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Garage Renovation Pointers

This stunning guest suite used to be a garage attic.

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A garage for guests as well as cars.

The upper floor of this two-story garage was remodeled as a guest suite.

Before a garage attic can be converted to a living area, it must meet certain requirements. Primarily, it must be large enough for occupancy.

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A triangular grid of windows offers an inspiring view and accents the upswept angles of the structure's original roofline.

Building codes. Most building codes require at least 90 inches of clear height over half the proposed floor space. To gain enough headroom, your project can include dormers, which substantially increase the amount of code-compliant floor space and provide excellent daylight and ventilation. If the roof ridge is not high enough, the garage roof can be raised and set on new walls, or torn completely off and rebuilt. However, many building codes and some housing development covenants restrict the height of new additions. Before planning an attic conversion, check local building codes.

Joist strength. If the attic floor joists were intended merely to carry the garage ceiling, they may not be strong enough to serve as the floor of a living area. An architect or building contractor must determine if joists need strengthening.

All the necessities.

Stairways. Gaining access to attic living areas means finding a location for a permanent stairway, either inside or outside your home. A straight run of 15 stairs requires about 120 square feet of floor space. Consult an architect or design professional to help solve this tricky problem.

Guests will find this cabinet handy with the essentials -- a small refrigerator, hot plate, teapot and welcoming bottle of wine.

A comfortable floor plan.

Although compressed into only 560 square feet, the guest suite includes a sitting area, bed, bathroom, and storage.

A first-floor, airlock entry helps seal the upper level against cold and fumes from the garage.

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