Does your house feel a little cramped? Think it might be nice to add some living space above that garage? But what on earth would it cost to add a bedroom over the garage? Believe it or not, these are the questions Liz and I have been asking ourselves for years… And just recently, things are starting to get real…
I write this post to educate some of you on the process of adding space to your house and the cost to add a bedroom over the garage… but I’m also writing this as a plea to my readers… “Should we actually go through with this???? Should we add space above our garage to build a master suite?” Take a look at the pros and cons below and please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment!
What Would It Cost to Add a Bedroom Over the Garage? Should We Do It???
We bought our current house three years ago. You might remember the whole experience from the following posts…
Long story short, we’re settled in, we love the house, and we have already paid off the mortgage (woot woooot!!! Debt free again!). We own this house free and clear and it feels awesome.
So now…we’ve got the house paid for and have a bit of money in the bank. We’re starting to think a bit more about what we want to do with this place, especially since we’ll likely live here for the rest of our lives.
We know the things we need to do to this house in the near future…
In the next couple years, we need to:
- Re-roof the house ($10,000 estimate)
- Paint the entire outside (we can do this ourselves for about $500)
- Replace the upstairs windows (again, we’ll DIY this for about $1,500)
- Add air conditioning (somewhat of a luxury, but will be necessary for resale someday — $15,000)
- Replace our boiler ($5,000)
In total, we’re going to put a little over $30,000 into this house so that we won’t have to touch it again for 15+ years.
While we’re considering all of these things, though, we’re also thinking about adding some more space to the house. Mainly, our own master suite above the garage. And, if we’re ever going to do it, now is the time (before we re-roof and have to roof again later, and re-paint later, and tear out windows that we just put in…and re-route a new A/C unit….etc etc etc. You get the gist of our dilemma… ;))
We don’t want to do a bunch of stuff and then have to redo it at a greater expense because we finally decided to pull the trigger on the above-garage space years later.
So, me being the personal finance guy that I am, I naturally ask the questions…
- Are we really ready for this big of a project? ie. Should we really be spending this much money at this point in our lives?
- Are we going to regret spending these dollars later in life?
- Or, are we going to high-five ourselves 10 years from now and say that adding a master bedroom above the garage was the best move ever?
As it stands today…I honestly don’t have a clue what the answers are to these questions.
So, here’s my quick financial self-assessment of where we’re at:
We have already…
- Socked away a good amount of money for the kids’ college – we figure it will grow big enough to cover half of college for each of them, which is perfect in our minds (some kids that get free schooling from mommy and daddy don’t work it quite like those that have skin in the game)
- Stashed some cash away for private schooling for the kids – we’ve got $100,000 saved there and neither of them have even started school yet! So, that’s feeling pretty good too.
- Saved well for retirement – between all our accounts, we have about $300,000 invested (and we’re just 36 years old! Definitely better than average!)…not to mention our investment property that’s worth approximately $195,000.
So we figure at this point, we could probably afford to have a little fun and make a master suite for ourselves above the garage.
But….as with everything, the cost does still matter.
So…what would it cost to add a bedroom over the garage?
The Cost of Adding Room Above the Garage
A second-story addition above your garage will cost approximately $200,000. This estimate is based on a 500-square-foot build at an average cost of $400 per square foot and includes a bedroom, bathroom, and closet. If you live in a high-cost area or want a larger space, it will cost more.
This amount was confirmed by our builder in 2022. The cost was exactly $200,000. This included a bedroom, bathroom, and closet.
Our experience leading up to this $200,000 realization…pre- and during-Covid:
Back in 2019, when we started getting quotes, our first one was for $120k, which we thought was just insanity.
- The second builder said that his rule of thumb was $200 per square foot. Okay…so now we’re talking $80,000 in total (again…pre-covid). Still not a hands-down “let’s do this thing!”, but getting closer…
- I called another builder and discovered that his rates were even lower – closer to $150 per square foot – which brings us to $60,000 for the heavenly master suite (again…pre-covid). Alright alright, this is starting to sound feasible.
Also, we have friends that could do some of this work for us as well, which might bring this price tag down a bit. So all in all, the build might be somewhere in the realm of $50,000 (as of January 2020 – man, that would have been a DREAM!).
So..The master suite above the garage…Is it worth it? Well, let’s talk about the pros and cons and you can let us know what YOU think!!
(Check out our blueprints below (vs. the picture of our current house earlier in this article). This above-the-garage build would be pretty sweet!)
UPDATE AS OF December 2022…
This whole ‘building a space above the garage’ thing has continually been put on hold. Originally, I wrote this post in January 2020.
- We expected to start building in the spring…and then Covid hit. That postponed us till the fall…and then postponed again to the next spring…
- Then, lumber prices went up and building demand was still up like crazy.
- Lumber came down through the winter…but now it’s spiking AGAIN!
The cost to build a bedroom over the garage as of December 2022…
Our original quote to build above the garage was roughly $70,000 pre-Covid (which included a master bedroom, bath, and closet). That was the rough quote by the builder back in early-2020.
Fast forward to December 2022…
Our builder recently sat down with us and provided a detailed quote, line item by line item.
The above garage build estimate went something like this:
- Permits/Insurance/Dumpsters/Porta-Jon = $7,000
- Framing Materials = $30,000
- Framing Labor = $16,500
- Siding = $20,000
- Windows = $4,000
- Roof = $11,000
- Etc. etc. etc……
(Want to see the full excel estimate? I have the full detailed quote and template for sale on Etsy for $3.99. Check it out! With the Excel file, you can see the itemized list of estimates for everything, including drywall, plumbing, paint, flooring, etc. etc.!! Or, you can click on the button below and that will take you there too.)
The list went on and on as our eyes bugged out of our head more and more with each additional line.
When we finally got to the bottom of the list, we were just shaking our head. The total came to $200,000 after the builders fees and contingencies were added in!!.
Absolutely unreal (that’s my toned down, non-swearing response…!!).
There’s no way we’re going to pay $200,000 for an extra bedroom and bathroom over the garage!!
That’s where we stand right now with the above-garage build. That quote was given to us roughly 3 weeks ago and we haven’t engaged our builder again. Our only hope at this point is to project manage the build ourselves. With that, we estimate that we could do the project for roughly $120,000…which still may not be worth it.
With Covid impacting labor and supply chain costs so much, it may just not make sense to add on to our home right now. This over the garage build project might just need to wait a couple more years when prices normalize and when demand for builders goes down. Until then, it appears that any build cost is just going to be through the roof…!
The Pros and Cons of a Master Suite Addition
(This section was written prior to our December 2022 update, but the concepts are still relevant.)
I have to be honest, we’re a little bit geeked about the idea of a master suite. BUTTTT, we want to be sensible and not just spend money for the sake of spending money. So, it’s time to list out the pros and cons!
- We have the cash to do this project – no loans from the bank for us!
- We would no longer share walls with both of our children’s bedrooms
- The build would add value to our house – by probably $25,000 or more – both due to more square footage, but also by adding a modern look with the addition.
- It will make our home more marketable when we want to sell – with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths vs. the current 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.
- This will finally give us the office we’ve been craving (we’ll convert our old bedroom). Currently, Liz uses a small desk in the living room and I often sit in the den – this obviously is NOT ideal, especially with kids running around.
- Annnd, the old bedroom could act as a guest room for our visitors (we currently house people in the den when they visit).
- We’d have a sanctuary that we could call our own – a place where we could keep the love alive, even with two blood-sucking, life-draining children 🙂
- We need to do all that home repair soon anyway (roof, exterior paint, heating, cooling, windows), so this would be the perfect time to add the space for a fraction of the price that it would cost us later.
- It costs $50,000-$60,000 (pre-covid pricing) – money that we won’t see again until we sell the house…which is probably when we’re 80 years old. We love it here!
- The opportunity cost
- if we invested $60,000 and just let it sit in the market, it’d likely be worth $1.2 million in just 30 years
- by investing $60,000 in the house, it would grow at a much slower pace, making that investment worth about $200,000 in 30 years…a bit of a difference there (like, a MILLION BUCKS!!).
- By spending $60,000 today, our future lives will be much less flexible. I’ll have to work longer (roughly 10-15 years longer) to match the amount of money that this would yield us if we simply invested it.
- The upstairs stairwell would be a little hokey
- the current steps don’t just lead straight up to the upstairs hallway – you need to turn up a couple pie-shaped stairs to get into the hallway. So, if we had the addition, the steps would also turn and go up the other way to the hallway of our master suite. This means that if you’re going from the kid’s bedroom to ours, you’d walk through the hall, then down some steps, and then up some steps to get to our room. Like I said…a little hokey.
The Cost to Add a Bedroom Over the Garage – Should We Do It?
I’m always more prone to spend less money rather than more, it’s just my nature. But you know what? Sometimes this keeps me from having experiences of a lifetime…and I fear that this might be one of those times. The cost to add a bedroom over the garage is roughly $70,000-$80,000, so we certainly shouldn’t take it lightly. However, this could be a really cool experience!
What do you think? Are we nuts? Should we just stay content with our current place and use the money to help us retire early? Or should we go through with this since it might bring us closer together for life?
Dang…quite a quandary. Please leave your comments below!!
AUTHOR Derek Sall
Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.