• Need More Space? Build Above Your Garage

    June 30, 2016 | Blog
  • Many two-story homes have one- or two-car garages with nothing overhead except a roof (and perhaps a crawl space). Since the average two-car garage is 400-600 square feet, it’s a sizable footprint for adding space, usability, and value to your home. It’s also an excellent solution for a growing family, especially if you love your home and neighborhood and don’t want to move, but are starting to outgrow your current residence. These are some items to consider in your above-garage home expansion.

    Match Your Home’s Existing Construction

    As you plan, likely working with an architect, aim to make the new addition blend in with the existing design and character of your home. Once complete, it should look like it’s always been part of the home. This is especially important if you should decide to sell sometime in the future.

    Make Sure the Existing Structure Can Support the Addition

    It is possible that since your garage was built without any rooms above it that the structure isn’t prepared for the load of an additional story. Your architect should verify that the your garage can handle the load, and if not, add appropriate headers (such as laminated wood or steel beams) to ensure it is safe. Long-span beams are likely your only option, since a supporting pillar in the center of your garage just won’t do.

    Follow All Local Building Codes, Including Fire Resistance

    Most municipalities have specific fire-resistance codes regarding drywall installation in a living space connected to your garage. Make sure that your architect specifies the correct type of drywall (usually 5/8”) and that the contractor follows all code requirements.


    There’s a good chance that your garage, since it is not surrounded by living spaces, is poorly insulated (or not at all). When building above the garage, make sure the existing garage is also insulated so that you don’t waste a lot of money on energy leaking into the garage and out of your home. Your conditioned and/or heated air within the new living space will quickly leak into an uninsulated garage, so this step is important for maintaining comfort and saving on electricity.

    Can We Get There from Here?

    Consider in advance the best way to access the new space. Will it be an additional family space (bedroom, activity room, etc.) that should be accessed within the house via another room or hallway? You don’t want the occupant of a new bedroom to have to enter through someone else’s bedroom, a bathroom, or a closet! Will the new room be a guest or in-law suite that should have a private entrance? Will outdoor access then be required and should it be accessible to someone with mobility challenges? These questions may also be subject to local or state building codes.

    Make the most of the footprint of your home by considering expanding upward from your garage. You’ll add value in addition to a great new space for your family to enjoy!