Lynn (who happens to be Maxable CEO’s mom) decided that she was tired of her cluttered, messy garage and wants to utilize an excellent source of possible square footage.

What pushed you to finally commit to converting your garage into an ADU?

My daughter, Caitlin, was pushing me to do it. I had been through a divorce and was concerned about my finances. I’m getting closer to retirement and I wanted to be in good shape, not just scraping by.

My garage was pretty useless anyway, there was a small area where I had my office, but now an ADU can offer me flexibility and an option for income. Not to mention if I decide to sell an extra 600 sq. feet makes it much easier and increases the value by a bunch!

San Diego Garage Conversion

What were your biggest fears going into this garage conversion?

Well, my biggest fear was definitely how much money to invest up front. When I ran the numbers, however, it only made financial sense. I was fortunate enough not to have to take out a loan, but I do have a home equity line which I may ultimately use.

What’s your converted garage going to look like?

Well, I’m very lucky to have a friend who is a very talented designer, this really helps with making decisions. I think my ADU is going to look amazing. I want it to be mid-century style and I’m really focusing on the small touches.

I’ve put a lot of attention on little elements like navy blue cabinets, wooden countertops, gorgeous mid-century tiles. It’s actually been an amazing experience I spent hours just choosing a mirror for the bathroom last night, I settled on a 20’s style mirror from Ireland that I bought on Etsy.

I love hunting for things on Craigslist, Offerup, and Etsy. Finding cool funky furniture and choosing my finishes have been my favorite part of the whole process.

I want my space to be unique and reflect me. Splurging on the things that will make a difference. The bathroom tile accent (which, I’m obsessed with!) is expensive, but then I’m skimming on appliances that no one cares about. I got my fridge and kettle on craigslist.

What has your process been like so far?

The process has been great so far, the general contractor (recommended by Maxable) has been thrilling. He picked out all the subcontractors (electrician, plumber, water-proofer, Lynn had some fairly serious water damage in her garage that required proofing). He has done a great job and has been in the game long enough to know who to work with.

It took a bit longer than expected to get through the city of la mesa with permitting, but I ended up dodging some fees. It really does pay to hire the right people!

Was there anything in the process of your garage conversion that surprised you?

I was surprised that I had to dig out the old pipe. You don’t really think about the pipes underneath you, they’re just there. But you have to ensure that the plumbing is adequate. It was something I really didn’t consider and it actually took a while to find the old pipes because I had no idea how they’re laid out.

They had to use a concrete cutter and a jackhammer to get all of that out. Now, this might not be an issue for most people because my garage already had a small guest room attached with a bathroom that was built in 1945 which a lot of homeowners may not have.

The other thing that surprised me the waterproofing. My garage leaks and it always has. It was never a problem because it was a garage so it didn’t matter, but I really didn’t realize how expensive and extensive waterproofing the garage would be.

Converted Garage in San Diego

What is the timeline for your project? How long has each phase taken?

I hired the architect in October to start with all the design plans. I submitted my permits in December 2018 and I got them back about two weeks ago at the beginning of March.

Then they started the demolition then and that was really fun. It is very exciting to watch the construction because it’s just been a beehive of activity. I feel like a proud parent, like omg it’s actually here!

It’s also been a lot of fun because I’m working with a very good friend of mine, who’s the interior designer. She’s been great because she laid out so many fine details that I would never have thought about. For example, how many inches you want the sink to be away from the shower and small, finer points like that.

Normally the general contractor takes on this responsibility, so you don’t need a designer, but it has made the process easier and a bit more fun for me!

San Diego Garage Conversion

What is your budget for the project?

Fees ~$2,000

The kitchen cabinets will be $2,500, from Cliq Studio. The contractor recommended them and said they’re much better than IKEA as he feels IKEA has been going down in quality and up in price.

7,000 waterproofing

The construction cost would total hopefully not over $100,000, but it’s still in the process so I won’t know for sure. That being said, I’m making some extra flourishes that add a bit to the expense, but I feel will be worth it in the long run.

How will this add value to your property?

I really feel just by the increase in the price I can ask for if I decide to sell I will make all of my investment back. Not to mention it’s something I’ll be able to enjoy, use, and maybe live in. It’s also wonderful to have a secure option for a second income as I know myself just how insecure life can become.

What do you plan to do with your garage conversion when it’s complete?

That’s a good question. I’m leaving it open at this point, I think I want to take advantage of it and live in it for a while. It looks so fantastic and I’ve put in so much work in designing every aspect that I really want to stay and enjoy it.

I was also thinking of just making it my office and then having friends and family stay there when they visit. I still have a little while to decide.

Any last tips for anyone considering converting their garage to an ADU?

Be careful about who you pick for a general contractor. I got really lucky with mine, but it can really make a huge difference. Mine has been devoted to this ADU, always on time, checking in, and thinking ahead. He had a schedule ahead of time to save time (ordering doors and windows first and foremost) that helped speed up this process tremendously.

How To Hire A Great Contractor