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Convert only HALF a garage into living space - mid construction

Posted by tcjohnsson (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 19:36

Sorry, I posted this in the garages forum but figured this may be a better place.

I am currently renovating/rebuilding a 1,500 SF two-story home in Honolulu, Hawaii and I'm debating if I should convert half of the two-car garage into a fourth bedroom.
I am mid-construction in a heavy gut-and-rebuild renovation project. The contractor is a close friend of mine so he doesn't mind if we make changes midstream as long as it's not undoing what was already completed. They just poured the slab and I'm having second thoughts on the garage space. When I purchased the home, there was no garage whatsoever - just parking in front of the house. So I completely redesigned the space and added a 20 x 20' two-car garage which is attached to the home. There is a 24' long driveway between the street-side property line and the front of the garage door so plenty of room to fit two cars comfortably off the street and in the driveway... but of course the cars will be exposed to the elements. However, in Hawaii that is just sun and occasional rain. We never worry about snow or freezing temperatures. You sometimes have to walk into a fairly hot car and get rained on a little (<10 foot walk to car from main entry to house) but that's about it. Crime is fairly low in the particular area so security is not that important. Real estate in Hawaii is by most standards ridiculously expensive; the house I'm building is in the urban core in downtown which is particularly even more expensive. SFH property values in this area generally range from about $450-$600 SF for newer (<15 years old) interior living space and rent for about $1.75-$2.25 SF.

So I'm thinking of taking the 20 x 20' space and converting the back half into a fourth smaller guest bedroom with a nice sized walk-in closet. It will give me about 180 SF of usable space. The space would not look like a garage at all because the garage door, motor and tracks will be in the front half of the garage behind the new wall. From inside the house, nobody would ever know there was a garage intended to be there. I'm basically drawing a line halfway between the front of the garage and back parallel to the garage door and building a 2 x 6" wall with 5/8" drywall and lots of insulation. I am installing one large 6' x 4' window which will actually provide a little bit of cross ventilation as long as the bedroom door was open. I should note that there is street parking available so if guests come over there is a place to park albeit less convenient.

The benefits are that I will have a fourth bedroom which should help me on the appraisal value more than having a garage alone. Also, I would only assume that I could maybe get a little more rent with that fourth bedroom because I am still maintaining two parking stalls with the new extra long driveway. From the outside, the home will look very conventional with a driveway and two-car garage door with main entry to its side. I was told by friends I should get rid of the garage all together and convert to living space but I think keeping that two-car garage door visually helps the curb appeal even if when you open it you can't fit a car in it. If I convert half the garage, the new garage will only be 9 feet deep by 19' wide. A very nice-sized and easily accessible storage space or workshop but definitely nowhere near enough to park even a tiny car. The only car that may fit would be a Smart car. Is this a crazy stupid idea or does it actually make sense?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Convert only HALF a garage into living space - mid constructi

Hawaii and Houston, where I live, both have something in common--occasional hurricanes. I am able to drive further inland if a hurricane looks really bad. Even at that, I would not want to be without at least room for one car given that lower level hurricanes can cause serious flying debris. I did know someone who used half the vertical space of her two car garage to make a small apt. for her ill adult dtr, yet still retained the garage door due to zoning requirements. Have you discussed this option with your contractor so that you can still park one car? Your idea is understandable given the v. high costs in Hawaii and the fact that all friends and relatives from the mainland will be beating a path to your door.


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RE: Convert only HALF a garage into living space - mid constructi

This is done often in FL. Usually, it's done to cheat the building department, as people don't pull a permit, and just quietly convert the space. They leave the garage door so no one will know.


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RE: Convert only HALF a garage into living space - mid constructi

All fine and dandy to try to beat the building permit part except in our area and I imagine many others, there needs to be a firewall between garage and bedroom. Especially if any car is parked or scooter or motorized thing will be in the garage part. This is a safety concern. If this is going to be a rental you best not try to skip needed permits as you will be on the line should some thing happen. I am not even sure insurance will cover a non permitted building.

We had 10 by 10 bedrooms in several houses. you could close off one corner of the garage making half for the car and part of the other half for tools and whatever things need to be stored in a garage. Maybe have the bedroom 10 by 14 giving enough room for a nice sized closet.


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RE: Convert only HALF a garage into living space - mid constructi

Thanks for the responses all!

Texasgal-- I was thinking about jogging the garage space so I could park at least one car but the depth is only 19'1" from the inside of the physical garage door to the back wall as-is. I would have to add a 6" wall plus 3' hallway to access the bedroom as the window is on the other side. so I'd be down to 15'7" max which wouldn't allow a lot of cars to fit. It also makes the hallway unnecessarily long in the bedroom which translates to wasted space. Thanks for the suggestion though.
Mush creek and shades of idaho-- I am going to show the half garage and bedroom on the building plans. It's 100% legal as I have enough space in front of the house to park two cars. As long as I provide a space for two vehicles the city will allow it. I will provide heavier fire rated drywall to meet code requirements. The half garage will simply be called a storage room on the plans.


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