Garage Envy

Real Estate Agent with Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894

Original Source:  Garage Wannabes

One advantage to being a real estate agent is that you get to see all of the creative things that people do to their house... and sometimes their garage.  No longer are they used exclusively for cars, rakes and mowers. Some have turned their garage into an artist studio or workshop.  Some are offices.  Others have been converted into guest houses or hot tub cabanas.  And one of my favorites belongs to an old client... they managed to get some HGTV-type show to pay for their renovation- they turned theirs into a practice studio for a band.  Fun!

A client recently contacted me about  what he could/couldn't do with a garage on a property he was considering.  As I wasn't 100% sure of the answer, I put a call into the zoning folks up in Rockville* and got some answers.

--Most residential neighborhoods are zoned R-60 and are intended for 1 family. For this reason, don't plan on generating any income by finishing off the structure. You'll find that it won't/can't figure into your mortgage.

--It's o.k. to finish off a garage and use it as an office or a rumpus room (or some of the other examples above)

--It's also o.k. to finish off a garage as a guest house, but you have to follow some rules:

  1. It has to be permitted.
  2. It can only be used to temporarily house a non-paying, transient guest.
  3. The guest may spend up to, but no more than 6-months a year in said guest house.

So, sadly, any thoughts of renting out your finished garage are forbidden! Rather, you can think them, but you shouldn't follow through.

*This set of rules applies to folks in Montgomery County, MD living on properties zoned R-60.


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Marcie Sandalow is a realtor with Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. in Chevy Chase, DC.   
With 15+ years in the business, and a sharp understanding of her client's needs, she serves Buyers and Sellers
in and around Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Washington, DC, Kensington, Rockville, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. 

Cell:  301/758-4894

Website: and

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Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind
KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate - Tucson, AZ

GOOD MORNING MARCIE!  Nice garage use info - we do see a lot of uses for garages as agents don't we!?!

Nov 06, 2011 12:57 AM #1
Jenifer Lower
Bozeman Montana Real Estate .net - Bozeman, MT
Your Dream. Our Passion.

Marcie, we actually have some folks in rural areas here that build the garage first, move in, and sometimes it seems the main home never gets going.  Of course, rural Montana does not have a very long list of rules to follow!

Nov 06, 2011 01:06 AM #2
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Marcie, how some homeowners love to ignore the permit rules in ones town...great share...our town is liberal in North Kingstown on accessory dwellings if permitted.

Nov 06, 2011 01:12 AM #3
Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Gabrielle- I get so many great ideas by touring houses.  Not that I have time to follow up on any of these inspirations...

Jenifer- Land is at a premium in our parts, and the regulations are endless.  I wouldn't mind a Montana mindset every once in a while (not to mention the extra land).

Nov 06, 2011 01:12 AM #4
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Marcie!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.   Have a great Sunday!

Nov 06, 2011 03:06 AM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Marcie- this is a great reminder for buyers and even current homeowners to check into the local codes. 

Nov 06, 2011 03:27 AM #6
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

In our mostly urban area, use of garages is tightly controlled by zoning and permitting processes. They are, not infrequently, turned into other uses which creates "issues" when the house is sold.

Nov 06, 2011 03:33 AM #7
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Marcie - Great post on ideas for garages in your area.  Here in Los Angeles & Ventura counties, it's also illegal to turn a garage into an investment property but unfortunately, so many slumlords landlords do and now these slums properties aren't eligible for traditional financing because the bank sellers refuse to convert them back to garages.

Nov 06, 2011 07:24 AM #8
Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Ginny, Pat, Kathy, Lottie and Donne- so true.  I've yet to run into any of these issues with a sale, probably due to sheer luck.  It can cause some real problems!

Nov 06, 2011 08:35 AM #9
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

One of my favorite garages was in a Victorian in Sioux City, Iowa. The house was called The Toy Mansion. The house was a georgeous monstrosity that even had a ballroom on the top floor. The garage or shall I say the carriage house was converted to a awesome apartment on the second floor! The way it was done was the total opposite of the house since it was ultra modern! It was so cool!

Nov 06, 2011 05:31 PM #10
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Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate
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