Converted Garage: 10 Lessons From Super Flippers

Garage with open doors at night as a potential to convert to living space

Converted Garage: 10 Lessons From Super Flippers

7min read
by Olesia Chikunova, ADU Specialist.

Housing crisis, high mortgage rates, and ADU boom made everyone think of considering one’s existing property as a source of additional square footage. However, not everyone is lucky to have a backyard big enough for a new guest house. Garage apartments add dollars to your home’s value.


Converting a garage can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor if done right. However, it’s a project that often requires careful planning and consideration. Many of today’s top house flippers have made their mark by successfully flipping houses for maximum return on investment – we can learn a lot from them! Here are some lessons we can take away from the super flippers when it comes to converting garages.


space in a garage

Important Things to Understand About A Converted Garage

A converted garage is a great way to add extra living space to your home without making major renovations in the main house. This can be especially beneficial if you have an attached or detached garage that isn’t being used for cars. Has you garage turned into a storage space? If yes, then it is a good idea to consider a decluttering exercise and re-using some items in the new living space. If your existing structure can be used as a rental unit, is not it worth the effort?


Converting a garage into living space is a popular home improvement project among homeowners who want to increase their living space without having to build an addition. However, before embarking on a garage conversion project, it’s important to understand all of the costs and regulations involved.


The first step in a garage conversion project is to research local requirements. California legislation has made converting an existing structure to living space easy – as an accessory dwelling unit. But local zoning code may add some additional requirements to your project. Your city may require off-street parking, and this would mean you will need to show parking spaces on your site plan when you submit.


You will need to obtain a building permit from your local municipality. This will ensure that the structure meets all local building code requirements and regulations.


You may also need to check with your homeowner’s association (HOA) or other governing body if you live in an area with specific rules regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Once you’ve obtained the necessary permits and approval, you can begin planning your garage conversion.


Main budget items

Cost drivers for a garage conversion

The cost of converting a garage into living space will depend on several factors, including the size of the project, materials used, and any labor costs involved.


Some common expenses include purchasing or renting construction equipment and tools, hiring contractors, obtaining permits and inspections, and purchasing necessary materials. In some cases, you may also be required to pay additional fees for the conversion itself.


In addition to financial costs, converting a garage into living space can also require significant time and effort on your part. You should budget plenty of time to research local laws, apply for building permits, and plan the project. Additionally, you’ll need to consider whether you have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete the conversion yourself or if it would be better to hire a professional.

10 Flipping Tips From Super Flippers

Make your your converted garage a success!
converted garage before move in

1. Research Zoning First

Before you begin any major remodeling project, it’s essential to check your local zoning regulations. Depending on where you live and the type of garage you’re looking to convert, local laws may limit the degree of conversion. Obtaining a permit is necessary in California, and city inspections are required during your construction project.


Most residential garages are designed to fit a two-car setup. Depending on the size, garages can easily be converted into a number of living spaces, including an extra bedroom or home office. A 1-car garage has a great studio potential.


In terms of increasing the value of your property, converting a garage into habitable space is likely going to be beneficial. But it’s important to explore other options and seek professional advice on the best course of action. Professional contractors and real estate agents can provide an insight into what is feasible and what will have the greatest return on investment.


Remember, when appraising your property for refinancing, appraiser will subtract the value of garage space and then add the value of living space.


2. Adjust Financial Expectations

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to explore various options for converting your garage. Depending on the size, condition and existing amenities of your two-car garage, it may be possible to convert it into a relatively large living space or even a separate apartment. Is is less expensive to convert a garage into an accessory dwelling unit if it already houses the laundry. It’s good news to a contractor: it means the garage already has water supply and a sewer pipe. Your designer though now has a challenge: is the laundry becoming a communal space for both main house and new living area?

It’s important to adjust your financial expectations accordingly when embarking on a substantial remodeling project like this. You should factor in the cost of materials, labour, as well as any permits and inspections that may be required. It’s also worth considering the potential rental income of the converted space if you’re thinking of leasing it out.

garage conversion with brick wall showing sofa and dining area

3. Always Get a Professional Home Inspection

When considering converting your two-car garage into habitable space, it is essential to get a professional home inspection. We find that we get best value from inviting a professional engineer to evaluate the structure. An inspector or structural engineer will help you identify any potential issues that may arise from the conversion process and ensure that the project meets all local building codes. Additionally, they can provide advice on how best to approach the conversion in order to maximize safety, usability, and your property value.


Our home evaluation will also provide you with an estimate of the costs associated with converting a two-car garage into habitable space, allowing you to plan out the project accordingly. With the right information in hand, you’ll be able to confidently and accurately complete your conversion project.


Before taking on any major conversion project, it is important to know whether or not you will require a permit. If your local authority requires one, you must apply for and receive a garage conversion permit prior to beginning any work. Permits will vary depending on the scope of your project and what type of new space you are creating, but they are a necessary component of any successful garage conversion. Proper permits are your insurance that the structure is built according to current codes and can be safely rented out.


4. Don’t Let Shiny Things Put You Over Budget

The cost of your conversion will ultimately depend on the complexity of your project. When budgeting for a garage conversion, it is important to factor in the cost of materials, any building permits you may need, and the cost of labor.


If you are hiring a contractor to help with your conversion, be sure to understand the scope and cost associated with their services. In addition, you may want to think about including features like second floor, french doors, a vaulted ceiling, extra insulation and natural light in your garage conversion. This has to be included in your construction drawings early on – before you submit to the city. Otherwise, it would mean revision of permit in the middle of construction, that equals delayed schedule which is never a good thing.


While these luxury items may help make your new living area more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, they can quickly add up and put you over budget. Be sure to include these items in your calculations from the start and weigh the costs against the benefits before making any decisions.


By keeping these factors in mind, you can be sure to stay within your budget and still create the space of your dreams.

hidden utility room in a converted garage

5. Hide Functional Areas

When it comes to converting a garage, it is important to remember that the finished product should be aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. This means that you’ll need to consider how to discretely hide any functional elements of the newly converted space. Depending on your local regulations, you may need to make sure that any essential services such as a water heater are kept out of sight. Is there space for a small utility room?


Building codes might require certain elements, such as drain pipes and ventilation ducts, to be installed within the walls or ceiling of your converted garage space.


When planning your conversion, be sure to research the building codes that apply to your particular project. You’ll need this information for any permit application you make with your local authorities.


If you are in any doubt, it is recommended that you contact a qualified building contractor to advise on how best to ensure the functional elements of the conversion are correctly installed and comply with your local building codes. Be sure to follow local regulations regarding setback requirements, occupancy limits, smoke detectors, and other pertinent issues.


6. Improve Exterior Appeal

With the interior of your converted garage now finished or near completion, it’s time to focus on improving the exterior. This is a critical step in making sure that your converted garage looks like it is a part of the rest of your house. This step also involves ensuring that you comply with local building codes and zoning regulations. We are often required to match the main house when building in the backyard.


If your converted garage is going to be used as a legal dwelling, you will need to obtain a permit from the local Fire department and have your plans approved before the project can proceed.


7. Keep a Detailed Ledger of Flip-Related Costs

Whether you plan to flip a garage into a living space for yourself or use it for short-term rentals, keeping track of project costs is essential. To do this, you should create an expense ledger and list every cost associated with the conversion, from building materials to interior walls and fixtures. This will help you keep track of your budget as well as compare estimates from different contractors.


Additionally, if you decide to rent out the space in the short-term market, it can be helpful for keeping track of rental income. This ledger will definitely come handy when you need to repair a fixture or appliance.


By taking the time to keep a detailed ledger, you’ll have an easier time monitoring your finances and measuring return on investment for the project. Furthermore, having everything documented can come in handy if there are any discrepancies or miscommunications with contractors or vendors.


A detailed ledger is an essential part of a successful garage conversion project. The more organized you are, the smoother the process will be.


open space living room in converted garage

8. Remember: Location is Everything

When undertaking a garage conversion, it is essential to consider the location of your project. A converted garage that has access to an internal door can add immediate living space and value to a home, but those located at the front of the property may require additional exterior walls for insulation and soundproofing. Attached garages will require a fire rated wall to the main house.


This will significantly increase the project cost and should be factored into the budget. However, it is also worth looking at any local regulations that may apply to short-term rentals, as these may limit or prohibit any form of garage conversion in certain circumstances.


By understanding the rules and regulations pertaining to your location, you can ensure a successful project outcomes with fewer liabilities. Additionally, consider the impact of a garage conversion on the home’s exterior appearance.


In some cases, it may be better to keep the existing look and feel of the house than converting the garage into living space. Ultimately, it is important to research all angles before deciding to convert your garage.


9. Create An Emergency Fund And Spend It Wisely

It’s wise to have a contingency fund when embarking on any home improvement project, especially one as extensive as converting a garage. While you should always strive for the best possible outcome — and be sure to allocate your funds accordingly — it’s important to factor in potential issues that may arise during the conversion process. It may be necessary to replace the garage concrete floor, or even upgrade your main panel.

Having an extra cushion of funds helps you tackle unexpected costs without sacrificing your desired design elements for your home office. When planning for conversion costs, make sure to budget the right amount and think about how it can be spent most effectively. With careful planning and a little extra cash, you can rest easy knowing your converted garage is in good shape for years to come.

10. Don’t Forget the Landscaping

The transformation of a garage into a livable space is more than just replacing the door and updating the walls. It’s also important to consider how you plan on utilizing the exterior area surrounding it. Landscaping can help create an inviting entrance that’s private and welcoming for guests.


Consider adding shrubs, flowers, or trees to create a cozy outdoor atmosphere. Also, think about adding features such as pathways, lighting, and a patio or deck for extended living space. With proper landscaping and design, you can turn your newly converted garage into an inviting retreat for family and friends.


Looking for design ideas to transform your garage?

Look at small apartments for converted garage inspiration

Flip your own house with confidence!

Flipping your own house requires a lot of thought and preparation in order to be successful. Converting an existing garage into living space is one option for property owners looking to add extra value to their project. With careful planning, the right materials, and the knowledge gained from experienced flippers, you can make this conversion a reality. When considering whether or not to convert your garage, it is important to consider

the additional cost of materials and labor, as well as potential issues like a good location for the air conditioning unit or current state of the utilities of the main house.


Additionally, be sure to think about adding features such as vaulted ceilings and insulated floors for extra style and comfort. With careful planning and careful execution you can create a beautiful, comfortable space that adds value to your in-house flip and provides new living space for years to come.

new window and kitchen in a converted garage
If ADU garage conversion does not work for you

Three more ways to add space

tiny home studio

Tiny Home, Small ADU

Looking for a newly built detached solution with a bathroom and kitchenette? This type of projects start from $158,000.

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Modern Shed

If all you need is an extra room for an office, then a simple 120 sf backyard structure may work. Starting at $48,000.

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accessory structure

Accessory Structure

There are jurisdictions that allow accessory structures with plumbing fixtures. Permits required. Starting at $75,000.

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