Could you use more space in your home? Maybe COVID has highlighted the need for a home office, home gym or dedicated play space for the kids, away from the main living area?
Or maybe you’d like to create a private suite for your university-age student, or a legal mortgage helper.
After identifying the need, the question then becomes: “What’s the most effective solution?”
For many homeowners, it’s found in that often-neglected space: The garage.
“Real estate is a commodity in short supply in Greater Victoria, so we’re seeing a lot of interest from people looking at ways to make the most of what they have,” notes MAC Renovations’ Blaise McDonald. “The garage is often a flexible space that can be adapted to a variety of uses.”
Questions & considerations
Because the garage tends to be somewhat insulated from the main house, it often offers some sound-muffling features homeowners appreciate.
Additionally, its proximity to the laundry or kitchen can make it easier to access plumbing for a kitchenette or ensuite.
But while your garage may be ripe for development, a variety of questions still need to be asked and answered before you begin.
For example, the garage square-footage is typically not included in the overall square-footage of the home. That means that if your home has been built to the maximum allowed for your zoning, adding another 400 sq. ft. of finished space in the garage may not be permitted, McDonald notes.
In other areas, bylaws stipulate certain parking requirements, so removing garage parking could contravene the municipal rules.
“Every municipality is different so you want to ensure you’re working with a professional who understands the requirements,” McDonald says.
Moving into construction, common considerations include whether there are perimeter drains in front of the garage, and whether there’s a vapour barrier beneath the garage floor, for example. If the garage is currently home to your hot water tank, the floor may also be sloped to direct any water leaks away from the home.
Depending on the intended use, creating a comfortable space may require adding insulation, building up the floor, adding lighting and trading the garage door for a single door and facade that complements the existing home exterior.
Giving your garage the WOW factor
Beyond getting creative with new functions for your underused garage, sometimes you simply want to make it the very best garage for your needs, perhaps combining parking with efficient storage and a workshop.
“With flooring, cabinetry and storage accessories, we’ve seen some really innovative products come on the market in recent years that showcase some of the awesome possibilities for the garage,” McDonald says.