Rarely See the Inside of Your Garage?

I’m sure you’ve heard neighbors, friends, and others in your community talking about ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). They’re a hot commodity…and for good reason! Whether a tiny unit behind the home, an “In-Law Suite”, or a cool hang-out spot for kids, a new construction or conversion could become an asset to your property, finances, and community. Perhaps you need additional income each month, have an itch to design and lose yourself in Pinterest boards, or you’re an empty-nester with a longing to reactivate your maternal/paternal hospitality. Whatever the reason, ADUs can be a great option for home-owners around the world.

In the Bay Area, architectural character is not lacking. We love our friendly Victorians, Cedar shake siding, weaving stairways up home-speckled hills, and front porches, shaded by Magnolia and Lemon trees…but, is your garage too small for your SUV? If so, you’re probably not alone. Times have changed, presenting opportunities for creative repurposing!

Let’s zoom in on that specific type of ADU…the Garage Conversion. There are many benefits to repurposing a garage, whether attached or detached. Whether for creating opportunities for additional income, gaining the privacy of a detached office, or housing an aging parent, a converted garage could be a life-giving and profitable addition to consider. However, no matter how many potential benefits, the on-taking of an ADU project requires responsible research and realistic budgeting.

It is important to understand that “ADU” is a broad term, including several unique scenarios for the overall process, timeline, and costs of permitting, upgrades, remodeling, materials, etc. For instance, converting a detached garage is a very different project than the design/build for a new structure or converting an existing area in your home. It is also important to be aware that city codes often require more alterations and upgrades than may be anticipated, so be ready to adjust your expectations for timeline and budget to fit the reality of your project’s needs.

To help illustrate some potential budget-boosting and/or design-altering factors, here are a few examples to consider:

  • If the existing structure is within 5 feet of a property line, the wall parallel to the property line will need to be fire-rated. This is not hard, but does require the existing siding to be removed.
  • Insulation in the walls likely needs to include continuous R-10 insulation, either inside or outside of the walls. If on the inside, this alteration will shrink usable space.
  • If the existing structure is no longer in-line with code, there may be upgrades and replacements required for foundations, concrete slabs, roofing, etc.

Interested in learning more about the step-by-step for converting a garage?

Follow this link for a helpful walk-through of the process:


Streamline Your Project:

Interested in diving into the ADU conversion process, but unsure about handling the unpleasantries of permitting, code requirements, and general management? Let Drafting Cafe help move things along with professional guidance and know-how. We will ask the necessary questions before moving forward to ensure that your time is not wasted and that the experience is as efficient and enjoyable as possible.

Whether or not you choose to include Drafting Cafe…

Happy Trails to you in your ADU ventures!


Get in touch with us. We would love to help you get your project off the ground