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Thread: Considering Making My Detached Garage into a Studio...

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Fred Duggan's Avatar
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    Default Considering Making My Detached Garage into a Studio...

    Hello -

    I appreciate any direction any of you can give me...I'm a recent first-time homeowner, and trying to figure this stuff out on my own is not as easy as I expected. I will try to keep this brief...

    I have a detached garage, which is Cinder Block construction with a slab floor. It's about 20ft from my house. It's probably 40+ years old. When we bought this house, the Real Estate Agent gave me the idea that we could convert the garage into a DADU, and make money with it. His estimate of what that could cost was $50,000...but everything I've found out since then makes me believe this is very optimistic. One contractor estimated "low end" of $175,000. That seems crazy high. I could afford $50k, maybe $75k...but even if I could afford $175k, I would never make my money back for it to make a wise investment.

    So, my first question is if anyone has any experience doing something like this in the Seattle area? I can do some of the work myself (sheetrock, painting) but all I am looking for is a studio apartment, one bathroom, 0 bedrooms, kitchenette...very simple living space that's about 500 sq ft.

    Secondly, if it turns out that the DADU is too expensive for us, I would still like to upgrade the space. I would like to get plumbing installed, with at least a sink and some hot water. There is already some electricity, but maybe some heating. This way I could use it as n art studio year round.

    So my questions about this process:

    Do I need a permit to plumb my garage for a sink? How much is the permit?
    Do I blueprints of the house?
    Does it make sense to install just do a sink/drain? If the permit process is the same for a whole bathroom, maybe I should at least rough one in? If it's much cheaper to just do a sink, I would do that.
    Anyone have a similar project to compare prices for just the plumbing?
    Once the room has a sink (or bathroom), I assume I could then insulate it and hang sheetrock, to make it just one big room? Or is that a new permit?

    I think that's all my questions for now...though I am sure I will have more.

    (excuse the instagram picture...it's all I had).

    Thanks!
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  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Fred Duggan's Avatar
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    Default

    Sorry - DADU is what the codes call backyard cottages. I would call it a mother-in-law, but I thought I'd use the fancy terminology from the Seattle DPD.

  4. #4
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If you add a bathroom, I would install tub/shower, toilet, and lav, with a kitchen sink on the same plumbing wall facing the other room. That keeps all of the plumbing in one wall.
    You really only need to add the plumbing, the rest can stay open. You may need to upgrade the electrical for the water heating. With a small unit like that, it's easier if the water heating is with a tank style electric water heater. Using gas adds a lot of safety issues in a small living space like that.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default

    What is your definition of a DADU, because I doubt that it is a data accumulation and dispersal unit? Almost ANYTHING you do to the garage will require a permit because the powers that be will want to make sure your tax base is adjusted so they can raise your taxes. You could tear that garage down and build a fairly large "house" for $175,000.00. Even 50,000.00 seems high for the limited amount you could do to that small area.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member Fred Duggan's Avatar
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    Hi Terry - thanks for your response. We are neighbors...are you interested in giving me a quote for this job?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    If you add a bathroom, I would install tub/shower, toilet, and lav, with a kitchen sink on the same plumbing wall facing the other room. That keeps all of the plumbing in one wall.
    You really only need to add the plumbing, the rest can stay open. You may need to upgrade the electrical for the water heating. With a small unit like that, it's easier if the water heating is with a tank style electric water heater. Using gas adds a lot of safety issues in a small living space like that.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member Fred Duggan's Avatar
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    A DADU (back yard cottage) must be less than (I think) 800 sq ft and must otherwise be up to code. I just wanted like a studio apartment, if you can find someone to build me one for $50k...I'll be your best friend!! Haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    What is your definition of a DADU, because I doubt that it is a data accumulation and dispersal unit? Almost ANYTHING you do to the garage will require a permit because the powers that be will want to make sure your tax base is adjusted so they can raise your taxes. You could tear that garage down and build a fairly large "house" for $175,000.00. Even 50,000.00 seems high for the limited amount you could do to that small area.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member dj2's Avatar
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    First find out from your bldg dept, if GARAGE CONVERSION can be done in your city and under what conditions.

    If yes, then you proceed with drawings/plans, get them approved and get a permit. In my city a permit is inexpensive. But property taxes are.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member Fred Duggan's Avatar
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    Yes, I know it's allowed. I just am faced with a chicken/egg situation. I don't want to pay an architect if the construction will cost >$100k, but I can't get a good handle on the cost without getting an architect to draw it up.

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I said you could build one for less than $175,000.00, NOT $50,000.00. For 50k, you just get a super deluxe remodel of the existing building. One question would be whether the garage is constructed to the standards for a livable structure. Many times the floor is poured on the ground without the requisite footings, meaning when you have a heated interior, the floor may heave and buckle.
    Last edited by hj; 03-26-2014 at 07:01 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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