Garage Conversion: Piggish About Space

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So, we have a detached garage on our property that is not used for cars. It's mostly used to store all of our crap that doesn't fit in the house (we don't have a full basement, just a 3 foot high crawl space and small area where the boiler is).

The garage is 16 x 20 (give or take) which is a standard size for a 1 1/2 car garage. In addition, there is a bump out on one side. You understand that since I was fined and hassled about this bump out it will forever be mentioned, pointed out, and the fees we actually paid will always be higher. I'm now saying that it cost us 1k. I'm also thinking of putting spot lights on it. And, since you're likely quite curious--here is the UNFINISHED bump out.

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Extreme close-up because it's so darn pretty.

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So we've been tossing around other things that we can blow what tiny bit of money we have left. Central air conditioning? Hardwood floors through the rest of the living room and extension? Or, maybe we convert the garage into a "finished" area for the treadmill and kids indoor games. DING DING DING! I think we have a winner!

Central air would be nice and come this august I'll be wanting it installed immediately. BUT, we do have air conditioning window boxes (ugly, inefficient, and loud--but they are effective and provide relief.) We get hot here but central air is used maybe 3 months out of the year here.

Hardwood floors in the living room and office would be gorgeous. It would "finish" that front part of the house. BUT, there are laminate floors in the living room now (which will mostly be covered by area rug anyway) and the only floor that is really desperate is my office. My office is still just plywood. But, I did stick a large area rug there and for now, it's fine. (The layout of the front portion of the house makes it so it would not make sense to put flooring down in the office without also putting it in the living room).

What I don't have is a place for my kids (mainly the very large boys that are continuing to grow) to play when it's lousy out like winter (which is several months here). When their friends come over it accentuates how small our house is, the volume level is brutal, and they trash the place. I would love for them to have a place they could go that was more in line with kids being kids. I'd also like to be able to use the very expensive treadmill we bought last year without it being 30 degrees in the dark garage. If we had heat and amenities in there, my daughter could play or watch some TV while I ran on the treadmill no matter the weather. I do take her on the jogger but it's kind of mean to go running in the rain or lousy weather. After all, it's my giant butt that's a problem, not hers.

So I've done a little research on converting the garage. It's not as simple as I thought--there are some things to consider (and it's gonna cost ya.) I've made some calls to try and pick contractors brains and get an idea of what it would cost if we hired the whole thing out. That's not going to happen, of course, but maybe they can do the stuff that we are clueless about and we can piecemeal the rest together on our own as money comes in.

So, you think it's a good idea to convert the garage instead of air conditioning or wood floors, right? Do me a favor and email Dave that you agree with me; he wants AC.

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