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  • Writer's pictureThe ADU Guru

3.5 Tips That Make A Great Garage Conversion

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

If you're living in California and have a garage you're using just "to store some stuff," you might as well turn that idle space into something you can get an income from.

Garages are usually used, well, for either parking our cars or as a catch-all for storing stuff we can't fit in the house, and in the latter case, you are likely not maximizing the potential of your property. Garages can now be used for many more things that will result in the increase of your property's value and improve your overall financial standing.

If you have a garage lying idle, you can convert your garage into a living space in Los Angeles. The conversion process will cost significantly less than building a new space from scratch (if the existing foundations permit). You can then rent out this new living space for additional income.

Garage Conversions or Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are a great way to bring in a steady rental income and also add value and flexibility to your lot. Still, whatever the reason for you wanting to convert your garage, below you will find the best practices to do so that you can make the most out of this new living space.

However, not all ADUs are built the same. Renting one out is like joining a beauty pageant. Your space needs to be beautiful enough to win the contest. In this case, to win the hearts of your target lessee market.

So, what things should you consider to be a step ahead of other ADU offerings? Check out the list we made below:

1. Accessibility

A rule of thumb in any undertaking involving real estate is to consider its location. The same is true when you're planning to convert your garage space into an ADU and later rent it out. One of the best ADUs is those that are within a Side Driveway or Corner Lot.

Having easy and uncomplicated access to the unit not only allows you to establish a sense of privacy between the new dwelling unit and your primary residence, but it also makes the construction process easier, faster, and consequently, cheaper.

2. Living Big Despite The Limited Space

Do you know what can really give you an advantage as far as ADU rentals are concerned? Having an outdoor space. Most ADUs are just that. They are small studio flats with limited access to any open space beyond the four corners of their homes.

If you're planning to convert your garage into an ADU, try to find a way to give it access to your backyard or any possible outdoor space.

Access to outdoor space is always pleasant, but when you are considering a 400 S.F. home, even the tiniest patio can make a huge difference! If you are located in California, you can take advantage of that indoor/outdoor living no matter what size the home is.

3. Quality Build Still Makes A Difference

While accessibility and access to outdoor spaces are a huge plus, nothing beats having the essential—a house that looks good has great finishes, and is made of quality materials.

On the part of the homeowner, it is advantageous since a garage in better condition is easier and cheaper to convert. When converting your old garage, think less about being "creative" and focus on practicality instead. Ask the question, "What do my potential renters want in a house?"

In line with that, you might choose a classic layout for a studio or one-bedroom ADU. You can check with your contractor on which layout works best. As far as materials and finishes are concerned, choose modern ones such as terrazzo, porcelain, and even subway tiles (for your kitchen and bathroom).

An ADU that is accessible and has access to an outdoor space is a huge advantage, but as a renter, I would still give a premium on the looks of the ADU. Since I might be bringing a few guests every now and then, it doesn't hurt to have a beautiful abode to show off to my friends and family.

Bonus - Moe Rooms, Moe Money

Well, it is no secret that the more rooms a house have the more money you can get for it. The same goes with a garage conversion.

Although you'll not be able to make 4 bedrooms 3 bath ADU instead of your 2 car garage. More often than not you'll be able to create a 1-bedroom instead of a studio out of the same size.

Our research shows that 1-bedroom garage conversion is rented for 20% more than the same size studio unit.

Other Unique Considerations

Aside from the three main things that affect the rentability of your garage ADU conversion, you might also want to consider how the unit looks from the outside.

When converting your old garage, you should keep in mind that the exterior of your home will change too. For instance, have you thought about what will happen to the garage door?

Usually, the garage door needs to be removed to give way to a combination of windows, doors, and siding. To keep everything seamless, choose the same type of window as the rest of the house, whether that's a casement, double-hung, or something else.

Determining which siding to use may call for some color coordination on your part. You're in luck if you have wood, vinyl, cement board siding, or something similar. You can generally find siding to match what's already on your house. If your siding has seen better days, you could replace it altogether, adding some curb appeal.

One more consideration: is your garage attached or detached? A detached garage conversion poses a few challenges. HVAC, plumbing, and electricity cannot simply tap into existing utilities. HVAC must be separate, and both plumbing and electrical require digging underground to run necessary lines to the garage.

Final words

Garage conversions are probably the easiest way to add livable space to a home. It's a blank slate, awaiting your ideas. However, the main reason garage spaces are ideal places to start your ADU journey is that converting one will not cost as much as building a detached ADU in your backyard.

Aside from the cost factor, getting permits to convert your garage ADU is also, generally, quicker compared to detached ones. Since most of the foundation already exists, the conversion process is quicker and usually concludes within a few weeks. Overall, this makes it more cost-efficient and practical. Thus, if you're planning to have one as an additional investment, then you can expect to have a quicker ROI with this method.

Recent amendments to the law also allow you to convert a garage ADU even if you do not intend to stay in it (or even in the primary house). You no longer have to ask yourself, "Should I stay or should I go?" That means no selling, no packing and unpacking, and no moving required.

All this talk about ADUs can definitely get one pumped up! Excited to find out how you can move into an ADU or how you can get your ADU journey started? You can book an appointment today with one of our ADU specialists, and they will help you plan an ADU that suits your preference.

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1 Comment

Morgan Taylor
Morgan Taylor
Dec 21, 2022

Accessory Dwelling Units are not considered to be an individual property. Therefore, you cannot sell or purchase an ADU on its own. This building may be a stand-alone unit, but it is categorized as an extension of the primary unit or single-family home and, therefore, can only be sold and purchased with the primary home. Therefore, there can only be one homeowner.

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