Branch Out with a Garage Expansion

We’re all spending a bit more time at home than usual these past couple of years. It can often seem like there’s just not enough space available, and the walls might even feel like they’re closing in on us.

Wouldn't it be nice to have some extra space, like your own gym, a game room, or an extra bedroom? It could be possible depending on what you’re doing with the space above your garage.

Instead of moving into a larger home, you could find a better and more cost-effective means of getting more space for you and the family.

A traditional home gets a second floor over its garage. Great results!

It’s Possible to Build Above the Garage

It doesn’t matter if you have an attached or detached garage on your house, creating another room above the garage is a great idea.

  • Better on the budget: It’s usually much more affordable to add to your house than it is to buy a new, larger house.
  • You could recoup your investment: When you sell your home, there’s a good chance that you could get back the money spent on the addition since people will be willing to spend more.
  • Rent it out: What happens if you were in a financial pinch and you needed to have some extra money each month? When you have a room over your garage, you could always rent it out.

Check out these 6 reasons to add a studio apartment over the garage for even more inspiration.

Are you ready to get started? Before you get too far ahead of yourself, be sure that you check out these five steps to take.

Pay Attention to the Rules

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you are allowed to put in a room over your garage. Even though you own the home, you need to get in touch with the municipality to check the regulations.

There may be regulations on how high the building can be, building permits, rules for expanding a property, and more. Before you get too excited and start planning your new room, make sure you understand and can meet any of the requirements there might be. It’s better than making a costly mistake.

Maybe you are thinking that no one will notice if you add the second floor to the garage. Read this infographic published in Michael McDermott's article on CRD Design Build:

Infographic - 6 Reasons why you should'nt  do home improvements without permits

Know Your Rules and Regulations

As great of a dream as the second floor in the garage might be, you have to think about the reality. Will you be able to afford a higher mortgage? How much do homes like yours sell for where you live? How much can you spend to make a good investment without going overboard and investing in something that you can’t recoup?

It’s easy to become excited about a project, and that excitement can often push us forward without letting us think about whether it’s truly a good idea or not. Excitement is good, but it needs to be tempered with cold, hard, reality.

A little bit of caution can be very good in these unprecedented times. Make sure you are making the right choice and don’t rush into any decisions. It’s often a good idea to talk over your plans with someone who can keep a cool head and who doesn’t live in the home. They can provide a stable third-party opinion. They aren’t the only ones to ask.

The bank’s credit specialist:

  • You need to know how much the bank will be willing to add to your mortgage, so you can determine whether you can afford the addition you want.
  • You need to know how much it will raise your payments each month.
  • How many years will the addition put onto your mortgage?
  • How long will you need to live at the home before you can recoup the investment when selling?

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the investment going to take in terms of sacrifice? Will you still have money to do things that you enjoy, or will you be scrimping and saving for the next few years?
  • Do you live in an area that makes for good investments? Will the resale value be there on the property?
  • Keep in mind that renovations can be a lot of hassle and frustration no matter how great your contractor might be. If you don’t have a strong relationship, you might not want to add more stress to your life. says adding a second story above your garage cost between $300 and $500 per square foot.

Split-level house where the carport is transformed into a closed garage. The sidings are changed too.

Planimage photo – Project: This was a big and bold project. The owners took their split-level house and turned the carport into a closed garage. Above the new garage, they added a bedroom and a music room. They even changed the exterior finish.

Dream Big But Plan for Alternatives

Now, it’s time to dream. You understand reality and you are willing to commit, so now comes the fun part.

Think about all of the great things that you would like to have in your new space. It doesn’t matter how strange or out there the ideas might be right now. Put them down and think about them. Make lists of the things that you would like to do with the garage.

Just keep in mind a few practical considerations

1. Accessing the new space about your garage

Accessing an attached garage

Traditional 2-storey grey brick house with master bedroom above the garage

Planimage photo – The Project: This was another ambitious project. The owners added a second floor to the whole house. This allows them to put a loft over the garage.

If the garage is attached, what’s the best way for people to get into and out of the new space?

In some cases, you might want to access the garage from inside of the house. It might be an extra bedroom, for example, and you wouldn’t want to have to go outside just to get to bed. "master suite".

Stone and wood traditional1-story home with a North Hatley LP, color Sand, and windows

What do you think of this garage door? Here is a 9' x 7' North Hatley LP design in Desert Sand, windows with Richmond Inserts.

However, if you are using the space for something else, such as an office, or a gym, you might prefer having an exterior entrance that can be more private. It will depend on how you are using the room and your personal needs, not to mention your budget. The most affordable option tends to be accessing the room by a staircase that already exists in the house.

Detached garage

A charming traditional detached garage door with a second floor above the garage, a dormer.

Like this look? This is Plan 69701 from Planimage

When you have a detached garage, you could opt for an indoor or an outdoor staircase. An indoor staircase can be convenient during bad weather, but it will take up more space on the garage floor.

You can get inspiration on Pinterest to see what types of styles you might like the best.

A traditional detached garage in wood and stones  with a second floor, dormers

How do you feel about this look? This is Plan No G-28A from Planimage

2. Plumbing and electricity

Will the new room need to have electricity and plumbing? Again, it will depend on how you plan to use the room. If it will be a bedroom of a full apartment then the answer is yes, it probably needs plumbing and electricity. If it’s just a hobby room, it might not need to have plumbing. Consider how you will be using the room now and how you might want to use it in the future.

Consider what you need and talk with the designer or the architect. They can then turn your plan into reality.

Something you don’t want to do is try to design the entire plane on your own. It will end up providing less than stellar results.

3. Multifunctional or evolving space?

The way you use your new space today could be different from how you plan to use the space in a few years. Your kids might grow up and no longer need a playroom, for example. Life changes and your needs change, too. It’s important to think about how you might use the space in the future and talk with a professional that can help to “future-proof” your new room.

4. Any thoughts about the exterior look?

When you are putting on an addition, no matter the size, you have to consider how it will affect the overall look of your space. Will you need to make any changes to the roof, the siding, etc. to ensure that everything matches and looks right? You don’t want something mismatched. It’s not only an eyesore, but it could make the place harder to sell. This will be something else that you can talk about with the professionals.

When talking with the pros, ask about ceiling heights, dormers, roofing options, etc.

Consider the shape of the roof, and how much living area it allows. Some parts of the space may have full-size living spaces, while others may be sloped and have dormers. While this might seem like you’re losing living space, you don’t have to; consider how to use these rooflines, sloped ceilings, and dormers to your advantage. You might find that built-in furniture that utilizes the space and features will help.

High-end 2-storey house in stone

Planimage Photo – The Project: The size of the garage was increased to allow room for four cars. With the addition of the second floor, the owners added a suite with two walk-in closets and a full bathroom.

Set the Mood – with a Mood Board!

Your project is starting to come together, but now you have to get into the finer details—style and decoration. You’ll find that creating mood boards can be a good way to do this. They can be virtual or physical and will provide a nice and easy way to show the designers what you want.

Just saying that you like "Scandinavian" or "cottage style decors" or "rustic but modern" or "blue" won’t mean the same thing to different people. you need to show them, and a mood board is a great way to do it.

Pinterest can be a good place to start but check out all of your favorites. Feel free to think outside of the box, too. This includes sites for hotels and restaurants and any other styles that might speak to you. Check out Better Homes & Gardens to see 25 solutions for unusual spaces.

The world is filled with things that can inspire. Take the time to find it and see how it translates into your vision.

Traditional style house with 2 single garage doors in Classic CC design, Ice White color, and 4 lite Orion windows

How do you feel about these doors? These are 9' x 7' Standard+ Classic CC doors in Ice White. They each have four lite Orion windows.

Be Critical of Your Garage Door

What about the garage door—your fourth wall?

Prestigious house with a double garage door in Eastman E-11 design, Black door and overlays, and panoramic windows

Here is a nice look. This is a 16’ x 8’ Eastman E-11 garage door. The overlays and door are in Black, and the door features four lite Panoramic windows.

The garage door acts as the 4th wall underneath this new space. When you are shopping you can’t just look at the R-value. You need to be sure that the garage door is really energy efficient. This will help with comfort energy bills.

Consider letting in some natural light with your garage doors, too. You can add windows to your Garaga garage door if it doesn't have any.

Make sure your space is comfortable to live in whether you will be there often or just on the days you work out.

Modern house with a two car garage door in the Shaker-Modern XL design and Iron Ore Walnut color

Here is the Shaker-Modern XL design, and the Iron Ore Walnut color.

Is that garage door aging and in need of replacement?

If you need a new garage door, contact a garage door specialist near you. We have experts that can provide you with the advice and help needed to make your garage door reflect your style. We also ensure your insulation requirements are met.

Do you already have a favorite door?

Door Systems Worcester can email a quotation.

Need some advice from a real person? Call 508-752-4677.

We’re happy to provide advice and answer your questions.

Check out our fun app?

Visit the Design Centre and create a garage door fast and easy! Browse our gallery for some inspiration.

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