Whether you’re selling your home soon or you’re looking to add value long-term, the garage may not be the first room you think of when upgrading your home. For many homeowners, the garage is a place to store things and work on projects, so aesthetics take a back seat. If you’re looking for a unique way to wow potential buyers, however, a finished garage is one potential tool in your arsenal. But does a finished garage truly add value when selling your home? The answer depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, and what sort of buyer you intend to attract.
Compared to the rest of the house, your grungy, dusty, unfinished garage looks like a catch-all junk room that the construction crew abandoned mid-build.
It. Needs. Help.
But does it pay to outright finish your garage to match the rest of the house if you’re planning to sell the place?
The truth is while real estate pros say a clean, well-organized garage will impress buyers, you shouldn’t expect to get much out of this project from a resale value standpoint—unless you attract that car buff buyer who needs a special place to store their toys.
Here we’ll cover the most common questions about the difference between a finished vs. converted garage, plus alternative garage projects that boost your home’s marketability more than a full refinish.
If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, you know the importance of the finishings and furnishings that can turn an apprehensive buyer into a customer signing on the dotted line. Updated rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens, along with new paint jobs and perfect staging can catch eyes and drum up excitement, but did you know that a finished garage can also add resale value to your home?
Everyone expects the other rooms to be up to par, but the added the surprise of a finished garage that functions as a workable space comes to a delightful surprise as they open the door and find out they are getting something more. In fact, according to one of the biggest home manufacturers in Ontario, a finished garage can bring in as much additional monetary benefit as another bedroom inside the house!
The key to creating that bonus space is to make it warm and inviting like a usable space, complete with lighting, finished flooring, weatherproofing, and usable storage. You need to get the wheels started turning in their heads so they leave thinking, “That garage could work well as a rec room, playroom, gym, etc.”
Here are a few quick tips to help you make your garage into an extension of your home’s usable space.
What Is a Finished Garage?
In many homes, the garage simply doesn’t get the same attention as other rooms. An unfinished garage is your average garage–stuff stored all around, unfinished walls and ceilings, and very few creature comforts. A finished garage looks more like any other room in the home, with a clean, put-together look and plenty of open space. Finishing the garage creates a new usable space in the home, especially for homeowners who love working on cars or home improvement projects.
How a Finished Garage Impacts Appraisal Value
If your only goal is to increase the appraisal value of the home, then a finished garage may not offer the best bang for your buck compared to other renovations. While that may sound ominous, it only tells part of the story. A finished garage may not add much to the appraisal value outright, but it can still be an important factor in convincing a buyer that your home is the right choice for their needs.
The “Wow Factor” of a Finished Garage
While a finished garage may not add to the home’s appraisal value, it can certainly be a factor in convincing a buyer that the home is right for them. It can make your home stand out from the pack and holds major appeal for potential buyers who love home improvement projects. This is ultimately where the value comes in finishing your garage, but since it’s subjective, it only adds value for the right buyer.
Considering the Cost of a Finished Garage
Finishing the garage isn’t cheap, but it won’t set you back as much as renovation projects in some other rooms. The typical cost for finishing a garage checks in around $10,000, so the upfront cost is significant. Whether the investment is worth it is in the eye of the beholder – and the buyer.
Why Finishing Is Better Than Converting
If you do plan to update your garage, it’s better to finish it than to convert it completely by removing the garage door. A converted garage is ultimately just another room, while a finished garage still retains the character and utility of the typical garage.
A Middle Ground for Your Garage
If you want to make your garage more impressive without finishing it when selling your home, there’s a middle ground. By cleaning your garage thoroughly, organizing it neatly, and fixing any glaring maintenance issues, you can give your garage a fresh, appealing look without the investment that would be required to finish the room.
Cover the Concrete
One update that will pay dividends is flooring. Cover up that drab and uncomfortable concrete flooring with a surface that lends itself to the type of space you are trying to create. For those who don’t plan on bringing cars inside, your options are similar to the rest of your home: laminates, wood, tiles, even carpeting! But for those who wish to keep their flooring durable and vehicle-friendly, it’s best to invest in a coating such as Rhino Floortex Coating. It covers the cracked and dusty concrete surface with a clean and durable coating that is also pleasing to the eye.
Wrap the Walls
With exposed insulation and wooden beams, your garage hardly seems appropriate for storing golf clubs, let alone housing a big screen TV or guests, should you be creating a living space in it. By changing the walls, you can create a more pleasant environment: select proper insulation, drywall, and wall covering such as paint or paper. The idea of a heated (well-insulated) garage in cold Canadian winters is appealing to many buyers!
One thing many buys are already in the market for is ample storage space. Help check off a few points on their list by installing space-saving storage cabinets, floating shelving, and hooks to help get items organized better than labelled boxes on the floor.
Designate the Space
To help buyers better envision what their garage could be, help create spaces that are functional and appealing. Select one wall or corner and create a work area. Install a workbench, hang a pegboard for tools, and stage it as a usable space. Many people want a zone for their handyman to complete household or occupational tasks, so take the guesswork out. Don’t forget to add ample ambient lighting as well!
Map out an Entertainment Zone
Much like a workbench, a useable entertainment space will likely catch the eye of the buyer. Stage it with seating (an old couch and table will do the trick), or go all out with a TV, surround sound, and seating for the game! Be creative and make sure it is useable, convertible, and appeals to a mass market.
Say Goodbye to Dull Concrete Floors
Nothing feels colder or less inviting than grey concrete floors. Luckily this is an easy fix! Epoxy flooring can be installed quickly and offers multiple benefits.
Adding colour to your garage only scratches the surface of what an epoxy floor can do for your garage. An epoxy flooring not only protects your concrete from oil stains and chemical spills, but it’s also easy to clean and low-maintenance. Getting this professionally installed guarantees a great warranty and seamless look that adds value to your home. Professional flooring solutions seal the concrete of the garage floor against dirt, dust or other corrosive agents.
A finished garage floor creates a variety of style possibilities, from coordinated trim to more intricate moulding or even board and batten walls.
Embrace a Color Palette
You wouldn’t leave plain drywall in your living room without giving it a coat of paint, and neither should your garage! Picking a colour that compliments your floors, storage solutions, and even your vehicle will make your garage stand out in the neighbourhood.
Walls are not the only place to splash some colour. Cabinets are a fantastic way to add a colourful aesthetic that can complement your taste and the rest of your home. Homeowners often add personality to their garage through artwork and custom floor colours and designs. Have team spirit? Show it off in the garage with custom decals or memorabilia on display!
Enhancing your lighting is a great way to showcase and highlight the colour you already have. A dim-lit garage shouts “do not enter”- you want the opposite appeal.
Get Creative with Extra Space
Now you may be asking yourself “what extra space?”, we specialize in creating space with garage storage solutions. When your garage is organized, the extra space can be converted to various forms of workspaces or recreational areas. This adds the feeling of extra square footage — a massive advantage in today’s job market.
In fact, according to HomeAdvisor data, the average cost of converting the garage into a finished room costs an average $11,986 with an 80% return on investment. So, not only does a finished garage provide more living space options, but it also provides substantial growth in home value.
Having a designated area for projects or hobbies apart from storage or parking a vehicle is another way to showcase the potential for space. An in-home gym, workspace, art studio or pantry space are just a few of the options. In-home gyms are all the rage for 2019 home buyers according to Tom Holland, MS, an exercise physiologist from Connecticut, “Home workouts will continue to be popular in the new year. Many Americans are creating home gyms or using streaming technology to exercise under their roofs.”
Take Control of the Temperature
There’s no question, and your garage is an extension of your home. The question is, does it feel like it? If your garage is freezing during the winter, of course, it will lack the attention it needs! And there’s no reason to add a workbench to a garage that is sweltering in the summer heat.
Adding heating and cooling regulation to your garage makes it easy to utilize the space year-round fully. This way, your garage space is a useful square footage that can be leveraged and converted.
Temperature is a big obstacle when it comes to finding garage renovation motivation (no one wants to be uncomfortable while renovating)– if you’re unable to install heating or cooling consider some temporary options.
We found some great resources for heating and cooling your garage, be sure to check out these options.
Smaller projects to make your garage shine
If you’ve decided that a full garage refinish isn’t in the cards, consider some of these smaller scope projects that could boost the appearance and functionality of your garage without requiring a full-fledged refinish.
Replace your old garage door
Here’s one improvement you can make to your garage that has a solid ROI: replace that old, too-heavy-for-an-electric-opener garage door.
Remodeling Magazine found in its 2019 Cost vs. Value study that an upscale garage door replacement can net you a return of 97.5%.
A new garage door will run you between $300 to $1,500, depending upon the size and style, while installation typically costs between $500 and $800.
Resurface stained concrete with stain-resistant epoxy
Remember those micro-niche buyers who might just pay more for a finished garage? If you aim to sell to that niche, your finished garage needs a floor that can stand up to heavy use, like an epoxy floor.
“A lot of buyers wouldn’t pay a dollar over list price for a finished garage unless the buyer is a car guy or someone very serious about the garage,” explains McKee.
“If you’ve got a finished garage with epoxy flooring, that may not have any inherent value, but it has subjective value, and the right buyer will pay $10,000 extra to have it.”
While there are a number of garage flooring options out there, epoxy is a top choice because of its sleek look, relatively simple installation process, and it’s low cost.
Epoxy is a system of resin and hardener that once mixed creates a rigid, plastic-like surface that resists oil stains, and won’t peel as paint does under road-heated rubber car tires.
On average, it costs between $1,422 to $2,949 to have a professional coat your garage floor with epoxy. You can DIY the project for as low as $100 for a garage-sized kit. However, it’s trickier than slapping down some paint and calling it a day.
The application of epoxy flooring depends on the type of system you get. However, most require a multi-step process. For residential garage use, flake epoxy kits are popular since they allow you to customize the colour combination of your final floor finish.
Add storage with shelves or cabinets
A good cleaning and organizing session may be all that most garages need. However, that’s not so easily accomplished if there are no places to stash your stuff.
Installing a storage system in your garage doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
You can get basic plastic or metal garage shelves for as low as $40 per unit. Plastic garage cabinets that hide your mess behind doors aren’t much more, starting at $70 up to $250 per unit.
Adding storage to your garage doesn’t even need to be that expensive if you’re replacing your kitchen cabinets before selling your house.
Simply clean up a few of the cabinets and a section of countertop, and you’ve got yourself ready-made garage storage and a workstation, too.
Install energy-saving insulation, then finish those walls
It’s a given that homes are insulated against the weather, but most unfinished garages aren’t.
Whether frigid winter snow or punishing summer sun, if you live in an extreme weather region, you may want to consider installing insulation—especially if yours has features like a workbench that encourage spending hours in the garage.
Having your garage insulated by a pro isn’t cheap, with the price running between $1,000 to $2,000 (depending on your insulation type).
However, this is a project that you can DIY if you have the right tools and a little insulation installation education thanks to YouTube video tutorials. Buying enough fibreglass insulation for your whole garage will only run you between $400 to $800.
Hook your garage up with heat and air conditioning
Insulation can only do so much to keep the garage warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The only way to control the tempo of your finished garage is by adding heating and air-conditioning to space.
If the garage you’ve just insulated is attached to your home, adding conditioned air may be as simple as extending the vents of your existing H-VAC out to the garage.
Extending existing ventilation out to your attached garage can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000, depending on how close the ventilation shafts are to the garage.
For freestanding garages, you can both heat and cool the space with one window air-conditioning unit, which you can get for under $500.
Whether you’re willing to invest in fixing up your existing unfinished garage or just sprucing up the assets of your existing finished garage, your expense and effort probably won’t increase your home’s value.
However, that finished garage may be just the bonus feature your right buyer needs to make you the best offer for your house.
So does a finished or converted garages affect the value of your home?
Converting your garage (meaning, you are taking out the garage door) to add additional space may seem like a good idea, but removing your garage could make it harder to sell. In some cases, some owners have had to convert it back to a functional garage in order to sell their home, or else withstand longer times on the market. Finishing a garage certainly won’t hurt a home’s value, but it likely won’t increase the value. It’s subjective, meaning that a finished garage could be exactly what the buyer is looking for, causing your home to stand out among the others for sale, or it could be just a ‘nice to have’ with the buyer focusing on other aspects of the home as the main selling point.