How to Build a Garage Apartment


A two-story garage is the perfect place for a mother-in-law or rental apartment. Whether you end up collecting income from your garage apartment or not, it's still a big investment into your property value. Although there are many different ways to design your addition, the process to build a garage apartment is the same.

  • Contact the city assessor, town or village clerk to make sure that you can legally build an apartment within your garage. Every property has different local zoning codes that must be in compliance.

  • Call a local building inspector to assure that your plans are within code regarding construction. Ask about plumbing and mechanical codes, electrical and construction regulations, alterations and rules regarding occupancy.

  • Get a building permit before you convert or build anything.

  • Design your floor plan. Decide if you want a one- or two-story apartment. Determine the number of rooms, location of doors, windows, cabinets and big appliances. Bring your floor plan to your contractor.

  • Consult a plumber and electrician and get them on board with the project right away. Explain your needs for your garage apartment and invite them to the location to scout the premises if necessary.

  • Choose flooring, staircase design, large appliances, bathroom fixtures and lighting. Think durability, if you're renting the apartment. Pergo wood floors and Berber carpet are super durable.

  • Add paint, wall decor, smaller appliances and other finishing touches to your garage apartment once the shell is complete.

Tips & Warnings

  • Decide on rules for your apartment. Some people don't want pets or children to live in their rental units because of possible destruction. Whatever rules you decide to implement, be sure to tell your renters up front.
  • Failure to attain a building permit for your project may have serious legal consequences.

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