• RTB Staff

Your Garage Conversion ADU Checklist -- What You Should Know Before Building

A Garage that has been converted into an ADU
ADU Garage Conversion

 It’s no question that ADU’s are less costly than your traditional home. But at the same time, building one still means tens of thousands of dollars out of your pocket. One option for those looking to invest in this type of property without the climbing expenses that come with it is converting an existing structure into an accessory living space, rather than building an entirely new construction. 

This is called a conversion ADU, and it’s most popular form is the renovated Garage space. But even if you choose to utilize this money-saving construction shortcut, there are still some things you have to know before you break out the hammer and nails. Here are some prerequisites for converting a garage into an ADU you should consider.

Has the garage been permitted previously?

Look, we all love a good home DIY project. But your garage conversion should NOT be one of them. Thus, the first step of turning your garage into an ADU space is checking to see if it has been permitted before. The truth is, many garage spaces can’t legally be converted into an ADU because of zoning and structural reasons. And if your garage is a structure that was not initially permitted when constructed, there is no way to turn it to a habitable ADU space. 

Is there water intrusion?

The horrors of water damage are one many homeowners are familiar with. And water intrusion in a space you want to convert into an ADU can be an immediate deal-breaker, especially in a space well known for being poorly sealed, if sealed at all. This, unfortunately, is a common and necessary evil to combat for garage conversion projects; the musty smell typical for a garage space indicates a long term, deep-set water intrusion issue. Fixing it could mean anything from roof repairs to a complete structural overhaul.

Does it have any major issues?

Ensuring the structural soundness of the foundation is a must for any space you want to convert into an ADU. But the thing is, people tend to be pretty lax about this factor when it comes to garages. Before you start building, make it a priority to check your structure’s integrity. Ideally, your foundation does not have any sagging at the corners, and its walls are level.

Is it large enough to be converted into an ADU?

This is the obvious question -- and one a large number of people mistakenly skip over. Evaluating the quantity of space available is key to actualizing the reality of your ADU conversion. For most people, a one-car garage is too small to be habitable -- 10 ft wide by 20 ft long might seem like a lot of space, but try living in it, and things start feeling cramped fast for those not down with tiny homes.

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