Garage conversion costs: budget for creating extra living space

Want to expand your home? These are the garage conversion costs you need to know about

Garage conversion by OB Architecture
(Image credit: Martin Gardner)

If you like the idea of making use of the space the garage offers to enlarge your home, being aware of garage conversion costs is crucial.

Converting a garage is an easy way to add extra living space, but the garage might also be transformed into a room such as the home office you need, a guest bedroom and bathroom, a separate space for hobbies, or for entertaining, or it could bring you a larger kitchen.

But as with any home improvement project, when you’re turning a garage into a part of your home, it’s important to know what each element of the process costs so you can draw up a budget, and we’ve put together all the details here along with expert advice.

Garage conversion costs

Garage conversion costs will be influenced by the size of the garage, but also by what you want to use the space for with living spaces generally less expensive than kitchens or bathroom remodel costs, for example. But whatever you choose to do with the garage, the project should save money when compared to the cost of building an addition to your home.

‘On average, it costs $14,000 to convert a garage into a living space,’ says Rachel Zepernick, interior home expert at Angi. ‘If you’re thinking about converting your garage, you can expect to pay somewhere between $6,000 and $23,000, depending on the size of the garage, the materials you use and the type of room you’re creating.’

What are garage conversion costs per square foot?

What your garage conversion costs are on average per square foot depends on the type of garage you have: it’s a one car or two-car garage that’s being turned into a part of your home.

‘On average, it costs around $60 per square foot to fully finish a one-car garage and $85 per square foot to fully finish a two-car garage,’ says Rachel. ‘This includes the cost of materials, like flooring, windows and insulation, as well as labor and costs, and electrical, plumbing and HVAC hookups.’

Factors that influence garage conversion costs

As we’ve seen, garage conversion costs can vary quite widely, and there are a number of elements, including garage insulation, that play into what the final bill will be. 

‘Materials are one of the most important cost factors when converting your garage into a living space,’ explains Rachel. ‘You’ll likely need to insulate the space, depending on how you plan to use it, which costs about $1 per square foot. You may also need flooring, which can cost anywhere from $5 to $15 or more per square foot

‘Depending on the space, you may want to install windows, which usually cost $1,000 each. Don’t forget about any new furniture you’ll need to make the space livable. The quality of the materials you choose for each of these components will have a big impact on the total conversion cost.’

Budget for the input of the professionals you employ, too. ‘You should also consider labor costs when determining the cost of your garage conversion,’ advises Rachel. ‘You can expect to spend 15 to 20 per cent of the total project cost on labor but talk to some pros and gather actual quotes for a more accurate estimate.’

Permit costs

Don’t forget to consider any permit required when drawing up a budget. ‘You might need a permit to convert your garage into a living space, so budget around $1,000 for the conversion permit,’ says Rachel. ‘Permit costs vary by location and project, so check with your local pros and permitting offices to make sure you have an accurate estimate.’

Electrics, plumbing and HVAC

Build the costs for electrics, plumbing and HVAC into your budget; some will be influenced by how the extra space is going to be used. ‘You should budget around $400 for electrical hookups and $1,100 if you need to add plumbing to the space,’ say Rachel. ‘You’ll also probably want to add vents to take advantage of your home’s HVAC system, which will cost around $1,250.’

Cost of garage conversion interiors

The type of room you are creating will have a large influence on what you’ll pay in total for converting a garage because of the features the particular room will need.

‘If you’re aiming for a home office, you can expect to pay about $5,000,’ says Rachel. 

‘To convert your garage into a bedroom, you’ll likely end up paying between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on whether you want to add a bathroom to the new bedroom. 

‘If you want to convert the entire space into a bathroom, you could end up paying anywhere between $3,000 and $25,000, depending on how many features you want to add. 

‘You can also transform your garage into a kitchen, which tends to start around $6,000 but can go up to $50,000 or more. 

‘If you plan on having a lot of guests in your home, you can convert your garage into a guest house for an average of $22,000

‘You can also transform the space into a utility room for about $6,000 or an entertaining area for around $7,500.’

Ways to save on a garage conversion

There are ways to spend less on converting a garage while still ending up with a good design for the new space. 

‘You can easily save money on your garage conversion by choosing affordable materials,’ advises Rachel. ‘For example, you can save around $9 per square foot by opting for vinyl flooring instead of hardwood floors. 

‘Depending on the type of room you’re converting to, you can save money by omitting windows or using less expensive HVAC systems like window units or space heaters. 

‘Talk to your pro about your vision and your budget, and they can help you come up with a design that meets your expectations without breaking the bank,’ she recommends.

How much does it cost to convert a 2-car garage?

To convert a two-car garage, expect to pay around $85 per square foot to fully finish the room. Bear in mind that a number of factors play into how much you’ll pay, especially the type of room you are creating. Less expensive options include turning it into a home office, utility room or entertaining area, while transforming a garage into a high-end kitchen or a guest house can be the most expensive options.

Does converting your garage devalue your home?

A garage conversion typically won’t make your home worth less. ‘Converting your garage into a living space usually adds value to your home,’ explains Rachel. ‘People tend to value the amount of a home’s livable space, so converting your garage can actually get you an ROI of about 80 per cent on the project.’

Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.