In these lean economic times when affordable housing is at a premium, and those at the very beginning and the ending of their lives are most affected by a lack of housing options in their price range, adding living space to existing structures offers a viable alternative to rentals in overpriced apartment complexes or home buying in a tight mortgage market. For the do-it-yourselfer, the variety of garage apartment floor plans available offer an opportunity to turn underutilized spaces into extra accommodations and even a source of extra revenue.
Garage apartments—once referred to as “carriage houses” are not a recent innovation, but an old idea whose time seems once again to have come. Whether the need is for private living spaces for teens and young adults not able to transition into their own homes; aging parents no longer able to live completely independently; guest accommodations or office or hobby space there are an astonishing array of garage apartment floor plans on the market.
No matter the need, the decision to construct additional living space over an existing garage or construction of a new garage/apartment structure from the ground up brings with it several important considerations.
The first of these is budget. A careful study of the available financing for renovation and construction is necessary before shopping for garage floor plans should be undertaken. Knowing the budget in advance will streamline the selection of a workable plan that will match both your building skills and your pocket book.
One you have a budget established, your second consideration should be design. It is important to determine in advance the intended use of the space, the square footage available for the living space, as well as any restrictive features in an existing structure or the lot upon which you intend to build. It is equally important to seriously research design features, vital that you find a carriage house plan that represents your personality and that you can live with and be proud of for decades to come. Following fads may be fun, but the first consideration for any new space should be its livability.
Once you have settled on the features that you require your next consideration should be finding a source for plans that are comprehensive and all inclusive. It might be tempting to search the internet for “free floor plans”, but your blueprints and construction guide is the wrong place to attempt to scrimp and save money. Any set of building plans that you consider should provide complete information to avoid structural flaws and cost overruns. Plans should reflect and adhere to the strictures of local building codes as well.
There are a number of options available. A quick search of Amazon.com will reveal a number of books that offer not only design plans but practical advice on both new construction and renovation of existing spaces.
An internet search will reveal many sites dedicated the publishing and sale of floor plans in general. In perusing these sites, a list of the design features that you require and desire is your best guide to finding a plan that is reflective of both your personality and your needs. The best sites offer search engines that allow you to narrow your results based on features such as square footage, one/two/three car garage style; availability of modification to existing plan services and customization options.
Many of the garage apartment plan publishing sites offer something called “study sets”, which include fully dimensioned plans identical to blueprints, but which do NOT include a license to build the structure. These study sets are available at a reduced cost and can prove invaluable for conducting preliminary planning, obtaining quotes from plumbing and electrical trades people which you may wish to subcontract, estimation of construction material needs, budgetary planning, design modifications and development of site plans. These sets can give you a more realistic view of the scope of the work planned and can also provide a comparison of competing design options.