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.

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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.

Floor

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.

Wiring

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.

Plumbing

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.

How to prepare your Garage Floor for a Conversion

When converting a garage into living space, the first big job usually is removing the garage door. The next step is to fill in that big open space with some combination of walls, windows and doors.

Garage walls are either framed directly on the slab or on a 6- to 10-inch curb around the perimeter. If your walls sit on a curb, you need to extend that curb through the opening. The curb helps keep water out and it also protects the wood framing from moisture damage. You should be able to determine whether or not you have a curb by examining the sides of the garage opening after removing the jambs.

Here’s How:

  1. Before you begin, inspect the condition of the concrete slab in the garage. If it is badly damaged, make the the necessary repairs before proceeding. If you aren’t sure how to make that determination, seek the advice of a construction professional.
  2. The first step in extending a concrete curb is to insert some reinforcing bars (“rebar”) into the sides of the existing curb. This will help tie the new and old sections together. With a hammer drill, which you should be able to rent (if not borrow) and a 1/2-inch masonry bit, drill two holes about 6 inches deep into each curb. The holes should be centered, one on top of the other. Tap 12-inch pieces of rebar into each hole with a small sledgehammer or large hammer.
  3. Build a form for the concrete with two pieces of lumber cut to match the height of the curb. Use 2x lumber that is about 3 or 4 feet longer than the opening. Prop the boards in the opening, using concrete blocks or other heavy objects to hold them in place. For added security, you can temporarily bolt the boards to the existing curb or nail several small boards across the tops. You will be pouring concrete between these big boards and you want to make sure they don’t move when you do.
  4. Make sure that you have enough concrete on hand before you begin. Calculate the cubic feet you will need, then buy as many bags as necessary. Mix bags of ready-mix concrete with water in a wheelbarrow or large tub. Shovel concrete into the form. Add small amounts at a time and try to avoid hitting the boards. Once the form is filled, use a mortar trowel to smooth the tops.
  5. While the concrete is still wet, insert 1/2-inch anchor bolts in the center spaced no more than 6 feet apart and 12 inches from each end. Plan ahead so that you don’t set anchor bolts where wall studs will be located. Let the concrete cure for three or four days before removing the form boards.
  6. Most garage floors slope toward the door or a drain. You can level the floor if necessary using a self-leveling concrete or gypsum-concrete mixture. Check with your supplier or the manufacturer to make sure you choose a product suitable for the depth you require. If you are not extending the curb, check with a construction professional before trying to level the floor. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. These compounds seek their own level, so you only need to mix and pour them. Wait at least two days before walking on the surface and a week or more before installing any floor covering.

15 Things Needed in Every Garage

A dry-erase board in the garage will come in handy because it will help you remember things that are specifically related to that area of your house. Good things to write down include garage opener maintenance steps, shopping lists for the hardware store, and evacuation plans.

Fire Extinguisher - Handy Mans Friend

Fire Extinguisher – Handy Mans Friend

The fire extinguisher is probably one of the most important things you can have. Most garages are framed out by cinder blocks on 3 sides…the 4th side is usually connected to your house. Not a good place for a fire.

Keeping a spare remote inside certainly isn’t a necessity. It will, however, spare you the annoyance of troubleshooting problems at an inconvenient time. Stow replacements with similar items that only need replacing a few times a year.

Most air handlers are located inside the garage. It makes sense then, that you’d store the filters in here. A good idea is to write yourself a note on the dry-erase board so you can easily see when you last changed it.

Bottled water is a life saver. Keep some in the garage in case the car overheats, for spills, in case you get super thirsty, or whatever.

You never know when you’ll need a first-aid kit. Why bother running all the way through the house when you could keep a travel kit in the garage?

Storage bins are, well, great for storing stuff. Most are stackable, so unused pieces won’t take up much space. Keeping several on hand will help keep you from accumulating needlessly unorganized piles of stuff.

Need a Bat?

Need a Bat?

Keep a baseball bat on hand for self-defense. Even if you have no intention of using it, it will make you feel better. Just trust me on this one.

Nearly every mechanic keeps bags of kitty litter on hand for greasy spills. It’s super absorbant, cheap, and will save on clean-up efforts.

With the growing popularity of energy-efficient bulbs, replacing light bulbs isn’t something you do very often. Try storing several different wattages (wrapped in muslin or sandwich bags) in one of your storage bins for safe keeping.

In either 9 or 12 volts, a battery charger is definitely something you want to keep in the garage. You’ll never need to ask for jumper cables again. Plus, as a bonus, many models also come equipped with emergency radio features and even air compressors. Talk about a multi-tool!

You’ll want to be extra cautious when storing spare home keys, but it’s one of those precautions worth taking. Think long and hard about a safe hiding spot. You might want to add an encrypted note for yourself on the dry-erase board with a hint that only you’d be able to figure out.

A broom is essential if you’d like to prevent tracking mud, dirt, and other grime into your home. Consider hanging one on either side of the door to keep this pesky foot traffic residue to a minimum.

Emergency contact numbers (think: doctor, mechanic, child’s pediatrician, poison/animal control) are ideal bits of information to store on the dry-erase board. These are the kind of numbers you’ll want close by if the need arises.

Silica beads (the micro-beads you find tucked into shoe packages and inside coat pockets) are perfect to keep moisture away from items that shouldn’t get wet. You can buy them in bulk from a home improvement store, or simply place them in a sandwich bag as you find them. Just make sure they’re kept in a safe location; away from the reach of pets and small children.

Garage Tracks – What Can Go Wrong?

Galvanized garage door tracks really should not rust, but they can get clogged with dirt and debris. And in some parts of the country road salt can undermine the galvanization and cause the metal to corrode.

The rollers that run up and down the tracks are also prone to wearing down. Replacing rollers is an easy job as long as you get the right size. Two-inch wide track uses what are usually called 2-in. rollers, but the diameter of those rollers will likely be less than 2 in. When shopping for replacement rollers, you will find both steel and nylon products. Steel rollers tend to last longer and cost less, but they are also considerably noisier than nylon.

Faulty garage door springs can also cause problems with the operation of the garage door. And the cables on the garage door can become worn and even break, which can lead to more serious problems if the cables aren’t replaced right away.

That’s why it is a good idea to periodically perform a little inspection and maintenance on your garage door, paying special attention to the tracks and rollers.

Another way garage door tracks can be damaged is if you bump into them (with a car, motorcycle or some other heavy object). The newer, thinner tracks in particular can be bent with such contact. When that happens, it is usually best simply to replace the track.

If your garage door starts making more noise when being raised and lowered, that could indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. How To Quiet a Noisy Garage Door provides some of the most common causes and solutions to garage door noise.

Wooden Garage Door | Security

Wooden Garage Door

Many people who can afford to spend a little extra on their garage door, and are looking for a special look, tend to choose wood for their garage door. Wooden garage doors are more expensive then steel or aluminum but add more aesthetic then metal garage doors. One of the nicest thing about garage doors is you can add a nice stain that adds an extra vibrant look to your home.

Though what many people are concerned about is garage door security, especially when it is made of wood. When you consider aluminum is a very soft metal and can easily be bent and broken. Hard woods add more strength, though at a higher cost. The key is to make sure that your wooden garage door is maintained properly so that no rot or cracking exists that could result in weakening the garage door.

Garage Door Locks

The measure of security can be said to be in the quality of the lock. Most likely someone is not going to come to your garage door with a chainsaw. Most of the time if someone is going to break in they want to be silent while they do so. Therefore regardless of the type of garage door invest in good quality garage locks.

Working in Your Garage | Safety Tips

People usually hurt themselves while doing a job or a hobby that you aren’t very familiar with or you don’t do that often. Stabbed myself with a crochet needle five times already.

Most men like to work in there garage, I don’t know it makes us feel like manly man, but no the less we should still take precautions to make sure that we don’t injure ourselves or someone else.

A lot of times we just tinker in the garage with small projects, and usually nothing more that small projects. Sometimes though we need to make larger repairs and for most of us this isn’t our main occupation.

A few things to keep in mind next time you have a DIY project in your garage:

Garage Safety Tips

  1.  Gas explosion or fire: Ocy-acetylene, LP and other gas vessels and pipes should be stored and operated clear of vehicles, heat, stoves, electricity, flammables, machinery, corrosives, and other gas vessels. If you store any type of gas in your garage, try to move it to somewhere out of your garage in a ventilated but sheltered area.
  2. Gas fire. Gas or Petrol storage: This should be minimized, and kept in a secure, dedicated container locked in the trunk of a vehicle. Keep a foam type fire extinguisher in every vehicle and at the door. Use non-flammable cleaning materials.
  3. Power tool injury: Turn off and/or unplug your equipment between each job. Do not wear loose clothing. Wear eye protection. Keep untrained people and children out of work and storage areas.
  4. Runaway Vehicle or Jack Drop: Keep keys out of ignition and vehicle off. Put emergency brake on. Park on level areas, never on an incline or decline. Jack in an unconstrained area, with tripod support.
  5. Electrical shock: Maintain electrical appliances, lines and connections. Make sure all electrical equipment has a secure ground before operating. Don’t just break the ground off your extension cord because you just have two prong outlets, REPLACE THE OUTLET. Keep a foam type fire extinguisher at the entrance.
  6. Hand tool injuries. Wear eye, hand and foot protection for heavy handling, cutting, sawing, and hammering. Use the right tools for the right job.
  7. Dust inhalation, chemical and exhaust fumes: Work in a ventilated area, nothing you are doing is that top secret that you can’t keep the garage door open. Used oil must be delivered to your nearest lubricants supplier or Gas Station. Fuel or oil in a drain could ignite in contact with drainpipe gases.

Pool Noodle | Garage Door Winter Uses

Save you Noodles, Protect your car!

Came across something that I though was quite handy. With the approach of winter man are clearing out there garage in an effort to fit their car inside during the winter. Nothing like having to clear the snow off your car while it is freezing outside.

Generally one of the biggest problems in putting our car in the garage is hitting the car door against the wall. Well here is a simple solution. Before storing your pool noodles for the winter, fasten one against the wall so that when you open your car door you also save the paint. This should avoid scratching your car doors as long as you don’t hit the bolt heads. I’d recommend taking a bit of leftover pool noodle material and gluing it to the bolt heads to prevent scratches from that surface. It is cheap, simple and practical.

Preparing Your Garage for the winter!

Snow at Garage Door

As winter approaches many people give consideration to their windows, finding adequate storage for summer item and even the lawn. In many cases the garage is overlooked. Whether you have an attached or detached garage, preparation is still needed in order to protect your valuables and the garage mechanisms itself.

Attached garages come with many conveniences such as evading the snow or rain when returning home from grocery shopping. Or grabbing the tool you need with out having to face the outside elements, or having your neighbors see you in your pajamas when you need to get the screwdriver after the toilet paper holder just fell off. In any case the attached garage is part of the home. This could mean that water pipes or heating ducts run through the garage. In this case they should be properly insulated to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Weather Stripping

If your garage is heated, make sure you have adequate overhead insulation as well check the weather stripping on your garage door to prevent unnecessary heat lose. Overhead garage doors get quite a workout all year and the weather stripping can wear out quickly. Make sure the gaps at the bottom, sides and top of the door are properly sealed. Also check access doors for a good insulating seal. If you feel a draft or can see light or visible cracks, replace the weather stripping.

Preparing a garage for winter can save you money on your heating bills, protect its contents from the weather, and prevent accidental air and water leaks. If your garage is poorly insulated or your overhead door is in need of repair or replacement, it’s best to get it taken care of before the harshest of winter weather arrives. Insulation, weather stripping and attention to exposed pipes will go a long way towards protecting your property.

Choosing a Wooden Garage Door

Wooden Garage Door

We’ve talked about Choosing the right Garage door type, but now let us focus on the wooden garage door. If you want to lend a more unique look and feel to your garage and to your home, then a wooden garage door might be what you are looking for. In addition to having a distinct and more polished look, the wooden door options that you will find in the market are also known for being very durable as well. This means that they will be able to function well when it comes to giving your garage the right level of safety that it requires. Just see to it that you go through the necessary considerations that will help you pick out the best wooden garage doors in the market. Here are some of the most important points that you should look into in order to ensure that you will find the wooden door that will fit your garage best.

Wooden Garage Door | The Cost

The main thing that you have to consider is the amount of money that you have to invest on the wooden door that you want to use for your garage. The price will depend on the quality of the wood and other materials used to manufacture the door and the quality of the craftsmanship that went into it as well. If you find that most of the options in the market are well beyond your price point, then you should consider picking from reclaimed wooden garage doors instead. Yes, they will cost much less, but they will be able to give your home a polished look just the same.

Garage Door | Quality

Time to think about quality you have to place much thought into the quality of the wood that was used for the wooden garage doors that you are choosing from as well. If you plan on buying something that is made out of grade A wood, then you have to prepare yourself to shell out quite a bit of money (kind of like when buying high quality steak!). Just make sure that you’re choosing doors that were manufactured out of the sturdiest kinds of wood (Oak, Maple, Cherry etc). If someone is trying to sell you a nice sturdy garage door made of Cedar…beware…it might be nice for making a sauna in the backyard but not for a garage door.  After all, it has to last and provide you with a certain level of security as well. If you haven’t got a clue about what to do, feel free to contact Sanford and Son? Overhead Doors.

Finally, make sure that you will be able to go about the process of wooden garage door installation that will help you put up the garage door that you will be buying, either by yourself or with the help of a professional. If you plan to get the help of a contractor, then make sure that you include the necessary provisions on your budget, to cover professional fees and charges. Prepare for any additional equipment or pieces of hardware that the installation process may require as well. Your contractor will have his own gear, but you can never be too prepared.