Building a garage with apartment to live in while building

lflowersOctober 6, 2006

I'm considering building a garage with an apartment for our family of 5 to live in while preparing to build our home on our land.

I'm thinking if I get insulated garage doors and a window unit then we can even use the bottom garage floor space as living area temporarily. This should provide over 1000sf of living space; which I think would be bearable for a while.

I'm thinking this would help since I'm considering owner building my main house and want to be on site as much as possible during the construction. After moving into the new house we could use the apartment as a rental, guest house, media room or whatever we needed it for.

Has anyone here attempted this or have any words of advice? Pros or Cons? Is this a good/bad idea? Any input would be much appreciated!


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I have no direct experience w/ this, but a friend of mine did what you are talking about, except he did not build an apartment; he and his wife are empty nesters, so he built a garage w/ a bathroom in the back and lived in the garage during the week while construction was going on, then drove 1 hr. home over the weekends. I think he used electric space heaters to heat the space and slept on an army cot. This met his requirements as he wanted to be on site while everything was going on.

Good luck on your project.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 12:41PM
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We've downgraded temporarily to small rentals when building and will probably do it again.

I hate paying someone else's mortgage!

So I like your idea, provided it's a safe alternative with all the amenities of a home, except space. But I think 5 people in 1,000 sf. may be pushing it, unless the garage part is another 1,000 sf. (The last time we downgraded it was from 2500 sf to 1000 sf., plus basement, for six.)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 11:21PM
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Our building inspectors are on to this idea and don't like it much. Seems that some people then never build the house. I've already got my building permit for the house, but in the mean time, I'm finishing a shop/garage that could serve as a living area. The county has really quized me (and at least one neighbor) about the building's intended use.

A couple of creature comfort issues that you may need to think about. First, a concrete slab can take a year to dry out. You may have moisture/comfort issues that are normally ignored in a garage. Same would be true for insulation and vapor barriors. Not an issue in most garages, but a real issue if you have a family living in one. Basically, the garage would need to be a primo-garage; smoke detectors, 4" plumbing stack, GFCI recepticles throughout, etc. Not a problem if you're intending to get a legitimate certificate of occupancy for the structure, but kind of complex if it's a garage that's used once for temporary housing. Even if you go legit, you'll need to make sure that two occupied structures are allowed on the property under the zoning regulations. For my area, that requires a 5 acre parcel.

Moderate Mark

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 2:32PM
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