How We Converted Our Garage Into A Bedroom And Bathroom

How To Wear A Tunic Sweater
By Jess
1 Apr 2024
How We Converted Our Garage Into A Bedroom And Bathroom
view of the garage conversion after, a door that leads to the backyard

While it has been several years since we completed this garage conversion, it remains an incredibly popular post, and I often get follow-up questions from readers about how to convert a garage into a bedroom and bathroom. I’ve made some updates here to answer additional questions that seem to come up frequently, including if you need a permit.

I remember when we first bought the house and one of the first things Craig said was that we should turn the garage into living space. I brushed him off because it seemed like a really big job. And we had so many other projects to tackle. Once I found out I was pregnant and our two bedroom house was going to feel pretty cramped, I opened up to the idea of converting the garage, which we only used for storage.

What started as a drawing on the back of a napkin turned into a beautiful space that we built from the ground up. Today I’m going to share the details of how to convert a garage into a bedroom and bathroom with before and afters of the renovation process.

How We Converted Our Garage Into A Bedroom And Bathroom

The process of converting our garage into a bedroom and bathroom was a big undertaking. And Craig was pretty methodical which really helped in the long run. Especially as we worked with contractors for the electrical wiring and plumbing. The entire project took 9 months from start to finish, taking into consideration he started when I was pregnant and VERY sick. And finished when we had a newborn, and Covid had just hit. It probably could have been done faster if not for those things.

Do You Need A Permit To Convert Your Garage Into A Bedroom and Bathroom?

The short answer to this question is, it depends. The permitting process for converting a garage to a bedroom and bathroom or other living space is going to vary widely based on where you live. You may be wondering if you need a general contractor to pull a permit, and in our experience this is not required. Typically you will need a floor plan (which could be as simple as a drawing with layout and square footage). Depending on permitting requirements in your town/state, you may need to pay a fee, and have inspections done throughout the process.

Your town/state may require that the work be done by a licensed contractor, plumber, or electrician, but again this varies. In our case, we submitted our plan to the town ahead of time, got a permit to do the work, and then had inspections done by the town inspectors for the plumbing and electrical work. This was a fairly simple and straightforward process, and meant that when we decided to sell the house, there were no issues.

It’s really important to do any garage conversions properly and legally according to your local ordinances and laws. Moving ahead with a project without doing this could result in fines, and be a major headache if you decide to sell your property down the road.

Prepping the Garage

The first step was prepping the garage to become an indoor living space. We purchased a shed to put in our backyard to use for storage. A lot of people asked how we got rid of our garage. But the truth is we don’t have that much stuff. Whatever was in the garage we were able to put in the shed or our basement.

Here’s the process for prepping the garage:
  1. Empty garage (probably a good time to get a dumpster if you’ll need to be throwing away a lot of extra materials)
  2. Seal all cracks and insulate foundation with spray and rigid foam
  3. Remove garage door and build wall to enclose space (left header of garage door- we have no windows on this wall)
  4. Remove window on side and added 3 casement windows (the windows behind our bed)
  5. Replace shingles on outside and shingle new front exterior

Build The Subfloor

The next step in the garage conversion was building the subfloor, which is crucial because it is the foundation for everything else. We determined that the floor was structurally sound to build the subfloor on top of it. Craig built a subfloor with 2x10s and a main beam down the center with anchor bolts screwed to the ground on the knee wall (as to local building code). The goal was to match the new floor height with the existing floor in the house.

Craig used a laser level, snapped a line and measured down, subtracting the thickness of the plywood and the flooring we planned to use. He was able to perfectly match the level of the new and existing floors as you can see below. Before installing the 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood, Craig insulated the subfloor with fiberglass insulation. Craig also glued the plywood to the subfloor framing.

Install Support Beams

The garage ceiling didn’t have dry wall and we wanted a lofted ceiling so Craig removed the existing ceiling joists and collar ties and in their place installed support beams. He used three 2x10s to create three beams (he later finished them to make the three 2x10s look like a single beam).

Framing Interior Walls and Doors and Pocket Door

When converting a garage to a bedroom and bathroom you will likely need to build several interior walls and doors to split up the bedroom and bathroom. In our case we did this to create the bedroom, bathroom, hallway, and enclose the separate staircase to the basement.

How to Convert A Garage Into A Bedroom and Bathroom (framing walls)

  1. Framed wall and doorway for bathroom including pocket door for bathroom
  2. Framed wall between staircase to basement and bedroom
  3. Framed door and wall to create entrance and hallway to bedroom from existing house.

Install Electrical Wiring and Rough Plumbing

Once the framing and subfloor were in we scheduled the electrician and plumber. We spoke with them at the beginning of the project to determine when would be the best time for them to come and do the rough in. The electricians came and installed the wiring for the ceiling lights and boxes for outlets and switches so Craig would be able to cut around them when doing sheet rock. The plumbers put the rough plumbing in for the shower drain, vanity sinks, and toilet plumbing. Which we connected through a hole in the wall under the subfloor from the garage to the basement. The electrician and plumber scheduled inspections for the rough-ins.

Install Sheetrock and Insulate Walls and Ceiling

We had a company come to do spray foam insulation for the bedroom ceiling because it saved a ton of time and labor on our end. Spray foam insulation is also incredibly effective and can help with energy efficiency in your home. There are also various tax incentives available for spray foam insulation (check with your tax advisor). Craig installed drywall on all interior walls insulated with fiberglass insulation. Then he taped all the seams and did a veneer coat with Venetian plaster. Which makes it more durable and helps with odors. Then he sanded all the walls.

Install Ceiling

There are several ways to do a ceiling in a garage conversion. You can use sheetrock which can be less expensive (though you will need to mud and paint). We really wanted to do a vaulted ceiling in the new space. Initially we planned to use 1x10s but the lumber supplier didn’t have enough for our project so Craig decided to alternate with 1×8 and 1×10 primed pine which he then painted with ceiling paint. Craig also installed a skylight in the bathroom before he did the ceiling.

Bathroom Install

In the bathroom, Craig started with the shower. It was one of the more challenging aspects of the project so it took a bit longer. The space for the shower in the bathroom was slightly large for the base we purchased so he built the walls to fit the shower pan (you can see below they’re slightly bumped out). He used cement board for the inside of the shower and then did a layer of stucco followed by a waterproofing paint for showers. He then applied several layers of Venetian plaster and a sealant over the finish coat.

Bathroom Floor Tile

In the bathroom, Craig installed a layer of cement board over the plywood before tiling. Unfortunately I can’t find any of the tile installation photos or videos but I’m hoping I can track them down to show that process. We picked a hand painted Fireclay Tile and used a white grout.

Priming and Painting

Craig primed and painted the ceiling before he installed the wood floors. We then painted and primed all the walls, trim and doors.

Install Wood Flooring and Trim

After painting Craig installed the flooring. We used Sawyer Mason in Oak Bluffs. It’s a phenomenal product that we’ve used again in Vermont. The flooring comes pre-finished and there are several installation options you can read about here. After installing the flooring Craig installed the baseboard (1×6) and window trim with a 1×4 primed pine.

Install Vanity, Toilet, Fixtures and Shower Door

Craig installed the vanity (came with the countertop), sinks, toilet, fixtures and shower door after tiling and painting were complete. The vanity was definitely a two person job but it was at the beginning of Covid and Craig decided to do it himself. Somehow he managed but it was difficult and not something I’d recommend. Craig did the vanity plumbing himself and we had the plumber do the shower and toilet install. The electricians also came back at the end to install the outlets and lighting. You can see more details about the bathroom here.

garage conversion large plaster shower with glass door
plaster shower with glass door and black shelf

Install Ikea Pax Wardrobes

The last step of the converting a garage to a bedroom and bathroom was installing the IKEA wardrobes was the last step before we moved all of our furniture in. We measured the space and figured out the maximum amount we could have, then Craig installed trim pieces on the end to make it look a little more custom. You can see the entire process for the IKEA wardrobes here.

Building Ikea Pax Wardrobes
How We Designed Our IKEA PAX Wardrobe - 2021 Community Favorites
ikea pax wardrobes for storage in a converted garage to bedroom

Final Thoughts On The Project

The garage conversion to a bedroom and bathroom was the biggest project we had ever taken on. It was the first project where we were creating our own space from the ground up and had to plan, coordinate, execute and learn how to do a lot of things we had not done before. That said, it was well worth the effort, not only because it added so much additional living space without adding actual square footage, but it increased the value of our house as well. We love how it turned out. It was a lot of work but added significant value to our house while keeping costs way down by doing almost all of the labor on our own.

Having gone through this project taught us a lot and has convinced us we can tackle a similar one in our Vermont house which has a very similar layout including a garage we hope to convert to living space. I’m excited to see what we can do to transform that space and turn it into something we love just as much as this house.

Disclosure: if you buy something through the links on this blog, we may earn an affiliate commission. We only feature products we would personally recommend. Thank you for your support.

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