Build That 2nd Floor Over the Garage and Expand Your Space

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? Do 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.

If your home is starting to feel crowded, you aren’t alone in feeling that way. Whether your family is growing larger, you’re sick of feeling claustrophobic, or you just want more space, a second-floor over your garage will be a great solution. With the expensive costs and immense effort required in moving, it’s normal to start feeling trapped when every inch of your house is full. If you feel unsure where to turn to make the most of your space, keep reading.

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

Raise the Roof on Your Garage

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

It's cheaper than buying another home

It's an investment you can recoup when you sell your home someday

It’s adaptable and could be transformed into a studio apartment to rent out

Need more reasons to start building? Take a look at these 6 reasons to add a studio apartment over the garage.

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

Step 1 – Know the Basics First

Each municipality requires that residents follow specific regulations for building permits and home expansion. The costs and requirements of your building project will vary from municipality to municipality, so you’ll want to be sure you know what to expect before you embark on your big building project.

For example, all municipalities have specific rules about the height of buildings as well as clearances, property lines, and neighborhood rules. Some municipalities even have very specific rules that will dictate every detail of the way your home must look.

If you want to cut some corners when it comes to grueling paperwork, 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 – Have a Plan

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?

While it’s easy to get excited about the project and to imagine the final, finishing touches, and décor, the hard work begins when the inspiration fades. Most people undertaking a project like building a second floor above the garage aren’t bankers, real estate agents, or construction workers. They’re regular people who have to jump through many hoops, performing extensive research at every step of the building process.

Making major changes to your home, your biggest investment should be done cautiously. Take the time to sit down with someone who will keep a cool head.

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 will you have to live in your house to expect a reasonable recoup on your investment at resale?

What to ask yourself:

Will this investment require a lot of sacrifices? Will you be able to enjoy your favorite activities, or will the rebuild put those things on hold for several years?

Are your neighborhood and your city a good place to invest in an expansion? Consider resale value. Is the local economy booming with an influx of people moving in? If not, it might not be worth it.

Is your relationship with your family strong? Renovations tend to put a strain on family life. If you’ve completed projects together peacefully before (especially projects that are similar in scope to this one), you can likely proceed with realistic expectations and loads of patience. If not, think about it a little more.

According to, adding a second story above your garage will 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 two rooms - a bedroom, and a music room. They also decided to change the exterior finish of the house.

Step 3 – Make Those Lists and Dream Those Dreams

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

Wait until you have a moment alone with your partner. And start dreaming together!

Don’t hold any ideas back, no matter how extravagant or unrealistic they may seem. Don't be judgmental of one another’s ideas, and refrain from criticizing. Just start making 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?

Are you planning to access this room from inside the house? Or would you prefer a separate entrance? If this space becomes a master suite, you’ll want your peace and quiet… but you’ll also still want to keep an eye on your kiddos!

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

Do 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.

The choice between a separate versus a conjoined entrance depends largely on whether ease of access or increased privacy is more important to you.

Keep in mind that 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 the 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

There are many constructional aspects to consider when it comes to adequate plumbing and electricity. For example, if you’re using this extra space as an add-on for a master suite, do you want plumbing for a full bathroom? If it will be a teen hangout, it may require a half-bath, refrigerator, and dining area with a sink.

On the other hand, if you want to build a small apartment or independent living space to rent out, check the existing electrical outlets, plumbing, and ventilation in the house with the professional help of some specialists. Consider your must-haves and non-negotiables that will require electricity. And don’t forget about Internet access!

It’s essential that you think through everything you’ll want and need, and then provide that information to the designer or the architect who will 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?

Eventually, your children will know that it’s time to leave the nest. As you grow older yourself, you may find that you no longer want to climb steep stairs to reach your bedroom. Whether it’s due to bad knees or other variables, you may end up wanting a bedroom on the main floor of your home.

While that point may seem like a long way off, start making decisions now that will make that day easier when it comes! Think about it and communicate your ideas with the professional who will take care of your plan. Knowledge means planning ahead. Plan to maximize your space and your investment so that it doesn’t become obsolete tomorrow.

4. Any thoughts about the exterior look?

It’s tempting to keep adding more sub-projects "while we're at it", but a balance has to be struck between creativity (and its price tag) and pinching pennies to stick to your budget.

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.

One consideration here is to avoid the "mismatched" effect of a project that wasn’t completed well. It won’t be aesthetically pleasing in your neighborhood, and it will hurt the resale value of your home. It’s often a worthwhile investment to hire a professional to look at the whole exterior to give advice on creating a cohesive look.

Be sure to 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, it will be 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 four 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 a shower and bath.

It may seem like a loss of living space to have sloped ceilings, rooflines, and dormers intruding on your new room. However, it can bring new creativity to the space! For example, imagine utilizing sharp angles for unique storage solutions, such as bookcases, storage shelves, and drawers.

No matter which roof style you go with, the squared-off look isn’t very flattering on many houses. Instead, go with a more attractive exterior shape and try to create a charming interior that maximizes every space.

Step 4 – Bring Your Inspiration Together

Explore different sources of inspiration for ideas on decoration and style. You can find great inspiration through Pinterest, flipping through magazines, or scrolling through Instagram. No matter how you choose to do it, creating a mood board will help you explain to 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.

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 & Gardensoffers 25 solutions for unusual spaces.

Look closely and think out of the box. For example, maybe you aren’t planning to build a kitchen in your new space, but you adore the look of a set of cabinets in a picture you stumbled across. Images like that could become the cornerstone of inspiration for your storage furniture. You may have been drawn in by the colors, furniture, or other aspects of the image. No matter the reason, share every spark of inspiration before it passes!

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, four-lite Orion windows

Step 5 – Don’t Forget about Your Fourth Wall

Once you have an idea of the look and usability you've dreamed of for your space, don't neglect your fourth 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. 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 as well as your energy bills!

If you have a good garage door that lacks windows, consider adding natural light! It is both practical for your garage and great for mental health! Here’s how you can add windows to your garage door without purchasing a brand new one.

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.

Are you ready to replace that aging garage door?

If you’re answering “yes,” contact a 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, at Allison's Manufacturing Ltd,we can email you a quotation promptly.

Want to get advice from a real person? Call 506-622-3146.

It would be our pleasure to answer any and all of your questions.

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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