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.


Replacing a Lock on your Garage!

Key snaps, handle breaks what to do next. That small lock on your garage can easily be replaced. While most people have garage door openers, the lock on the door adds an extra barrier of security.

Step 1: Start with the garage door closed and the latch in the handle fully engaged. Use a pair of vise grips to grip the track on either side of the garage door. This will prevent the garage door from moving when you remove and replace the lock.

Step 2: Detach the cable rods from the lock. They should be located on the inside of the garage door on the lock handle. Most are attached with screws, so you’ll need a screwdriver to remove them. Others clip into place without any detachable fasteners.

Step 3: Remove the fasteners that hold the actual garage door lock handle into place. There are usually two screws that must be pulled out.

Step 4: Pull the inside of the garage door lock handle until it comes free from the garage door.

Step 5: Go to the front of the garage door and pull out the front portion of the garage lock.

Step 6: Push the inside portion of the new garage door lock handle into place through the hole.

Step 7: On the other side of the door, press the door handle into place. Make sure that the two pieces fit together properly and can be turned to operate the handle easily.

TIP: This step requires the help of someone who can press the outside piece of the handle into place.

Step 8: Install the two screws included with the garage door lock with a screwdriver to secure the two pieces of the handle together.

Step 9: Attach the cable rod to the new handle. Attach the door handle to the metal bar on the garage door.

Step 10: Test the handle, making sure the lock fully works and operates the cable rod and center bar properly. When you are satisfied, remove the vise grips.

Weekend DIY Garage Projects

Install Motion Sensors

Motion lights are a safe and efficient source for outdoor lighting. Admit it, it’s kind of nice to walk up to a home and have the lights turn on for you like magic. It’s welcoming… and it’s definitely a great security feature. Outdoor motion lights and sensors range from $30 all the way up to $200 and they come in all sorts of shapes, colors,and installation options. The solar powered ones are really cool. Sears even has portable, LED motion sensors.URL But if you’re replacing an existing outdoor light fixture start by cutting the power to the fuse or breaker. Remove the old light and disconnect the wiring. Install the new fixture and match up each wire with it’s respective terminal: black (hot), white (neutral) and green (ground). Just replace wire for wire on the new fixture. If you’re installing new lights, call an electrician. The whole idea here is safety.

Paint The Floor

Adding a little color to your floors can give your garage a whole new look. If you don’t want to paint the entire thing, painting at least the floor will make it pop and give it a fresh, clean look. First, make sure the surface is clean and dry. Tape off all the areas you don’t want to get paint on and then simply paint two coats using a latex and floor enamel in the color of your choice. This will be durable and won’t have a strong odor or slow-dry time like oil paint.

Perform A Garage Door Tune-Up

Make sure your garage door is functioning smoothly by giving it a small tune-up. Coat the springs and the chain with a lubricant. You should also replace the rubber seal on the bottom of the door. Then, inspect the rollers and replace them if broken or damaged in any way.

Install Wall Shelves

Installing a shelf in your garage is a weekend project worth looking into since it creates extra storage space in an otherwise empty room. We recommend that you use pre-packaged shelves if you’d prefer avoiding using big tools.First, make the appropriate measurements to ensure the units are aligned properly. Then, drill in the anchors, followed by the screws and, voila, your garage shelf is complete.

 Hang A Peg Board

One of the easiest ways to stay organized in your garage or shed is to install a pegboard, which you can find at any big box home improvement store. This will help to keep tools and supplies in order and free up valuable floor space. What’s not to like?

Organize Your Stuff

Trying to find something in this area can often be stressful because it tends to be a catch-all for everything you don’t want inside the house. Installing cabinets and shelves will make it easier to find things. You should also label everything from Christmas decorations to sporting equipment.

The 6 Essentials for Every Garage

Safety Gear

Don’t put yourself in a bind in which you can’t find your safety glasses but need to work on a project, so you proceed without eye protection. Set up your shop with a dedicated area for safety equipment. You’re much more likely to actually don safety gear if you’re able to find it easily.

At the very least, you should keep two pairs of impact-rated safety glasses (one for yourself, one for an onlooker or a partner), safety goggles that wrap tight to your face for chemical splash protection, leather and/or mechanics gloves, disposable gloves, earplugs or earmuffs, a face shield (to be used with safety glasses) and a brand-name disposable respirator. You should also download and print out material safety and data sheets for any hazardous chemicals you use or store in your garage. Plus, keep a small first-aid kit handy.


Power Strips and Extension Cords

If you find yourself hunting for free power outlets, it’s time to think about power strips and extension cords. A 4-foot, 10-outlet power strip is perfect for placement on a workbench and can handle corded tools and cordless-tool battery chargers with ease. Use smaller power strips to make difficult-to-reach outlets more accessible. For the garage, use metal-encased power strips like the Yellow Jacket surge protector; they typically come with generous 15-foot cords.


General Storage

Pegboard, a garage staple, is by far the most economical way to store individual tools and pieces of equipment. There are different hooks available for hammers, extension cords and other tools.


Tool Chests

The more tools you own, the more important organization becomes—few things are as frustrating as spending an hour looking for a tool you need for a 15-minute project.



A workbench is the first thing you should build or buy since it will be central to most of your projects.

A DIY workbench can be as simple as slapping an old solid-core door or plank of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) on top of two sawhorses. If you want something more sophisticated, though, there are hundreds of easy-to-build designs floating around the Web for workbenches constructed of 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s .


Inadequate lighting can hurt the quality of your work and lead to time-consuming or costly mistakes. Luckily, it’s not too difficult or costly to upgrade your lighting with ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixtures. Start by looking at 4-foot instant-on T8 bulb fixtures with wide reflectors or diffusers.

Hanging shop lights, such as this low-profile one by Lithonia, are single-, double- or four-bulb fixtures that drop down from above your workbench to provide illumination where you need it most. Sometimes just adding one of these lamps to an otherwise dimly lit garage can lead to noticeably better visibility.

If it ain’t broke why fix it!?!

Sometime we neglect the older things because well….”If it ain’t broke why fix it!”

But we don’t want to wait until we have a serious problem and then find a solution. If your garage is outdated take a look at this “outdated” video as a reminder.

Quick Tip to quiet your garage door.

Found a nice tip on how to quiet your garage door. Overtime every garage door gets a little noisy. If you can be woken up by your garage door going up and down, these tips my help.

Align your Garage Door Safely

The most common problem people have is with there safety sensors.  They are located near the bottom of the track of the garage door near the floor.  Generally, but not always, when the door opens but won’t close it tends to be a safety sensor alignment issue.  Usually the light bulbs will flash on the garage door opener unit to alert you to the fact that it is a safety sensor or photo eye problem. Irregardless of the manufacturer, your safety sensors should have LED lights on them and those lights should be solid at all times.   When the LED lights aren’t solid is when you have a problem closing the garage door.   Realigning the sensors could be as simple as loosening a wing nut and moving the sensor until the light stays solid or, you may have to remove the sensor from the bracket all together and then re-install it to realign it.   Some sensors are mounted on flimsy brackets  which can simply be bent around a bit to realign them.

Another possible problem with the safety sensors could be that the lenses on the sensors have become covered with a layer of dust that blocks the beam  which will keep the door from closing.  The lenses can be cleaned with a soft cloth.   Be careful not to move the sensors around when doing this or you could cause them to go out of alignment if they are currently aligned.

Tips to avoid Break-in

Precision Door and the St. Charles Police Department are offering the following TIPS:


1. Lock all doors that lead into your house from the garage.
2. Make sure your garage door is shut and secure at night.
3. Close and lock all windows in your garage at night.
4. Lock all cars parked inside and outside the garage, do not leave remotes laying in visible areas.
5. Make sure the garage door is not disengaged from the opener, this allows the door to be manually opened.
6. Do not let children play with your car keys, they might accidentally unlock your car or open your garage door.
7. Report any suspicious activity to your local police department.

Take Extra Precaution: A Thief can Still Break-In Easily

If you have taken the above precautions, a trained thief can still possibly gain entrance through your garage door.   See our previous blog posting that shows how easily it is for a trained thief to open your garage door, and how an easy an inexpensive precaution could stop them.


How To Assess Your Potential for a Garage Conversion

convertgarageA garage conversion can be one of the quickest and most affordable ways to add living space to a home. The foundation, walls and roof are already in place. The wiring is often sufficient. And if the garage is attached to the house, the entry already exists.

In many houses, a well-planned garage conversion can create a new room or rooms that blend seamlessly with the existing house. The process should begin with a careful assessment of the garage and the problems and promises it holds.

Garage Door

The biggest question facing most garage conversions is what to do about the garage door. Once the door is removed, the resulting space needs to be filled in so that it both blends in with the rest of the house and provides a useful service to the new living space. Possible options include installing a patio door or framing a new wall that includes a large window.


A typical garage sits on an uninsulated concrete slab, which may be several inches below the floor level inside the house. The slab may well be sloped toward the garage door or a floor drain. With these circumstances, you will want to consider filling the bottom of the garage door opening with a curb that will keep water out of the converted space and protect wall framing from moisture. You will also need to decide if the floor should be leveled.

Heating and Cooling

If the garage is attached to the house, you may be able to extend the existing heating and cooling system into the new space. If that is not possible, look into an independent system (heat can be supplied by electric baseboards, gas space heaters or woodstoves, for example, while a room air conditioner can handle warm weather). Add insulation to walls, floor and ceiling before deciding how to heat and cool the space.


If you expect to substantially increase electrical usage in the converted space, consider adding at least one new 20-amp circuit. Wiring to a detached garage can be run through an underground conduit.


This can be the biggest headache of a garage conversion. Getting water supplied to the garage may be easy, but drainage could present major problems. Check with a plumber about your options. If you are lucky enough to have a laundry/utility room connecting the garage to the house, you might be able to turn it into a bathroom.

Loss of Storage and Parking

Much of what is currently stored in your garage could go into a new shed, the basement or attic, or be sold at a garage sale. To protect your vehicle from the elements, consider building a carport.

Blending In

Think hard about to make the exterior of the converted space look like it has always been a part of the house, rather than an afterthought. Try to match the siding, colors, window and door styles and the landscaping.

Checklist for a Carport to Garage Conversion

Carports are inexpensive to build, but they aren’t nearly as useful as garages, nor secure. If you would like to convert your carport into a fully enclosed and secure garage, here are some tips on what to look for and think about.

  • Check your local building code and HOA regulations. Find out if the project is allowed and what you may need to do to get a permit. For example, an attached garage will likely need a fire-rated wall on the house side.
  • Measure the slab. At a bare minimum, a garage should be 20-ft. deep, with a width of 10 ft. for one car and 18 ft., 6 in. for two cars. A more comfortable garage would add 2-4 ft. to each dimension.
  • Check the height. Will there be room for a header above the garage door opening? A standard garage door requires a rough opening 8 ft., 1 in. high, with a 2×8 or 2×12 header spanning the opening.
  • Carports are built with gable roofs and shed roofs. Try to imagine what the converted space will look like with the existing roof. A shed roof may look fine for your carport, but not particularly pleasing when it is enclosed.
  • If you plan to keep the existing roof, have a contractor, home inspector, or structural engineer examine it. If the roof is in poor condition, you might want to remove it and start your garage project from scratch.
  • Check the slab. Is it structurally sound? Is the footing wide and deep enough? Though the slab surface may seem fine, it may not necessarily meet current code requirements. Once you apply for a new building permit, you may be required to address that issue.
  • Determine in advance how electrical service will be delivered. And if you want to add plumbing for laundry or other purposes, talk to a plumber about your options before proceeding.