App version: 0.1.0

Finishing a Garage: What Is the Cost?

How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Garage?
Kim Franke-Folstad
Kim Franke-FolstadUpdated August 24, 2022
Share this article:
Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
A remodeling project can make your garage more functional by giving you extra room for storing yard equipment and tools, or it can expand your living space if you turn it into an office or home gym. The average cost to finish a garage is about $5,000. But the cost to finish your garage into a living space can be about four times that amount.  If you’re wondering, how much does it cost to finish a garage?, read on for a breakdown of the costs, plus options for financing your project.

Average Cost to Finish a Garage

The cost of remodeling a garage can vary significantly depending on your end goal.A full-on conversion from a garage to a bedroom, kitchen, or office, for example, typically costs between $5,722 and $23,963. And the average cost is $14,843. But if your plans are less complex — you still want to park your cars in the garage, but you’re hoping for something a little brighter and with more storage options, for instance — the average cost to finish a garage can be closer to $5,000.

Cost to Finish a Garage Per Square Foot

Of course, size also can be a big factor in the overall cost of a garage remodel. A one-car garage costs less to redo than a two-car garage. Even if you’re keeping things simple, you’ll likely need more drywall, more flooring, and more shelving for a bigger garage. And your material and labor costs will increase.A basic DIY garage remodel (recoating the floor, adding some shelving, painting the walls) can cost about $2 to $5 per square foot. A conversion that requires hiring a contractor, obtaining building permits, and doing extensive work to change your garage to a living space, could cost more than $86 per square foot. 

Factors that Affect the Cost to Finish a Garage

There are a number of other things that can affect the cost to finish a garage. Here are a few basics to keep in mind:

Permits

Building permits are frequently required as part of a renovation. You may need a permit to install a new garage door, for example, or for electrical or plumbing work. Permit needs and costs can vary depending on where you live. If you’re working with a contractor or installation company, they can probably tell you what’s required and the cost. If you aren’t sure if you need a permit, you may want to contact your city or county government offices before you start on your project. Some state and local governments charge hefty fines for noncompliance.  

Electrical Installations

If your existing garage already has electricity, as many attached garages do, you’re in luck. You may be able to avoid expensive wiring and rewiring work. But even a basic remodel could require some new electrical outlets (about $125 to $300) or lights (around $150 to $925). 

Location

Where your garage is situated in relation to your house also could impact the cost of a remodel. If your garage is detached and your plans include running electrical, plumbing, or ductwork out to it, that will require extra labor and materials.) A detached garage could cost more to insulate as well. Drywalling costs also may differ based on whether the garage is attached or detached. You might want to choose a fire-resistant drywall, for example, if your home is attached to the garage. And you may need a moisture-resistant drywall if it’s a stand-alone structure. These specialty products cost more than standard drywall.   

Labor

Labor rates are typically about 10% to 20% of the overall cost of a garage conversion. But that can depend on how extensive your particular project is and the level of expertise that’s needed.It can be helpful to get quotes from a few different contractors in your area before proceeding with your project. Be sure to ask for a written breakdown of the costs.

Windows

Adding new windows to your garage is not inexpensive. The price per window ranges from $300 to $1,200. And the cost for adding windows to a garage door averages $400 to $1,000, depending on the material the door is made of and window glass type. 

Ventilation

Your garage may currently have grated openings or open roof vents that provide ventilation. That might be enough if your remodeled garage isn’t going to be a living space. But if your remodeling plans include converting the garage to a bedroom, living room, or office, you may need to close those vents and install filtered ventilation through a roof vent fan or HVAC system.  Adding new ducts and vents costs between $475 and $2,100. (The cost could be more if the garage is detached.) The type and size of the HVAC system you choose can also affect the cost.  

Plumbing

If you’re planning to add a bathroom, washing machine, or even a small sink to your garage, you may need to hire a plumber. That cost will typically run you $375 to $1,900 or more, depending on the scope of the job. 

Flooring

The cost of finishing a garage floor depends on several factors, including the type of floor covering you choose, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, and if any repair work is required. The price ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars.The flooring you choose will likely be based on how you plan to use the garage when it’s remodeled. But even if it’s a place to park your cars, new flooring or a basic epoxy coating could get pricey. It costs, on average, $1,200 to $6,000 to seal a standard two-car garage with a water-based epoxy.  Using a solid-based epoxy can cost even more.  

Condition

Before you start your remodeling project, you may want to have your garage inspected to see if there are problems with the foundation or roof, or any other structural issues that could add to your costs. If you see sagging or cracks, or standing water on the floor, you might want to talk to your contractor about whether it makes more sense to remodel the current structure or build a new garage. 

Financing Options for Finishing a Garage

Because the cost to finish a garage can get pretty expensive, homeowners may find it makes sense to get garage financing.There are several other options available that you may also want to consider:

Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Borrowers who have some equity built up in their home (at least 10% to 20%) may want to look into these two popular lending options. The upside for both is that a lender may offer lower interest rates because the financing is secured with your home as collateral.A home equity loan gives you a lump sum of money, which you pay back regularly. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a revolving line of credit that you draw against and then repay the amount borrowed.The downside is that if you default on the loan, the lender could choose to foreclose on your home. You also pay closing costs and other fees.

Cash-Out Refinance

With a cash-out refinance, borrowers take out a new and larger mortgage on their home, then pay off the old mortgage and keep the difference to fund their renovation project.If you can find a competitive interest rate and terms that work for you, this might be an alternative worth considering. But the loan is secured with your home as collateral, the application and approval process can be more complicated and slower than with other options, and there may be closing costs and fees.    

Credit Card

A credit card offers convenience. However, it may be a better choice for a small project than a major makeover. Unless you’re eligible for a card with a low or 0% introductory APR — and can pay off your balance before that introductory period expires — the interest rate you end up paying could be much higher than with other borrowing options.   

Personal Loan

There are multiple ways to use a personal loan, including for home repair and renovation projects. A personal loan is usually unsecured (meaning there is no collateral required), so the approval process is often quicker and easier than some other options used to finance a home improvement. Lenders base their approval solely on your personal creditworthiness. The better you look financially (typical personal loan requirements include a reliable income and steady employment, a good credit score, and a manageable amount of debt), the more likely you’ll get preapproved for a personal loan with a lower interest rate. That rate may be higher than with a secured loan — especially if your credit isn’t stellar. But some lenders offer personal loans with low or no fees. And you won’t be putting your home or any other asset at risk. 

Personal Loans with Lantern

As you’re planning your garage remodel — no matter how large or small — you may also want to take some time to research the financing choices that make the most sense for your project.Lantern by SoFi can make it convenient to shop for competitive personal loan interest rates. With just one application, you can look at offers from multiple lenders, so it’s easier to compare rates and terms. And that can help save you time and effort as you plan your garage makeover. 
Photo credit: iStock/Madhourse
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.LCPL0522025

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to finish a garage floor?
What is the average cost to finish a garage?
How is the cost of finishing a garage determined?

About the Author

Kim Franke-Folstad

Kim Franke-Folstad

Kim Franke-Folstad is an award-winning journalist with 30 years of experience writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and websites. Her work for SoFi covers a range of topics related to personal finance, including budgeting, saving, borrowing, and investing.
Share this article: