legally convert a garage to a room- even to a guest house or studio apartment

Legal garage conversions: permits and unpermitted conversions

Here is a detached garage in  that is still legally a garage, but has a lot of improvements so that it can be rented out as something similar to a guest house or studio apartment. For info on keeping everything legal, see below (or contact us today for info that is relevant to your property's zoning and the relevant local regulations in ). For more info on this multi-purpose garage that is still legal as a garage (with a fully functioning garage door that opens the guest house up to be like an open-air porch), scroll right and hover over each image. Also note that the floor is rather attractive because of acid-staining the cement. Here is how the converted garage in  looks with a slight turn to the right. Notice that the garage door lets in some light but is partly opaque, maintaining privacy. The main door to this guest house converted from a garage is mostly glass (with a privacy screen retracted to the top in this photo). With an even bigger turn to the right, here is the main door (made of glass), then a modest dining area plus the kitchenette (fully stocked with new countertops, stovetop, sink, cupboards, drawers, and a small refrigerator out of view) Next to the kitchenette is a small bathroom with a closet on the other side of that (near the bed). This photo shows the exterior of the detached garage that has been partially converted to a guest house or 'casita' in . All that is left to be done at this stage is some improvements to the appearance of the exterior walls of the guest house converted from a garage. Here is a photo inside the bathroom. Rather than add a tile floor to the bathroom, there is currently just a slip-safe mat (like I used to stand on when I was a dishwasher at a restaurant). This photo shows the interior of the detached garage that has been partially converted to a guest house or 'casita' in . This photo shows the interior of the detached garage in  that has been partially converted to a studio apartment. This photo shows the interior of a studio apartment that was a garage conversion. SOURCE:

    Home owners sometimes ask if it is legal to convert a garage to a room (or even a stand-alone guest
house or apartment). First, the answer is almost always "yes." Also, even when there has been an
unpermitted (illegal) garage conversion, our builders can still obtain the proper building permits and
make any renovations needed to pass inspections for a full legal conversion in .
    Further, you can also remodel your garage so that it is useful as a guest suite to live in, but is also still
legally a garage (like shown above). See below for more info.

Can I keep the space legally as a garage but use it for some other purposes?

Usually, that is cheaper, faster, and totally legal. For more info, click here: renovating the garage as a "partial" conversion.

What are my legal options for altering my garage?

First, if you have any existing legal issues or pending fines for an unpermitted garage conversion, click here to contact us: legal garage conversions in . Otherwise, relax (and scroll to keep reading)!

There is only one situation we have seen in which a permit request to fully convert a garage to interior living space was unconditionally rejected as "never possible to do legally." That is when there is a city code that requires covered parking, but there is absolutely no room left on the property to build a new garage or carport. (Here we are also assuming that you simply prefer not to "remove" a tree or shed or patio or bedroom just in order to make room for a garage or carport.)

So, is there enough room anywhere else on the property where covered parking can be built (like even a small attached 10x16 1-car carport)? If so, then it is going to be reasonably simple to perform a legal conversion of an existing garage in to interior living space (although a new driveway may be required). If building an addition to your home is legal, then converting your garage in to a home addition will be legal. You just need to be able to meet any other requirements, like for some other covered parking structure, (and you may have as much as 6 months of transition time before you would be in violation of any laws).

What about converting your garage in to a guest house or apartment?

That should be fine! (See the column to the left for details). However, there can be extra steps for legally converting a garage in to a stand-alone apartment. Basically, a second kitchen on your home (even a kitchenette) will rezone your property from a single-family dwelling to a multi-family dwelling. That is usually easy though. For more info, keep reading below (or contact us).

Who should convert their garage to an apartment or guest house?

There are two basic reasons that home owners in will convert a garage to separate living space: renting it out or using it for visitors (and both situations are covered in more detail below). First, note that usually these conversions will start with a detached garage that will be made in to a guest house addition, but people sometimes also do this kind of a conversion with an attached garage (like for an elderly parent that they want to be able to very easily check on). Below are some typical situations (though your circumstances or preferences may be somewhat different).

"mother-in-law" guest suites

In many cases, homeowners in simply want to have the space available as a very private guest bedroom or mother-in-law suite for visitors (short-term visitors or long-term visitors, again, such as a disabled parent or even a live-in nanny or caregiver). You can keep your privacy in general (plus, in particular, keep them out of your kitchen by giving them one of their own).

renting out a studio apartment

Or, some people want to rent out what is now their garage. Again that could be for short-term rentals or long-term rentals.

In the case of long-term rentals, it can be important to be very clear on all of the zoning and permit issues that are specific to . Future landlords will want to minimize any complications or controversies involving their tenants (or 's city officials). If you plan to rent out your current garage as a converted studio apartment in , we recommend that you contact us now to review the basics of the legal regulations to make sure that everything will be fully legal so there will be no issues with building code compliance, property insurance coverage, property taxes, and so on. (To request a free phone consultation, click here: converting a garage to a studio apartment to rent out in .)

In fact, I even had a landlord once who was planning to complete a guest house on his property and then live in that (while renting out the main home). He was nearing retirement and planning to travel a lot, but wanted to have a cozy, reliable apartment of his own (at least as long as he was renting out the main house on 12-month leases).

As of when I'm writing this, it has been years, but we are still friends and he did do those renovations and then rent out his main home. However, his studio apartment was not converted from a garage. He simply took a few bedrooms and a bathroom, added other amenities like a kitchenette, and then "cut off" /blocked off that area from the rest of house and built a private entrance for that "wing" of the multi-family dwelling / duplex.

In fact, with attached garages getting converted to a stand-alone living space in , sometimes people will need a wall to be removed (to include a section of the main home as part of the new studio apartment). To see an example of that kind of a garage conversion, click here now: removing the garage doors, opening the back of the garage in to the interior of the home, and renovating that larger space in to a new living area.

What if there was already an unpermitted conversion to the garage?

Legally, the best options are to either convert it back to a garage (which our builders can do) or to meet the requirements to get a permit issued and then make any modifications to pass inspections for a fully legal garage conversion (which our builders can also do). Either way, we can help!

How much will it cost to legally convert the garage?

Naturally, the cost of custom construction jobs is easier to estimate once the estimator is clear on your specific situation. When you contact us through this site, it is best to let us know your top priorities, such as "curb appeal," keeping the budget modest, urgency of fast completion, or whatever other concerns you have. To request your consultation now, click contact your new garage conversion contractor in .

What are the stages of the garage conversion?

Before the actual construction stages, there are the pre-construction stages. That includes all the initial research and planning, plus obtaining financing if relevant.

In some cases, home owners will have completed many of these steps before contacting our building contractors in . However, our builders can also help you to complete all of these steps of planning and preparation.

First, have you thought about zoning for your future guest house or studio apartment in ? If you are not familiar with zoning issues, you will want to discuss those with your renovation estimator (since if you report to the local government that you are adding a second kitchen, that can trigger a re-zoning of your property from a single-family dwelling to a multi-family dwelling).

Next to avoid fines and maintain full insurance coverage for the added value of the garage conversion, you will want to get properly informed about building permits and local codes. Improper garage conversions in (without all required permits) can be an especially unfavorable complication when it comes time to sell. (If you already have that issue, use our contact form to let us know. In emergency cases, there may be a relevant loophole that you are not aware of.) However, most home owners are most comfortable with either making sure the initial renovation is fully built to code or urgently correcting any code violations once discovered.

If all the higher priorities are handled, then one of the most important pre-construction stages in regard to the structure itself is an inspection of the carport or garage. That is to assess the initial condition of the foundation, walls, and roof).

Next comes the actual construction.That can involve quite a few steps: treating the cement floor (with epoxy or acid-staining), adding at least one window and a standard door, adding insulation to the walls and.or roof, interior painting, plumbing, electrical wiring, plus interior decorating. To obscure the view of the garage doors (even transparent ones), many people will wish to use drapes or shoji screens (oriental room dividers). Click the image below for more info on all the steps that may be relevant to your conversion of a garage to a guest house or studio apartment in :

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