What does "fully finished" really mean?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ October 3, 2013 ~ No Comments

Our garage was advertised as "fully finished," but it's actually just drywalled and taped. Does this sound correct?

- Lee-Anne and Rick

Jeffrey Anderson

Lee-Anne and Rick, unfortunately, how "fully finished" is defined is usually up the person or company building the house. And in many cases, such as with the garage in question, it is an extremely loose interpretation of the term at best. In my mind, a fully finished garage would be skimmed out, sanded, and have two coats of paint, but that's just how I interpret the phrase. When I constructed homes with fully finished garages, that's how they were turned over to the new owners.

Evidently your builder considers a fully finished garage to be one that's Sheetrocked and taped. What they aren't telling you is that at least some of that drywall is required by building code. Anywhere an attached garage has adjacent living space there must be a fire separation system installed. That system usually consists of some configuration of Sheetrockwith tape at all of the joints. An attached garage normally has at least one fire separation wall, but depending on the house plan, could have two or three as well as a fire rated ceiling.

This is the first time I've heard of confusion over a fully finished garage - normally, the issue has to do with how a basement is completed. Some builders consider a finished basement to be one that has several rooms completed up through floor covering as well as there being a full bath ready for use. Others might just have the outer walls of a finished basement Sheetrocked and a rough-in for the bath so it can be completed in the future.

While it may not help you with this house, if you purchase from a builder that has model homes in the future, somewhere in each model there should be a placard that shows exactly what is included with a basic home. Builders post these lists to protect themselves as very seldom do the models resemble what the standard homes will look like.

The floor plans may be the same, but even those could differ if the models show options such as sun rooms or living space over their garages. The models' kitchen cabinets, floor coverings, appliances, and even interior doors could all be upgrades that don't come with the standard home.

Most builders outfit their models to show what is possible rather than what comes with the basic purchase. However, that list of disclosures should spell out in detail what is an option in that particular house type and what comes standard.

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