Have you thought about converting an attached or detached garage into an ADU, aka accessory dwelling unit, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Construction in general can be a daunting task to take on as we know this from personal experience! If you are exploring your options for a garage conversion, you need to check out these 5 tips for homeowners before breaking ground!

Hire An Architect & GC That Have History Together

This is probably the most important starting point when shopping around architects and general contractors. In your initial design stage with the architect, it will be best if you can involve your GC so that they can advise on any associated costs specific to your design. Given that fact that the work would be done permitted, there are some coding requirements that could affect your design and overall functionality. Our best advise is to hire an architect and GC that have a history of working together. Not only will this streamline the design process, but will also create transparency in the construction stage and potential save you thousands down the road.

Reverse Engineer Your Design

When thinking about the design of your space, it’s important to be budget focused to start and then consider the functionality of the space along with the resale factors. As most ADU conversions are for small spaces often 500 square feet or less, practical storage and functional design are just as important as visual atheistic. For example, some spaces do not have the room for a dishwasher or kitchen island and in some cases an over the range microwave. Consider what’s important to you, but also think about what people generally need in their day to day lives. Big windows and doors allow lots of natural light in to help make it feel bigger. Don’t forget storage is key, a deep sink for washing dishes is a must, and a washer and dryer is essential for most. If your space doesn’t allow for it, there is the possibility of constructing an outdoor shed to house them! 

Order Supplies Early

Because of the Covid pandemic, international and domestic supply chains have been greatly affected and sourcing supplies is taking way longer than expected. From lumber and copper, to windows and doors, as well as appliances, almost every delivery date was estimated to be up to 6-8 weeks and in some cases sold out. Because of these delays, it’s important that you order supplies early and plan for construction delays. Another thing to note, is that we have been experiencing delays with inspections because of the construction demand, so this could push your completion date back a bit.

Walk Through Space on a Weekly Basis

I am a big believer in overseeing the project and ensuring that your design plans are executed properly. Even though you will have a GC managing the subcontractors, they are not  typically on site everyday and there are little things that could be done without their knowledge that could affect your overall look or functionality of the space. To avoid any costly changes or eye sours design related, you should walk through the site on a weekly basis to make sure that the plans are being followed and are in line with your design goals.

Prepare for Change Orders!

There are most definitely going to be some surprises that arise during the construction process. Whether it be excavation for utilities, something structural or foundation related,  always prepare and set aside extra budget for the unknown that could arise during the process. Remember, general contractors can’t see what’s going on with existing plumbing, electrical, insulation or framing until the demolition begins, so it’s important to be ready for any change orders that could arise to your estimate. A good rule of thumb is to expect for costs to increase by 25% and for timing to be delayed to up to twice as long as you originally expect.

If you’re thinking of doing an ADU and want a free consultation on how it could affect your home value, send me a message so we can connect. I’d be more than happy to refer you to any vendors necessary as well!