Thinking of Converting Your Garage into A Living Space

Who doesn’t love the extra space? Whether it’s the extra legroom when you upgrade your seat to business class on a long flight or a king-sized bed in a hotel just for you, that additional space has a worldly charm.

Why stop there? You’re the proud owner of a sizable house with four bedrooms and two baths, along with an open kitchen and a lively living space.

Come to think of it; your garage is out there, vacant, longing for some thrill. Your average 1500 to 2000 sq. ft. range might begin to seem less now.

And that’s where the idea of converting your garage into a living space sprawls into action.

Man, with a Plan

For the average Joe, residential design isn’t child’s play. There are scores of parameters to factor in and a list of permissions and contractors to indulge.

Enter your local architect, the man with the plan! (Plan being quite literal!)

The architect you hire for the renovation could be a changing point for the transformation of your garage into a living space. A reliable residential architect could take your ideas and convert them into reality in the form of beautiful habitable space.

The garage could result in anything from a spare bedroom to an activity space. All this with guidance from a residential architect.

Regulations and Permissions

Regulations and codes are a must when it comes to constructions, be it internal or external. Over the years, New Jersey has come up with a set of required regulations that make the job easier.

Garage conversions also require individuals to obtain a building permit from the Building Department who review your construction documents to insure all regulations have been conformed to. They look into factors such as area, the height of the garage, flooring, ventilation, fire safety, insulation and much more.

Now, these are some factors that your local architect must know before you start with the design.

Know Thy Garage

Before you hire an architect for renovation, understand the feasibility and the structure of your garage. Ask yourself what kind of a garage do you own, and is it possible to convert it into a living space?

A single garage may add around 150 sq. ft. of extra floor space to your residence. In the case of a double garage, you could either convert the entire area or the nearest side associated with your house.

If you’re the owner of a detached garage, zoning approval might be necessary to alter its primary use.

How to Convert Your Garage into A Living Space?

You have your garage, you have your trustworthy architect for your alteration, and you possess the research and resources, so what’s next?

Before you give ignition to your let’s get a working attitude, have a look at some crucial features that form a part of residential garage conversion.

In-fill Garage Door

Your current garage door possesses the ease of accessibility for automobiles, but it may not be sufficient for your new habitable space. This door seems to be inconvenient when it comes to practical usage and aesthetics.

In simple terms, the old garage door will witness a brand-new wall to accommodate the door and window. The foundation of the garage will probably be a shallow slab and hence inadequate for the wall. So, your answer lies in replacing it with a deep foundation.

Your residential architect and site engineer must assess the soil type, neighboring structures, drainage conditions, trees, and vegetation to estimate the type of foundation suitable for your garage.


Ventilation is necessary for the provision of outside air, eradication of airborne pollutants, and as a provision for fuel-burning appliances.

If you’re in the process of renovating your garage into a living space, your residential architect must be well-read or bring in a consultant to determine the necessary designation for natural and mechanical ventilation.

Many times, you might want to save on expenses by cutting costs for ventilation, but that’s something you must avoid. Habitable spaces require a specific amount of ventilation that is set by the Building Department and is critical for a smooth internal environment.

Garage Roof

Unless there’s a room above your existing garage, the roof will also require an upgrade in the renovation. There are two ways you could incorporate a new roof into the converted living space.

Your architect may recommend a 5-inch gap between the insulation and the bottom side of the roof in case of a flat roofing system. In the case of pitch roofs, additional insulation could be between the ceiling and the roof.


The original flooring of your garage will probably be unsuitable for a habitable space. Your architect might propose strengthening the concrete floor and prolonging its service life through thermal insulation, or damp-proofing, or you could construct a new timber floor on the existing one.

A floor with a layer of Damp Proof Membrane in liquid form could turn out to be a decent alternative to the original concrete flooring. Your residential architect may also suggest thermal insulation on top of the membrane and finish it with a layer of screed or wood, otherwise known as a floating floor.

If the floor of your residence is relatively high above the ground, you could go with a suspended timber flooring for your garage to match them. The gap between the original and the new floor could ideally be 5 to 6 inches.

Utilize a Damp Proof Course or DPC underneath the new suspended timber floor to avoid dampness due to moisture.

External Walls

It may so happen that one entirely new external wall will be the need for your garage renovation, as is in the case of in-fill garage doors. These walls could either be in masonry or timber.

The external wall should exhibit construction that will repel moisture from the ground and sustain weather conditions. Fire resistance must also be under consideration.

Your architect for the addition must look into parameters such as the construction meets the minimum requirements, proximity to nearby structures, among others. Another critical detail to look into is that the wall must be able to bear self-weight, the weight of other walls, the roof, and openings (including doorways, windows, or skylights if any).

Ideas for A New Living Space

If a garage conversion is on your mind, then you must have some ideas thought out. The placement of the door, new windows for more light, or an open plan, it’s your ideas and the architect’s design.

Here are some more to add to your list.


For a Single Car Garage, you could choose to do the following:

Art Studio

For the artist in you, a working space free from disturbances could prove to be peaceful. With help from wooden flooring, and beams, and minimalistic walls, you’ll be bringing in heaps of natural light and openness.

Small Bedroom

If an extra bedroom is your requirement, don’t jump to extensions. Instead, make use of your empty garage and transform it into a cozy bedroom for yourself or your guests.

Private Living Space

Bring out the old coffee table and a few chairs or a couch from the flea market. Set up a reading area and bask in the comfort of privacy and books.

For a Double Garage, you could go the following ways:

Home Office

If you’re someone who works from home most days of the week, working from the kitchen table can get exhausting. Instead, transform your empty garage into a home office with features such as natural light, comfortable furniture, and relaxation.

If you’re one of the smart ones, you could also set up a futon and turn the office space into an additional guest room.

Guest Room

A double garage opens up the opportunity for a full-fledged transformation into a private guest suite with an attached washroom and a small kitchen. Keep your guests happy with their private space in your garage.

Additionally, if you’re looking for some extra income, you could rent out your extra living space on Airbnb and earn a quick buck.

Children’s Playroom

Get ready for some fun playtime with your young ones in the converted playroom. Childproof your newly-converted space and turn it into an entertainment zone for your kids.

So, there you have it, a garage, an idea, a local architect, and a residential design. You won’t have to look much further if your architect matches your wavelength.

Instead of letting your empty garage stand still and become a wasted space, bring out your creative side and partner up with an architect to transform it into a lively and light-filled habitable space.

Whether it’s a makeshift bedroom for a guest, a mini library for all your books, a bakery for the baker in you, or a simple living room, there are many ideas to try out that conform to the rules and building codes.

After all, residential design has never been so easily accommodating!