Requirements to convert a garage to a bedroom

18 Replies

Hello all,

I've got a fixer-upper under contract in a C-class neighborhood of Dallas (for those who are familiar, it's the Cedar Crest neighborhood). It has a garage that is already converted to a bedroom but it's not listed on the MLS as an added bedroom. The room already has a large window, HVAC vent and flooring.

Does anyone know what it takes to have a converted garage to be listed as a bedroom? This will hopefully get a better ARV.

Thanks!

House details:

1200 sqft, 2Bed, 1Bath, 1Garage(converted), purchase $60k, 2B1B ARV $85.

Contact the town the house is located in and start there.

A permit for the work.

Yup... a permit usually triggers a review from the city appraiser's office who will re-appraise the property.  This will likely increase your taxes, but will also update the city records.

The gotcha is whether the conversion was done under a permit.  Sometimes garage conversions require zoning approval, and depending on the city requirements, they may force you to have it inspected to ensure it's been done up to code.

I would call the city and ask how to handle it - anonymously at first, to see what your options are.  Every city is different...  good luck!

Contact your local/township building inspector.

Depends on how easy the building department is to work with. Sometimes you need an architect to draw up plans for large additions or renovations. Converting a garage may count.

Originally posted by @Milind Shastri :

Hello all,

I've got a fixer-upper under contract in a C-class neighborhood of Dallas (for those who are familiar, it's the Cedar Crest neighborhood). It has a garage that is already converted to a bedroom but it's not listed on the MLS as an added bedroom. The room already has a large window, HVAC vent and flooring.

Does anyone know what it takes to have a converted garage to be listed as a bedroom? This will hopefully get a better ARV.

Thanks!

House details:

1200 sqft, 2Bed, 1Bath, 1Garage(converted), purchase $60k, 2B1B ARV $85.

 GEt it permitted, but to do so you will likely have to pull it down to the studs.

Honestly, and not saying its legal or the right thing to do.  But most listings in Dallas will include the finished garage as an extra bedroom.  and I am sure most of them are not permitted.

We personally aren't fans of losing garages in place of bedrooms, so its not something we 

IF you are doing rehab, and are already replacing the drywall, then its not that bad to get things permitted.  Just go into the city with a drawing, and do the permitting process.  Its actually fairly easy.

@Milind Shastri

As you said garage conversion can increase your ARV but it also can decrease. It depends on the location. Even sometimes if the buyer is financing through VA or anything like that it may be appraised for less than what you expect. It depends on location. How? if there are a lot of houses with a converted garage in the area you won't have any problem but if there is no or almost no conversions, converting it back to a garage may increase your ARV more than an extra bedroom does.

Thanks

All depends on the neighborhood if it adds value or not. Its the law of conformity. If comps have converted garages ur good. If they don’t it will hurt.

Thanks for all the replies everyone.

@Mike McCarthy I looked through the tax records and looks like the assessed value of the property increased by $10k last year and the taxes increased by 20%. Looks like the city might have already re-appraised the garage and incorporated the garage conversion

@Bart H. that's interesting that a drawing will do the trick. I will keep that in mind

Oddly even though the taxes have increased and the assessed land value has increased, the MLS listing does not consider the garage as a bedroom... confused :/

Either way, I'll be going to the county office tomorrow. Will update what happens. 

@Bart Hedgcock that's interesting that a drawing will do the trick. I will keep that in mind

Oddly even though the taxes have increased and the assessed land value has increased, the MLS listing does not consider the garage as a bedroom... confused :/

 I may not have been totally clear.  to get it permitted, you would have to apply for the demo permit, then apply to be a contractor, then submit a drawing of the changes.  Then they would inspect it before you closed the walls, (you might need a licensed electrician to add/move electrical.), then they would come out and do a final inspection when everything is closed out.

We did our own permits the last time, the biggest issue was getting the drawing correct.

My guess is everything is increasing in value in the neighborhood, most of dallas has been red hot, and that is probably what is driving the property taxes.

If you are in Dallas city boundaries, the place you would go for permitting is :

Oak Cliff Municipal Center
320 E. Jefferson Blvd.

Dallas, TX 75203, Room 118


First off - Many MLS listings have incorrect information. In my area I have seen houses zoned commercial listed as residential - that could be a very big issue if the city enforces the zoning.

Second - as everyone has mentioned, the process and even the ability to have a garage converted to a bedroom are going to vary by location.  Unless someone on here had gone through this process in Dallas, with these inspectors, you are getting an opinion on what it takes, not fact.

As you see in the comments you are receiving, this could be a good idea, this could be a bad idea, this could be easy, and this could also be hard.  Unless you are happy with the deal as is you will want to figure this out before proceeding.

Originally posted by @John Woodrich :

First off - Many MLS listings have incorrect information. In my area I have seen houses zoned commercial listed as residential - that could be a very big issue if the city enforces the zoning.

Second - as everyone has mentioned, the process and even the ability to have a garage converted to a bedroom are going to vary by location.  Unless someone on here had gone through this process in Dallas, with these inspectors, you are getting an opinion on what it takes, not fact.

As you see in the comments you are receiving, this could be a good idea, this could be a bad idea, this could be easy, and this could also be hard.  Unless you are happy with the deal as is you will want to figure this out before proceeding.

 I have permitted a full gut job rehab in Dallas, added a bathroom, removed an exterior door, window, had a lot of plumbing done and had the electrical completely redone.  So I have been thru the permitting process in the city of Dallas.

Dallas by most accounts is very hands off, there are a lot of things done without permits.

Its possible to see online if a permit was pulled on the garage conversion, my guess with a  super high probability of being correct is that the garage conversion wasn't permitted and that is why its not showing up on DCAD. (Dallas Central Appraisal District)

More than likely there wouldn't be any issue with just listing the house while counting the garage as a bedroom.  Most buyers in the neighborhoods this is common wont care, especially if you didn't do it.  But you could get pushback.

I don't know about Dallas but there may be a minimum number of parking spots or garage parking spots required in the zoning code so it may just not be allowed in which case there is no way to permit it except maybe building a carport in the driveway.

@Sean Walton he’s not going to have issues with parking in Dallas on a 2 to a 3 bedroom sfh. That didn’t come up when we did our permit, on commercial or mf parking is an issue in some neighborhoods.

Sorry for the late update everyone, I was negotiating a property with an un-permitted garage construction; ended up getting a good price for it. 

Ok so here's the information we got after a trip to the office of the Oak Cliff Municipal Center (thanks @Bart H.  !): 

We were able to pull all existing permits associated with the property for just $0.20 each. 

The requirements for garage conversion are the following:

1. The property must have a parking space. It can be a garage or even open with standard paving materials (a minimum gravel/treated wood will do)

2. Electricals to meet code. Smoke detectors needed. 

3. Insulation needed

4. If garage is converted to a sleeping room then there must not be any gas fired water heater in the closet of that converted room

5. Elevation, site and floor plans of the changes

So, looks like the conversion is not too complicated after all. Thank you all for your suggestions! It helped us close our last deal!

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