Q: I have a nephew who will be going to the local university in the fall, but because my studio occupies one of the bedrooms in my two-bedroom house, my husband and I want to convert our attached garage into a guest bedroom. (The driveway is very short and very steep, so we park on the street.) Eventually we would add a bathroom in the garage for a complete guest suite, but what would be some low-budget ideas to get this going quickly so my nephew can stay with us?
A: From a brainstorming perspective, you have a great idea for renovating your garage that is useless for cars. A third bedroom and additional full bath — essentially a new master suite — will very likely add value to your home when you go to sell it. The biggest concern is converting a space that was not at all designed as living space into a comfortable, safe, and legally recognized bedroom that meets all your local codes.
It's also good that you know exactly what you want this space to be. Some people want a real bedroom but also want their renovated space to perhaps someday be a garage again. This approach could mean either a very awkward bedroom that never really feels finished, or an expensive hobby space!
Talk with some licensed contractors to learn more about what will work for you, your budget and be appropriate for your house and the market in your area. Prioritize a simple but completely finished space with heat, a window or door that could be an egress window, and a closet. Resale value might not be as much of a priority if you plan on being there for more than 5 years, so think hard about making this space work for you right now.
And, some ideas that might seem expensive might actually make sense now, rather than waiting. For example, consider creating (or at least planning) a lovely master suite for yourself and your husband, along with an accessible bathroom that may allow you to stay in this house for many, many years to come!
Decide how you want this new room to look from the outside of your house. There are a lot of attractive and well-insulated garage doors out there now, but would you rather have a nice window instead, to help that end of your house look like it was never a garage in the first place? How about French doors and a terraced garden space where the driveway used to be? Or even a fireplace!
Let me know how this garage renovation goes for you, and good luck!