Housable drawing showing a property with a primary home and a new ADU

Converting Your Garage Into A Standalone ADU

It's easier than you think to convert your California garage. Learn more in this article.

Garage conversion ADU designed and permitted by Housable in Seaside, CA, completed December 2019.

Garage conversions are all the rage these days as Californians take advantage of the new change in statewide laws that made it far easier to complete these projects.

Garage conversions, otherwise known as garage apartments, fall under the category of ADUs (accessory dwelling units). This classification means that you have the option of turning your attached or separate garage into a standalone unit to rent out.

The other option is to turn your garage into additional space without a new bathroom- a home office or guest bedroom - but this wouldn’t be considered an ADU.

Converting your garage is a great strategy to increase the passive income of your property without the need to build a new structure.

Imagine how many empty garages across the state could transform into useful space!

If you’d like to convert your garage, keep in mind that you must already have a single-family home located on a residentially zoned lot.

First, you need to determine whether you are legally allowed to convert your garage.

Find Out If You Are Eligible

You can determine your eligibility to build a garage conversion on your property in the same way that you would a regular ADU: search your address using the free Housable property check tool. This tool will run a basic search on your property and give you a preliminary sense of whether your property is qualified.

However, to fully confirm your property’s legality, you will need to order our ADU Property Report.

When you order this report, we will call your planning office and determine your eligibility based on more specific factors - fire, earthquake, and flooding, to name a few.

After you’ve ordered the property report and gotten the green light, you’ll have the chance to start designing your garage conversion using our design report.

Keep in mind that if you proceed with construction without going through the proper permitting and zoning, you are at high risk of assuming liability or losing money.

Remember that we are talking about converting your garage into a fully functional unit that includes utilities and the like; this isn’t the same as painting the walls and tiling the ground.

How much does it cost?

Garage conversions have a much more substantial return on investment than building an entirely new ADU structure for obvious reasons. Construction costs are lower while generating similar amounts in rental income.

With lower capital requirements, it is easier to finance these projects and get started.

Typical Garage Conversion Budget: (2 Car Garage 20ft X 20ft)
  • Project architectural and structural plans: $2-3k
  • Permitting: $5-10k (depending on location)
  • Construction materials and labor: $40-80k (depending on the condition of the existing structure)
  • Typical Budget Range: $47-93k

  • Home Flipping Case Study

    Garage conversions are particularly popular among home flippers who see this as a great way to quickly boost property value and earn a solid return.

    A customer used Housable’s ADU services to convert a detached garage in Seaside, California. The size of the project was 490 sq. Feet. The homeowner completed the project over a six-month time frame.

    The project cost was $110,000; the owner invested a total of $580,000 into the home and garage conversion and sold the property for $700,000 after completion.

    The strong ROI demonstrates that the addition of an ADU garage conversion led to significant value add, and a 20.7% return on total project costs.

    More photos from this garage conversion project in Seaside, CA:

    Other Requirements

    If you’d like your garage conversion project to qualify as an ADU, you must include a bathroom. ADUs are legally required to include a kitchen, bathroom, ample living space, and a separate entrance from the main property.

    Also, you must replace the parking spots that are taken up by the garage conversion - perhaps in your backyard. The driveway can still qualify as usable parking spaces.

    Living Space

    Are you running out of space with a growing family? Are you looking to live closer to aging parents? Garage conversions are an excellent way to increase your living space without making significant property alterations or selling your home and moving to a new location.

    According to SeniorLiving.org, the average annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is as much as $100,000! The high price tag demonstrates that if aging parents are capable of living semi-independently in their own private space, a garage conversion is potentially much better use of money than incurring nursing home or assisted living costs.

    Take the Next Step

    Are you ready to start learning more about garage conversions with no long term commitment? First, check whether your property is eligible through Housable’s free Property Check tool. Once you’ve got that and you’re ready to make it official, order the Property Report.

    Then, when you’re ready to move your project forward, you can order the Design Report and start choosing from initial design concepts.

    All of this is with no commitment, and you’ll start to get critical information about what it requires to convert your garage.

    Learn more today. Housable: The ADU Marketplace.