For homeowners who feel like they could use a little more elbow room, converting a garage into living space may seem like the easiest, cheapest way to add an extra room onto their house. When remodeling in Orange County 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.
City building permits are required for most types of construction in California, and garage conversions are no exception. But permits are just the first step. The intended use for your converted garage space will outline the building requirements you’ll be expected to abide by. Outlined below are the most important factors and requirements to consider when converting your garage to either a bedroom or general living space.
Converting a Garage into a Living Space
In a garage to general living space conversion, having the space’s existing electrical wiring evaluated should be towards the top of your list. Firstly, it is possible that the electrical wiring no longer meets building code which would require the rewiring work of a licensed electrician. Secondly, the standards set by the California Energy Commission’s “Title 24 – Building Energy Efficiency” will determine an acceptable lighting plan. This is easy with a professionals help.
While evaluating the existing state of the garage intended for conversion, it’s equally important to note whether or not there is a step between the garage floor and your homes existing living space. Such a step is most often found in attached garage units. According to the California construction building codes, in a garage conversion where this type of step exists, the garage floor will need to be filled in and raised to meet the height of your homes floor height.
Converting a Garage into a Bedroom
Converting a garage to a bedroom space oftentimes entails many more building regulations and standards. While exploring your conversion possibilities, consider that Orange County homes are required to have a certain number of covered off-street parking spaces based upon a home’s square footage and/or number of bedrooms. Meaning that part of your garage conversion project will be adding an on-site parking space.
Along with the general living space electrical compliances outlined above, complying with the required “egress” building code is imperative. Egress is creating a means of evacuation or escape should there be a fire or other life-threatening emergency. Egress is determined by the square footage and relevant location of a space. This will be enforced by your city’s building inspector.
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 double or triple what you would have paid in original permit fees, and the process of retroactively obtaining permits is likely to be more trouble than having the proper inspections during construction. You may be required 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, heating and/or air conditioning, additional windows and/or doors—you not only need to meet your city’s building requirements, 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 plan and construct in the best possible way. Contact the experts at Sea Pointe Construction today to explore the possibilities.