Linuxos77, Other/Just Looking in Rhode Island

Convert garage to master suite?

Asked by Linuxos77, Rhode Island Wed Jun 23, 2010

We have a small (1100 sqft) ranch. It has 2 bdrm and 1 bath. We also have an attached 1 car garage (12x22ft). This garage is linked to the house via an 11x11ft sunroom (heated). We're pondering converting the garage to a master suite (bdrm, small bath and closet), and adding a shed in backyard. The sunroom would then get new insulation/drywall and be made into a small living room open the the kitchen. Does the new bdrm/bath make up for the loss of the garage (about half homes i the neighborhood have one). Also, is this floor plan weird? Entering the house through the sunroom, one would see suite on right and kitchen on left. We need an additional bdrm and selling is not working, we're too underwater. Only other option is for similar price we can add new bedrm off other side of house, but would have no bath and we'd have to lose 3 ft off the front of an existing bedroom (it'd become 8x11 ft and be childs room). to create hallway to addition. What solution is best?

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Losing a garage is often a mistake. If there is room to add a detached garage and the renovation is tasteful and completed with equal care as the rest of the home maybe....particuarly if you need this room for your self in the period of time you plan on remaining in your homel.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 27, 2010
A 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home will always hold more value than a 2 bed, 1 bath home. With or without a garage. Master Suites detached from general bedrooms are becoming more popular in Ranch style homes in RI. I can visualize what you are trying to do, and have actually shown homes with similar floor plans. I have to say that most buyers are turned off by unusual floor plans, so try to stick to the basics if you are planning to sell once the market picks up. I would keep the garage (we do like them in RI) and add the additional bedroom with maybe a 1/2 bath if possible? If you do not have a formal dining room, you may want to consider converting the sunroom to a dining room-good resale. I've sold many of these converted homes in the Buttonwoods section of Warwick. Good luck! If you need any further advise, email me at I'll be happy to help.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 25, 2010
Yes even if I cut through the bedroom it would still have a full (double door) closet and a full size window. But glad to hear it's becoming common (and maybe desirable) to have the master bedroom not in the same hall as the other bedrooms.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Something to remember: it isn't a bedroom if it doesn't have a closet and a window! And as for location of the bedroom I find that a split bedroom plan is really most popular. People like the master to be apart from the other bedrooms so if it doesn't destroy the flow of your living room think about that alcove idea.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Wow, this is an awesome resource!! I really like how quickly these responses come in... It's really nice to get the input of professionals on my dilemma... I think we're now leaning towards adding the new room off the other end of the house and keeping the garage as it is. Now, to decide if cutting one of the bedrooms down to 8x11 ft (to accommodate the new hallway to the new addition) makes it too small (this would be a toddlers room). Doing this keeps all the bedrooms in the same hallway and gives best floor plan. Otherwise put a door off the living room (with a small 3x3 alcove for a buffer) to the new bedroom, won't have to cut into the other bedroom but makes for a less attractive floor plan.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Good point Debbie! Homeowners too often do not realize they need follow the permit process when making these changes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Linuxos....just a suggestion.....

Whatever you decide - Before proceeding with any alterations - check with the building department in your town. Make sure you'd be allowed to convert the garage into a bedroom, and that it's not against code - see what, if any, permits or variances might be required.

Case in point - in one town in my area, what you are proposing would not be allowed, as garages must be maintained.
Homeowners who have converted garages to other uses, are advised to either restore them prior to selling, or at least offer to do so for a buyer.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
If you are happy where you live and plan to remain there for a few years then an addition just makes sense if you can afford it. I would still vote to keep the garage as it is a one up on those without garages! Hire a professional design service (someone specializing in use of space) and add the needed bedroom. Go ahead and improve the sunroom too as it will enhance your living conditions and essentially add value. Plan to update your 1950's home over the coming years so that when you do put it on the market it is in the best possible condition to attract a buyer. Things like upgraded windows, insulation, a new roof if needed, flooring and kitchen and bath improvements will go a long way to helping sell in the future but keep in mind you may not recoup your entire dollar investment so again if you plan to stay put and enjoy your home these things make sense. The cheapest improvement you can make: paint, fresh and clean surfaces say a lot about the care your home has had.

This is just not the best time to sell unless there is a very compelling reason to do so (not what you would expect t hear from a real estate broker!). Look into a refi if your interest rate will reduce significantly and that will help lower your expenses. I just did a refi, combining a vacation property and my home into one and we realize a savings of over $500 per month. At that rate the cost of the refi will be recouped quickly and hopefully values will begin to climb again in the next couple of years! Best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Yes, we almost exclusive use the sunroom as an entrance to the house (we pretty much never use the main front door). Here in New England people like garages, but it depends on the neighborhood if they're prevalent. Our neighborhood is mostly starter homes (1950's ranches) so only about 1/2 have a garage. My bigger concern is that the floor plan would be too weird, and also the outside would be very obvious it was a garage (Ive seen other houses in the town that have converted garages and it's pretty obvious.

We're underwater (bought at worst possible time in 2005, and are selling into a pool of foreclosures/short sales). We're not in any financial risk of losing the house so I don't believe a short sale is possible (plus since we're hoping to upgrade don't want to take the credit hit). From what I've read we can only refi at a lower rate (not drop principle) via the Home Affordability Act (or whatever it's called). Again, because we're in fine financial shape we're not eligible for most programs. Unless there's a plan I'm not aware of?? Overall we like the house/location/schools, we just need another bedroom... Ideally buying a bigger house would be better, but not at the loss we'd need to take. This is what brings us to looking at additions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
If I read your post correctly you have not had luck selling since, as the case with many homeowners, you want to sell more than what the market will bare, but are not nessicarily in a financial pinch to sell. If this is the case I can only say that in Oregon garages are a big plus. Is there room to add a new garage later? Square footage is important but when one converts a garage to living space it does not always compute to a better value. I think in your area an attached garage is appreciated in the winter. I would vote for adding the bedroom if the cost is similar and does not modify the floor plan to an awkward state. Do you currently enter through the sunroom? Where is your main entry now? Hire a good design firm to give you the footprint that makes the most sense... money well spent. PS: Don't overbuild for your neighborhood, being the best home in the area is not always a good move unless your price when selling is the lowest! I will be interested to know whay you decide!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
Since you mention that you are underwater--why even consider spending more money as there are no guarantees on how much more money the renovation would bring you anyway--have you tried a loan modification, have you considered a short sale, etc. Keep in mind that a home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, not what the seller needs or potential buyer can afford to spend--market conditions do matter--what is your agent advising.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 23, 2010
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