In many homes the garage takes up some of the most valuable real estate on the property. Often the garage is the first thing you see when you drive up and it is connected right into the heart of the house just off the kitchen. That may make sense in some cases, but just as often the garage (if you could see through the walls) has the best views on the property and blocks the view from the rest of the house.
When we are asked to add a family room or another large space to any home the first place I look is the existing garage. In most cases, a garage conversion will cost less than building a new structure since the walls, roof, and foundation are already in place. That is not to say that there are no challenges. If we need to include plumbing in the new space (as in a master bedroom suite) we must find a way to connect the waste line to the existing septic outlet. Luckily, by code there must be a change in level between the garage and the house. That usually gives us room to add ‘sleepers’ (2×6’s or larger boards) to the concrete floor as a nailing surface for the finished floor. That gives us room for pipes, heat ducts, wires etc.
If you still need a garage, luckily one of the least expensive structures to build is a garage. It is rare that we cannot find a better location for a new garage to take the place of the one that has become a living room, family room or bedroom suite. Sometimes the best solution is to have a freestanding carriage house design with a connector to the main house.
The next time you drive up to a garage, think about how great it would look transformed into a new family room, master suite or living room.