For homeowners who feel like they could use a little more elbow room, converting their garage into living space may seem like the easiest, cheapest way to add an extra room onto their house. In Southern California especially, it may not seem like a big deal to leave your car parked in the driveway year-round to gain some extra space. However, converting your garage properly involves a lot more work than simply installing some drywall and carpeting, and doing it the wrong way can be an expensive headache.

How Do I Legally Convert a Garage to a Usable Room? - Sea Pointe Construction

Permits are required for most types of construction in California, and garage conversions are no exception. But permits are just the first step. You also need to take building ordinances into consideration as you are planning a conversion. For example, in both Orange County and Los Angeles County, homes are required to have a certain number of covered off-street parking spaces, so if you eliminate your existing garage you may be required to build another garage or carport to satisfy this requirement. Local setback ordinances present another potential complication—if the resulting room would be too close to the property line, the city may not issue a permit. It is best to know the full scope of what is required and what is possible before you and your contractor begin to draw up any plans.

While illegal garage conversions are all too common, you should avoid the temptation to ask forgiveness instead of permission when contemplating such a project. If you’re caught by the city, as many homeowners are, fines for unpermitted work can mount up quickly, and the process of retroactively obtaining permits is likely to be more trouble than having the proper inspections during construction, as you will have to open up walls to allow the inspector to view any electrical or plumbing work. In some cases, the city may require you to convert the space back to a garage. Even if the city doesn’t find out, an unpermitted garage conversion may deter potential buyers should you try to sell your home.

When you’ve confirmed that you can obtain a permit for your desired conversion, then keep in mind that you will need to make some major changes in order to make a space meant to store cars into a comfortable, attractive living area. Think electrical, insulation, drywall, HVAC, additional windows and/or doors—you not only need to meet whatever legal requirements there are for living spaces in your area, but you also want to make sure that your conversion blends with the overall look of your house. This will ensure that your conversion adds to the value and beauty of your home instead of detracting from it.

If you’re looking to add some space to your home, the assistance of an experienced remodeling company is invaluable in helping you realize your dreams in the best possible way. Contact the experts at Sea Pointe Construction today to explore the possibilities.