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What Is the Cost of Remodeling a Garage?

Remodeling your garage is a great way to add or improve the character of your home while also gaining a more functional space. An old, dilapidated garage not only looks bad, it also tends to be energy inefficient and prone to leaking, dirt, insects, and other debris. If your garage could use a facelift, a remodel may be just what it needs.

However, remodeling a garage isn’t exactly the same as remodeling a home. Depending on the current state of your garage, and the state to which you wish to elevate it, your garage may only need a bit of paint and a new door, or it may need to be completely rebuilt.

The following article will walk you through some of the most common cost considerations when remodeling a garage, as well as advice for getting the most from your money.

What is the Average Cost?

The average cost range for remodeling a standard 2-car garage is between approximately $1,500 and $40,000 based on reports made in 2020 and 2021. The extreme range shows that the cost of remodeling a garage is hard to pin down, and depends mostly on the particular circumstances of the particular garage.

You can expect to pay somewhere in the thousands of dollars, as a general rule. Luckily there is an easy way to make sure that your costs are staying as low as possible; that way is to make a budget for your project.

How the Costs Breakdown

Most of the cost goes to labor. Typically, a garage remodeling contractor will either charge a flat fee based on a percentage of the total project cost, which averages between 10% and 20%. Some contractors charge an hourly rate. The national average for building labor is $15 per hour.

The remaining costs go to materials and any special work that needs to be completed. Special work includes electrical, plumbing, and carpeting. Whether special work services will be needed depends upon the project. These are the average costs for different garage remodel and conversion projects:

Living Space or Family Room$5,000 – $10,000
Apartment or Guest House$15,000 – $30,000
Bedroom or Master Suite$10,000 – $15,000
Bathroom$3,000 – $25,000
Office or Work Space$5,000+
Granny Flat$3,000 – $30,000
Utility Room$6,000+

What to Consider While Budgeting

The best way to make sure you stay on course financially while renovating your garage is to simply create a budget from the outset that you can stick to until the project’s completion. Having a budget also forces you to make decisions about your goals for your garage space from the get-go, preventing confusion, mistakes, and mind-changing later on.

Below are some things to consider while crafting a budget for your garage remodeling:

  • Purpose: What is the purpose for remodeling your garage? Do you need more space for your vehicles? Storage space for items? A new living space? Something else entirely? Or maybe you just want to improve the aesthetic? No matter what reason you have for renovating your garage, make sure to keep it in mind while planning for your expenses. Knowing your purpose helps you avoid spending money on things that end up being unnecessary.
  • Time: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your garage won’t be either. If you are going to need your garage during the entire remodeling period, such as for parking your car, it may be a better idea to wait until the time is right. You will also have a team of contractors at your house every day until the project’s completion, so make sure you are prepared for the possible inconveniences before they arise.
  • How Complete is Your Garage at the Moment?: If your garage only needs a new door and maybe a fresh coat of paint, the time and cost required will be substantially less than if you are looking to expand the walls of your garage, install electrical or plumbing systems, add windows or other features, or otherwise construct any aspect of the garage from scratch. As with knowing your purpose, knowing how exactly your garage needs to be changed to achieve your goal will help you save time and money. 

You can and should also discuss your budget with whatever contractor you hire to help you. Not only is it essential that they also know your plan, but they may be able to suggest further ways to increase the cost efficiency of your remodel.

Garage Remodeling Considerations

After you have a handle on your budget for the project, the next thing to consider are what other factors will affect the cost. Beyond the simple cost of the labor and materials being used, your new garage may also come with other costs or even financial benefits that affect the overall price of the project.

Building Codes and Permits

Every city will have slightly different building codes that apply to buildings in ways you may not initially expect. For example, if you wish to convert your garage into a living space, it may be news to you to learn that you will be required to install at least one window large enough for a person to crawl through in case of an emergency.

Finding out too late that your garage is not up to code can be disastrous, as it may end up requiring you to undo or alter a substantial amount of work done. You may also be subject to fines and other penalties.

Your contractor should have a very good idea of what the building codes relevant to your project are and how to make sure your garage stays compliant. Building codes exist primarily to maintain the safety of the building in question.

If you are part of a homeowners association, there may also be rules about the aesthetic and upkeep of your property. Homeowners association’s rules are typically less legally stringent than building codes but it is still in your best interest to stay in concordance with any rules that are in place.

Plumbing, Electricity, and HVAC

Beyond the electricity required to operate the door and maybe a light bulb, most garages do not have a comprehensive electrical system installed. Likewise, even fewer garages have plumbing of any sort. If you wish to convert your garage into a living space or another space requiring electricity and running water, then you may have an even larger project on your hands.

Another thing to consider is an HVAC system. Depending on how your garage is insulated and what you use the space for, HVAC may be more or less necessary. However, if you want your garage to feel as comfortable as your home does, properly installing HVAC is a must.

Certain aspects of the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems may be required based on the building codes for your garage, so bear that in mind as well.

Resale Value

Lastly, any work you do on any part of your home, garage included, will impact the resale value should you decide to sell your home. Most often making improvements to your garage will increase the resale value, however the increase in value may still be less than the cost of the improvement. Your renovation may also depreciate in value over time, which can affect your taxes and mortgage.

Should I DIY or Hire a Professional Contractor?

For many people, especially those who are only looking to do minor remodeling, the cost of renovating a garage may seem high. Often it can be tempting to try and cut costs by buying the materials and doing the labor yourself. It is strongly recommended to use the services of a qualified contractor rather than renovate your garage on your own.

Qualified contractors can provide a guarantee of quality that cannot be guaranteed on your own. Mistakes made during the renovation process only end up draining your funds and your time.

How to Keep My Costs Down?

Now that you are armed with knowledge about the costs associated with remodeling your garage it’s time to ask how to keep those costs from swelling out of control. Let’s recap some of the most important points:

  • Have a Plan for Your Garage From the Beginning: The biggest factor in determining the cost of your garage remodel is how much of a transformation you are looking to make. Understanding where your garage currently falls short and knowing exactly where to take things is key to keeping down costs.
  • Discuss Your Budget with Your Contractor: More than anyone else, your contractor will have the best idea of what your remodel should cost in terms of labor, materials, associated costs, and more. Your contractor may also be able to identify areas for cost savings of which you were never aware.
  • Keep Things Up to Code: Even after your garage is totally remodeled, if it fails to comply with building code, then you will face fines and further costs to bring your garage in line. Talk to your contract before starting the project to make sure that you are in full compliance with all codes.
  • It Doesn’t End When the Garage is Finished: Once you finish remodeling your garage, it will have an impact on the equity in your home. Generally making any renovations will increase the equity in your home, bringing up its value. If you are remodeling your garage for the purpose of selling your home, this is an especially important consideration. It is also worth bearing in mind that changes in home equity will also impact your mortgage and/or home equity line of credit
  • Hire a Professional: Even the most skilled craftsmen and craftswomen need help sometimes. Hiring a professional contracting service to help you with your remodel is the best way to make sure that your project is in good hands.

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