Feeling Cramped? Expand Over Your Garage

We’re all spending more time at home than ever before. This can make it feel like space is getting tight and there’s nowhere to go. Imagin having a gym at home, a game room, or even a space where your teenagers can disappear for a while. Maybe you want to create a yoga room or an office that’s less “in the home”. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade to a master suite-- no matter the reason, we could all use a little more space.

Who wants to move? You’ve got a great house in a great neighborhood. Plus, moving can be expensive. But every inch of your home is spoken for and you have nowhere else to go. You’re not quite sure what to do next-- we’ve got you covered!


A traditional home gets a second floor over its garage. Great results!

Photo Credit: Mercier Building

Add a Second Story to the Garage

Adding a second floor to your garage, whether it is attached or detached, is a great solution.

It doesn’t cost as much as buying new: It might not be a good idea to take on a different mortgage when you can just increase your current one or create a small expense in renovation.

● It should be an easy investment to recoup when you do sell the home.

● If you end up losing a job or having other financial issues, you could use this space (if it was well-thought out) as a rental apartment or another rental space for additional income.

These 6 reasons to add a studio apartment to your garage will convince you of how good of an idea this could be.

So, ready to get started? Not so fast! Here are five things you have to know first to make sure your project is a success.

Obey the Rules

Make sure that your first task is to contact your city or municipality. Ask about any building permits, regulations, or zoning considerations that need to be respected.

Every municipality will have its own guidelines for home expansion projects, including the associated permits and regulations required. There may be different costs involved for permits depending on where you live. Plus, there are things like building height and clearance, property lines, and other issues that must be considered. Some locations are quite specific about how renovations can be done.

Still thinking you might want to cut corners? Find out why that’s a terrible idea, thanks to Michael McDermott's article on CRD Design Buil:

Infographic - 6 Reasons why you should'nt  do home improvements without permits

Know Your Restrictions and Limitations

What is your current mortgage? Are homes in your neighborhood selling and how much for? You have to find the “sweet spot” to make a great investment without spending more than you can recoup.

People get excited about projects. We’re not real estate agents, bankers, or contractors. We often don’t think about the financial aspect of a renovation because we are so caught up in the functional and comfort improvements that are being made. especially now that people are home more than ever, it’s all about making the home comfortable.

Given the recent extreme changes that the world has gone through, big changes like this require caution. Make sure that you take the time to sit down with an expert who can help you keep a cool head and make the smart decision.

What questions to ask the bank:

● Are they willing to add to your mortgage? How much?

● How much will that increase your monthly payments?

● How many years are going to be added to the note?

● How long will you have to wait to sell to recoup your investment?

What to ask yourself:

● What kind of sacrifice is involved with this project? Will you still be able to travel, enjoy dinners out, or do other things you desire? Is this going to be a short-term or long-term financial strain?

● Is your neighborhood a good place to make this investment? In terms of resale value, you don’t want to price your home out of the market by making too many improvements.

● Do you have strong relationships with people? Even if you have the best contractor, not having those relationships can add stress to family life. If this seems like an exciting choice, go on and get started! If you’re still uncertain, feel free to think on it some more.

According to Fixr.com, it costs between $300 and $500 per square foot to add a second story to your garage.

Split-level house where the carport is transformed into a closed garage. The sidings are changed too.

Planimage photo – The project: This split-level home featured a carport, which the owners decided to turn into a closed garage with two rooms above the space. They added a bedroom and a music room, and then updated the exterior of the home for the finishing touch.

Dream Your Dreams (and Make Lists)

Still excited? Not stressing? Here’s a really fun part.

Get settled, get the kids into bed, and get cozy with a list. Start dreaming and start taking notes of what your dream looks like!

We’re early in the process, so don’t get too detailed. Just write. Don’t limit or censor yourself-- just write down what you really want.

In case you forgot - a few practical factors to consider


1. Accessing the space above the garage

Attached garage

Traditional 2-storey grey brick house with master bedroom above the garage

Planimage photo – The Project: Adding a 2nd floor to the entire house allowed for a loft above the garage. A balcony was added in the front.

Depending on the use of the space, how are you going to best access it?

Are you going to need access to this room from the rest of the home? If it’s a master suite, for example, you might want to keep it accessible so that you can keep an eye on the kids.

Stone and wood traditional1-story home with a North Hatley LP, color Sand, and windows

You like the look of this garage door? It's a 9' x 7' North Hatley LP design, in Desert Sand, windows with Richmond Inserts.

If you create an office, gym, or a hangout space, would you want the space to have private exterior access? This could come in handy.

The best option, in terms of affordability, is to create a way to access the room using an existing staircase.

Detached garage

A charming traditional detached garage door with a second floor above the garage, a dormer.

Like this look? It’s Plan 69701 from Planimage

Do you need an indoor staircase? Are you considering outdoor? Consider whether you may want to sacrifice valuable interior space for the ability to avoid shoveling snow and dealing with the elements.

You can get inspiration on Pinterest. Whether you prefer Contemporary or Traditional style, you’ll find plenty of staircase options, just take time to analyze the plans.

A traditional detached garage in wood and stones  with a second floor, dormers

Like this look? It’s Plan No G-28A from Planimage

2. Plumbing and electricity

If you’re creating a master suite, are you adding a full bath? Perhaps you want a kitchen area and half-bath for an office or kids’hangout space. If you’re planning to actually build a small apartment, plumbing and electrical will be a must. You will need to hire a plumber and ventilation specialist to check existing connections and add necessary new ones.

Are you building a home theater? A yoga studio where you want a fridge and fans? What are your essentials that need electricity? What about Internet access?

You need to tell the designer or the architect making your plans exactly what you need when it comes to plumbing and electricity. This will allow them to arrange the space properly.

Most importantly, do NOT try to plan this yourself to save money. The results will not be good, or safe.

3. Multifunctional or evolving space?

Eventually, children grow up and move on. Eventually, you’ll grow older and realize that upstairs master suite might be too much. It might seem like you’ve got a while before you get there, but time flies faster than you think.

Think about this when you’re talking to the professional that will handle your garage renovation plans. Knowledge is all about planning ahead. Think about your second use now, but also your use of the space in the future. This will allow you to maximize your investment for today and tomorrow.

4. Any thoughts about the exterior look?

There’s a fine line with the exterior of the home when it comes to additions. You have to strike the balance between saving money and creating that “while we’re here” look.

Garages that are attached can make this tricky because matching siding, roofing, and other materials can prove to be a challenge. These materials fade over time so when you install new ones, the old will appear faded and worn.

It isn’t always an attractive look. Even though you’ve spent a lot of money, it will still be harder to sell with that “mismatched” look. When you have a professional do an evaluation of the exterior, they will be able to advise on the best course of action.

This is also a good time to ask about dormers, roofing, ceiling heights, and other elements.

The roof can take several shapes, from the aesthetic standpoint. The living area is also going to vary depending on how the roof is shaped. Some spaces may have a full ceiling while others may have dormers or slopes.

High-end 2-storey house in stone

Planimage Photo – The Project: The garage was enlarged forward to make room for 4 cars. The addition of a 2nd floor to the garage allowed the construction of a complete and impressive suite with 2 walk-in closets and a full bathroom with shower and bath.

Some people see dormers and sloped ceilings as a loss of space. Why not take a different perspective, though, and imagine storage space? Consider built-ins, like bookcases, drawers, shelves, and more.

The goal? That “square box” look of a home’s exterior can be a turn off, so you need to avoid that and create a charming interior that maximizes the space. It’s easy to do if you plan well and work with the right people.

Explore the Mood Board

Once you’ve got all the decisions made, you can start thinking about the style and decor of the space. You can go virtual with a Pinterest board, or you can even go get a piece of posterboard or paper and just cut ideas out of magazines. Maybe you want to print off some designs and hang them on the board. Whatever you have in mind, you’ll not only be able to refine your design but you’ll have a better way to explain to your designer and architect what you want.

The things you see when you hear words like "Scandinavian" or "cottage style decors" or "rustic but modern" or simply "blue", may actually be something entirely different to someone else.

Check out Pinterest and other decor websites. Check out major hotels, trendy restaurants, and other places for unique design ideas.

Take advantage of the research out there, such as the Better Homes and Gardens article on 25 solutions for unusual spaces.

Think differently, and look at the details. You might not love the entire kitchen, but the cabinets are nice. Perhaps you find a great bookshelf but it doesn’t actually fit in your space-- it can inspire your own furniture, including colors, uses, and more.

You can find inspiration anywhere. It’s also easy to carry that inspiration from one room to the next.

Country style house with 2 single garage doors in Classic CC design, Ice White color, and 4 lite Orion windows

Like the look of these doors? They’re 9' x 7' Standard+ Classic CC, in Ice White, 4 lite Orion windows

The Garage Door Is the Fourth Wall

Now that you’ve gotten the idea of what you want in the space, you can’t forget about the important 4th wall.

Prestigious house with a double garage door in Eastman E-11 design, Black door and overlays, and panoramic windows

Is this look for you? It’s a 16’x8’ Eastman E-11, garage door, overlays and door in Black, 4 lite Panoramic windows.

The ever-important 4th wall underneath your new space is your garage door. There’s a lot to consider, well beyond the basics like R-value. For starters, you’ll want to ask questions about other construction aspects to ensure that the garage door is really energy efficient. You want to be comfortable without spending a fortune on utilities, after all!

Is your garage door newer, but lacks windows? You need natural light for your mental health. Find out how to add windows to a Garaga door if you don’t have any.

After all, adding the second floor to the garage is great, but first you have to make sure that the rest of the elements are in place to make it a comfortable space for your home!

Modern house with a two car garage door in the Shaker-Modern XL design and Iron Ore Walnut color

Love new products and colors that are “in”? Here are 2 of them! The Shaker-Modern XL design and the Iron Ore Walnut color.

Are you ready to replace that old garage door?

It’s time to contact a garage door specialist near you. We can help you with valuable advice and insight to ensure that your garage door reflects your style, while being energy efficient and affordable.

Already got a favorite?

The team at Dor‑Co Garage Doors can provide an email quotation right away.

Call 1-800-590-4455 to talk to a real person and get advice.

We’ll be happy to answer all questions that you have.

Want to try out a fun app?

Our Design Centre will allow you to create your dream garage door in no time at all. If you need some inspiration first, we’ve got you covered. Browse our gallery.

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