I'm considering whether to add a 2nd floor on a ranch house or make the 2-car garage an apartment. Where do I start?
I'm also considering making the garage a living area with a kitchenette and one room over the house with a full bathroom. The house is 50 years old and heated with oil. No gas lines go to this address.
First things first: hire an architect to assist you in the process of determining the best possible solution for the renovations to your home
(You can search GreenHomeGuide's directory to locate green architects near you).
Speaking as an architect, it is our responsibility to work as your advocate to ensure your health, safety and welfare. Here are the benefits you will gain by working with a knowledgeable architect:
- They will review your program requirements and prepare schematic designs to represent the best possible solution.
- They will review existing structural and mechanical systems to assess feasibility and make proper decisions to ensure a safe living environment.
- They will generate an opinion of probable cost for the project to ensure that the design is within your budget.
- They will generate construction documents that detail all floor plans, structural requirements, electrical and general notes and considerations. These documents are used during the bidding, negotiating and construction phases of the project. The construction documents are legally binding and become part of the construction proposal/contract.
- They will perform observation during construction to review for compliance to the construction documents and level of completion.
Also, an architect can help you with energy solutions such as solar or geothermal to eliminate your consumption of costly heating oil. In most cases, these system upgrades are eligible for grants and tax incentives provided by your state and federal government, reducing your upfront investment.
For more information:
Read Jeremy Bonin's tips article "Selecting an Architect to Design Your Green Home".
Also, check our green garage Q&A to see what other homeowners and contractors are saying about convering a garage into living space, heating/cooling a garage, etc.