Recent statistics tell us that 60% of households in the US are made up of two persons or less, which means that an average household now requires significantly less housing space (i.e. rooms) than it used to.
At the same time, new housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable as prices are growing at 7 or 8% per year, with the average income lagging far behind. It does not take a genius to put these two facts together and realize that the existing houses could provide housing to a lot of people who cannot afford to build new ones.
Furthermore, in large cities like Los Angeles, the rise of short term rentals through online services such as Airbnb has enabled a lot of people with extra housing space to earn a decent income on the side. These factors have created the demand for added living space within the existing houses.
Those who do not already have extra space to rent out might consider building an ADU. Colloquially known as ‘granny-flats’ or ‘in-law flats’, ADUs or Accessory Dwelling Units are separate and self-sufficient housing units that are built either inside an already existing house or on the same lot with and already existing house.
One very popular and convenient way of adding living space to one’s house is building an ADU in an existing garage, a process known as ‘garage conversion’. The reason why garage conversion is such a popular way of building ADUs is because it does not require major construction work as the entire structure is already there. Because of this fact, a lot of homeowners have a false belief that they can convert their garage into an ADU very cheaply by themselves. However, garage conversion can sometimes be quite complicated and the best option is to get in touch with experts who have a lot of experience with projects of this kind. For instance, N.E.O. Builders is a company in Los Angeles that specializes in garage conversion.
Before initiating the process of building and ADU in one’s garage, one needs to ensure that all the legal requirements are met. Moreover, the structure itself has to be tall enough to allow for a ceiling height of at least 7 ½ feet. Living spaces need to satisfy a minimum of window space which is usually calculated as a percentage of the total space. The garage has to have access to heating or additional heating equipment will have to be installed. Of course, adequate water and electricity supply has to be ensured.
In terms of construction work and interior, garage conversion involves several important steps. Garages are usually not insulated, which is not a problem when a garage is being used for its original purpose, but once it becomes a living space, it becomes important to keep it from getting too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Good insulation also conserves energy. If the walls of the garage already have drywall, it will have to be removed in order to install insulation.
When it comes to the floor, in a lot of cases, the floor of the house is higher than the floor in the garage. In such cases, if the height of the garage allows it, it is a good idea to raise the floor of the garage by adding sleepers. Sleepers are also useful in protecting the floor covering from drawing moisture. This will make the conversion last longer. Once sleepers are in place, floor covering has to be selected and installed.
The walls of the garage also require some work in the process of garage conversion. In most cases, new window space has to be reframed to the garage walls. Sometimes, this requires removing the garage door and replacing it with a wall, but even this can be avoided if windows can be added on the existing walls. Many garages also contain a furnace, a laundry area or a heater. If these cannot be moved, one solution is to box them out by adding non-load-bearing walls to keep them out of sight.
In the end, drywall has to be added to finish the walls and sanitary and plumbing fixtures need to be installed, and the garage has now become and ADU!