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Garage Conversion 101: How to Turn a Garage into Living Space And Make Money From It

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Published on
November 7, 2023

When it comes to home improvement projects, converting a garage into usable living space is a popular choice for many homeowners. In Ottawa especially, Bill 23 allows you to convert your garage and make it an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) that you can either use or rent. Whether you need extra room for your growing family, want to create a home office, or are simply looking to generate extra income, a garage conversion can be a cost-effective and transformative solution.

In this article, we'll explore the basics of garage conversion and provide a step-by-step guide to help you make the most of your project.

Why Convert Your Garage?

There are several compelling reasons to consider converting your garage into living space:

  1. Additional Living Space: One of the most obvious benefits is the creation of additional living space. Whether it's an extra bedroom, a home office, a gym, or a playroom, a garage conversion can be tailored to suit your specific needs.
  2. Increased Property Value: Garage conversions often increase the value of your home, making it more attractive to potential buyers. This can be a wise investment, especially if you plan to sell your home in the future.
  3. Cost-Effective: Converting an existing structure, such as a garage, is typically more cost-effective than building an entirely new addition to your home. You can save money on construction and materials.
  4. Extra Income: Under Bill 23, you can legally convert your garage into a separate unit and rent it out. Want to earn an extra $1500 to $2200 per month? This is a great option.

Step-by-Step Guide to Garage Conversion

  1. Check Zoning: Before you start any garage conversion project, it's crucial to check the zoning and building codes in your area. Some regions may have restrictions or require permits for garage conversions, so ensure you are compliant with local regulations.
  2. Plan and Design: Decide what you want to use the space for and create a detailed plan. Consider the layout, design, and functionality of the new living space. Think about electrical outlets, plumbing, and heating or cooling systems. Hiring a professional full-service renovation company like OGC can help you with that eachs tep of the way.
  3. Assess the Structure: Garage conversions can be straightforward or complex, depending on the existing structure. Check the condition of the garage, including the foundation, walls, and roof. Make any necessary repairs to ensure the space is safe and watertight.
  4. Insulation: Garages are typically not well-insulated, so you'll need to add insulation to regulate the temperature and energy efficiency of your new living space. This will also help with soundproofing.
  5. Electrical and Plumbing: Depending on the purpose of your converted space, you may need to add or modify electrical and plumbing systems. This is a job best left to professionals for safety and compliance with building codes.
  6. Walls and Flooring: Finish the walls and floor according to your design plans. Drywall, paneling, or paint can be used for the walls, while you can choose from a variety of flooring options, such as hardwood, laminate, or tile. Consider your budget and the room's intended use when making these choices.
  7. Doors and Windows: Replace or upgrade garage doors with suitable entryways and add windows for natural light and ventilation. High-quality doors and windows can enhance the aesthetics of the space and improve energy efficiency.
  8. Heating and Cooling: Ensure your new living space is comfortable year-round by installing a heating and cooling system. This could be through extending your existing HVAC system or installing a separate unit.
  9. Interior Design and Décor: Furnish and decorate your new living space to make it functional and attractive. Think about storage solutions, lighting, and furniture that suits the purpose of the room. Personalize the space to reflect your style and preferences.
  10. Exterior Considerations: Don't forget about the exterior of your home. The transition from garage to living space should look seamless and aesthetically pleasing. You may need to modify the exterior to match the rest of your home's design.
  11. Final Inspection and Approval: Once the conversion is complete, schedule a final inspection with local building authorities to ensure everything meets code and safety standards.

Tips and Considerations for Garage Conversion

  • Budgeting: Set a realistic budget for your garage conversion project and allow for some flexibility. Unexpected costs can arise during construction, so having a contingency fund is essential.
  • Permits: Ensure that you have all the necessary permits and approvals from local authorities before starting the conversion. Failure to do so could result in legal and financial issues.
  • Quality Work: Hire qualified contractors or professionals for tasks that require specific expertise, such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work. Cutting corners can lead to problems down the road.
  • Natural Light: Maximizing natural light is important in any living space. Consider adding windows, skylights, or even a glass garage door for more sunlight.
  • Storage: Plan for storage solutions in your new living space. Whether it's a bedroom, office, or playroom, you'll need a place to store belongings to keep the space tidy and organized.
  • Functionality: Keep the purpose of the room in mind when designing and decorating. Make sure the space is functional for its intended use.
  • Resale Value: If you plan to sell your home in the future, think about how the garage conversion will impact the resale value. Opt for designs and finishes that have broad appeal and can attract potential buyers.


Converting your garage into living space is a fantastic way to make the most of your home. Whether you need extra space for your family or want to earn extra income, a well-executed garage conversion can be a transformative project. With careful planning, compliance with local regulations, and attention to detail, you can create a functional and attractive living space that adds both comfort and value to your home. Don't be afraid to consult with professionals to ensure your garage conversion is a success, and enjoy the additional space and functionality it brings to your living environment. Contact us today for a free quote and feasibility study.

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