drawings, energy efficiency report and other documentation required by your local jurisdiction (Calgreen measures, water flow letters etc.)

studio garage ADU

Step One: Feasibility and Building Permit. Step Two..?

garage sale

Once you receive your building permit, the real construction project could start – that is if you have by now decluttered your garage space. Ready to let the crew in?

Get all structural issues resolved first – confirm footings, integrity of the slab, studs and beams.

  • Then you’ll need to insulate the space. Administer vapor barrier to the concrete floor. Insulate walls. This will help keep the temperature inside the ADU comfortable and will also reduce noise pollution from outside.
  • Once the space is insulated, you’ll need to install drywall and flooring. You may also want to add some windows to let in natural light. Add bathroom and kitchenette.
  • The last step is to furnish the space and make it your own. This can be done on a budget by shopping at thrift stores or online retailers such as Craigslist and eBay.

With a little bit of effort, you can turn your garage into a cozy and comfortable living space.

Bottom Line Benefits of ADU Garage Conversion

Converting your garage into a small house is a great way to add value to your home. There are many benefits to converting your garage into an ADU, including extra space, privacy, and rental income.

Converting your garage into a small house can be done on a budget if you plan ahead and use some creative solutions. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today and let us show you how easy it is to convert your garage into a small house!



ADU garage conversion with loft
If ADU garage conversion does not work for you

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