Garage Remodeling
Pre-Planning Your Project

Garage remodeling can be simple and straightforward or it can be a bit more complex, involving additions to the existing space, finishing the interior space almost like an extension of your home’s living space, or just a matter of organizing and maximizing the use of the space you have now.

Assess Your Space.

The first step in initiating any garage remodel is to assess the space you have now and determine how you want to use that space in the future. Start by measuring the garage dimensions and drawing a rough floor plan of the space on paper. Measure between outlets, shelves, special hook-ups (such as plumbing, natural gas, or propane), windows, doors, and walls, and add those specifics, with measurements, to your drawing.

Consider Your Reasons.

The reasons for your garage remodel will determine the extent to which modifications are necessary—and also determine your budget. If your remodeling efforts are to make the garage more energy efficient, you may focus on insulating the ceiling and exterior walls and then finishing the inside walls with a functional covering, such as OSB so you can utilize the walls for hanging shelves and other items. It will be a practical, functional space.

If you plan to remodel to create a workshop area, you will need to consider the climate you live in, how often you will use the workshop, whether the area needs to be heated or cooled, whether you have adequate outlets in the appropriate areas, how well your tools fit into the space, and other factors. You will be creating a functional, usable space that makes a pleasant work environment.

As another example, if your garage remodeling is designed to create a new laundry area between the garage and living quarters, you may be putting up new exterior walls, adding plumbing and new wiring, installing cabinets and counter-tops, hanging drywall, or some other combination of features.

This area may be more like an extension of your home than part of the garage and will be decorated as such. The materials you use for your garage remodeling will likely be selected as a result of how you will use the space.

Clean It Out!

The next step to remodeling any garage space is to clean it out—entirely—and get rid of as much “stuff” as you can. Garages have a way of accumulating all kinds of clutter and junk that doesn’t fit anywhere else in your home—and then it just sits there, rarely used and collecting dust.

Bikes the kids have outgrown, sporting equipment no one uses anymore, extra hardware, old tires, and even garbage tends to pile up. When you pull everything out and sell, donate, or throw out the items you don’t actually use, need, or want, you’ll free up a lot of extra space immediately—and you might even make a few dollars you can use toward your garage remodeling project.

Before You Start

Before you start ripping down walls, rewiring outlets and light fixtures, or bringing in plumbing, sit down and draw out your plan for the new space. Be very specific. This will help you get a feel for the scope of the project, but more importantly, you will probably need to make a copy of this plan and submit it to your area municipality to get a building permit authorizing you to work on your garage.

You will also learn which items you can do yourself and which tasks must be performed by a licensed electrician or plumber according to the local municipal code.

Finally, after the municipality has approved your plan, you can take a copy of it down to your local hardware and building supplier, and their project planners will help you get the right materials in the correct quantity and share tips that may save you some extra work in the long run.

They may also be able to rent you special tools—such as a concrete saw, a nailing gun, or an insulation blower—to get your garage remodeling project done faster and easier. This list will also help you to budget for your project and make adjustments where necessary to stay within your budget.

Get Expert Advice

As you are planning your garage remodel, determine the tasks that need to be completed—and in what order. Next, review that list and identify which tasks you have experience in—or may be able to learn—to complete yourself, and which tasks really need to be completed by a professional.

For instance, you may be comfortable doing the demolition required, insulating the walls, and hanging the drywall, but you may not feel confident (or be allowed by your local municipal code) to do the electrical wiring required.

Contact experts or contractors to come in and give you estimates for your job for those tasks you will need to outsource. Get several quotes to be sure they are comparable.

For any tasks you decide to tackle yourself—but haven’t actually done before—check with your local building supply store to see if they can offer tips and advice, a video or DVD demonstrating how to perform the task safely and correctly, or a class where you can get some hands-on experience before you begin work on your project. If you have a friend who is experienced in remodeling, you might also want to enlist his or her help.

Plan To Succeed

When you plan ahead and proceed with your project in a logical, organized manner, you’ll get great results in record time and save potentially costly mistakes, too! For some people, all that pre-planning seems counterproductive. They want to get started now! But often, those are the same people who start a project and then never finish it. Plan to succeed with your garage remodeling project—by planning ahead and then following your plan.

Remodeling Books can help you learn more and give you some surprising Project Planning Ideas.

A garage can be a great extra space in your house, but for most people it is wasted. Here are a few garage remodeling ideas that can take your garage from cluttered storage unit to the most useful room in the house.

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