Garages with loft spaces are one of the unsung heroes of the home world. Seriously, they are often the most overlooked, underutilized parts of a home. However, adding a loft to your garage, or revamping the existing space, is one of the best things you can do for your home’s overall value, but also for yourself.
Since you are building up not out, you will often find that the project doesn’t come with as large of a price tag as you might think. Plus, you won’t overcrowd your property at all, since your garage’s footprint typically won’t increase, either.
That said, here are five of our favorite ways to transform your unused garage loft space into rooms that don’t just add resale value to your home, but also add value to your everyday life, too.
How to Build a Garage Loft
There are two main ways to create a garage loft. The first is simply adding a more traditional open loft to your garage through a wooden platform with stairs or a small ladder leading up to it. This option is easier to DIY and would likely function as a secondary attic for storage purposes; you probably wouldn’t want to spend time hanging out in this space.
However, in most other cases, building a garage loft is a bit more involved process. This is because you are essentially adding a second story to your garage. Unless you are a very savvy DIYer, for this level of work, you will probably need to enlist the help of a general contractor.
They will be able to help you assess your plans and decide whether your current garage can support a second-story loft, or if it would be in your best interest to tear down your current garage and build a new, two-story building in its place.
The costs for this process can vary significantly depending on the path that your contractor advises you to take, as well as the amenities you would like present in your loft. Things like plumbing, electricity, and the number of rooms can really raise the price.
This simple garage plan has a simple drop-down stair for attic access. This is a great way to utilize storage space for holiday decorations or other items you only use for a small portion of the year. Plan #142-1412
The number one thing to transform your garage loft space into is a home office. COVID-19 changed the way many of us work. Even if you are no longer working remotely full time, there is a possibility that you are on a hybrid schedule, or that at least one member of your household is.
If you have more than one person trying to work from home at the same time, finding a quiet place to take a meeting can be very difficult. You don’t want to have to compete with your spouse for the one good spot with WIFI or a socially acceptable background.
Even worse, you do get to claim that spot, but the entire time you are on your call, your dog is barking at joggers running past, or your children are fighting over the TV remote. It’s better to just set up your own space away from the chaos, so you can actually get some work done.
Even if you don’t work from home, everyone needs their own office space to be able to focus and get other household chores accomplished, like paying bills, filing taxes, or even researching hotels for an upcoming vacation in peace and quiet.
This fabulous loft space has a catwalk to the office area and French doors to the covered patio where a ping-pong table and TV are set up for entertaining. The 5-bedroom luxury plan has over 7,500 square feet of living space, 5 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, a 5-car garage, flex space, and a home theatre. Plan #193-1125
Man Cave / She-Shed
If you want a space for rest and relaxation and to just get away from it all, then building a loft in your garage to use as a man cave or she-shed is one of the best choices you can make. Traditionally, a man cave is typically a converted garage, used by the man of the house and his friends to catch the game, enjoy a drink, or just hang out. But, if you use the loft of the garage, you don’t have to give up storing your car (or tools) indoors to have such a space.
The same could be said for a she-shed, a space for women to gather and relax away from the hubbub of the home and enjoy time doing what they like. Typically, these have been popping up as custom-built structures in the backyard, however, using the garage loft for such a place is typically less expensive as you can build up, not out. It’s also easier to add plumbing, electricity, and other creature comforts to a garage loft than to a new structure, too.
Although this she-shed is a separate structure, it will certainly inspire you to create your own she-shed or man-cave above the garage. With a kitchen area for serving up refreshments and a loft for game time, this 224 square foot Cottage inspired shed plan has everything you need to get away. Plan #100-1364
Another great way to use your garage loft space is by turning it into a hobby room. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us turned to hobbies like woodworking, gardening, painting, computer programing, and even collecting to occupy us while we stayed at home.
As the world began to open up again, many also found that not only did we want to continue pursuing our new hobbies, but the supplies for the activity had taken up a significant portion of our home. This is why having a dedicated space to house what we enjoy is such a good idea, particularly if the rest of our households don’t partake in the same hobby.
If you are an artist, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after yourself if you set up your studio in your garage loft, nor will musicians need to worry about the amount of noise they make. If you need a room modified to certain specifications, like soundproofing or temperature control, it’s much easier to make changes and additions to your existing garage loft than it is to remodel a room in your house. It’s also easier than building another structure on your property entirely from scratch.
If no one in your household has a particular interest in a certain hobby or doesn’t need that much extra space, then you can think about turning the loft into a more general entertainment or recreation room. Perhaps with a table for game nights, or activities for visiting grandchildren to enjoy when you need a few moments of quiet.
If going up and down stairs would be difficult, then you can always go out. This one-car garage plan has a workshop, full bath, mudroom, and rec area that can be used for whatever your hobbies are; all on one level. Plan #108-2061
Another way to use your garage loft space is by getting rid of your off-site storage and consolidating everything at home instead. This is a particularly good option if you don’t want to insulate your loft, or even close it off entirely from the rest of your garage.
If you have holiday decorations that you only access once a year, beach items like chairs, umbrellas, or even surfboards, or perhaps a racing bike or two, a garage loft is a great place to keep them until you need them next. The same could be said for furniture you don’t have a place for in the house.
Sometimes we might keep things like this in our attics, but they quickly become cluttered and crowded, as most attics require you to climb up a precarious set of stairs to access them and have low, uneven ceilings.
You might find that when you custom build easy-to-access storage space, you actually start using the items you tucked away more often, just because they are now way easier to get to. So, taking them out isn't such a hassle anymore.
The bonus room on the second level of this 3-car garage plan is the perfect place to store seasonal items. As you can see in the upper-level floor plan below the stairs to the storage area provide easy access so it won’t be such a hassle to pull out those beach umbrellas. Plan #142-1248
This is one of the greatest ways to utilize your garage loft space. A loft apartment can have many functions, including a mother-in-law suite, an extra guest room, or even a full apartment to rent out to secure extra passive income. However, if you do plan to rent out the space, there are more regulations you will need to adhere to, so be sure to look up all of your local safety ordinances and landlord responsibilities well in advance of starting construction.
Either way, to make the loft comfortable for sleeping for both guests and potential tenants, you will need to ensure it is properly insulated and outfitted for temperature control, as garages typically don’t have either of these qualities at the beginning.
Next, consider the plumbing capabilities of the space. Are you installing a full kitchen and bathroom? Or just a toilet and sink for those staying in the bedroom to use, plus a small kitchenette similar to what you might find in a mid-level hotel room? Considering the footprint of your loft space, be realistic about what will fit, what you can afford, and what will offer the best return on investment. Then, you can move forward from there.
This 2-car garage plan would make wonderful guest quarters or a rental. The 739 square feet of living space on the second floor includes two bedrooms, a full bath, a kitchen, a great room, and a covered balcony to enjoy the view – your guests may never want to leave! Plan #108-2060
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