Convert a Garage Into Living Space
LESLIE: Alright. Mark in Florida finds The Money Pit on WCCF. And you want to turn a garage into a room. Well, Mark, I was just filming While You Were Out in Fort Lauderdale for two weeks; and we turned about three garages into rooms. So why didn’t you apply?
MARK: I didn’t know that you were doing it? (laughing)
LESLIE: It seems like that’s what …
MARK: Plus I’m on the west coast, not in Fort Lauderdale.
LESLIE: Ah. We travel, man. What can we do for you?
MARK: Well, we have a standard two-car garage with a single-door remote control. And I have a side regular door to go out of.
MARK: And the air conditioning is mounted in the … at the ceiling level. So I’ve got everything on the ground is all open. And I’d like to seal it off and turn it into another room and be able to have it air conditioned, too. And from my air conditioning, I know I could probably bring a vent right off of that. But I was just curious about what you suggest in putting up in front of the door? Because the rest of the room would be more concrete; but the door, obviously, is not.
LESLIE: (overlapping) The garage door.
MARK: And approximately how much you think something like that would cost to do.
TOM: You mean the garage door.
MARK: Yes, sir.
TOM: Yeah. You know, I’ve seen that done well and I’ve seen that done very badly. Some –
LESLIE: Well, is the garage door going to stay functional or are you just going to pretend it doesn’t exist and keep it down?
MARK: Exactly. Keep it down.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s the way I’ve seen it done badly. (laughing)
MARK: Oh, okay. Then let’s think about being able to use it. (laughing)
TOM: Well, actually, if you’re going to convert that into living space, I’d like to see you convert it into living space; including the garage door. I’d like to see the door taken out. I’d like to see the foundation built up so that it matches the height of the rest of the foundation. A wood wall framed. Siding installed. New windows installed there in that space. So that when you look at the house from the street, it looks like it was always designed that way.
I really think the homes that have the fake garage doors look kind of bad. Not to mention the fact that those doors aren’t really designed to be water-proof that way. And you tend to get them to the point where they leak a lot. I’ve also seen people leave sort of like half-garages behind them to be like storage sheds; and that’s not really very nice either.
I think if you’re going to use that as living space, then what you want to do is really remove that door, frame it in, put a window in there, whatever else you want to do to make it look like the front of your house. Put some shutters up and make it look like it was always part of the house. I think that’s the best way to maintain the value and the structural integrity of the house.
LESLIE: But, then, you’re getting rid of a garage entirely.
TOM: Well, but you’re getting rid of it, anyway, if you’re going to make it living space.
LESLIE: Yeah, but it’s only temporarily living space for you. You can still have an air conditioned and finished garage. You know, maybe somebody wants their car in air conditioning.
TOM: Well, then that’s … that’s the decision you have to make. I mean if you want to be able to flip it back, then your remodel is not going to go the whole way.
MARK: Right. And I wasn’t really thinking of flipping it back. I was thinking more adding to the house without having a garage.
TOM: So –
LESLIE: Then I say get rid of the door, too.
TOM: Yeah. I think that’s the best shot. Just get rid –
MARK: Would you have any idea what something like that – not going anything extravagant; just moderately – what something like that would cost?
TOM: Well, to pay a contractor to do it, you’re going to have to have a mason build up the foundation first. So you’re probably looking at least a grand there. You’re going to have to buy a couple of windows. So I think, probably, by the time you’re done just refinishing that front wall of the house –
LESLIE: I always say 10,000. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, I was thinking less.
LESLIE: It’s always … you know how it is. You start off at five and somehow you creep to 10.
TOM: Yeah. I was thinking you could probably do a minimum job for about five grand. It’s not that big of a job.
MARK: Well, I appreciate it. That gives me a good idea. I was thinking closer to 10,000 also.
TOM: Yeah. And listen, when you … when you go ahead and extend those ducts in there, make sure that you also have return ducts. Don’t just supply air. You have to return it or it’s not going to work right.
MARK: Yeah, I would have a licensed contractor do that.
TOM: Good. Good. Yeah, because you want to make sure the system’s big enough for it and you have good flow. There’s nothing worse than doing all that to a room and not having any heat.
LESLIE: And especially you want to make sure that by adding this room to the existing system, that your unit itself is powerful enough to do that room as well.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Okay?
MARK: And that I’ll have to check into, also.
LESLIE: (laughing) Sorry, Mark. We’ve added a long list of things.
MARK: No, that’s why I called to ask; because I don’t know.
MARK: I appreciate it. It gives me two more things I have to think about.
TOM: That’s right. Well, sometimes when you call us, we do add to your to-do list.
MARK: Well, that’s alright.
TOM: That’s the risk.
MARK: (laughing) Thank you very much for your time.
TOM: Mark, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Yeah, if you think you had nothing to do with your house, just call us; we’ll think of something for you. (laughing) We’re good at that.
Okay, Leslie, who’s next?