Last week I got a letter from Sylvia asking me to help her with her garage. She wrote that even though the building was structurally sound, it was too small to park a car in.  So it had now become the house closet, collecting junk for the last six years. Here is my answer to Sylvia’s dilemma:

What is sad about this situation, like many others, is that this unparkable structure you call a garage has been sitting on your property, accumulating taxes and not really benefiting you or your family in any way.

This could all change by simply taking the time to eliminate what’s sitting in the garage that has never and will never be used. Of course there are things like the lawnmower, the camping equipment and the summer furniture that you cannot live without. But these things can either be relocated to a shed or stored elsewhere.

There are many things that can be done to a garage without it costing a fortune. In your case, I suggest you convert your unused space into the much needed home office you mentioned in your letter. By doing this you are adding usable square footage to your home without adding square footage to your existing floor plan, which can increase your tax liability.

Once everything has been removed from the garage, start by checking the actual structure. Make sure that there are no termites. Should you discover terminates, have a professional come in and treat your home. In addition, have the termite company teach you how to make your home a less attractive target to termites all year long. Once the treatment has been completed make sure that anything that has been consumed by the termites is replaced before any work is started.

Check for any leaks. It is extremely important to repair them before the actual work begins. Water damage can be costly and emotionally draining if you discover a leak after the renovation has been completed. Make sure to repair leaking faucets and water pipes if they exist within the space. Always divert water from the foundation by directing down-spouts away from the structure.

Verify with your local building code before you start this project. Most towns won’t give you a hard time about replacing windows, or shortening doors, but they will require a permit if you plan on adding a new bathroom or running water pipes for a new sink if none exist.

In this day and age where we are increasingly dependent on technology, I also recommend adding additional outlets, as well as extra over head lighting. This of course will require a permit. Keep in mind that permits are made to protect you as a home owner not to break you.

Converting your garage into your office will be an investing in your future as a business person and it will also be an investment in your home, for it will increase the valve of the property.

Years later when the office is no longer needed it can be converted into a game room or a home theater. The options are limited only to your imagination!

Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

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