Converting Your Garage Into Living Space

You cant build up or out, but you wish to provide more living space with a minimum of structural work. What can you do? It may be possible that your attached garage can provide the solution. Actually, there are several advantages for such a conversion. First and most important is the saving that is realized because the foundation, walls, and roof are already in existence. This can amount to up to a 50 percent saving in cost where a room would otherwise have to be added by attaching a new extension to the exterior of the house. Since the garage will already have a substantial header, the closing in will consist mostly of laying a sole plate and then erecting studs. Window openings, if any, will not require individual headers.

Another point in its favor is that the room is protected from the elements, and therefore work can be done at your leisure in all kinds of weather. The work can also proceed with the least amount of inconvenience to your family.

PLANNING GARAGE CONVERSION. The converted room can be utilized as a den. bedroom, family room, or even kitchen if desired. Because a powder room is easily installed, your garage can become an attractive studio apartment. But preliminary planning is most important in converting a garage into a liv ing space. Take time to orient .the new room to the rest of the house and the outdoors so it will best serve its intended purpose.

Ask the following questions:

  1. How can the extra space fit into what will actually be a larger house than you now have?
  2. Where should the room be entered? Should it be a dead end in the house traffic pattern, or will the room’s function be such that through traffic will not disturb activities within the room?
  3. Are present windows adequate, or should they be enlarged to provide a better view window and to admit more light?
  4. Should the garage door be replaced with a bank of windows, view window, floor-to-ceiling glass, or sliding doors?
  5. Should there be an outside entrance?
  6. Where will you need electrical outlets for reading, TV, projector, etc.?
  7. How many and what kind of built-in storage units do you want?

DOING THE JOB. When filling in the garage door space, it’s a good idea to plan to have a picture window area or a window and door combination since much work is already done because of the header spanning the existing opening. Rough framing consists of a 2-by-4 inch sill or sole plate (a sill rests directly on the foundation; a sole plate on the floor or subfloor), cripple studs, window sill, and furring. If the header is too high, as with an 8-foot high garage door, either fur down from it or install a false header below it. Install all nev windows and doors.

When all the openings in your former garage space have been relocated and rough-framed where you want them in the new room or rooms, you must add to heating and wiring and locate plumbing and fixtures (if a bathroom is in your conversion plans). Insulate the walls and ceiling. Fit the insulation blankets snug between the sleepers, stapling the side flanges to the wood members. When the ends of two batts are joined, make sure that they are tightly butted. Place the insulation with the vapor side up, facing the inside of the room, so that vapor does not penetrate and become trapped within the insulation material. Narrow spaces along walls, or between two sleepers that have to be placed closely together, should be packed with vermiculite granules poured into the opening and spread evenly.

Floor finishing. If the slab is sound and cleanable, you can lay a floor directly on the concrete by using vinyl tiles or wood block flooring that is made specifically for such an application. If the floor has any large grease stains from the car crankcase. these should be thoroughly cleaned to remove a source of unpleasant odor that would penetrate the completed room. Scrub the floor with a strong detergent, preferably the kind used by service stations to clean pavements.

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