New Living Space in the Garage, 5 Things to Consider

1. The floor. A converted garage is made into a bright and spacious living space. The new concrete floor is raised above street level to keep water out of the interior. More often than not, the existing garage floor concrete slab is sloped, cracked and quite a bit lower than the house floor. So converting a garage to living space usually requires installing a new floor structure. There are several options for doing this. One is to build up a wood framed floor that aligns with the floor in the main house. Another is to install a wood framed or concrete floor that is a step or two down from the main house. An advantage to installing a concrete “topping slab” over the existing floor is that a radiant heating system can be installed within the concrete.

2. The opening. When converting a garage to livable space, there’s always the issue of what to do with the garage door opening. Because this opening and the garage doors have such a large impact on the overall look of the house, it makes sense to fill the opening with a large-scale element. For example, a good solution is to keep a garage door in the opening while making sure the door is weather tight.

3. Windows. Additional windows will more than likely have to be installed, as garages typically have few, if any, windows. It’s important to check and comply with any local building codes and ordinances when sizing and locating these new windows.

4. Additional plumbing. Adding a kitchen or bathroom to a garage conversion can be difficult because tying into the existing plumbing lines is problematic. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done as, say, an additional bathroom is always a nice amenity to have. So investigating ways (such as building up the floor to provide a space for plumbing pipes) to overcome the technical difficulties is well worth doing.

5. Ceiling height. Though the type of framing used at the garage roof will dictate what can be done economically, increasing the height of the ceiling is a possibility if the garage is free standing or has no second floor above it. A vaulted ceiling will certainly add to the room’s overall spaciousness.

4 Ways to Protect Your Garage From Winter

Yes winter is approaching what are we to do? Well we got to prepare.

Fix or Replace Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping creates a seal between the garage door and garage door opening. “Over time, this weatherstripping can become brittle and cracked, allowing air to make its way between the door and the frame and create cold drafts,” says Konrad Witek, director of engineering at eComfort.com.

If you feel air seeping into the garage, Witek says, remove the existing weatherstripping and scrape off any remaining sealant. “A pry bar and flat scraper or putty knife will make the process much easier,” he says. The cleaner and smoother you can make the surface, the easier it will be to install the new weatherstripping, and the better it will seal.

Once the old weather stripping is removed, you can begin measuring to apply the new one. To align the weatherstripping, Witek says you’ll need to close the garage door and then align the weather stripping so that the rubber flap flattens slightly against the door. “This will ensure a good seal and easy operation of the garage door,” he says.

Insulate Your Garage Walls

However, while it’s not hard to purchase fiberglass batt insulation, installing it correctly is another story, Sainz says. “Always be sure to select the proper thickness for your walls and read the installation guide carefully,” Sainz says.

Common mistakes include failure to securely fasten the batt insulation, not supporting it, or cutting it too long or short for the location. “Insulation needs to have a snug fit, but it can’t be jammed in too tightly,” he says.

Fix Up the Garage Door

Witek says there is a variety of products available to insulate garage doors, including specifically designed kits. “Insulation options include foam board, reflective barriers, and fiberglass batt insulation,” he says.

Regardless which option you choose, Witek says the insulation will need to be cut to fill the garage door panels, then secured with adhesive to make sure it stays put. “Some garage doors will not have recessed panels that make for an easy insulation project,” he says.

Struggling to insulate the door, or still feeling the cold even after putting it in? In some cases, Witek says, the best option may be to replace the door with a modern, insulated design.

Install a Unit Heater in Your Garage

Weatherstripping and insulation will help to protect your garage from extreme winter weather, but on their own, they’re not going to keep the garage toasty warm for you. Unit heaters are a great way to heat a garage with minimal space requirements and construction costs, Witek says.

First, choose between a gas or electric heater. Gas-fired units are usually cheaper to operate but are more difficult to install because they require a gas supply and exhaust venting, Witek says. “And electric models are easier to install, but are more costly to operate than gas-fired models.” This makes electric unit heaters a great option in areas with mild winters or where you only need heat occasionally, he says.

Another, more efficient electric option worth considering is a mini-split heat pump. “This type of unit will provide efficient year-round heating and cooling to the garage with only a 3-inch hole through an exterior wall required for installation,” Witek says.

If you can’t afford or don’t have time to do every one of these things before winter, start with one. When it comes to winterizing your garage, every little bit helps.

Source: 4 Ways to Protect Your Garage From Winter – Popular Mechanics