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What Is a Garage Apartment, and Is It the Right Investment for You?

Airbnb made this home improvement project more popular, but the pandemic created a spike in demand to convert garages to livable space for family members -- fast.

[Updated: Apr 28, 2021 ] May 31, 2020 by Lena Katz
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Pros Cons

• More living space square footage.
• Better use of space.
• No need to add on to the house -- can just build in the existing structure. Potential rental income.
• Often has its own outdoor entry/exit in addition to the door to the main house.

• Can be pricier than expected.
• Should be done legally, which can involve some hassle -- if DIY unpermitted, can create issues later.
• Will not necessarily add value to the home, and may decrease it if done unpermitted.
• Garage parking is eliminated -- will need to use the driveway or other areas.
• One-room conversions require occupants to use other areas of the house for bathing, toilet, food, and laundry.
Pros Cons

• Comparable cost to renting a room in a house.
• Can offer more privacy (private entrance) than renting a room.
• Some garage apartments are full ADUs with bathroom and kitchenette.
• Landlords live on property for easy access when something's broken.

• Landlords live on property and are privy to all your movements.
• Some garage apartments forever retain their previous characteristics; e.g., smell, sloping floor.
• Simple one-bedroom conversions require renters to enter the main house often.
• As a popular DIY project, many garage apartments are unpermitted and therefore not up to code with electric, HVAC, insulation, etc.