Home Improvement Done Right: ADU vs. Garage Conversion vs. a Guesthouse

Expanding your primary home with additional structures is a great way to use the extra space for dedicated purposes such as a craft room, home gym, playing area, or guest space. ADUs, garage conversions, and guesthouses are the three most popular choices of the many house remodeling options.

Home Improvement Done Right: ADU vs. Garage Conversion vs. a GuesthouseAccessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, consist of additional structures that belong to the main building – it is like having a second dwelling on the same grounds as your regular house. For this reason, accessory dwelling units cannot be bought or sold as separate properties. These units can be an entire apartment built over the garage, a tiny backyard house, or even a basement area. The main reason for building ADUs is to use them as rental properties or house a family member. If local laws allow for legal rental income from an accessory dwelling unit, these structures bring financial flexibility to the owners and passive income opportunities.

Garage Space Conversion

Converted garages are one of the fastest ways to add floor space to your main property. Depending on their size, an attached or detached garage can be single or double. The former size is perfect for a quiet home office, family room, playroom, or additional living space. The latter gives more flexibility, and it can also include a living room, an ensuite bathroom, or a single parking space. A typical garage conversion can be completed in a little over a week, so it does not wreak havoc on your schedule. Garage conversion costs vary depending on the square footage and how extensive you make the home improvement project. Many garage conversion ideas will allow you to create more living space in your home. 

Guest House or Granny FlatHome Improvement Done Right: ADU vs. Garage Conversion vs. a Guesthouse

Given the proper permits, guest houses are mainly used as temporary residences and vacation rentals for the homeowner’s guests. They are also popular as a mother-in-law suite. They differ from ADUs, as they do not include a kitchen. In some cases, you can only find a half or full bathroom, but for anything else, guest houses depend entirely on the main property for all other amenities. Even if the space is relatively small, it can be used for multi-use shelving, vertical storage, or extra office area. They are excellent for additional sleeping quarters for overnight guests. However, they should not be confused with accessory dwelling units, as some of the defining characteristics do not apply to both structures.


Whether you are planning a small remodel or you choose to expand an entire floor, additional projects can impact one’s finances. If this is your long-term home, you will not mind making a small investment, though it is always wise to plan costs properly. Construction prices vary depending on the builder, cost of labor, and materials. Often, costs will depend on the structure itself – a basement ADU conversion may cost less than a brand-new unit above a garage. Other expenses to consider are permit costs, construction costs, and utility connection costs if needed. Building additional units, or expanding existing ones, gives the homeowner the chance to live a more flexible lifestyle based on their needs. This highly outweighs the project’s heavy investments.

Summing Up

Additional home units can be built in many sizes and styles. They can either be linked to the main property through a secondary entrance or be a wholly detached structure. As long as you comply with the town’s building ordinances, a building expansion will not only allow you to personalize your home space but will also increase the value of your property in the long run.

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