Dennis Lake, Home Buyer in Phoenix, AZ

is it possible to turn a garage into a game room/other semi-finished space?

Asked by Dennis Lake, Phoenix, AZ Mon Aug 4, 2008

I have an old 9' pool table that I'd like to find a space for. Ideally, the room should be 20' x 16'. From what I've noticed, Portland area homes (especially old portland homes) don't have any very large rooms capable of housing this beast. Basements are often large enough, but there are often posts, staircases or other obstructions in the way.

Is it ok to turn a garage into a semi-finished game room (that is, seal the door, heat it, carpet it, etc) or would I need a special permit to do that?


Help the community by answering this question:


Here are a few suggestions:

1. Go in person to your jurisdiction's Zoning or Community Development Office. Ask the land use professional at the counter if your proposed project requires any zoning approvals, building permits, and to make sure that any set-back requirements are grandfathered. Make sure you get it in writing!

2. If the counter person won't do that, ask for their card and send them an email outlining the points of their conversation with you. Be certain to close your email with a sentence that asks them to reply back with any corrections, subtractions, or additions that they may believe are needed.

3. Same thing at the Building Permit counter. Make sure if an Electrical Permit will be required. Make sure it in writing. Otherwise, you home insurance may not have to pay for any damages caused due to work performed. Always think "liability."

4. Viewing information on the jurisdictions website is nice, but can often be incorrect. Codes and other requirements change overnight and may not be online yet. It's your responsibility to collect the information, not theirs.

5. Get a Home Inspector, Engineer, or other appropriate professional to sign off on any plans or completed work. Always think "liability."

6. Enjoy the completed work for years to come.

J. Christin
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 16, 2008
If you are just adding carpet, you do not need a permit. When you start adding heating or change anything structural, such as removing the garage door, you need a permit. You will also need a permit if you do any electrical or plumbing work. Typically garage floors slope towards the front of the garage, so you will need to level up your table. The winters in Phoenix are mild compared to the ones up here. I think that in the winter it would be quite cool and damp and uncomfortable if you keep the garage door in place and to heat this area would be expensive. Gargage doors are not well insulated. One of the biggest mistakes that I see with converted garages is that they are converted to a bedroom, without getting permits, and they do not have a proper window for egress in the event of a fire. In addition to being a Realtor, I am a licensed contractor. Every home I have owned has had a pool table in it. You can find one without having to convert a garage. In one home I removed an interior wall to accomodate a pool table. It was a minor job. Good Luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
I would check into the permit process first. then you have heat,electrial,cooling and insulation. You should leave the door there incase another buyer wants to reuse room for a garage. If you really want to do this I would put up a temp wall about 6 inches from the garage door and don't touch any other stuff. The more valuable it is as garage even if you don't use it than a pool table room and it makes your house look normal and you might check the CC&R's of the neighborhood?
Good Luck,
Tom Inglesby, Broker
RE/MAX Equity Group Inc.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
The other responses are good advice about the necessity for permits with most conversions. However, another matter that was not addressed yet is whether or not you are expecting this conversions to increase the value of your home. That answer is almost always no, unless you are also adding a garage in front or beside the existing garage so that you are not taking away space that most buyers want for space for your pool table. Just so you know, you may even need to convert back to a garage when you are ready to sell unless you have added this garage space. Have fun!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
You will want permits just to protect your investment but they should be minor as there should not be too much structural work.

Also make sure you are not violating covenants and all of that by removing or converting your garage. Check the title report for the property and get that information as well before you start.

Good luck with the project.


Dirk Knudsen
#1 Rated Re\Max team in Oregon
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
You definitely would want to check with the city of Portland to answer whether or not you would need a permit. Here is the link:

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
We call these a "two car family room" and many buyers will refuse to look at them - so when it's time to sell, be sure to able to change it back. But I'm glad you're going to have some fun and enjoy your house. Life isn't always about resale!!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 18, 2008
The other answers are great. In general, sealing the door and heating would require permits.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
Dennis - in the Southern Oregon area-that is not an unusual thing to do. BUT, I dont know if Portland requires permits or not. Here someone could do that without permits. My suggestion is that you leave the door for the normal garage so that it looks like a garage still and make a man door to go into the room with. Do all you want but if you keep it looking like a garage- your next buyer will be able to see they have the choice of keeping it as the room you made it or turning it back into a garage- the value will still be there!
If you need anything further, I am happy to help!

Lana Lavenbarg, BROKER
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008

Consult your county office for building permit requirements. In most areas, if you are increasing the finished/heated square footage, you will be required to obtain a permit. An upside to this, you will find out what the regulations and codes are. Stick to these codes to make sure you are maintaining and likely increasing the value of your home! Now, as far as SHOULD you permanently convert your garage...consider if most of the homes in your neighborhood have garages and yours does not, you may actually be decreasing the value of your property.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
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