What You Should Know Before Remodeling a Garage in San Jose?

Garage remodeling has become an increasingly popular option for homeowners trying to maximize the potential of their properties. A converted garage can open up a whole range of possibilities. Some people choose to use their converted garage for extra storage space, gym facilities, or recreational space. They can also be used as additional living space.

With house prices continuing to rise, converted garages are a great option for incorporating more occupants into one property. Some homeowners are also remodeling garages into family rooms to have more shared space. Garage second-floor additions have also become popular options.

If you are considering garage remodeling, there are several factors you should consider. We’ve broken them down below. For more helpful information about garage renovation and home remodeling in San Jose, click here!

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Garage remodeling

Garage Remodeling Price Range

It’s important to have a detailed cost estimate before you start constructing an Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU). Conversions in California can cost $100,000 or more.  Considering the potential rental income, you’re looking at a very considerable investment.

ADU’s still require all of the infrastructures of primary properties, including plumbing, heating, and kitchen infrastructure. You may also need to have work done on your foundation, walls, or roof, all of which can be expensive. You will likely have fixed costs in terms of permits and design fees. If you are constructing a garage second-floor addition, construction costs may be particularly high.

Some homeowners choose to demolish a pre-existing garage and start constructing an ADU from scratch. However, this generally costs more. Even a garage in some disrepair will likely have foundations, framings, or other usable parts for the new structure. If the foundation is extremely degraded, it may be worth demolishing and starting from scratch. During your initial consultations with garage remodel contractors, you should discuss your options.

It may also be possible to secure a loan. Cash-Out Refinance Mortgage loans or Construction/Renovation loans may be issued for ADU projects. Consult with your financial institution or financial advisor for information on your options.

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Garage remodeling and JADUs

Garages that are attached to primary residences can potentially be converted into Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs). If you have an attached garage, this may be an option worth considering. A JADU conversion can usually be completed without altering the overall footprint of your property.

JADUs do have some potential drawbacks. They cannot exceed 500 square feet. If you intend to rent one out, you must remain a resident in the primary dwelling throughout the rental period. JADUs may also make selling your property slightly more complicated, as any new owners will also have to observe these rules if they intend to keep the JADU.

Property Tax

The new or converted structure will be assessed to establish its own property tax rate. The tax rates for the primary residence and the additional structure will then be combined for your total property tax.

Remodeling your garage will cause a smaller increase in property tax than new construction. Your garage will already have been included alongside your main residence in your original tax assessment. The added value of the renovated garage will be assessed and added to your overall property tax. New construction will be assessed separately and added to the main property tax rate.

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Utility Easements

If you have a utility easement on your garage, this may also add time to the project. You will require a permit from the utility provider. Utility easements are areas that must remain accessible to utility professionals for maintenance work. You generally cannot build within a specified distance of the easement, and if you want to you must apply for an encroachment permit from the utility provider.

Requirements and Challenges Remodeling a Garage

There are a number of requirements and potential challenges to be aware of before remodeling a garage in San Jose. Here is a brief overview.

Compliance with Building and Fire Codes
The completed structure must be up to all relevant codes for new constructions. Codes for habitable dwellings are significantly different from codes for non-habitable dwellings such as garages.
You will probably have to add insulation and new infrastructure for heating and plumbing. You may also require electrical upgrades and the installation of energy-efficient windows and doors.

You may also need to add a moisture barrier between the foundation and flooring of the property. For an attached dwelling unit, you may need to install a sound barrier between the main property and the additional property.

You may also need to upgrade the exterior finishes in order to meet codes for habitable dwellings. One parking space may be required for an ADU. However, many ADUs fall under an exemption which means no parking is required. You will also need to ensure compliance with local Fire Access Requirements.

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Structural Integrity

If you intend to convert an existing garage, hiring a structural engineer may be worth assessing its structural integrity. They will confirm whether the walls and foundation of the pre-existing structure will be adequate for the new one. If they require significant repairs or replacement, this will add significantly to the cost and timeline of the project.


Before beginning the project, you should have assessments carried out of whether your existing utilities system will be able to meet the increased demands. You may require a new electrical system. Alternatively, you may be able to add a subpanel specifically for the ADU. You may also have to upgrade your water, sewage, and gas systems to manage increased loads.

In most cases, homeowners can decide for themselves whether to attach utilities for an ADU or converted garage to those of the main property. You can usually use the same water, gas and electric meters for your main house and additional property. Alternatively, you can install new meters for the secondary structure and keep utilities separate.

Generally, it will be more expensive to install separate utilities. In California, new meters can cost into the thousands. If you intend to use your ADU or converted garage as a rental property, separating utilities means that your tenants can conveniently pay for their own utilities.

Identifying a Contractor for Garage Remodeling

One of the first challenges you will face will be identifying a suitable remodeling contractor. There are many options for garage remodeling contractors in San Jose. You want to be certain you’re selecting a reputable one.

When consulting with contractors, you should ask them if you can visit previous remodeling jobs. Ask around in your area if anyone has had similar work done. Many remodeling contractors will also display online reviews. For a free consultation click here.

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