To most people, a garage is a place to keep your cars and store the things you can’t fit inside the house. For open-minded property managers, however, the garage has the potential to be an attractive rental feature.
With a little time and effort, you can convert your rental garage into another room, opening up possibilities without knocking down walls or building onto the home: “Although costs will vary according to your location and specific plans, garage remodeling will generally cost about half of what you’d spend having an addition built from scratch,” explains to Budget Dumpster.
Attract more tenants by taking your garage space to the next level. Keep these tips in mind as you get started.
Check the rules and regulations
Make sure you know what you’re allowed to do with your property and any new rules that may apply if you renovate your garage. Check with Homeowner’s Associations and city zoning laws, first and foremost, both of which dictate much of these regulations.
If you convert your garage into another room, for example, some neighborhoods or cities have restrictions on how many people are allowed to live on the property. This means you might not be able to rent your home with the extra bed; it would only be able to sleep the amount of people that it’s currently zoned for.
Get plumbing, insulation and wiring under control
To turn this garage into a functional living space, you need all the amenities of a regular room in the house, which may include insulation, wiring, electric and more. Your best bet is to hire a contractor to help you determine technical details, like whether you need to level or raise the floor to accommodate plumbing and wiring.
If the garage is attached to the house, you may be able to reroute the plumbing and electricity so that it can run to the garage; this is something a contractor can help you figure out as well.
A contractor will also help you figure out details you may not have thought of, like installing additional power outlets so your new tenants can plug in electronic items.
Consider installing additional walls
Open space can make a room look bigger, so you may not need additional walls. If you’re building a studio or master bedroom with bath, however, you may need at least one wall for the bathroom. Before that, however, focus on assessing the current situation:
“The first project to tackle is to evaluate the current walls and see where they need to be renovated,” according to Salter Spiral Stair. “Normally these walls are sturdy and don’t need too much work. They normally just need an addition of new drywall.” You may find it helpful to design a floor plan before you start adding new walls.
Add windows and doors
The new room will be immediately unattractive to most potential tenants if they’re trapped in a dark dungeon. If you want to make the room functional, you need to install windows.
You could work with a contractor to add them as you would any new windows in the house, or change your garage door to include windows. Don’t forget to add curtains for privacy—assuming the garage door will no longer be functioning as a door.
You’ll also need to check with the city or your HOA about removing the door and adding a wall, since some regulations require that you leave the exterior of the building intact. If you do leave the garage door as is, you’ll also need an additional door for the tenant to get in and out of as well.
Upgrade the flooring
This is another key step to make sure your tenants don’t feel like they’re living in a dungeon. You could go the quick and cheap route, simply painting the garage floor and tossing down a carpet.
However, your best bet may be epoxy flooring, which is affordable and easy to install over your existing garage floor. It creates a bright, shiny look that will give your garage the high-end feel that attracts tenants: “Epoxy flooring could make the concrete restoration result in an attractive high-polished floor or a look that is soft and easy on the eyes,” according to experts from Garage Floor Epoxy. “Homeowners or commercial owners can choose among some variety of styles and colors based on their choice or preferences. With this, they could come up with a floor which is attractive and appealing.”
The best part: epoxy flooring is allergen friendly, dust resistant, and requires minimal cleaning.
Don’t forget to make the space feel livable, just as you would with any other room in the house. Your checklist includes:
- Paint the walls
- Hang artwork or shelving
- Furnish the space
- Install lighting
- Throw down a large rug or a few smaller ones
Converting your garage isn’t a small or fast project, but when you turn it into a livable, rentable space, the extra tenant interest will be make the time and money worthwhile. Remember: You don’t have to turn it into a livable room. Simply upgrading the flooring, installing built-in storage units and perhaps even a work bench will still allow it to function as a great bonus space for tenants.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She’s worked with a variety of real estate clients, and has been featured on Forbes and Market Watch. She’s also an author for Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.