Garage turned into kitchen value opinion

5 Replies

Hi all,

I'm looking at a property where the garage has been turned into a (second) kitchen. The adjacent room has potential to be split off and the whole section could be rented out. Unfortunately this is not something that interests me and if I was to end up with this property, I would either leave the garage as is or undo the kitchen work.

This would be our permanent residence for now, but the goal would be to either rent it out in a few years, or just sell it if/once it has appreciated to some extent.

I have a hard time working this into the valuation of the house. I understand it's a slightly uncommon situation (or maybe not, it might just be my lack of experience), but I was hoping the great community here would share their opinion on this. Is it valuable to have all the work done to have a second kitchen in (or instead of) the garage? Could it end up being problematic in the future if not used, or would the work required to undo it be too significant?

Thank you in advance!

Before you buy this, please make sure everything is up to code. Code violations can be very costly to correct. I bought a house in CA a few years back that had a backyard shed that was transformed into living space (guest house). The city literally hunted the owner down for years and she had multiple liens on the property. Due to her financial situation she was not able to correct the issue and get the building up to code. It was a good deal for me but she might have been able to keep her house without this code violation. So do your homework!

Thanks for your reply Michael! May I ask how this was a good deal for you? Was it simply being able to bring the property back up to code? It feels like depending on the amount of work required, it could still end up costing more than it's worth. Are there any recommended ways to check this? Would the regular generic inspections be enough? Hopefully the city has the permits and they match the modifications.

Hi Flavius,

Direct your realtor to ask for the seller to supply the permit. Alternatively, you or your realtor could visit the building department to confirm whether or not a permit was issued for this work in the garage. If you plan to remove this garage kitchen, I would consider keeping the sink for use as a utility sink. That’s always great to have in a garage.

You seem certain that you want to undo the kitchen. But I would consider splitting that off into the separate unit for a rental when you sell --- of course you'd want to run the numbers/explore the market to see whether the duplex or SFH would give you the best valuation.

In an effort to produce more affordable housing, CA is in favor of garage conversions (amongst other things) to create ADUs ('accessory dwelling units'). And yes yours was done prior to the regs being in place. But there is a currently a piece of legislation making progress that I've read would require cities/counties to have an amnesty program for units built before the ADU rules were passed (and many municipalities already have this in place).

@Flavius Alecu I am going to second @Elizabeth Goff . If the work was done to code and the unit can be further split off in the future don't undo what has been done. Think "highest and best use". Garages are nice (I'm married to a major car guy) - but future income is probably better in this case. Live with it, then convert it, then move on to something more suitable for your family.