Your garage represents some valuable real estate in your home. Houses with a garage generally have a higher selling value than those that don’t. A garage protects your car and helps to prolong its life by keeping it out of the elements. It also provides a place for you to store your lawn tools and other belongings.
If you are strapped for space in your home, your garage can also be a potential new room. You can finish it and turn it into a spare bedroom, a home office or even a family room. The possibilities are unlimited.
Converting your garage has some advantages and some disadvantages, and it is important to consider them all before you make the final decision. Here are a few pros and cons of finishing your garage to consider:
More Livable Space
The most obvious advantage of finishing your garage is that you can expand the livable space in your home. A garage can add up to 600 square feet of space to your home, depending on whether it is a one-car or two-car garage. That could be 1/3 to ½ the total amount of square footage currently in your home. Finishing that area would add a significant amount of space to your home.
You may want to consider finishing your garage if you are welcoming a new child or you want to welcome family members into your home, such as an aging parent. You may also consider finishing your garage when your children grow or when you decide to open a business in your home.
Improve Energy Efficiency
Most garages are not insulated. Even though you are likely not heating and cooling your garage, the lack of insulation can still put a burden on the heating and cooling of the rest of your home. By finishing your attic, you insulate the floor, walls and ceiling, improving the energy efficiency of your whole home. While you will increase your heating and cooling costs slightly as a result of the additional room, your overall system will be more efficient.
When you want to add space to your home, you have two options: Building an addition or finishing a space like a garage or basement. Finishing a basement costs far less than building an addition. Depending on the scope of your project, finishing a garage can be half the cost of an addition. You already have all the major components: The floor, the walls and the ceiling. You just have to insulate the space and add flooring and drywall. If you want extras like a bathroom or additional electrical work, you might add to the cost, but it will still be less than the cost of starting new.
Depending on where you live and what other features your home has, finishing your garage could improve the value of your home by creating additional square footage. However, a garage is also a major selling point for many homes, so eliminating this space could bring down the value of your home in some cases. It is important to talk with a realtor about how the specific changes you are thinking of making could impact your home’s value.
No Dedicated Space for Your Car
The biggest disadvantage, by far, of finishing your garage is that you now have no dedicated space for your car. Your garage not only protects your car from the damaging effects of rain, snow, pollen and other elements, but it also gives you a warm and dry place to start your car during the winter or during summer storms.
If you have a carport or another covered space for your car, finishing your garage might not be such a loss. If you have a two-car garage, you might also consider converting only part of the space while keeping one side for your car.
Loss of Storage Space
Many people use their garages as a de facto storage shed. That’s where they put their Christmas decorations, their lawn equipment, their bikes, their skiing gear, and pretty much anything else that doesn’t fit in their closets. If you have an outdoor shed, then converting the garage might not be as big a loss. However, if you have no other area to store items like your lawnmower or your power tools, you might consider either keeping part of the garage as a workspace or building a new shed in your backyard. Storage space will be invaluable both to you and to any future potential buyers of your home.
Ultimately, no one can tell you what the right choice is when you are considering converting your garage. While there are many advantages to converting the space, such as creating more usable area and potentially improving the value of your home, there are also a couple of major disadvantages, such as losing the space for your car or for storage. It is critical that you think through the pros and cons and to make your own exhaustive list.
In the end, you are the one who has to live in your house, and the best decision is the one that makes you the happiest. By taking care of your home, you will protect its value. Anything else can be changed by the next owner if necessary. In the meantime, you should make the decision that’s right for you and your family.