In recent years, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have gained considerable popularity as a more economical and sustainable way to provide supplementary housing. ADUs are secondary dwellings that are located on the same lot as an original living space and can be crafted in various styles such as altering garages into livable spaces.

When transforming a garage into an accessory dwelling unit, the design must be carefully contemplated. Layout, materials used, and energy efficiency are all integral components to constructing a practical living space that caters to everyone’s needs. All three elements play an important role in making sure occupants experience comfort and convenience while inside the home.

Read on to uncover the design elements to consider when undergoing an ADU garage conversion—from layout and materials to energy efficiency. By understanding these factors, you can construct an ADU that optimizes space while reducing costs, as well as creating a cozy yet sustainable living environment.

I. Garage Conversion Layout

Designing a functional and effective layout for an ADU that also complies with zoning requirements is one of the most crucial steps in converting a garage into an accessory dwelling unit.

A carefully crafted ADU design can make a small area appear airy and inviting. Think of an open floor plan that brings together the living room, dining area, and kitchen to deliver a sense of openness. Additionally, choosing showers over bathtubs in bathrooms is another way to maximize limited space.

To help you further navigate the design process, here are some aspects to contemplate when constructing your layout.

Space Planning

Utilize the space wisely, ensuring that it meets all of the needs and wants of its dwellers. Estimate how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and common areas are essential for suitable living conditions; in addition to storage and utility room requirements.

Zoning Requirements

Prior to building an ADU, take time to review your local zoning specifications and confirm that the structure meets the minimum lot size, setback, and parking requirements.

Building Codes

Ensure that your design abides by all building regulations, particularly those pertaining to egress requirements, size limits, and ventilation.


Pinpoint the most suitable spot for your accessory dwelling unit entrance to ensure privacy and easy access.

Natural Light

Strategically plan the location of windows and doors to maximize natural lighting and ventilation.

II. Garage Conversion Materials

When converting a garage into an ADU, it is essential to select the ideal materials. Materials need to be durable and functional, as well as visually appealing. To ensure you make the most suitable choices for your project, here are some factors that should be taken into consideration.


When selecting materials for your home, make sure to pick those that are resilient and able to endure regular use. This is especially crucial when it comes to flooring, countertops, and cabinets.


When selecting materials and fixtures, think about how they can maximize the space of your ADU. Look for smaller ADU appliances and pieces that will take up minimal space yet grant you ample freedom to move around comfortably.


Select materials that seamlessly integrate with the style and design of your accessory dwelling unit. This includes floorings, wallpapers, and finishes that can enhance its look.


For a more ecological approach, opt for sustainable and eco-friendly materials. This means choosing materials made from recycled sources or renewable elements such as cork and bamboo. Not only will you reduce your environmental impact but also contribute to the health of the planet too.


Make cost-effective selections that are within your budget. Opt for materials with long-term savings, such as energy-efficient appliances or LED lights. Investing in these products now will save you money down the road.

When it comes to selecting materials for an ADU, vinyl plank flooring, and quartz countertops are ideal options. Vinyl plank is a cost-effective way of achieving the look of hardwood without having to invest in expensive wood products. Additionally, both vinyl planks and quartz counters are durable, low-maintenance, and come in a wide range of colors so you can customize your space just how you like it.

Garage Conversion Layout


III. Garage Conversion Energy Efficiency

It is vital to create an energy-efficient ADU not only for the planet but also to save money on electricity bills. To help you accomplish this, here are some useful tips to increase your ADU’s energy efficiency.


Insulating your walls, floors, and ceiling is essential for achieving energy savings. With this added protection from the elements and temperature fluctuations, you can ensure that your ADU stays warm in the winter months and cool during summer days.


To cut down on energy use, opt for LED bulbs as your lighting source and look into installing dimmer switches or motion sensors to maximize efficiency.


Make the switch to energy-saving appliances, like Energy Star-rated refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. Not only are these items more environmentally friendly but they can also help you save on your monthly utility bills.


For temperature regulation, noise reduction, and improved indoor air quality in your ADU, opt for double-paned windows with low-E coatings.

Solar Panels

Magnify your savings and lessen your environmental footprint by investing in solar panels on the roof to produce clean energy.

For an energy-conscientious ADU, opt for a passive solar design that incorporates natural light and heat from the sun. Such designs commonly feature expansive south-facing windows, along with thermal mass walls to store and radiate warmth during wintertime. An additional way to save on energy is by installing tankless water heaters – these systems only warm up as much water as needed instead of consistently heating vast amounts found in tanks.

Designing Your Garage Conversion

Transforming your garage into an accessory dwelling unit can be a great way to gain more living area or acquire extra income. Before taking the plunge, it is essential to thoughtfully contemplate layout and material decisions as well as energy efficiency measurements.

To make a small space feel comfortable and spacious, it is essential to design an efficient layout that adheres to zoning requirements, building codes, and access regulations, and takes advantage of natural light. Furthermore, select materials that are cost-effective yet stylish as well as resilient while being sustainable in order to complement the overall appearance of your ADU.

Ultimately, creating an energy-friendly ADU can cut down your carbon footprint and save you money on bills. Insulating walls, investing in eco-friendly lighting and appliances, as well as using solar panels are all measures to ramp up energy efficiency. Contact Levi Design Build to get started on your garage conversion today!