Need space? Build a 2nd floor over your garage!

Face it - spending more and more time at home makes the walls seem to be closing in on us. Wouldn't you love to have your own gym? Your teenagers need a little place of their own? Or maybe a game room, music room, yoga room, an office that's a little less "at home" or a personal oasis for a master bedroom more like a large hotel suite? We all dream of having more space.

Moving is expensive. Plus, you love your neighborhood and so do your kids! Every inch of your house is taken up. You're not sure where to turn with everyone stepping on each other's toes?

A traditional home gets a second floor over its garage. Great results!

Build a 2nd floor over your garage!

Whether it is attached or detached from your house, adding on to your garage is a winning solution.

  • It's not as expensive as buying another home: Increasing your current mortgage is often more advantageous than changing it.
  • It's an investment that you will probably be able to recoup when you sell your home.
  • In the event of a financial problem (such as a job loss),this additional space, if well thought out, could be transformed into a studio apartment for rent and help you make ends meet.

Still not convinced? Read these 6 reasons to add a studio apartment over the garage.

So now are you raring to go? But first, here are 5 things not to overlook to make your renovation project a success.

Step 1 – Rules are rules!

Before you start dreaming or spending any money, contact your municipality and check the regulations that must be respected for your project.

Each municipality has its own regulations regarding building permits and home expansion, and the costs associated with them are also different. All municipalities have rules about the height of buildings and clearances to respect in relation to the property lines separating you and your neighbors. Some municipalities have very specific rules that go into every detail of the way your home looks.

Hate paperwork and want to cut corners? Check out this infographic, published in Michael McDermott's article on CRD Design Build:

Infographic - 6 Reasons why you should'nt  do home improvements without permits

Step 2 – Time to Get Real!

What is your mortgage like? How much do homes in your neighborhood sell for? What's the "sweet spot" between a great investment and the expenses you can never recoup?

We are not bankers. Nor are we real estate agents. We often get excited about the project itself. Maybe even only for the final finishing touches and decorating. Having had to spend much more time at home than in the past, many of us dream of making it more comfortable.

With the extraordinary times we have been experiencing, making changes to our home, our biggest investment, should be done cautiously. Take the time to sit down with someone who will keep a cool head. And count.

What to ask your bank’s credit specialist:

  • How much is the bank willing to add to your mortgage?
  • What will this raise your monthly payments to?
  • How many years will be added to your mortgage?
  • How long do you have to live in this house to expect to recoup your investment at resale?

What to ask yourself:

  • Will this investment involve a lot of sacrifice? Will you still be able to do activities, go to restaurants, travel? Will this situation last for several years?
  • Are your neighborhood and city good places to invest in an expansion, in terms of resale value?
  • Is your relationship strong? Renovations, even with an excellent contractor, and even without unpleasant surprises, add stress to your family life. If you see it as an exciting project, then GO AHEAD! If not, think about it a little more.

According to, adding second story above your garage cost between $300 and $500 per square foot.

Split-level house where the carport is transformed into a closed garage. The sidings are changed too.

Planimage photo – The project: The owners of this split-level house wanted to turn their carport into a closed garage above which there would be 2 rooms - a bedroom and a music room. They also decided to change the exterior finish of the house.

Step 3 – Dream. Think things over. And make lists!

Still there? Not too discouraged? Here's an exciting step.

Put the kids to bed. Take out a bottle of wine or make yourself an herbal tea. Sit down with your spouse. And dream!

At this stage, don't hold back. List all your most extravagant ideas. Don't be judgmental. Don't criticize your ideas. Just make lists.

Some food for thought - 5 practical considerations

1. How to access the new space above the garage

Attached garage

Traditional 2-storey grey brick house with master bedroom above the garage

Planimage photo – The Project: Adding a 2nd floor to the entire house allowed for a loft above the garage. A balcony was added in the front.

Depending on how the new space will be used, what is the best way to access it?

Do you want to be able to access this room from the house? For example, if it becomes your "master suite". You want your peace and quiet, but you still want to keep an eye on your children!

Stone and wood traditional1-story home with a North Hatley LP, color Sand, and windows

You like the look of this garage door? It's a 9' x 7', North Hatley LP design, in Desert Sand, windows with Richmond Inserts.

If the space becomes a home office, a gym, or a den for your teens, would you prefer to have a separate exterior access in order to preserve your personal privacy?

The most affordable option would be to access the room by an existing staircase in the house.

Detached garage

A charming traditional detached garage door with a second floor above the garage, a dormer.

Like this look? It’s Plan 69701 from Planimage

Indoor or outdoor staircase? Are you willing to sacrifice space on the main floor, where you store cars and have your workshop, to include a staircase so you never have to shovel off snow?

Whether you prefer Contemporary or Traditional Style, get inspiration on Pinterest. And take time to analyze the plans.

A traditional detached garage in wood and stones  with a second floor, dormers

Like this look? It’s Plan No G-28A from Planimage

2. Plumbing and electricity

Does your master suite include a full bathroom? Your teen hangout needs a half-bath, a fridge and a dining area with a sink? Are you planning to actually build a small apartment or loft? You'll need to check the existing water outlets, plumbing and ventilation in the house with a plumber and a ventilation specialist.

A home theater space, a freezer, a fridge, a stove, what are your must-haves that require electricity? And don't forget Internet access!

Being able to provide this information to the designer or the architect who will make your plan will allow him or her to arrange your new space efficiently and economically.

And, above all, don't try to make this plan yourself to save a few hundred dollars. The results will not measure up.

3. Multifunctional or evolving space?

Children will grow up and leave the nest. Eventually. You will grow older and may one day prefer to have a bedroom on the main floor of your home, near the kitchen. Okay. It seems a long way away. But time flies!

Think about it and talk to the professional who will take care of your plan. Knowledge means planning ahead. A second use in the present. A second life in the not-so-distant future. To maximize your space and your investment today and tomorrow.

4. Any thoughts about the exterior look?

The balance between the "while we're at it" and pinching pennies has to be struck.

In the case of attached garages, hoping to match the exterior siding, roof color, etc., of the extension to those of the house, whose colors may have changed over time is very risky.

And often, it doesn't turn out to be very attractive! The eye can see very well that it is an extension. Although you've invested a lot of money, people will be less interested in your house when you resell it. The "mismatched" effect is a deterrent. Having a professional look at the whole exterior is often a worthwhile investment.

At the same time, talk to this expert about ceiling heights, dormers, roofing options, etc.

From an aesthetic point of view, the roof can have several shapes. The living area will vary depending on the design of the roof. For some parts, the ceiling may be full size; for others, sloped with or without dormers.

High-end 2-storey house in stone

Planimage Photo – The Project: The garage was enlarged forward to make room for 4 cars. The addition of a 2nd floor to the garage allowed the construction of a complete and impressive suite with 2 walk-in closets and a full bathroom with shower and bath.

It may seem like a loss of living space to have sloped ceilings, roof lines, and dormers. Why not look at them differently and imagine storage space. Think built-in furniture like bookcases, shelves, drawers.

The goal to achieve? Remove the "square box " effect that makes the exterior of too many enlarged houses look ugly AND create an unusual and charming interior so that every space is maximized.

Step 4 – Create your own mood board!

When the unknowns have been decided, it's time to think about decoration and style. Whether it's only virtual, on a Pinterest board that you've created for yourself, or on paper because you'll always enjoy flipping through magazines, creating a mood board will really help you explain your designer or architect the style you're looking for.

What you have in mind when you say "Scandinavian" or "cottage style decors" or "rustic but modern" or simply "blue", may mean something completely different to someone else.

Visit Pinterest and your favorite decoration web sites. Checking out the websites of major hotels and trendy restaurants can also give you some fresh new ideas.

Be clever in your research. For example, Better Homes & Gardens offers 25 solutions for unusual spaces.

Look closely and think out of the box. You won’t build a kitchen in your new space, but you fell in love with the cabinets in a picture? They can become the inspiration for your storage furniture. Maybe it's the colors, the furniture, that spectacular dining room fixture?

Inspiration is everywhere. And can easily be carried from one room to another.

Country style house with 2 single garage doors in Classic CC design, Ice White color, and 4 lite Orion windows

Like the look of these doors? They’re 9' x 7', Standard+ Classic CC, in Ice White, 4 lite Orion windows

Step 5 – Your garage door – your 4th wall!

Once you have an idea of the look and usability you've dreamed of for your space, don't neglect your 4th wall.

Prestigious house with a double garage door in Eastman E-11 design, Black door and overlays, and panoramic windows

Is this look for you? It’s a 16’x8’, Eastman E-11, garage door, overlays and door in Black, 4 lite Panoramic windows.

Your garage door acts as a 4th wall underneath this new space you will occupy. So, when you're shopping, don't rely on just the R-value. Also pay close attention and ask questions to find out if your garage door is really energy efficient. After all, it’s essential for your comfort. And your energy bills!

Your garage door is almost new but has no windows? Letting in natural light is essential for mental health! Here's how to add windows to your Garaga garage door if it doesn't have any.

Don't forget that adding a 2nd floor to a garage means first making sure to add all the elements to make this place comfortable and pleasant to live in!

Modern house with a two car garage door in the Shaker-Modern XL design and Iron Ore Walnut color

Love new products and colors that are “in”? Here are 2 of them! The Shaker-Modern XL design and the Iron Ore Walnut color.

Replacing your garage door is on your list of must-dos?

Then contact a Garaga garage door specialist near you. Our experts can give you all the advice you need to make your garage door reflect your style, while meeting your insulation requirements.

Already know what your favorite door is?

If you’d like, we can email you a quotation promptly.

Want to try out a fun app?

Try the Design Centre to create your garage door in just a few clicks! Need to get inspired first? Browse our gallery.

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