garage remodel writers retreat

You’ll love having your garage turned into usable space like a living room, master suite or home office, but the project won’t be without its challenges.

Limiting problems during the process and once the work is complete requires careful planning. Taking these planning steps will eliminate pitfalls.

Decide Where Cars Will Go

Weather is hard on vehicles, especially sun and heat. In cold climates, having to remove frost and snow from your car or truck on winter mornings is a time-consuming, chilly hassle.

A car port is a good alternative to leaving cars outside.  Portable aluminum models begin at about $750. Building a carport onto the side of the garage is another option. To attach one to your home’s structure will start at about $2,000 for the framing, siding and roofing material.

Make sure you have the room and that carports are allowed in your community.

A car cover is a cheaper option if you don’t mind taking it off and putting it back on frequently based on weather conditions. In large cities, buying an annual pass to a nearby parking garage is an option worth considering.

Decide Where Stuff Will Go

Where will you store the tools, lawn equipment, sports equipment, bikes, toys, paint and gear that now makes its home in your garage? Maybe it’s time for a garage sale or a donation to a local charity!

A storage shed is a good choice for larger items. Smaller items can be stored in an attic over the finished garage. Renting a storage unit is an option too.

Factor in the cost of a storage shed or storage unit as you’re putting together a budget. Include them as part of the total garage conversion price.

Create a Garage Conversion Plan

If you’re hiring a contractor to do the work, he or she will be able to provide a blueprint or alternative plan that will be adequate.

When planning a DIY garage conversion, hiring an architect to create a blueprint is an option. Drawing the plan on graph paper with careful measurements and clear specifications is often sufficient, especially if you’ll be doing the work or hiring sub-contractors you can explain things to personally.

Garage Remodel Estimates

Plan your Garage Conversion Budget

You should consider well ahead of time how much you can afford. If you’re hiring a contractor, get at least three garage conversion estimates.

If it’s a DIY project, take time getting prices for materials, labor costs for sub-contractors, permits, equipment rental and tools you intend to buy.

Be very meticulous, so you can stay within your budget. Some people add it all up and then add five or ten percent just to be sure.

Remember to include things like a carport, storage unit and building permits into your costs. Take into consideration that your property taxes might rise due to the increased value of your home, and factor in the increase. This planning will allow you to tweak your plan if necessary to meet your budget.

Get Garage Conversion Permits If Necessary

Getting a permit for a garage conversion is necessary in most communities. This is a corner you don’t want to cut, though many do anyway.

Permits will likely cost $100 to $250 depending on what you plan to do. The cost of garage conversion permits goes towards inspections that make sure the work is being done correctly. They are protection against structural, mechanical and safety problems.


Effective planning is the crucial first step in a successful finished garage project. Make the plan, double-check the plan and tweak the plan. Then, stick to the plan, and you’ll be happy with the results.

Photo by Jeremy Levine Design