Everything You Need To Know About Converting Your Garage Into A Home Office
Wanting to change your home situation without moving? Consider converting your garage into a living space. Your most valuable square footage could already be within your home and provide endless opportunities to customize and optimize your home.
With more people working from home or just looking for a quiet space to focus and be productive, garage conversions into home offices are on the rise. And the transition may be easier than you think to get you into a great office space right at home.
Here is everything you need to know about converting your garage into a home office:
What is a Garage Conversion?
Like the name implies, a garage conversion is turning your garage from an area to park cars and store tools and other items into usable living space.
Garage conversions come in many forms and are a great way to add more usable space to your home without moving or building up a completely new addition. Changing your garage into living space takes many forms, including gyms, home theaters, living rooms, and home offices.
Why Should I Convert My Garage Into a Home Office?
More people are working from home these days and need a space to get away and be productive. A dedicated home office provides a great space to work without the commute of driving to an office building.
Having a separate space from working in your bedroom, kitchen, or common living area also provides some separation between work and life while still offering the convenience of working from home. It can greatly improve your quality of life and turn your current home into your dream home.
Converting your garage into a home office is significantly more cost-effective than creating a home office addition. To start, you aren’t building the exterior walls and foundation, which not only cuts down on the time and expense but also the necessary permits.
By using an existing space, you have a shell to convert and personalize, which makes for a much more manageable home improvement project that still provides extra living space.
Because home offices are in such high demand, a garage conversion can increase the value of your home and likely lead to a higher selling price when you are ready to sell your home. A converted garage turns every part of your house into livable space, which can be extremely enticing to potential buyers down the road.
What Should I Think About When Converting My Garage to a Home Office?
Although converting a garage to a home office is often a simpler project than building an addition from scratch, there are still many things to consider to create a space that is durable and functional.
One of the biggest downsides of converting your garage into a home office is that you will no longer have a designated garage. Before embarking on a home office garage conversion, make sure you have a place to store your car, tools, and anything else that is normally stored in the garage.
You may be able to move items to other areas of the house, such as the basement or attic, or simply de-clutter and get rid of them entirely. Without a traditional garage, you will need another place to park your car. This could be under a carport, in the driveway, or on the street.
Before you convert your garage, be sure to look at local guidelines and restrictions for street parking, as some cities or HOAs may have limitations on where cars can park. Parking outside the garage could potentially leave your car exposed to the elements, which is another thing to take into account.
Converting your garage to living space likely requires local permits. Before you start the project, check to see what parts of the construction will require inspection and permits, such as the overall floorplan, wiring, or plumbing.
Following local regulations and zoning codes ensures the construction is done according to plan and ensures the project will be safe for years to come.
To find the local codes and zones for your area, contact your city or county’s zoning office. Working with an experienced local contractor can also be beneficial for the zoning process, as they are likely familiar with what permits are needed and can even take care of ensuring everything is up to code.
As you sign work agreements with a home remodeling service or contractor, be sure to clearly state who will take care of inspections and permits.
Adding livable square footage to your home could also increase your property taxes. Research taxes in your area to consider the long-term financial implications of the conversion.
Before you start creating your dream home office, consider the best layout for the space. The layout will depend on the square footage of the space, how you plan to use it, and what features you want to include. When creating the layout, consider if there are any windows in the garage and if you are going to seal off the garage door or just create a false wall in front of it.
You may also want to consider the location of the electrical components like outlets and light switches. Electrical elements can be changed and re-wired before the walls are drywalled, but it will change the scope of the project.
Most garages only have a concrete floor. This works well for storing cars or tools but can be very cold and uncomfortable for a living space.
Most kinds of flooring, including wood, tile, or carpet, can work well in a garage addition if the concrete floor is prepared properly. This includes sealing any cracks or holes and leveling the concrete. Depending on the layout of your home and garage, you can also need to raise the garage floor to match the floor height of the rest of the home.
Once the subfloor is level, adding a layer of polyethylene sheeting or coating can protect the flooring and block any moisture from getting through the concrete.
A plywood layer topped by your flooring of choice can then transform the room. To make the new home office extra comfortable, consider adding an additional protective layer or thicker carpet padding under the floor.
You will likely want to move around some electrical elements of the garage, such as outlets and light switches, as well as potentially add outlets and other light fixtures. Garages can often be dark, so wiring an overhead light or additional task lighting can create a more welcoming and usable space.
Depending on the size and use of your converted home office, you may need to install an additional circuit breaker. If you plan on using significantly more electricity in the space as a home office than as a garage, the old circuit breaker simply might not be powerful enough.
Your contractor or electrician can provide guidance for your exact situation depending on the electrical load of the rest of the space.
Plumbing and HVAC
Most garages don’t have vents to connect the room to the heating and cooling system of the rest of the house. The extent of the HVAC addition varies depending on the size of the home, layout, and type of HVAC system.
If you have a forced-air system, extending the ductwork from the rest of the house into the garage is typically the best and easiest option. Other options include installing a ductless system or a separate system from the rest of the house.
Any changes to the plumbing will depend on how you intend to use the space. If the garage conversion will simply be a home office with a desk, workspace, and storage, you may not need to make any changes to the existing plumbing.
However, if you want to add a minibar or refrigerator to the garage home office, you will have to extend the current plumbing. A professional plumber can provide recommendations of the best way to add to the current system, but most home office conversions don’t include a plumbing element.
Another major consideration for a garage conversion is insulation. Most garages aren’t insulated or have very thin insulation, which means the space can get cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. These conditions are unsafe and uncomfortable for working and won’t allow the converted space to get approval according to local zoning codes.
If the outside of the wall is brick or cinderblock, you will need to frame the wall with wood studs and add thicker insulation. If the walls have some paneling, you will likely want to fill in the studs with thick insulation. Either way, you will then need to install drywall, texture, and paint the walls for a finished look.
Taking these factors into account before embarking on a garage conversion project can make for a smoother process and help you get the home office of your dreams. A garage conversion can be a great long-term investment in your home and life.