Amazing Studio Garage Apartments: What To Know About Converting a Garage in Orange County

According to a recent Housing Survey, around 80 percent of American households have a garage or carport. Nonetheless, the majority of people do not utilize them for parking. For many, these are merely disorganized storage areas. 

Consider that a two-car garage can comprise about 10-15 percent of a home’s total square footage area. Converting your garage into a studio garage apartment is a terrific idea if you want to make better use of the space you have, as many of us do now that the workforce has shifted toward remote work. A contractor that specializes in garage conversion may assist you in creating a beautiful, pleasant, and functional new living space. Here are some pointers on what to anticipate.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and San Diego Counties with reliable contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about creating garage apartments out of their existing spaces – here are some ideas & tips to get you started.

What is a garage apartment used for?

garage bedroom

In recent years, California’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) restrictions have been significantly loosened, making it easier to rent them out for extra money. In Orange County and Southern California, where rents are at an all-time high, even a studio apartment may fetch over $2,000 per month.

Even if income is not your major motivation for converting your garage into an apartment, there may still be a financial advantage. For some families, it may make sense to establish an elegant studio apartment to house elderly grandparents or to accommodate a nanny or live-in housekeeper.

In addition, a garage studio apartment may serve as a man cave/she shed, home office, home gym, music studio, and more. At the end of the day, the area is yours. Why not maximize the situation?

How much does converting a garage/carport into a studio apartment cost?

garage apartment living room

In Orange County, You can expect to pay between $90,000 and $125,000 to convert a garage into a studio, while costs may vary based on your location, the size of the project, and the materials you choose. Additional elements, such as whether you’re constructing a two-story home or installing plumbing, will also impact the total cost of your garage conversion.

Because of the substantial expenditure involved in a project of this nature, many homeowners may require financing or a loan in order to finish a garage apartment. Since an increasing number of lenders offer ADU loan programs, there are a variety of alternatives to examine. They include home equity lines of credit, home equity loans, cash-out refinancing, remodeling loans, and construction loans, among others.

Tips for selecting the best garage conversion contractor in OC

garage apartment kitchen

With the costs associated with creating a studio garage apartment, as well as the fact that you want this to be a secure and comfortable living space, it is essential to engage with a contractor that possesses the knowledge and expertise necessary to ensure the success of this project.

Best case, you should receive at least three bids from contractors; and ensure that these contractors have appropriate expertise with garage apartment conversions, preferably in your city. Developing a scope checklist that details all of your needs and specifications can save you from incurring unexpected overruns and costs as the project develops. Also, it is essential to inquire with each contractor about how and where on your property they suggest running utilities, as well as the accompanying expenses to do so. Contractors’ bids will be more accurate the more comprehensive your checklist and communications are.

So, what should your scope checklist include? Typical examples include the installation of new sewer lines, water, and gas lines; rough construction elements such as the foundation, framing, windows, and doors; kitchen and bathroom construction and appliances; and site elements such as landscaping, fencing, and hardscaping. 

Frequently, fixtures, finishes, and appliances are not included in a proposal, therefore it may be required to budget for these additional costs while considering your bids. Start investigating these materials as soon as feasible; delaying the selection of your preferred items might result in delays and expense overruns.

At GreatBuildz, we make it simple for Orange County and Southern California residents to connect with garage conversion specialists who have been thoroughly vetted.

Related: 10 Best Tips For Finding an ADU Contractor in Los Angeles

How can I start the conversion of a garage into a studio apartment?

garage apartment

The initial step in planning a garage-to-apartment conversion is to visit with one or two contractors to receive an estimate of the budget. Next, you must employ a small architect or design firm to create blueprints. These experts will discuss your objectives with you; do you want your garage studio to feature a bedroom and a bathroom? Will this apartment be rentable? — and utilize your feedback to showcase several ideas.

After finalizing your designs, the architect will submit them to the city’s building department for compliance review with all applicable building codes. During this approval process, which typically lasts between two weeks to a few months, you may begin discussing your garage-to-studio conversion designs with garage conversion contractors and soliciting bids.

How long does the construction of a garage apartment take?

apartment interior

After the building begins, the duration of the project is estimated to be between three and five months. The contractor and his crew will need to dig trenches in the yard to install sewage and water lines, despite the fact that it may appear that the majority of the work will be confined within the garage. In other words, landscaping tasks should be postponed until after the garage conversion is complete.

In addition, your local electric and gas utility may need time to place your meter, which might potentially lengthen the period before your garage studio apartment is ready for occupancy. Speak to your garage conversion contractor about the timeline of your project so that you can be prepared in advance for anything that might arise. Also, make sure to select and purchase all your finished materials as early in the process as possible…so that material delays don’t hamper the project.

Either way, you’ll need to acquire insurance coverage immediately for your new garage apartment. Although some homeowner’s insurance plans include “additional structures,” the coverage level is insufficient for a full accessory housing unit. In addition, some lenders will need you to obtain a Course of Construction coverage, which protects against fire, theft, and vandalism.

When it comes to converting your existing space into a studio garage apartment, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your renovation experience.


GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. Call now (818.839.6855) to chat with a real person about your next remodel project or visit our website for more information:

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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