Is it wise to convert?

Garage conversion is a topic that sometimes comes up when discussing the value of a home. Most might think that a garage conversion would add value to a home since square foot is added but often this is not the case. While a garage conversion may seem like a great idea to you and your growing family, you as a home owner need to be reminded that the conversion will, in many cases, not gain value to your home.

Just as when a homeowner adds a pool to a property, he/she will never recoup the expense of the pool in the sale of the home, a garage conversion is similar in this way.

There are many reasons a garage conversion may work for a homeowner; caring of an older relative, the need for more space, or just a “want” for that extra room.

We spoke with Appraiser and friend, Jonathan Leva, about the value a garage conversion has on a homes value. Leva says, “If done nicely a garage conversion could increase value but most are generally a wash on value because you are taking away a large improvement.” Leva adds “Garages generally add 6 to 8K  of value to your home. You will get value for the additional square footage, but to get full value it needs to flow with the rest of the house. Otherwise the additional square footage likely will receive less value than the square footage in the original house,” Leva says. In addition, “For example, if you have to go through a laundry room with a step down to get to the conversion this is not good, also central HVAC in the  house and window units in garage will not add value.”

There are many things to consider when deciding if a garage conversion is right for you and the resale of your home:

Are there many other conversions in the neighborhood? In older areas a garage conversion may be standard. Will your home have one of the few garage conversions in your area? If this is true then converting your garage may not be in your best interest.

How will you insulate the conversion? Since the conversion will be an addition of square footage to your home, insulation is very important. Street noise may not be considered when converting but with proper insulation, noise can be eliminated or at the least softened. There should be no corners cut and insulation should be up to par with the rest of the home.

Will there be windows? If the plans don’t show any windows your conversion will 100% feel just that, a garage converted. Garage door windows don’t count either.

What will parking be like once the conversion is completed? If your driveway is small and only fits a few cars, be reminded the garage will no longer be accessible by car so your vehicle/vehicles will now be on the driveway. Room for guests may be limited. If there is enough room, you may want to consider a Porte-Cochere if there is enough room. Another idea would be to add a detached garage if permitted and there is room.

You should consider the aesthetics of the home. If done correctly a garage conversion can look as if it has always been there and is a part of the original building of the home. To do this right you will need to match paint colors, brick, etc.

Treat a garage conversion the same as any remodeling of your home. Hire licensed and bonded contractors and be present while remodeling is taking place. Do your research and check contractors credentials before hiring. Get quotes for the conversion and choose accordingly. Cheaper isn’t always better.

Be reminded if you are in an HOA all has to be approved prior to beginning construction. Even if you are not in an HOA the building will require permits from the city. For the conversion to be a part of the appraised value of your home, permits will be required. Getting building permits once construction has started will slow down the process and may halt the completion completely.

If you have already completed a garage conversion and are interested in selling your home, give us a call and we can help guide you in the right direction on whether you should keep the conversion or convert it back into a garage.

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