garage conversion restrictions?

Asked by benjamin_reardon, San Jose, CA Thu May 24, 2012

We really want to add 120 sq feet of living space to our Willowglen home and we have an oversized garage (currently 25.5 deep by 18 feet wide). Can we get a permit to build an L shaped office/pantry in the garage that will still leave at least a 12 by 20 foot space for a car? What is the minimum area we need to leave open and still state that we have a car garage? Or is this just a horrible idea in general? Thanks.

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VWhaus, Home Buyer, San Jose, CA
Thu May 31, 2012
Hi Benjamin....The city of San Jose requires that a clear dimension of 18 feet by 18 feet be maintained for a two car garage. Because you're modifying your original 2 car garage, the city zoning ordinance does not allow you to reduce it to a one car.
I hope this helped.

David O.
1 vote
Monica Goyal…, , Cupertino, CA
Thu May 24, 2012
Hi Benjamin,

You have received great advice below. I would add that you can make your own drawing, it doesn't have to be to scale, however, must have accurate dimensions.

If you need a contractor to help with the expansion, I can give you a reference for very professional and reliable company.

Good luck!
Monica Goyal
1 vote
Andrea Wince…, Agent, Milpitas, CA
Thu May 24, 2012
This is not a horrible idea at all. Any extra square footage, garage or otherwise, should add value to your home. However, the value greatly depends upon how you do the work and whether or not permitted by the city. Here is a link to the City of San Jose permits so that you can contact them directly:
They may ask you to submit a drawing of what you intend to do.
1 vote
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Thu May 24, 2012
You are doing this within the walls of your garage? Or expanding outside of the garage?

The building department will determine by your lot and set backs what you can build per zoning. As for a real estate determination of a garage, a two car garage is about 400 square feet, 20 x 20 (even though today's cars rarely fit in them. So a 10 x 20 or what you are proposing 12 x 20 probably could be counted as a single car garage.

Which ever you decide please get a permit and have it finalized. It will make resale for you and financing for the future borrower that much easier.

Have an amazing day!
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1 vote
The thought was to do it within the current walls in order to keep costs at a minimum, but definitely with permits. I was hoping to keep the cost under 20k, is that a reasonable? Do you think it will significantly impact the value of the home? Currently, it is a 3/2 with 1244 sq ft on a 6000 sq ft lot.
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