Finishing garage as livingspace


  #1  
Old 07-20-03, 01:20 PM
LauraBay
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Finishing garage as livingspace

We are considering finishing a one stall garage as living space. Are there any special considerations that should be accounted for or any special obsticals we might encounter?

The other - seeming more costly - option is to tear down the garage and put on a completely new addition.any suggestions?

Thanks, Laura
 
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Old 07-20-03, 07:14 PM
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LauraBay,

This might be long but helpful but it is just an summary of what should be done. Alterations and methods used will vary depending on design and budget.

First thing I would do is call your City Building Official and get the 'blessing" that you can convert the garage into a living space. As strange as this sounds, some locations will not allow it. As always, getting plans done to fit your needs and submitting them for your building permit is essential once you have reviewed the project and decide it is the best option. The City may have some guidelines to follow that will assist in doing this right. If giving up the garage is the best choice, do so. If you can add a garage to possibly the other side of the home, at a later date, consider the option. When you sell, it could be an asset in the sale to a potential buyer.

Heating and air conditioning are the main issues in garage and porch conversions. It can be difficult to extend the existing heating distribution system to the new room. Electric heating units are cheap to buy and easy to install. They are available in 110 and 220 volt units. The 220v are more economical to run, surprisingly. You must make sure that your power panel has the ability to handle more breakers in addition to your electrical needs like lighting and outlets. There are drawbacks to using these units. First is the high cost to run them in cold climates. Second is the future furniture placement within the converted space. This can be an issue that should be decided on in the first stages of considering this project. An electrician should be sought out to check current electrial and planned needs.

Insulation is another area of difficulty but dueable. If you are assuming that the walls are insulated, double check to make sure. It is my opinion that any wall covering should and will be removed to provide a couple of things. First you have to make sure that electrical meets code, that you have all the outlets and switch locations where you need them and of course the electrical inspector will want to see the project for their "rough in" inspection. Second is of course to insulate properly to make this space warm. If using supplemental heating like electric, more insulation than normal should be considered. This means doing it in the walls and ceilings and especially the floors. You can even consider "superinsulating" by adding an additional stud wall. This does make the space smaller to use but overall environmental conditions will be more efficient and less costly to heat and cool. Don't forget about the attic space...if it is not insulated properly, this must be done as well.

In doing the above, if you haven't considered it already, is electrical needs. If the are is already covered and has some outlets, these may not meet code and this should be evaluated and inspected prior to closing stud walls.

If a separate heating system is needed for the converted room, one option is gas wall heaters. Unlike unvented space heaters, many new models vent exhaust gases through the wall and also take combustion air directly from outside. This is the safest method if conventional heating cannot be done and if electrical units are not desired. Issues surround existing water heater and/or furnace in garage space should be addressed by a HVAC professional..

Garages never have adequate or even proper size windows for the space intended. If a portion of the space is to be used for a bedroom, then an egress unit should be installed. Most conversions do require more windows or at least better ones. It makes sense to spend the additional money to get windows with a high R-value, especially if electric heat will be used. If installing patio doors, sliders or French type, ensure that you are getting ones with a high R value.

Typically, existing garages of older era do not have insulation placed under the slab or perimeter. If adding exterior foundation perimeter insulation won't work due to obstructions like vegetation, sidewalks, slabs to assit in insulation quality, a wood floor can be built and insulated. Depending on the step required to either make the new floor flush with existing, which is desirable to most or having a step down into the new space, one method is to place W/T 2 x 4 framing down flat, place 1 1/2" sheets of extruded polystyrene insulation in between the framing members, and then add a plywood subfloor. If the slab is sloped toward a central floor drain or the garage door, it will be necessary to either build a sleeper system of floor joists or pour concrete to level it off first.
Depending on the slope of the driveway to keep rain from damaging that new floor and the insulation, a drainage gully may be needed in the driveway just outside the garage wall (where the garage doors once were).

Things to think about then would be;

Electrical outlets, wall switches, lighting, existing power panel capability
Insulation to include walls, ceiling and floor
HVAC systems - can you use/expand what you have or is additional suppliment needed
Framing - patching in the garage doors, window relocations, adding new exterior doors/windows
Don't forget about the floor system and how it will meet the existing, if desired.
Windows and Doors
Exterior finishes where garage doors were and how to make exterior appealing
Interior trim
Painting - wall and ceiling finishes
Floor coverings

Hope this helps!
 
  #3  
Old 07-20-03, 07:44 PM
LauraBay
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Thank you so much for taking the time to share all that information. It is very helpful.

This project would be a "temporary" fix to add additional living room/playroom type space to a small house we may be buying specifically for the land. There is space to add a two stall detached garage on the property. A few years down the line we would be leveling the existing ""converted" garage to add a larger addition but funds won't allow for that right now (yes - I know we will kind of be paying for things twice but we've done the math and it's really our best option).

The electrical panels on this house are overly large because of some previous machinery that was operated on site. We had planned on electric baseboard heat and a wall unit for A/C because the existing HVAC system is barely adequate for the existing space. We do plan to heavily insulate the side walls and were hoping to open up the ceiling for a loft if possible. The garage door would be replaced by a walk door and large window.

The floor is a concern for me. The existing floor has a couple of cracks and isn't perfectly level. I'm guess adding the subfloor would be a good option.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 07-20-03, 07:50 PM
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LauraBay,

You're very welcome!

Glad you are thinking everything through before buying. It's time consuming but essential to plan ahead.

Good Luck!
 
 

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