ADU Knowledge
July 1, 2024

Garage Conversion in San Carlos - What You Need to Know

Argi Avetisyan
Argi Avetisyan
Gather ADU expert
Garage Conversion in San Carlos - What You Need to Know
Not sure where to start with your ADU project?

Schedule a free appointment with one of our ADU experts.

Book a call

Discover the Benefits and Process of Garage Conversions

Are you a homeowner in San Carlos looking to maximize the potential of your existing space? Garage conversions have become a popular trend, offering an excellent way to add value to your home while creating functional living areas. This blog will walk you through everything you need to know about garage conversions in San Carlos, from benefits and legalities to design ideas and real-life examples.

Benefits of Garage Conversions

Economic Advantages

Converting your garage can be a cost-effective way to increase your living space without the high expenses associated with building an entirely new addition. This can significantly boost your property's value, making it an excellent investment for the future.

Lifestyle Improvements

Imagine having a dedicated home office, guest room, or even a personal gym—all within the confines of your existing home. A garage conversion allows you to tailor the space to meet your specific needs, enhancing your lifestyle and making daily life more convenient.

Sustainability and Efficiency

By repurposing an existing structure, you are making a more sustainable choice compared to new construction. This not only reduces waste but also often requires fewer materials and less energy.

Legalities and Regulations in San Carlos

Understanding Local Building Codes

San Carlos has specific building codes and regulations for garage conversions, especially concerning Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs). These regulations ensure that your new space is safe and compliant with local laws.

Recent ADU Ordinance Update

On November 13, 2023, the City Council adopted amendments to the ADU Ordinance (Ordinance 1604), effective from December 13, 2023. These amendments aim to streamline the permitting process, ensure compliance with State laws, and reduce barriers related to the development of ADUs and JADUs.

Permits and Approvals

To convert your garage, you will need to submit an application to the San Carlos building department. The good news is that ADUs and JADUs are approved ministerially without discretionary review or a hearing, making the approval process more straightforward.

Design Ideas and Inspiration

ADU in in San Carlos

Home Office

With remote work becoming the norm, a home office is a practical and popular choice for a garage conversion. Equip the space with ergonomic furniture, ample lighting, and soundproofing for an optimal work environment.

Guest Room

Transform your garage into a cozy guest room complete with a comfortable bed, storage solutions, and a small ensuite bathroom. This not only provides a welcoming space for visitors but also adds to the functionality of your home.

Personal Gym

A personal gym in your garage can save time and money spent on gym memberships. Install rubber flooring, mirrors, and various workout equipment to create a versatile fitness area tailored to your needs.

Budgeting Tips

Estimating Costs

Start by obtaining quotes from multiple contractors to get a realistic idea of the costs involved. Factor in expenses for permits, materials, labor, and any additional features you wish to include.

Keeping the Project Affordable

Consider repurposing existing materials and furniture to keep costs down. Additionally, opting for a phased approach can help spread out expenses over time, making the project more manageable.

Planning for Contingencies

Always set aside a contingency budget for unexpected expenses. Typically, allocating around 10-15% of your total budget for unforeseen costs can help you stay on track.

Finding the Right Contractor

Research and Referrals

Begin by researching local contractors who specialize in garage conversions. Ask for referrals from friends, family, or neighbors who have completed similar projects.

Checking Credentials

Ensure that your chosen contractor is licensed, insured, and has a good reputation. Checking online reviews and ratings can provide additional insights into their reliability and quality of work.

Interviewing Candidates

Conduct interviews with potential contractors to discuss your project in detail. Ask about their experience with similar projects, timelines, and cost estimates to find the best fit for your needs.

Real-life Examples in San Carlos

Case Study 1: The Modern Home Office

One San Carlos homeowner transformed their garage into a sleek, modern home office. The project included installing large windows for natural light, custom-built desks, and plenty of storage. The result was a functional and stylish workspace that enhanced productivity and comfort.

Case Study 2: The Cozy Guest Suite

Another local resident converted their garage into a charming guest suite. The design featured a small kitchenette, a comfortable sleeping area, and a full bathroom. This conversion provided a perfect space for visiting family and friends, adding value to the home.

Case Study 3: The Ultimate Fitness Studio

A fitness enthusiast in San Carlos turned their garage into a personal gym complete with state-of-the-art equipment, rubber flooring, and wall mirrors. This conversion not only provided a convenient workout space but also encouraged a healthier lifestyle.


Garage conversions in San Carlos offer numerous benefits, from increasing property value to enhancing your living space. By understanding the legal requirements, exploring design ideas, and following practical tips, you can successfully transform your garage into a functional and stylish area. If you’re considering a garage conversion, now is the perfect time to take the next step. Explore the possibilities, Reach out our experts, and start planning your dream space today!

gather adu team

Not sure where to start with your ADU project?


Not sure where to start with your ADU project?

Book a free call