Most home improvement projects end up adding value to your house — but we say the same about garage conversions? Does converting a garage into a room add value to a property you’re looking to sell? The answer is more complicated than you might think!
After all, making the garage a functional room takes a parking spot or two away from potential buyers. If they can’t use the driveway to park their vehicles, they might have preferred to have a garage instead of a room. Ultimately, the question of value will depend on whether the new room adds useful features to the house. Luckily, that is often the case.
The Potential Benefits of Converting a Garage Into a Room
Garage conversions are a great way to increase the number of bedrooms or expand the kitchen. Those particular features tend to be pretty huge selling points on the real estate market. Alternatively, you can convert the garage into a ground-floor bedroom for people with mobility issues, a sunroom, a home office, or even a gym (types of rooms).
Most of these ideas would increase the value of your home, particularly if the garage was otherwise being used for storage. If you have a large garage that’s separate from your home, you could turn it into an ADU.
An accessory dwelling unit is essentially a stand-alone guest house on the same property as the main house. You can use it as a home office or studio, or even rent it out. If nothing else, that would certainly increase your monthly earnings.
Of course, even if having a fully finished and furnished room where your garage used to be doesn’t add value to your house, it can still help you sell it. Simply put, potential buyers would rather see a neat space than a messy garage.
But that doesn’t really answer the question we started with. Ultimately, the only way to figure out if converting a garage into a room adds to the value of your property is to run some numbers. With that in mind, let’s start by determining how much a square foot of real estate is worth.
How Much Is Your Home Worth?
If you’ve ever looked into buying a house, you probably know that the price of real estate varies wildly depending on the location and the type of property you’re after. For example, buying a home in Los Angeles can set you back hundreds of dollars per square foot. Conversely, if you’re looking for a dingy place in Detroit, you can get one at about $40 per square foot.
According to some 2019 estimates, the median cost of a square foot of property in the US was around $120. However, not every inch of your home is worth the same amount. Comparing the median price of real estate in the US with the cost of building a garage might point us to the answer we’re looking for.
Depending on the materials you use and whether or not you choose to hire a proper construction crew, building a brand new garage can cost you between $35 and $90 per square foot. Even if you go all-out, you likely wouldn’t use the same materials you used in the house. You’d skip insulation and leave the concrete floor exposed. Due to all those factors, garage space is probably worth less than the rest of your home.
While we’re at it, building a new addition to your house can cost between $80 and $200 per square foot. Remember, you’d need to build at least 100 square feet for the extension to make sense. So the total cost would quickly climb into the tens of thousands of dollars. Converting a garage into a room doesn’t cost that much, comparatively.
The Cost of Garage Conversion
The cost of converting your garage into a room will ultimately depend on its current state. On the one hand, you could apply a few coats of paint, install proper flooring, and leave it at that. On the other, you may have to spring for the full utilities and insulation overhaul first.
Even so, the project shouldn’t cost all that much unless you need to bring in the plumbing for a bathroom or kitchen addition. In that case, you may have to apply for a garage conversion permit before you start construction. That alone can run you upwards of a thousand dollars depending on the local zoning laws. Even so, most minor conversions don’t require permits — particularly if they don’t affect the external appearance of the home.
Still, you should be ready to sink between five and twenty thousand dollars into the renovation process. Between the wall framing, insulation, windows, and the expansion of various utilities, the cost can skyrocket pretty quickly. Yet a garage conversion is still a cheaper home improvement project than a home extension.
Should You Convert Your Garage Into a Room?
If your garage is attached to your house and you’re not currently using it, making it into a proper living space is sure to add to your home’s overall value. After all, it might be worth more as a room than as a garage. So if you already have a secure driveway future inhabitants of the home can use to park, you might as well make something of that garage.
According to some estimates, a garage conversion can add between 10 and 20 percent of value to your home. You just have to go about it the right way. If you’re not sure exactly what you want to do with the space, hire an architectural designer. Alternatively, you can go to dedicated garage conversion specialists, who should be able to design and execute the changes you want.