How to Convert a Garage into a Bedroom on the Cheap

On average, converting your garage into a bedroom adds about 600 square feet of space to your home. Garage conversion circumvents the need for a lengthy, cost-intensive home addition, but it can still run $10,000 to $50,000, unless you do it on the cheap. There is no one right way to convert a garage space into a living space inexpensively, but there are ways to save at every point in the project.

Clean garage
credit: RobertCrum/iStock/Getty Images
Clean garage with painted concrete slab floor.

The Ground Level

Typically, a garage offers one cost-friendly benefit right off the bat -- it has a concrete slab floor, which easily accommodates carpeting or floating wood flooring. If you're faced with a potentially expensive excavation of the garage floor, though, setting lintels just below ground level often serves as an affordable solution. Starting at about $1.85 per square foot, as of 2014 prices, vinyl tiles offer an easy-to-install and cost-effective flooring option. If you live an a warm region, staining the existing concrete to make for a cool, breezy floor with a visual interesting patina has a similar cost.

Walls and Windows

Your garage will likely need insulation to make it into a cozy bedroom; by reducing the amount of construction required, blown-in insulation offers a cost-conscious option. If your garage has single-course brick walls -- common of older structures -- real estate agent Nigel Lewis recommends building independent stud walls and mounting them about 3 inches from the existing walls to easily and affordably accommodate insulation and plasterboard. The Family Handyman website calls drywall the most economical option for covering your garage ceiling, and the easiest. Go with value-priced 5/8-inch-thick drywall if you have rafters spaced at 24 inches. Although they may cost a bit more upfront, choosing energy-efficient windows and doors will save you money in the long run.

The Accoutrements

If you plan to run air conditioning in your garage conversion, extending your home's existing ductwork into the garage is the most affordable renovation option. Electric baseboards are also cost-effective upon installation but will have a bigger impact on your electric bill. To reduce heating and cooling costs, ensure that your garage has about 1 square foot of vent opening per 300 square feet of attic space, if it has an attic. For a wallet-friendly way to make your new bedroom feel more spacious, use light-colored paint and mount mirrors in the room.

More to Consider

In regard to real estate value, the new bedroom -- if well-constructed -- can generate a first-year return on investment of up to 78 percent of its initial cost. Homewyse recommends limiting your garage conversion budget to 2.1 percent of your home's total estimated value after the conversion to maximize your return. Planning your garage conversion without the need for an additional bathroom also helps reduce cost. If your garage shares a wall with an existing bathroom, install a connecting door.