Unfinished garage in brand new house
April 22, 2010 11:47 PM   Subscribe

New construction but unfinished garage - is this common?

My mom, who knows nothing about construction, bought a new construction house in 2004 and it took her a while to realize that the exposed wood beams in one section of the garage wall and the entire ceiling were not an intentional design, but an *unfinished* garage. No wonder it's so cold in there. And no she did not get a buyer's home inspection. Are unfinished garages common in new construction developments? Is completion of the garage usually offered as an option that can be purchased?

And finally, does anyone know roughly how much it might cost to finish a garage (sheetrock or drywall or something). Thanks.
posted by KimikoPi to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's common to finish the garage. If it's attached to the house then any shared walls should have insulation and at least a vapor barrier, but that's about all.

Certainly heated garages are a rare thing where I live (central Illinois). Our pets have always lived in the garage, and in the winter we set high wattage lamps out for them. Was never a problem.
posted by sbutler at 12:47 AM on April 23, 2010

The only time I heard of finishing a garage is when people want to convert it to living space.

Round here, adding drywall would just be removing precious centimetres of garage width that you need to prize yourself out of your car.
posted by emilyw at 1:09 AM on April 23, 2010

I'm from a construction family, I bet I've worked on over 1000 houses in my day, no telling how many I sheetrocked, lo those long years gone by, my wasted youth, etc.

Mostly only hung sheetrock on any wall that has connection to the house; 5/8" firecode drywall, almost always just taped but not finished -- this gives a one hour fire wall, ie in theory it'd take an hour to burn through this and into your house if there was a fire in your garage. And, since the walls/ceilings were only taped but not finished, and because it was in a garage, the walls/ceilings were not painted.

In more recent years, I've seen more homes built with the garages finished out, even painted; the expense is negligible, and it surely does look nicer.

How much for her to finish that garage? Depends upon how large it is, and how finished she wants it IE does she want the walls insulated, does she want it painted, etc and etc. It's a very easy job, simple for anyone with any construction sense and/or experience at all; this should not cost her very much. I'd think two grand at the most and probably considerably less, should she be able to find a guy with a pickup who wants to pick up a few bucks on a weekend side job.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:45 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The only finished garages I've ever seen in brand new homes were doen that way because the buyer paid for that option.

Speaking as someone who had a studio over his garage, if you do have finished living space above it, I'd strongly encourage you to insulate and drywall the garage ceiling though.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:35 AM on April 23, 2010

Garages are left unfinished because people do so many different things with their garages, especially from a storage standpoint. For example, some go old-school and hang pegboard instead of sheetrock, in order to put hooks for tools all over the place. Others use the beams to store lumber, etc. Some install woodworking centers along walls. there's no sense finishing the garage when so many home owners will probably rip-out the wallboard to install what they want.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:58 AM on April 23, 2010

I helped finish my parents' 40-year-old garage about a year ago. The hardest part (by far) was emptying it so I could get at the walls to spackle and paint!

We also took the time to seal up some holes that had "appeared" on the exterior walls. Their bug/rodent problem seems to have decreased considerably since then, and the garage/house is a bit warmer.
posted by schmod at 6:38 AM on April 23, 2010

I just recently bought plywood, some pegboard and some insulation to finish my garage, costs came in under $300. I'm doing the work myself so I'm not sure how much the labor would be. Sure would be done faster than my slow work on intermittent vacation days.
posted by jrishel at 6:55 AM on April 23, 2010

Insulating and drywalling isn't going to make it any warmer unless you put some kind of heater in it. My mum's finished, attached garage is freezing in winter.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:31 AM on April 23, 2010

At least in my area, garages are usually finished if they are attached the house (which is admittedly most all new houses). Most older houses with detached garages are unfinished.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:12 AM on April 23, 2010

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