Reader Question: For someone to convert their garage to "living area" square footage, what all would be required to be done?
Baton Rouge Home Appraiser Answer:
In order for a garage to be converted into legal “living area”, the homeowner probably won’t like the answer or process. What I typically see is a half-way attempt at conversion with cheap indoor/outdoor carpet and window unit heat/air heatpump unit installed. Perhaps 70% of the enclosures I see ARE NOT living area. And, several I see yearly that the REALTOR called "living area" is not living area.
Example of an enclosure with plywood ceiling (not up to building code)
The garage would need to be just like the main home, of same quality finish, well insulated, slab level and central heat/air upgraded to handle the additional 380sf to 400sf.
1.) Don’t proceed without a proper building permit, big mistake not to have a permit. These homes didn't have permits for additions and converted areas were not "living area".
2.) Raise slab to level of main home. This means you'll need to pour new concrete.
3.) Upgrade central unit to handle the extra 400sf living area (no window units and not portable units)
4.) Flooring quality needs to be equal to main home. If main home has porcelain tile or real wood floors, then that's what needs to be in place.
5.) No plywood ceilings, must be drywall. This vinyl siding ceiling below is not living area.
6.) Well Insulated – generally builders don’t install insulation in garage walls or over garage ceilings.
7.) Remove garage door and then customize a covering complimentary to home.
The Market (Buyers) can easily spot the differences!
BEWARE OF AGENTS MISREPRESENTING "LIVING AREA" WHEN IT'S NOT TRULY LIVING AREA! When In Doubt, Hire An Appraiser To Measure The Home Based On National ANSI Standards!
Example 1: There's a home on the market in Greater Baton Rouge, the 1998sf Evangeline Meridian PCC Homes plan that's been listed for 318 days in 2 listings as “2474sf” where even buyers know the garage is not “living area”. There used to be photos on GBRMLS of this situation and Agent removed them - photos of the garage door still in place, garage opener parts still in place. Buyers know the difference. So, this listing is currently representing 475+/- sf as living area when it's not.
Example 2 I Appraised: Listed as 2400+ “living area” with a carport enclosure which is not living area. The reason it’s been on the market for so long in several mls listings over the years because potential buyers understand it’s not living area, despite some Agents labeling it incorrectly as living area. So, this listing is currently representing 665+/- sf as living area when it's not.
2 articles I wrote:
How Much Value Does Converting Denham Springs La Garage To Living Area For A PCC or DR Horton Home?
Listing A Greater Baton Rouge Home With An Addition or Enclosure?
Don't Give It Value IF The Owner Seller Didn't Have A Building Permit!
On a similar note, same thing with sunrooms. Sunrooms are not living area either unless they match the original home.
Bill Cobb, Baton Rouge Home Appraiser
Accurate Valuations Group, LLC