If you’re like most American households, your garage is used primarily for storage, not parking. But while a garage can seem like a convenient place to warehouse yard tools, recreation equipment, and holiday decorations, using your garage as storage is a major waste of square footage — square footage you’re paying good money for.
Instead of treating your garage like an overpriced storage shed, why not turn it into something you can actually use? A rec room conversion is the perfect solution for an underutilized garage. Here’s what you need to make it happen.
Banish Garage Clutter
Before you can convert your garage into a game room, you need to decide what to do with everything currently inside of it.
First, figure out what you can get rid of. If you’ve been holding onto derelict lawn equipment, old tires, and broken appliances, rent a truck and haul your stuff to the local dump. Rather than throw out your back trying to load heavy items, hire moving help for your garage clean-out day. That’s right, moving help isn’t just for moving house! You can go online to hire a truck and movers or just hire extra hands and provide your own truck, depending on your needs.
Everything you have left should fit neatly into a storage shed. If you don’t have one, that means you’ll need to build one. Luckily, a small outbuilding is much cheaper than an attached garage, and if you opt for a pre-engineered steel building instead of wood, your storage shed can be up in no time.
Add Basic Comforts
Next up: Transforming your garage into a proper room. This involves:
- Insulating, installing drywall, and painting. Since you’ll be heating and cooling this space, you don’t want to sacrifice on energy efficiency.
- Raising the floor, adding a moisture barrier, and installing flooring. If not installing a moisture barrier, choose flooring like tile that won’t sustain water damage.
- Wiring electrical outlets and lighting fixtures. Most garages have limited natural light, so it’s important to add plenty of ambient lighting.
- Installing heating and cooling. If your existing HVAC system can’t handle the extra square footage, replace it with a larger capacity system or look into a ductless mini-split system or alternative heat source.
- Replacing the garage door. Homeowners have two options here: buy an insulated garage door or replace the garage door with a wall.
Without plumbing, homeowners can expect to pay $6,000 to $19,000 for a basic garage conversion, according to Budget Dumpster.
Take it to the Next Level
Right now, your garage conversion is still a big empty room. If you want to maximize livability, consider improvements like these:
- Built-in storage. Built-in cabinets make your garage conversion feel more like a living room and are the perfect solution for video game storage. They’re also a great place to stash overflow from the rest of the house.
- A dry bar. You don’t need plumbing to use your garage as an entertaining space. A dry bar offers a place to store beverages so there’s not constant traffic from the rec room to the kitchen.
- A home gym. Who needs a gym membership when you have a heated garage? Padded flooring and a floor-to-ceiling mirror will turn a corner of your garage into the ultimate home workout space.
Watch Out for Building Codes
Garage conversions require building permits. When you convert your garage into a living space, it also has to adhere to building standards that may include requirements for ceiling height, windows, electrical wiring, and fire safety standards. To avoid an expensive mistake, always obtain a building permit when undertaking any major home improvement.
A garage-to-rec-room conversion is a great way to expand your living space and put an underutilized room to better use. The best garage conversions are ones that make the garage feel like just another room in the house, not a garage with carpet and a coat of paint. However, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all at once. By getting started with your basic garage conversion now and adding extra touches over time, you can create a rec room that adds livability and value to your home.
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