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In the constant quest for extra space homeowners may sell their homes and trade up to bigger dwellings, build new homes or search for room within their present homes to find this precious commodity. In many cases all three options may be very expensive and, in addition, there are some negative aspects for you to consider.
Moving on could mean leaving friends, good neighbors and a convenient location so for those who value these renovating seems to be the only way to go. The options here include adding on to your home, making space in the basement or going up in the attic. However, for those homeowners who have garages, either stand-alone or attached, making an upstairs apartment or studio is becoming a popular choice.
In architects' terminology, the basement apartment is an Access Dwelling Unit, or living space that is smaller than the main home on one parcel of land. In some areas they are referred to as coach house apartments.
1) Untapped Room
The garage, whether a separate entity or semi-attached, is a bonus space. In many instances it is the most underutilized area of your property, becoming the collector for possessions that cannot be stored in the home because there is no place to put them there.
The main parts of building another living space are already in place. One of the most expensive parts of building any structure is the foundation and a garage already has a cement pad and footings. Some have pony walls on the footings that go up as high as four feet. The next bonus is electricity. With this in place the most you may have to do is upgrade the service to include appliances.
3) Guest House
A garage, especially one separated from the home can also be used as a great guesthouse. When visitors come it's always nice to have a special place for them with all the amenities of home. This is far better than having to squeeze them into a spare bedroom.
Fixing up the garage into another living space is a good time to remodel the storage capacity as well. In the rebuilding process it is easy to include shelving and other storage facilities.
5) Income Producing
A detached garage is a great opportunity for an income-producing space. Because there is distance between your home and the structure both you and your tenant have the bonus of privacy. This beats the up-down arrangement of basement suites where noise and proximity can be annoying to both parties.
6) Home Office
A garage can also give you the benefit of an office space for your business without having to pay the hefty rental charges of retail space. Clients can enter your place of business just as they would any place of business, and the space can be decorated as such. As well, in most instances your renovation and upkeep expenses are a tax deduction.
7) Room for Growing Family
Children going to college have high enough expenses with tuition and books without paying for an apartment, just so that they can be out on their own. An apartment on your property would give them their independence while saving them the huge costs of living.
8) Your Space
Do you ever wish you had your own place to go to read, listen to music or to enjoy a hobby like painting or wood crafting? A separate area either in or above the present garage can be your little bit of paradise in a busy and noisy environment.
9) Aged Relatives or In-law Suite
As our parents and special relatives get older living out on their own may not be a realistic way of life. Having an extra apartment close by lets you provide the extra care that would cost thousands of dollars at a senior residence.
Many people just take the garage and renovate it into a living space. This method of conversion is the easiest way to make more space but could lead to problems if you are planning to sell the house. After all it is a garage and more buyers want a place to store their vehicle than those who don't need the space. In addition there may be covenants in the neighborhood that won't allow you to park your vehicles on the driveway. But the biggest reason is that you are sacrificing one space for another because a garage is not only used for vehicles, it is a storage area as well.
Feasibility: Is it physically possible to put an apartment above the garage? In other words is the garage a separate structure?
Codes: Will the city or county let you do this project? Check for the covenants and building codes in your area.
Structure: Is the foundation strong enough to hold the extra weight? Will the walls take the added strain? As with changing a load-bearing wall a building engineer would have to check this out.
Design: Will this renovation change the design of the home in a negative manner?
In the end the best judge of what to do with your property is you. If a double-car garage is part of your home you may want to section off one side for extra room so that you still have space for your vehicle.