Is it worth it to convert a one car garage into a master suite?

Asked by Lauren Longo, Steele Creek, Charlotte, NC Tue Nov 2, 2010

I have a 3 bed 2 bath split-foyer home with a one car garage, but no master suite. I'm considering converting the garage into a master suite, which would result in 2 beds on top floor, master suite and extra bedroom on the ground floor with extra living area. Is it worth it? would it add value to the home?

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10
Kevin Olson,…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Tue Nov 2, 2010
Hello Lauren,

This is a tough one, and your best bet is to contact a local Realtor to see what kind of value the one car garage is worth vs. a master suite. Depending on the price range your home is in, this could make or break you. Another factor will be what other homes in the area have to offer vs. yours. You don't necessarily want to be the only home on the block with no garage, especially in certain price ranges.

Check with a local Realtor to see what you are looking at happening. There are many factors that will play into this, so make sure you check them all out before making your decision. A Realtor should provide you with this input free of charge, and I would talk to a few of them... maybe even an appraiser just to be certain.

Good luck,
Kevin
3 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Nov 4, 2010
My vote is, "No."

So, there's no bath off the upstairs corner bedroom? If there's a bath adjacent, I'd spend the money in updating that bath and connecting it, via a pocket door, to the bedroom.

The problem that I see is that you'll have a 4-bed 3-bath split-foyer home with no garage, when they'll be expecting to be able to park two cars indoors.

All the best,
0 votes
Vivianne Rut…, , Fairfax County, VA
Thu Nov 4, 2010
There is nothing in Lauren's question about a person with disabilities living in the house.

Why are we assuming a disabled person at home? :-)
0 votes
John Fitzger…, , Fairfax County, VA
Thu Nov 4, 2010
The whole problem with putting in a garage level bedroom for a person with disabilities in a home with a split foyer floor plan is that the person with disabilities will still have to negotiate a flight of stairs. It's pointless.

Split foyer homes can be nice homes, if one realizes their inherent limitations. They always should be bought at a discount to ramblers, conventional two story layouts, and even split level homes, with the garage on the kitchen level, just because they will never be improvable like homes with these floor plans. Decorate them with modern cosmetics and upgrade appliances and heating and cooling systems as appropriate, and enjoy them for what they are.
0 votes
Sandy Leaf, Agent, CHANTILLY, VA
Wed Nov 3, 2010
I doubt you will ever get the money you put in to converting the garage back. But, if you have an elderly parent or family member who needsa main level bedroom, it may be the answer for you and your family. Say what you want about split levels, but, as we all grow older, climbing the steps of the colonials will be very difficult! Having a split level home with a bedroom and bath on the main level is a big plus for folks taking in an elderly parent or family member. They get to continue living as part of the family and not isolated to the basement or upstair bedroom of the colonials. And with the economy what it is, many of us will be taking care of a parent or family member.
0 votes
Erik Weissko…, Agent, fairfax, VA
Wed Nov 3, 2010
Lauren,

You have some great answers from my colleagues. If you are waiting for more people to answer to solidify your decision...I say don't do it. A split foyer is a split foyer..you can make it a nice house/home but putting too much work into a split foyer..should prove disastrous.

You bought it for your own reasons and others will as well. To waste money changing it and making costly improvements will not get you the return you may be hoping for. I would spend it on cosmetics...kitchen, paint, etc. and move on.

Best of luck to you!

Kind Regards,

Erik J. Weisskopf, ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
Erik@AskMeAboutHomes.com
0 votes
John Fitzger…, , Fairfax County, VA
Wed Nov 3, 2010
A split foyer home is a child of the 1970's raging inflation monster. Note that no new split foyer homes, or split level homes of any kind, are now being built. Split foyer homes were a response to inflation; they were an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to make basements, which are by far the cheapest part of the house to build, seem like usable space.

Not having three bedrooms on one level is also a resale disaster. You would be spending a fortune and, rather than adding value, you would be destroying value.

In general, I would strongly advise against making any kind of improvements, other than cosmetic upgrades and appliance/heating and cooling replacements, to any split foyer or bilevel home. You would be much better off finding another type of home with a master bedroom that either meets your needs, or can be made to do so without destroying value. This means putting in a connecting door to an adjoining small bedroom ( ideally through a closet: buy armoires to make up the storage space), rather than tearing down a wall. This might also be a partial. at least. solution to your needs using your present home, since it would be both inexpensive and still would retain value.

For more good ideas on home improvements that add value, I suggest that you visit the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site and look at their relatively inexpensive home improvement ideas for helping disabled war veterans, since these ideas are also good for the approaching tidal wave of ageing Baby Boomers.
0 votes
Vivianne Rut…, , Fairfax County, VA
Tue Nov 2, 2010
Lauren,

It all depends on the neighborhood you live in and the quality of work.

1) If all the other homes in your neighborhood have at least one car garage, then your home might look somewhat out of place - UNLESS you hire a contractor who is able to complete his work with the WOW factor which will outweigh the one car garage.

2) The WOW factor might cost you more - you need to decide if the improvement is worth the money in re-sale dollars or you may run the risk of over-improving for the neighborhood.

3) Whatever you decide to do, the END RESULT should be a HOME with a pleasing look.
If you cannot afford the WOW effect, I would leave the one car garage - I would NOT convert the garage into the bedroom. If you ever need to sell, most buyers will want a nice looking home with pleasant exterior and a nice master suite with full windows, elegant feel, etc

You might want to check with your HOA, if you live in a planned community, just to make sure that you are not breaking any HOA bylaws.
0 votes
Vicky Chrisn…, Agent, Purcellvile, VA
Tue Nov 2, 2010
It's risky. But, if you're never planning on selling who cares what other people think? YOU need to like it. If you're not planning on staying there long, then you might want to avoid it.

IF you do it, make sure you hire a contractor and don't let them jerry rig it together. When someone walks in a bedroom that was clearly the garage they don't say "oh, what a lovely bedroom", they say "oh, this house did used to have a garage".
0 votes
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Tue Nov 2, 2010
Hi Lauren,

Kevin gave you good advice. Something to consider is how long do you plan on living in the house? If you need the master suite and you don't plan on selling anytime soon, then the value is to you vs what someone else wants.
You shouldn't over build for the neighborhood.

I had a call from a past client once who asked me what would happen to the ability to sell if he took the tub out and put in a walk in shower. Now I know that this client has lived in his house for well over 20 years. I asked him what his goal was. He said that he needed a shower. I asked when do you plan on selling? He said never. I told him put in the shower and enjoy it.
Web Reference:  http://terrivellios.com
0 votes
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