If you currently have a garage, there are several things you can do to make the area above it a livable space. Whether you plan to rent this spot or use it for guests and family members, there are several things to consider before you build a garage apartment. This area of the home has endless possibilities that will help you make it your own. Before you start to design your own garage apartment, read on to discover some helpful tips and advice that will ensure your project is completed without a hitch.
Check Local Building Codes and Get the Necessary Permits
Any time you make changes to a structure, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper permits in place before any construction can begin. Talk to your local city or county and find out which types of permits are required. If you hire a general contractor to construct your garage apartment, they should be able to get all of the necessary permits for you. Make sure that you check local building codes to ensure your addition is up to the most recent standards for your particular area.
Once all of the permits are granted, display them prominently so they’re easy to see. Unexpected visits by an inspector can happen, so you want to make sure you’re completely prepared. Some garages may not be able to accommodate a living space above. If you need to add more framing or support, this is something to consider when it comes to codes, permitting, and cost. Never start any work until you receive a signed and dated permit to protect yourself from potential fines and other headaches.
Focus on Insulation
Whether you refer to it as a carriage house or an over-the-garage apartment, if someone is going to live in your addition, you’ll need to ensure it has excellent insulation. Since the area in your garage where you store your car and tools is considered “open space,” cold and hot air flows freely throughout this part of your home. Since no one typically lives in the garage itself, this part of the house is often lacking proper insulation. This means you’ll need to do a few things to make sure that the person living above your garage stays cool in the summer and toasty warm during the winter months.
In order to keep this space comfortable, put your focus on using high-quality floor insulation. This will create a protective barrier between the cold or hot air below and the person above. Use spray foam insulation for excellent results, which can also operate as a helpful soundproofing agent to keep noise levels down. When you add insulation along with energy-efficient flooring, your tenant will be happy, and you’ll save on your heating and cooling costs.
The type of flooring you install can have a significant impact on how energy efficient your new garage apartment will be. Hardwood flooring is not only beautiful, but it’s highly effective at retaining heat. Since wood absorbs heat, this choice makes an excellent insulator for garage apartment floors. Natural stone is another good option. This type of flooring takes longer to absorb heat, but once it does, it creates a radiant heating effect. Although carpet feels soft underfoot, it’s not the best choice when considering energy efficient flooring. It’s also more susceptible to damage, so try to stick with hard surface flooring options that will keep this space comfortable through every season.
Uses for a Garage Apartment
There are several ways you can utilize this new functional space over your garage. It can be added to an existing attached garage, or you can opt to have a built-on addition to your freestanding garage. Make sure you’re following local building codes depending on which type of design you choose. Here are a few examples of ways you can best use your brand-new living space:
If you want to earn some extra passive income, consider renting out your new garage apartment. It’s a great way to get additional monthly revenue you can use to pay off your mortgage, go on vacations, or put into savings.
A Family Living Area
For families who want a separate place to play games or watch movies, this space is a perfect choice. If you have kids, they’ll love having this separate area where they go to play, read books, or work on projects.
You may have frequent visitors, but you’re short on extra room in your home. Create a cozy and comfortable above garage suite where your visitors can stay. This option is excellent if you don’t have a spare bedroom, but you want to offer friends and family a welcoming place to spend the night.
If you work from home or own a business, use your above garage area as a quiet office space. You’ll get peace and privacy so you can focus on work-related tasks in a separate part of the home.
After you’ve renovated your new carriage house, keep a few extra things in mind. Not only do you want the floors to have good insulation, but you need to consider insulating the garage door as well. Upgrade your current garage door to a better-insulated option or look for ways you can add additional insulation to the existing garage door. Fumes can come into the apartment above from vehicles and lawn equipment below. Make sure you seal all gaps and add new weatherstripping around all doors and windows.
In addition to the possibility of fumes that can enter the garage, you’ll also want to think about preventing excess noise from reaching the apartment above. This can cause distress for many tenants and family members, so you may want to consider soundproofing the floors. Make sure you install a quality underlayment like a shredded rubber mat that will keep noise to a minimum. No matter how you choose to use it, a garage apartment is a smart way to get more from your home.