On this page:
- What to Expect from a Garage Remodeling Estimate
- Should I Remodel My Garage?
- What Affects the Cost of Remodeling a Garage?
- How Your Project Adds Up
- Planning Your Garage Makeover
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Remodeling a garage is a great way to make better use of the space available in your home, whether for a workshop, recreation area, home office, or extra living space. The condition of your garage and the level of finish you plan for your renovation will directly affect the cost of the project, so there are a lot of details to consider when planning a job like this.
What to Expect from a Garage Remodeling Estimate
The scope of a garage remodeling project can vary widely; your idea of a renovated space might be a fully-appointed guest suite, while a neighbor’s ideal space might just include a storage system, finished floors, and workspace for projects and crafts. Where your plans fall on the scale can make all the difference between a basic finishing project that costs less than $20 per square foot and a complete overhaul that costs $100 or more per square foot. Be sure to discuss your goals and ideas in detail with contractors so they know what level of finish you expect in order to provide accurate estimates.
How Pros Price the Work
When you hire a general contractor (GC), a renovation or remodeling project is typically priced as a whole, since every job is unique and there is no standard formula for pricing this kind of work. A GC will estimate the cost of labor and materials as needed and will collect bids from subcontractors to calculate the total price for the job. Some aspects of the work may be priced by the unit to comprise the total, though. For example, electrical work is often priced by the outlet or device, flooring is based on square footage, trim work may be calculated on linear footage, and door and window installations are often charged by the unit.
In the initial phases of planning your project, an experienced GC may provide a rough price estimate per square foot based on the changes and finishes you prefer. Costs for garage remodels typically range from $25 to $85 per square foot, depending on the scope of the job.
Should I Remodel My Garage?
Reclaim Some Real Estate
Renovating an existing area for a new purpose is usually the most cost-effective way to expand the living space of a home. Basements are typically the first place a homeowner looks for room to spread out, but the garage is often a viable option if there is no basement space available or if it is already maxed out. Upgrading unfinished spaces like this usually costs a fraction of what it costs to build a room addition since there is no need to build some of the most expensive components of home-- the foundation and roof.
Always an Upgrade
Adding functional space to a home almost always increases its value, making a garage remodel a wise investment in most cases. However, these projects come with special concerns and code requirements in some places, so be sure to check into local regulations, especially before converting a garage into living space. Also, while an improvement project like a garage remodel may increase the value of your home, whether or not you recoup the cost or profit from your investment will depend on the amount you spend, the actual value added to your home, and the amount of time you plan to stay there before selling. A local real estate professional may be able to advise you on the desirability and marketability of this type of renovation in your area.
What Affects the Cost of Remodeling a Garage?
Location may not be everything when it comes to the cost of a garage remodeling project, but it’s definitely important. The cost of both labor and materials are affected by local markets, so if you live in a high-cost area, you’ll pay more for the same work done in a more economical location. Building codes and permitting vary by location, too; construction requirements and permit costs will affect the bottom line.
Scale and Scope
The overall size of the space you renovate will naturally affect the cost of the job, but the level of finish or the extent of modifications involved are often more significant than the size of the space. The more dramatic your garage remodel is, the more it will cost per square foot, so converting a small garage into a living suite could cost considerably more per foot than applying a few basic upgrades to a larger garage. No matter what your intended use for the new space, the type and quality of systems, fixtures, and materials you choose can make a substantial difference in the cost of the project.
It takes considerable time and effort to coordinate a substantial remodeling project, making a garage remodel a great job to hire out to a general contractor (GC) or remodeler. An experienced and established pro can screen and hire the needed subcontractors for the job, secure permits and materials, and schedule the work in different trades to keep the job running smoothly. Hiring a pro to take the reins can add up to 15 percent to the cost of the job, but it’s generally worth the expense to save the time and hassle of managing the project.
How Your Project Adds Up
Upgrade or Overhaul?
A garage has a lot of space and a lot of potential, so what you plan to do with the area is the first detail to consider when planning your budget. Sprucing things up to provide a work or storage area or add a laundry room is much less complex and expensive than converting the space into a living area complete with HVAC, plumbing, and new walls, doors, and windows. The difference in scope could translate to tens of thousands of dollars in labor and material expenses.
Redefining the Area
If you go for gold and transform your garage into an extension of your living space, the project will involve new framing to properly enclose the structure and define rooms, as well as the addition of siding, windows, and doors to blend the façade with the main house and provide access and egress if needed. The expense of construction will depend on the size and layout of the area, but this phase of the job could cost $5,000 to $10,000.
Making it Work
If you plan on spending some time in your new garage, making it functional could call for the services of an electrician, plumber, and HVAC contractor. Chances are, you will need some new lighting and outlets installed, along with a heating or cooling system to condition the space. If you add a bath, kitchen, or utility area to the plan, new plumbing is a must. The difficulty of tying into the existing systems of your home is often one of the most significant cost factors, but these aspects of a remodel are always among the most expensive, so be sure to weigh your preferences and options carefully with your contractor.
It’s What’s Inside that Counts
Since the main goal of remodeling a garage is to provide space you can use comfortably, the finishes you choose are significant for planning both the design and the budget. Naturally, the purpose of the renovation will influence your choices, but the quality and type of materials you use will affect the bottom line. Opting for carpet instead of engineered wood flooring might save $5 or more per square foot, and choosing a stock trim profile and mid-grade lighting and plumbing fixtures could save $3,000 to $8,000 overall.
Planning Your Garage Makeover
Can You Commit?
Zoning, HOA, and code requirements for your area may influence what you can and cannot do with your existing garage space, so be sure to check into local requirements before you get started. In some places, a garage opening must be maintained so the space can be returned to service down the road, while in other locations the façade must be rebuilt to complement the style of the main house, making for a permanent alteration. If you plan to use your newly renovated space to operate a small business, zoning restrictions may apply, depending on the type of work you do. Be sure to know what your options are and to comply with regulations so you can avoid delays and fines.
Managing the Job
A garage remodeling project generally involves work in several trades, and hiring and managing multiple subcontractors can be demanding, even on a small job. If you plan to oversee the job yourself, be realistic about the time and effort it will take to meet with contractors, secure permits, supervise the job site, and manage payments. If you’re not up to the task, hire a qualified general contractor who can take care of the details and be your point of contact for the whole job.
Even if you aren’t running the show, there may be some aspects of the job you can do yourself to save on the cost of labor. Talk with your contractor about pitching in on demo, painting, flooring, or other jobs you are qualified to complete.
|$7,600 - $12,500||$10,800 - $28,600||$21,000 – $42,500|
The purpose of the space provided by a garage remodel is often the most significant factor in estimating the price of the job. Our examples illustrate how various levels of finish add up on a 700 square foot project—a garage of about 25’ x 28’.
Upgraded Workspace: $7,600 - $12,500
- • Scope of the Job: This project is intended to provide functional workspace for crafts and projects, so doesn’t require permanent conversion of the garage to living space.
- • Structure and Systems: Though garage doors remain in place, some upgrades help make the space more comfortable and practical. Adding a few windows, framing in storage closets, improving lighting, and installing an independent heating system add $3,500 to $6,000 to the tab.
- • Finishing Touches: Drywall, paint, and basic trim details bring the space up a few notches from its former status, and an epoxy floor coating provides an economical and practical floor covering, in the event the space is ever returned to service as a garage. Stock shelving and cabinetry units provide storage and workspace for a number of supplies and projects.
Comfortable Expansion: $10,800 - $28,600
- • Scope of the Job: It takes a step up in complexity to bring this garage to the next level for a family room or home office. To make the area comfortable and secure, it must be fully converted to living space.
- • Structure and Systems: Keeping the layout of the new space open limits the structural work to re-framing the front wall to make it watertight and to suit windows and an entry door, rather than garage doors. Combined with improvements in lighting and HVAC, the behind-the-scenes work adds $3,100 to $5,000 to the bottom line.
- • Finishing Touches: Mid-grade finishes like carpet and stock shelving keep the budget reasonable on finish materials, but using stock or semi-custom cabinets and counters to build a bar or work area can add $2,000 to $5,000.
Home Away From Home: $21,000 - $42,5000
- • Scope of the Job: A complete overhaul turns this garage from a car park to a well-appointed guest suite. The change requires a permanent conversion of the space with extensive modifications both inside and out.
- • Structure and Systems: In addition to closing in the main wall, adding several windows, entry doors, and room partitions brings this to a different level of construction that costs between $3,000 and $5,000. A new HVAC system, extensive wiring, and plumbing installations to suit a bath and kitchenette add at least another $8,000.
- • Finishing Touches: Upgrading flooring to tile and engineered wood make this space comfortable, durable, and attractive. Solid interior doors, semi-custom cabinetry, granite counters, and higher-end trim details raise the finish budget by $8,000 to $19,000.
Level of Difficulty
Remodeling a garage is a time-consuming and labor intensive job that calls for skills in carpentry and finish work, and may require the services of licensed pros like plumbers and electricians. If you are an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, you may be able to handle several phases of the job, but if the scale or scope of the job is too much to manage, a qualified remodeling or general contractor can run the job smoothly from start to finish.
Garage Remodel Contractors
If you are ready to reclaim some square footage from your cars and grow your living space, remodeling your garage may be a great option. Meet with several contractors to explore your options and review estimates before choosing one who is a good fit for the job.