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Converting a Garage? Reasons to Remove the Door

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Listening on the Discovery Radio Network is Michelle in Georgia. And you’ve moved into the garage; literally. Tell us about your new room.

    MICHELLE: We wanted a nice sized playroom for both children, where they could spread out (inaudible) and it had already been nicely sheet-rocked and has the ceiling and closets and stuff.

    TOM: OK.

    MICHELLE: And we had put down a nice quality of carpet to pad their knees and stuff like that while they play. We want to leave the garage doors so that it’ll be easier to bring larger toys – like bicycles and things – in and out. But we need to get some advice about weatherproofing right where the garage door comes down. Rain doesn’t actually come in but sometimes a little – the water will trickle down. And I got the best carpet pad …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    MICHELLE: … with the moisture barrier and I’m afraid if water gets under it …

    TOM: Hey, Michelle? Are you ever considering bringing this room back to being a garage?

    MICHELLE: Not while I own the house, but there – we may sell the house in a few years.

    TOM: Because I’ve got to tell you – I mean a garage door is not designed the same as a standard entry door. And so, it’s going to be difficult to get the level of weather integrity that you want out of this door, to make that space completely livable. You’re almost always going to have some moisture issues. It doesn’t have weather stripping on the sides that prevent water. It doesn’t have a saddle that a regular entry door would have. And so, it’s very difficult to make it as tight as you want. Everything that you do short of that’s going to kind of be stop-gap measure. So you know, you could buy stick-on weather stripping and you could, you know, tack some strips around it and you could buy a soft weather stripping for the bottom of the door. But it’s never going to be as good as just having a regular entry door.

    And so, if you’re ever considering, you know, putting the garage back to a regular garage, then fine; you know, leave it. But if not, I would recommend that you take the door out, frame the wall, make it look like it never had a garage and put a wide door in somewhere, if that’s what you’re concerned about in terms of getting stuff in and out.

    You know, Leslie, all the years I spent as a home inspector, I’ve been in a lot of, lot of houses and I inspected over 6,000 homes. And sometimes I would see this converted garage room where they leave the garage door in place. But I really don’t think it’s a good idea to leave that garage door because it’s just – it’s not as good as a real finished room. You can’t heat it as well, you can’t cool it as well and you can’t keep the water out as well.

    So – I mean I would survey the neighborhood. If that garage is really adding a lot of value to the home, then maybe you need to keep it for the time to resale. But if not, I say get rid of the garage door and frame up the wall so it looks like the rest of the house and go with that and just accept it the way it is. But I don’t think – I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to take an existing garage door and just sort of weather strip it and seal it and caulk it in the best you can because …

    LESLIE: Well, especially since so many new builds – new developments – are putting the garages in the front of the house. So when you look at the house from the street, the first thing you see is the garage. So I think definitely, if you have a home that’s situated in that way, if you’re moving into the garage and making it a permanent room, definitely get rid of that door. Because think of how beautiful the house will look if the first thing you see is not the garage door.

    TOM: And I’ve seen it done very, very well, too; you know, where it’s all been landscaped. Maybe you keep the driveway, but you cut back four or six feet of it and you put some mulch and bushes against it and you put a short foundation wall in between where the old opening was and then you frame on top of that and then you side it. And it really can look terrific. But when it’s done poorly, everybody knows it. I mean it doesn’t look good inside the house and it doesn’t look good outside of the house.

    So, Michelle, it may not be the advice you wanted but that’s what we think and that’s why we have The Money Pit Radio Show.

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