Converting your garage into a spare room can add value to your home and give your family plenty of space. It's also much cheaper than building a completely new addition to your house. However, you can't just move some furniture into the space and call it a conversion; there are some things that have to be done before your spare room becomes a functional reality. Here are a few "must-haves" you need to consider before you undertake a garage conversion.
Windows and doors
The most obvious thing you'll need to change in your garage is the garage door. It has to go. Otherwise, you aren't creating a converted garage, you're just putting furniture into an existing one. You must decide whether you want to replace the door with a solid wall, or one that has plenty of windows in it. Unless your existing garage has several windows already built into the design, you need to install one or more to add plenty of natural light.
Remember to try and match your new windows to the same style as your old ones, if possible. Your goal should be to make the exterior of the garage look as though it's always been a natural extension of your home, not just a converted garage. If you can't get a close match, you could opt for a larger, more dramatic window, or install patio doors instead.
You can find windows and doors for your garage conversion at a website like http://www.fivestarwindows.com.
The type of flooring you choose for your conversion will depend on your budget. Vinyl flooring is a cheaper option, but there's nothing stopping you from installing hardwood or carpeting, if you want. Just make sure that the floor of the garage is cleaned, sealed to prevent moisture from seeping up through the ground, and level.
You'll likely need to add insulation to the walls and ceiling of the garage because most homes don't have insulation installed here when the structure is first built. Spray foam insulation and blown cellulose insulation are both good options for insulating walls that have already been closed up. Remember to choose energy efficient windows and doors, or you'll lose heat through these spaces during the winter.
Heating and Cooling
You need to decide how you'll heat and cool your converted garage. Insulation and good windows alone won't regulate the temperature in the room, so consider your options carefully. If you have a central heat and air system already in place, you may be able to have additional ductwork connected that leads to the garage. You could also consider heating the room with a freestanding heater, electric fireplace or radiant heating via the floors.
For cooling the room, if you don't use a connection to the forced air system, you can install an individual window unit air conditioner in one of the windows of the room. If you use this method to cool the living space, make sure that you consider window placement carefully. You probably don't want the window unit sticking out from one of the front windows, as it could look unattractive from the street.
Electricity and Plumbing
Many garages already have some sort of electricity in place, but you may want to have existing outlets modified to match the decor of the room. It's wise to have an electrician take a look at your electrical outlets to make sure that they are up to code for use in your converted garage.
Some garages already have a basic sink installed, but you may want more than that in your conversion. Consider if you want or need a toilet or shower in the room, and contact a plumber to see if this is an easy option.
Removing your garage door and replacing it with some windows and new flooring may seem like a simple enough task, but if you want to do it right, take the time to make sure you have all the necessities covered when converting your garage. Once you do, you'll have a great living space that adds value to your home and extra room for your family to enjoy.