How Much to Convert Garage to ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)

Among all possible variations of accessory dwelling units, there is nothing more functional than the ADU garage conversion project. In most cases, typical single family homes have one or two purposes of use, however, the scenario with ADU garage conversion does not fit into the usual framework, because from the old space you can create an extra living unit with a spacious bedroom, a place for favorite hobbies, equip a modern auto repair shop for your car, a home gym or a theater and, in general, use each square foot as effective as possible. If you’ve been pondering, “how much to convert a garage to ADU,” you’ve landed in the right place. 

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore the entire process of garage conversion, shedding light on the costs involved, regulatory requirements, and offering practical tips to help you make the most of your garage conversion project in California.

How to Convert Garage to ADU

A garage conversion transforms an existing garage into a comfortable and modern accessory dwelling unit. But how exactly does the conversion occur? Let’s explore.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Existing Garage Structure

The existing garage structure’s current condition is a significant consideration. If it’s robust, the garage conversion costs could be relatively low since it might require minimal upgrades. Conversely, an old or dilapidated garage may require more extensive (and expensive) refurbishments.

Step 2: Secure the Proper Building Permits

Securing building permits is crucial before embarking on your garage conversion. Garage conversion permit costs vary depending on local regulations and the scope of your project. It’s vital to contact your local building department in California to understand the specific requirements and costs. It is important to remember that among all the construction steps there is nothing more important than obtaining a construction permit, because if average homeowner will neglect this issue, then garage conversion cost will increase due to fines.

Step 3: Plan Your Layout

Deciding on a floor plan is an essential part of the garage to ADU conversion process. Factors to consider include whether you want a full bathroom, extra bedrooms, or a mini-split HVAC system to keep the unit comfortable. Moreover, reliable general contractors, who have extensive experience in the reconstruction of living spaces, take into account smaller details when planning, e.g., the optimal width and height of the garage door or the angle of penetration of natural light into the windows.

Step 4: Begin the Construction Process

Now that you’ve got your plan and permits in hand, it’s time to bring in a reliable general contractor and start the construction. Keep in mind that construction labor constitutes a significant chunk of garage conversion costs, so budget accordingly.

Garage ADU When Garage Does Not Meet Current Side Yard Setback Requirements

In the Golden State, most garages were built with the property line in mind. However, there might be instances where your garage does not meet the current side yard setback requirements. 

In such cases, you may need to work closely with a knowledgeable garage conversion contractor who can guide you through the necessary changes to meet building codes.

Cost Breakdown: Garage Conversion ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit)

Now, let’s delve into the heart of the matter – the garage conversion costs. Although costs can vary, here’s a general breakdown for a typical single-family home:

  1. Demolition Costs

Demolition may involve removing old garage doors or even the existing roof structure.

  1. Construction Cost

Construction cost covers everything from installing energy-efficient windows, exterior siding, and roofing, to modifying the garage floor to make it suitable as a living space.

  1. Plumbing & Electrical

Installation of separate meters, connecting to the sewer line or extending the gas line, and setting up a water heater can add to your budget.

  1. Interior Finishing

Creating livable space might involve installing a floor plan, adding walls, a full bathroom, and potentially even creating extra bedrooms.

Navigating the Permitting Process

While the process might seem daunting, obtaining building permits for garage conversions has been simplified in California in recent years. Following the state’s push for more affordable housing options, many restrictions have been loosened, making it easier for homeowners to convert garages to ADUs. 

If you, together with a lawyer, will prepare all the submissions and formal documentation, arrange everything according to the letter of the law, then you are almost one hundred percent likely to get permission from the local authorities.

So, How Much Does It Cost?

The total cost to convert a garage to an ADU builders Sacramento in California typically falls between $50,000 and $150,000, averaging around $75,000 – read more about here – However, it can be more or less, depending on factors such as the garage’s size, the quality of materials used, and the current state of the garage. In addition, the garage conversion cost is formed based on whether we are talking about attached or detached garage conversion, because if habitable space has a common foundation and at least one common wall with the main house, then its reconstruction will be cheaper. 

However, in principle, there are no fixed costs for garage conversion ADUs, because each project is unique and most often the price is calculated per square foot, but it is worth remembering that as in the case of any multifunctional extra living space, these costs will pay off.

Save Money with Garage Conversions

While the initial outlay may seem steep, converting a garage can actually save money in the long run. It can add value to your property, provide affordable housing for family members, or generate rental income. Moreover, garage conversions require fewer resources than new construction, making them an eco-friendly choice too. 

If we think in perspective, garage conversion can reduce overall utility fees, even if the general contractor will install separate meters for water and gas services, because this is an energy-efficient space that consumes less natural resources, which means that receipts for expenses will be less.

Garage Conversion Ideas to Inspire You

Converting your garage can create additional living space for a guest suite, granny flat, or even a guest house. Perhaps you can preserve part of the garage for storage and transform the remaining area into a cozy studio apartment. The possibilities are endless.

Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

Does every garage conversion project need building permits? 

Yes, garage conversion projects generally require building permits to ensure that the converted space meets local building codes for safety.

What if my existing garage structure is old or not in a good state?

An older or dilapidated garage may require more significant renovations. It’s best to get contractor bids to evaluate the cost.

Can I do a simple garage conversion myself? 

While some homeowners opt for a DIY approach, a garage conversion typically involves complex elements like plumbing and electrical work, which are best left to professionals.

How can a garage conversion increase property value? 

A garage conversion can add additional square footage to your home, potentially increasing your property value. It can also offer more living space for family or renters.

Is it more affordable to build a detached ADU or convert my garage? 

Generally, a garage conversion is less costly than building a new detached ADU because you’re utilizing a pre-existing structure, which saves on construction costs.

How long does it take to convert a garage to an ADU? 

The entire process, including design, permitting, and construction, can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, but this timeline can vary depending on the project’s complexity.

Are there financing options for garage conversions? 

Yes, homeowners often use home equity loans or personal savings for funding. Some also opt for renovation loans or cash-out refinancing.