Converting a garage into living space can add real value to your home by providing much-needed extra living area. A well-thought-out garage conversion can increase the value of your home by as much as 20%. This is a great solution that eliminates the need to incur moving costs and increased mortgage costs to acquire the space you require.
This page will discuss the necessary steps involved in transforming a garage into a new room, including specific modifications required for a successful conversion from a storage space to a living area. Changing a garage into a new "conditioned space" necessitates strict compliance with the Florida Building Code's occupancy regulations. The building code mandates permits for "constructing, enlarging, altering, repairing, or changing the occupancy" as well as for "installing any electrical or plumbing system." Preventive Maintenance Support Services has the expertise and team required to transform your garage into a comfortable new livable space.
Garage Conversion to Bedroom
Building regulations include requirements for moisture-proofing, ventilation, temperature control, sound control, lighting, insulation, fireproofing, minimum room size and ceiling height, escape routes, and structural soundness.
Apart from meeting the legal requirements, there are certain minimum essentials to make a garage conversion truly habitable. Here's a list of them:
- Installing insulation: Garages are typically not insulated, so you may need to remove drywall to install wall studs and create a cavity for wall insulation. The ceiling may also require insulation.
- Raising the floor height: Garages tend to be lower than the house, so raising the floor height is necessary. In Florida, the floor height for new living space must match the "finish floor height" of the home. This means you will likely need to pour 4" of new concrete. Failure to do so may jeopardize the resale value of your home.
- Adding floor covering: Garages often lack suitable or minimal floor covering due to their limited function. Adding tiles or carpet is recommended.
- Installing new drywall or finishing the job: Garage drywall is typically installed at a non-finish-quality level one or two (drywall finish grade), so an upgrade may be necessary.
- Garage door: Decide whether to leave the garage door in place or replace it with a wall. Several factors need to be considered. Garage doors are usually not insulated and may not meet the energy code requirements for accommodating an air conditioning unit. Consequently, it is more likely that the garage door will be replaced with a wall and windows.
- Boxing out unsightly areas: Non-load-bearing walls should be added around areas you don't want to be visible in the living area, such as the water heater, furnace, or laundry area.
- Air-conditioning: It is likely that your garage is not currently air-conditioned, but you will probably want it to be. The building code requires a "habitable" space to be air-conditioned. The permit package will include energy calculations to determine if your existing unit can handle the additional load or if an upgrade is necessary. We recommend installing a ductless mini-split system as they are highly efficient and much quieter than a "window shaker."
- Lighting: The overhead light in the garage door opener will not provide sufficient light. Consider additional lighting.
- Electrical outlets: A service upgrade may be required to accommodate the larger electrical load. Electrical outlets will need to be installed every 6 feet to meet permit requirements.
- Aesthetics: Completing the exterior walls to match and complement the rest of the home.
- Adding windows and doors: Your garage may already have a window, but if you install a wall where the large door used to be, it will look odd without additional windows. Windows at the front will match the current appearance.
Do I need a permit to convert my garage?
Permits are required for change of usage, structural changes and anything with a valuation over $1,500.00. So yea, a set of plans from a design professional and permit is need for a garage conversion. But don't let that deter you, permits are a good thing. The plans will be reviewed by a design professional and the workmanship inspected by a construction professional, both good things.
Some people fear a building official will find discrepancies on their property and hence, do not want a permit. It is not my experience that this is the case. Building inspectors are looking at the permit plans and not the entire property. They are not concerned with zoning regulations. having said that. Munisupalites, such as Coral Springs, do involve zoning as part of the permit process and that can become an issue so check you building department requirements if this is a concern.
Do I have to raise the floor in a garage conversion?
It depends on your intentions. If you plan on permitting this as habitable and condition, then yes, the floor height has to be raised and match the finished floor height of the house. But, if your just going to make this a recreational room you do not have to raise the floor.
Do I have to install a new air-conditioner in a garage conversion?
A garage conversion is not a new addition. Your simply changing the use for an existing space. It's similar to converting a covered patio in to a sunroom, right? Our company does a lot of these conversions and we have to consider what our customer wants for the new space and what we need to permit it. You do not have to raise the floor if there is an impact resistant door in to your house. So, you can install your walls to enclose the space and avoid raising the floor by simply replacing a door. But, in doing so you will not be able to permit an A/C unit. Air-conditioned spaces must be the same height as your homes finished floor. Sometimes people install portable air-conditioners. If that is a self contained unit (an appliance), that meets the building code requirement.
Many of our clients elect to have us permit the walls, windows and do other things when we leave. I'm not advocating it, I'm just saying.
In addition to that, Preventive Maintenance Support Services has the extensive experience for converting the garage to become used and habitable spaces. Set aside any worries, our company is ready to assist our valued customer to build their dream spaces in their home.