ADU Garage Conversion - 3 Things You’d Wish You Knew

ADU Garage Conversion - 3 Things You’d Wish You Knew

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Garage Conversion definition

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) garage conversion/garage remodel is when you retrofit your existing garage into an independent residential unit with a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area. In other words, you turn your garage into an apartment/condo.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Garage Conversion Uses

ADU garage conversions/garage remodels are an ideal solution for generating rental income, without the hassle or high cost of buying an investment property (more on that in a later post).

ADU garage conversions/garage remodels are also an ideal solution for providing affordable family living arrangements.

ADU garage conversions/garage remodels are great for:

·         creating a rental unit for extra income,

·         providing space for a live-in parent who can do many daily tasks unsupervised, or

·         parents who have their college student home on break or living at home.

However, the last thing you would like your garage conversion to feel like is... well, a garage. How do you make a garage feel comfortable, cozy, and functional? 

There are special challenges you will need to tackle in order to make your ADU garage conversion/garage remodel feel like living in a home.

Here are the three things you’d wish you knew before starting your ADU garage conversion/garage remodel.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Garage Conversion Three things You’d Wish You Knew

1. You WILL need help

Even if you are a construction professional, you will need help to do your ADU garage conversion/garage remodel right. Construction pros already know this though. If you are not a construction pro, don’t fool yourself, you either need help or more time… to realize you need help. 

The process can get overwhelming from plans, engineering, local rules, permits, buying materials, performing construction, and getting approvals and inspections and so on and so on. However, with the right guidance and skilled help, it can be a cinch.

Here’s the deal. Your current garage was most likely not originally built to have someone living in it. Your garage will need to go from an unconditioned storage space to a conditioned living space; that meets current building and energy codes. 

In most cases, this means some heavy lifting. Most likely your concrete garage floor will need to be replaced, the framing retrofitted, and your roof/exterior walls weather-proofed just to prep your garage to be livable. 

Embedded in the above-mentioned items are your rough plumbing and electrical work. Followed by your windows, insulation, drywall, heating and cooling, and installation of your finish materials (cabinets, moldings, sinks, etc.). As you can see, all the varieties of trades that go into building a home also go into building an ADU garage conversion/garage remodel. You will need help.

Note: If you take one thing from this article take this. Foundation work, proper framing, weather-proofing, and rough plumbing and electrical are not areas you want to skimp-on. They will cost you way more in the future to repair, if not done right the first time.

2. Find furniture for the space. Don’t find space for the furniture. 

 ADU garage conversion/garage remodels can appear large if you do it right. You will need to choose and place your furniture wisely. 

An over-sized or large L-shaped sofa may be what you want, but once you see them in a small space, suddenly they might seem monstrous. Your furniture pieces need to fit the space and be multi-functional. 

Some great examples of versatile furniture are futons or sofa beds. They offer additional sleeping space and seating at the same time. 

Another idea is to purchase an ottoman with a storage compartment and place it against a wall. This will triple as a seat for company, a storage space, and a leg rest to prop your feet up on after a long day. You can also add a tray to the top of the ottoman for an additional table that can be placed anywhere, anytime. 

Stackable trays also offer great functionality. They take up very little space, offer a hard surface, and when placed on furniture create a convenient tabletop (example: ottoman + tray = coffee table), and can be used for serving and eating (Example: your lap + tray = dining table).

Multi-purpose furniture offers the form and function you need without overloading your limited interior space. 

3.  Have your mind on your storage and your storage on your mind.

A universal challenge with ADU garage conversion/garage remodels is the lack of storage space. In other words, ADU garage conversion/garage remodels are not known for their large spacious walk-in closets.  

You'll need to be creative to add storage spaces throughout your floor plan. Here are a few suggestions to help get the creative juices flowing:

Pro tip: An attic storage area can be a great addition to your project. However, this is not as easy as throwing some plywood above the ceiling and calling it a day. To do it right, you will most likely need to increase the foundation of your ADU garage conversion/garage remodel to support the additional attic load. Remember someone is living in your ADU garage conversion/garage remodel, it must be safe and up to code.

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