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jwasbury jwasbury is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Weehawken, NJ
Posts: 3,285
Pat,

Thanks for your comments. For the record, this property was built only ten years ago, so it passed inspection (including the existing 1 car garage) and was code compliant at that time.

Local codes allow for garage space to sit beneath dwelling areas, but the ceiling needs to be sheet rocked with at least 5/8" We've looked carefully and the studio space ceiling appears to have been sheet rocked exactly the same as the garage area. This makes sense as during construction the entire ceiling sheetrocking was likely done all at once using the same materials, and then the separation wall was added between garage and studio.

As a further note, the studio space is technically not habitable space. It is not connected to any other dwelling areas of the building via doors, staircases, etc. The only way to access the space is via the garage door, or there is one exterior door that opens to my microscopic backyard. The building is legally zoned as a two family and I have two above ground units (a one bedroom on the first floor, and a two bed, two and 1/2 bath duplex on the top two floors where I live with my wife and our two dogs). It is not legal to have people living in the studio space as it would be a 3rd unit. So as to the question of value, this property cannot be marketed as a 3 family anyway. When we bought it, it was marketed as 2 family "+ bonus" wink wink nudge nudge. Both my neighbors rent out their studios for $1000+ per month, but I don't. I am not making drastic changes to the "bonus space" so a future owner could easily revert the space back to illegal rental status should they choose, but I think plenty of people will value the garage space highly because it is a very rare feature in this area.

I actually had a pain in the @$$ issue because of the studio space recently when I refinanced the mortgage. The inspector/appraiser thought he was doing me a favor by counting the studio as living space which would increase the valuation. In fact I didn't need a bigger valuation number because I'm not one of these people who is mortgaged up to my eyeballs. Well the underwriter had a $hit fit about the studio because there is a kitchen in there which they said made it a "unit". The question then became, what constitutes a "kitchen." Try finding a definition of kitchen in the building codes or zoning ordinances...you can't. Long story short I had to remove the sink, range, and refridgerator and get reinspected in order to close the new loan. I can understand why they wanted the range out of there, but the sink and the fridge?? How many people have a 2nd fridge or slop sink in their garages or basements? Doesn't make it a kitchen!

Quote:
Originally Posted by infraredcalvin View Post
Talk to your architect about the occupancy of both spaces, the garage, and the room/mancave. Granted I'm not familiar with NJ building code, possibly ubc or ibc, or whatever they call it these days, but I am a little versed in ca building code...

Depending on age, your existing garage is classified as a garage or utillity occupancy which requires 1 hour fire separation between garage, and habitable space. In short, your studio will not be set up for that separation, so the arch will need to add some details showing how the new garage space is separated from your habitable space.

Be sure your arch is licensed in NJ, lots of draftsmen out there that call themselves architects...

Before you spend too much more, take the plans by your local building department and discuss what you want to do with a planner, AND the building official. They will make themselves very available and will give you insight to what you are in for. They will have to review and approve the drawings anyway, so it's not like you are going to get anything "past" them. Most of the time they will help you with the code, and even find loopholes that you can take advantage of.

Remember, if you make it a garage you will be losing that square footage from your home, which may seriously devalue your home, unless you sell to another car guy...

Sorry if I sound like a downer...
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:09 AM
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