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470sf Garage Converted into AMAZING Modern Living Space

This 470 square foot garage conversion is on the Sunshine Coast in Gibsons, BC and the owners converted it into a rental space on Airbnb as a form of house hacking to help pay their mortgage!

It’s kind of like a micro cabin but instead of being out in the woods, it’s in a backyard and close to stores and other services.

470-sq.-ft. Garage Turned Cottage, on Airbnb

Inside, it’s an open concept studio with an incredible interior design.  The exposed concrete floors and corrugated metal ceiling keep the rustic feel of the garage, and the high windows bring in lots of light but they also provide privacy which is great since the main house is nearby.

They used some interior design techniques to help to distinguish each space so that it doesn’t feel cluttered. In the kitchen, the island serves as a natural barrier, in the living room, it’s the large area rug that outlines the space, and in the bedroom, there’s a large painting and an open-air closet to delineate the sleeping area.

Some advantages of open concept spaces are that they feel more spacious, they use fewer materials for things like walls, it can be easier to bring in natural light, and you need fewer fixtures, like ceiling fans for example.

Some disadvantages of open-concept spaces are that they can lack privacy, noise travels easily, and cooking smells don’t stay in the kitchen.  But lots of people and even families make it work all the time!

Converting a garage space, or adding an accessory dwelling or laneway house to a property is something that we’re seeing in cities more and more. The upside is that it densifies the population in an urban area which can help prevent a city from sprawling out, and it can increase the number of short and long-term rentals available in the area. The downside is that these secondary dwelling units usually can’t be purchased separately from the main house, so they don’t create new homeownership opportunities.

It’s not a perfect solution to the housing crisis, but it does create new rental spaces, and it can help make cities more sustainable.

VIDEO: 470sf Garage Converted into AMAZING Modern Living Space – Tiny Home Tour

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Danielle is a digital nomad who is passionate about tiny spaces, living with less, reducing waste and eating plant-based food. Danielle is half of the Exploring Alternatives blog & video project. You can find more of her at www.ExploringAlternatives.ca and her Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel.
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Terrie C. Williams
    January 1, 2021, 10:38 am

    This is absolutely fantastic for disabled persons in wheel/powerchairs. I am disabled and I would LOVE to have a place like this!

  • Marc
    January 2, 2021, 10:04 am

    Nice, but i’d immediately need to put a real door on the bathroom. Stop it with barn doors on bathrooms already.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 5, 2021, 8:33 am

      Oh man I want a barn door on my bathroom so badly haha.

      • Donna Dozier
        April 8, 2021, 1:44 pm

        Barn doors on my closets are perfect. They don’t have to take up space to swing open, so tiny spaces and passageways function really well. Pocket doors work well on the bathroom and bedroom for the same reason, but they are not as trouble-free as the barn doors. The only swinging door inside my tiny is the 15″ one on the linen closet in the hallway. Even the double French doors at the entry swing out onto the porch.

      • Fred
        April 8, 2021, 11:28 pm

        I know, right?!
        Such a cool feature! =D

      • Bryan O'Connor
        December 5, 2021, 7:11 pm

        Barn doors are perfect for tiny houses because they don’t take up what limited space you have. You can always put a eye hook on it to secure it if your that worried about someone walking in.

  • Marty
    January 2, 2021, 8:25 pm

    I have been considering doing this and was wondering how much work was involved to tie in the bathroom to the main sewer / water lines from the house? costs?

    • Bryan O'Connor
      December 5, 2021, 7:15 pm

      Not much because all your doing is tying into them. it will cost a lil to cut the concrete but if your putting a kitchen in to an existing concrete flor your doing that anyway and few more feet isn’t going to cost but a couple more bucks.

  • JB Silver
    January 11, 2021, 1:21 pm

    The owners of this garage did a great job of converting their garage. However, left out was the potential costs of such a project. Mainly running water, gas, plumbing, and permit costs. You also have the cost of construction that is not allowed unless done by professionals such as electric wiring and plumbers. For people in cities that allow for such a conversion, this project can take years to pay for itself. And can mean a tax increase. A mortgage means additional monthly expenses. It would be great if someone would find and list cities and states that are more lenient towards homeowners who wish to provide additional housing and income.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 11, 2021, 4:21 pm

      Thanks JB — I wish we had a huge staff that could start researching that. It’s so tricky because even within a town, you can have different rules based on where you are zoned. It would take a massive effort, and I feel that by the time you went through every town in the US the laws may have/would have changed. As a general rule, however, the more rural the area, the better chance you have to build without as much interference.

    • Richard Lynn Herrington
      January 31, 2021, 10:07 pm

      In a lot of cities… if you want to do something like this and have a rental property on the same lot where you live, to bring in extra monthly income… the city will change your property tax and utility rate from residential to commercial which means you will then be paying triple the cost in property tax and utilities. You do all the work… pay for all materials and the city reaps the financial benefits… not you.

      • James D.
        January 31, 2021, 11:55 pm

        That’s true, it’s also something to watch out for if you or your tenant is running their own home business on the property or you can also run afoul of an HOA or other regulatory body that may prohibit commercial use of the property.

        Government gets into pretty much all forms of business transactions… But the extent this happens varies and should be something to check before doing something, especially, as failure to do so can get you hit with fines and other penalties by not following the requirements or not filling out the proper forms.

      • Bryan O'Connor
        December 5, 2021, 7:23 pm

        2 points here, 1. That’s why you just tell them. Most people who do this in town build them for relatives, generally children in college or the ole mother in law, What the city doesn’t know won’t hurt them and 2. That’s why you do out of city limits, there are FAR fewer state/county codes out of town then there are city codes in town, in fact many state and county codes doesn’t even cover structures under 600 or 800 square feet.

    • Eric
      April 8, 2021, 5:02 pm

      Which would explain exactly **why** the garage door was left on. What the authorities don’t know the authorities don’t tax.

      • Bryan O'Connor
        December 5, 2021, 7:28 pm

        Yes sir! And if they do ask the answer is “I’m just putting bathroom and 2nd second kitchen in my garage so people don’t go in my house when I throw parties and BBQ’s.”. As long as it’s intended to be a house extension and not a “residence” they can’t tax it as such. a bathroom/kitchen in the garage isn;t going to raise your property tax either.

    • SR
      August 15, 2021, 12:46 pm

      Good points. There are definitely a lot of issues to overcome but lots of cities are making it easier. I’ll just speak to my area, we’re not bleeding edge on this but we’re pretty far along. California passed legislation making it much easier to add an ADU or JADU and cities were forced (I think it’s a good thing, others may disagree) to address the new codes. Some cities have gone further than the State code. Several years ago my city dropped a lot of the building/permit fees and has done a lot more since then including adding a list of pre-approved plans and pre-fabs. It now even allows tiny houses. There are several agencies that provide financing and there are incentives to rent at an “affordable” rate (which still isn’t very affordable I’ll grant). Property taxes are increased on the value of the addition (maybe not with tiny houses?) but that’s always been the case for improvements. Here at least that is more than offset by the rental income, obviously that will be different by location. There are still restrictions but as someone who lives in a city with a large population I do want safety and density to be considered. We’ve been waffling on the issue for years and it’s easier than ever, in our case it’s fears of being landlords that are stopping us.

      This link might get you closer to what you’re looking for: https://www.tinysociety.co/articles/tiny-house-laws-united-states/

      • Virginia Jones
        December 5, 2021, 9:52 pm

        Where is the designated space for clothing and what about a refrigerator? Also, the bedroom area needs to be less visible.

      • James D.
        December 6, 2021, 2:32 am

        @Virginia Jones – Coat closet by entrance and another hanging space next to the TV, with shelves and drawers…

  • Marsha Cowan
    January 31, 2021, 9:53 pm

    Wow! This is so pretty! I like the divider between the bedroom space and the living space. I love the kitchen and bath area. It’s all so lovely and roomy, but still warm and cozy. Nicely done!

  • Fred
    February 5, 2021, 6:02 pm

    Cool home!
    I like how they decorated it, but I would definitely put some walls around that bedroom area.
    I like it to be dark, while I’m asleep. Personal preference.
    Otherwise, perfect.
    Cudo’s to the home owners for such a great design.

    • Eric
      April 8, 2021, 5:03 pm

      Kudo’s not Cudo’s. Just saying.

      • Fred
        April 8, 2021, 11:30 pm

        Yeppers. Thanx,

      • James D.
        April 9, 2021, 12:48 am

        As long as it wasn’t Cujo…

        • Eric
          April 9, 2021, 4:11 am

          Aaaaaaaaahhhhh! Not Cujo! OMG! Not Cujo… he’s such a sweet, sweet thang. I think.

  • Fred
    February 5, 2021, 6:05 pm

    It is just another version of a pocket door….without the pocket. =)
    I wouldn’t mind a sliding barn door for a bathroom door, but I would get rid of the big barn doors on the outside wall.

    • Bryan O'Connor
      December 5, 2021, 7:31 pm

      By leaving the big doors it doesn’t be a “residence” and doesn’t jack your property tax up by becoming a “commercial property” because it’s still a working garage.

  • Bryan O'Connor
    December 5, 2021, 7:35 pm

    Absolutely LOVE it but I’d have to put a wall up between the living room and the bedroom. I like a little privacy. It could stay open to the rest of the house but I’d have to wall that up, you can build a Lazy Susan to put the tv on so you can rotate the t.v. and watch it from the living room or the bedroom.

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