My L-shaped 1400 square foot retirement home has too much garage and too little kitchen and pantry. The house is very sound and is a 2"x6" wood frame ranch style with a simple pitched roof making an L over the garage. I'd like to steal 8 feet from the 26' x 24' garage, which opens onto the street. I'd make a side-entrance one-bay garage. The water heater and utility sink can stay where they are. Kitchen appliances are fine, kitchen flooring and a 4' x 8' pantry would be built. Is my $40,000 rough budget enough?
Tabitha H. ~ College Station, Texas
Hi Tabitha, It sounds like you're going into this project the right way; doing a lot of thinking and planning before hammering the first nail. You can eliminate a lot of unpleasant surprises doing a remodeling project this way. I say a lot because you still may have a couple; it's just the nature of remodeling.
I think your $40,000 budget should be fine, but you're going to have to keep your costs under control every step of the way. Don't overlook the costs that are going to be involved with redoing your landscaping and driveway and the exterior siding changes that will be involved with switching from a front entry to a side entry garage. You don't mention what type of siding you have, but if it's brick, stone, or stucco, those costs can add up in a hurry.
If you're planning on hiring a general contractor, I would sit down with them and go over the budget item by item to get a good idea of all the costs involved and where you might have a little extra money to spend. If you're planning on being your own general contractor and handling some of the work yourself, you still should make a budget and get firm pricing from the various contractors you are going to be using. Get material pricing for the phases of work you plan on handling.
I have seen so many projects start with a very feasible budget that everyone was in agreement on and as the work progressed a little change was made here and a little change there and before long the budget was busted and fingers were being pointed as to who was responsible and more times than not they were remodeling projects. If you use a general contractor, make sure they understand that anything that is going to cause the costs to change is to be discussed with you before any work takes place. It may slow the work on your kitchen expansion down a little bit, but everyone should be much happier with the end results.
While you're doing the planning for your kitchen expansion and garage changes there's one other thing you should check before you get too far along. I'm not sure what the street layout is like around your home there in College Station, Texas, but if you're planning on using a side street to access your new side entry garage, you need to make sure the city doesn't have a problem with doing a curb cut on the side street so you have access. If you're planning on using the same street entrance for your side entry garage, then you need to make sure you have enough room in your side yard for your new driveway. A side entry garage and a driveway that comes in from the front of the home takes a lot of yard to make work. You need to figure at least 20-22 feet out the side just to get a car out of the garage. You may have a smaller car that doesn't need that much, but a potential buyer in the future may not. You are then going to need at least another 10 feet beyond that to allow a car enough room to clear the corner of the garage when turning toward the front of the home. If this is the situation you're going to have, I would have an engineer or architect take a look at it to make sure you have enough room before proceeding.