Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Turn a Carport into Indoor Living Space


Enclosing a carport and turning it into indoor living space can be a good way to add additional square feet to your home. Watch this video to find out more. ...More




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How to Turn a Carport into Indoor Living Space

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Painting fiber cement siding on exterior of carport conversion.

Enclosing a carport can be a cost effective way to increase the living space in your home. Covered in this carport conversion project video are:

  • Converting a flat roof to a sloped roof.
  • Pouring a concrete slab on the existing slab to raise and level the floor.
  • Installing fiber cement siding and trim.
  • Hanging and finishing drywall.
  • Constructing an outdoor kitchen.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This is the house of a growing family that needs a little bit more space. This week, we’ll show you how we’re solving that problem.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects, tips and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: When the current owners bought this house, they felt like they had all the house they would ever need. But things change, families grow, and, here, they ended up with four children, mom, and dad—had six people living in this house. They needed a little more room.

So they started looking around the home at how they could build onto the house. They found that their existing carport was hardly ever used, and they decided to work with an architectural designer to create just the additional space they needed, which will include a nice playroom for the kids, a nice storage area, which was definitely needed, and an outdoor entertainment area for the adults.

And we’re going to put all of this together and hopefully solve these homeowner’s problems in this week’s show. Stay with us.

When homeowners love their neighborhood but they need a little extra space, many of them think about the same thing that these homeowners have, and that’s converting an existing garage or carport into living space. Now, this was a fairly typical two-car carport with a storage room on the back, and unfortunately, it had a flat roof.

Now that’s not a real big deal if you’re just parking the mini-van under there now and then. But if you’re converting it to living space and investing a fair amount of money, you’ll want a little more protection than that. So our first challenge on this project was to find out exactly how to solve the roof problem.

Because of how and where the carport was attached to the house, building a traditional gabled roof, like other parts of the home, would have created more drainage problems than it would solve. We knew however that we had to have some type of slope, so Mark, our foreman on the job, came up with a plan that would create a rough with enough slope to drain well without building a gigantic gable with conventional rafters and a ridge.

He began with two by twelves that were long enough to expand the existing flat carport roof, then marked and cut them with a taper from the middle out to either end. Because each cut was a diagonal cut of more than ten feet, they had to be cut by hand using a circular saw. This was time consuming, but, the result was a perfect set of modified rafters that could be nailed directed on top of the existing rough, giving us a slope of almost one inch per foot on either edge of the carport. From there, the framing was decked with plywood and covered with roofing.

It’s never a good idea to use conventional shingles on slopes less than three inches per foot. So, our roofer used a modified roll roofing material that was cemented in place with a tar like adhesive and overlapping layers. Where the new roofing met the house, the existing shingles were removed so new ones could be installed. Overlapping the rolled rough and preventing any possibility for leaks.

The roof modification solved our roof concerns, made the roof look a lot better, and created more space for attic ventilation. Now we had a good bit of repair work we had to do along the edge of the roof, where a lot of water damage had taken place because of the old flat roof.

We replaced all the overhang. We also replaced the outside fascia board, freeze board, and we wrapped this column all with a material that’s fiber cement. So, the termites won’t eat it, it won’t rot, so it’s perfect for an application like this, that will get a lot of exposure from the weather. Hey, with our roof problems behind us, we can concentrate on creating the needed living area.

Beneath the carport itself, we removed all of the bricks from the exterior wall of the house so that we could tie into the wood framing without new walls. Then the existing walls of the old carport storage area were modified to conform to the new lay out before we begin pouring the new concrete slab for the play room.

When garages and carports are converted to living space, the floor level is usually raised to match the rest of the house. Here, we raised it just enough above the level of the driveway for drainage purposes and to be sure we had a level floor. This was important, because the old carport slab had a slope so water would drain off.

This new concrete floor will also be the finished floor for the playroom, so as soon as it was dry, our crew went to work, pouring a grid pattern into the slab to get it a little more interesting. Framing the new exterior walls was next, and it began with attaching a treated base plate to the slab and a new top plate to the carport overhang.

These were connected with new studs, to create the new walls. While this process seems pretty simple, it’s crucial that the location of both plates and each individual stud be spot on, so that walls are perfectly vertical and the openings for doors and windows are in exactly the right location.

At this point, our crews concentrating on the storage areas on this end of the addition, putting up some plywood to close off the area that eventually will be used to store lawn mowers, bicycles, and all that stuff we tend to accumulate.

Now, inside the little playroom area here, we have one closet for all of those games the kids will have. We have an exterior door that will be changed to an interior door leading into the kitchen. And then this piece of plywood is covering an old window that will be converting to a pass through, a perfect little place for mom to hand those snacks out to the kids that will spend a lot of time in this room.

But a few of the little carpentry things that are being done now include furring out this original back wall of the house instead of just nailing the drywall to the original wall which would have it too close to the old foundation of the home, we spaced it out this far to allow us room for a moisture barrier, instillation, and everything necessary to make sure that we don’t have any moisture problems within that wall.

Everything is pretty much coming together here, and after a short while, the electrician and plumber will be out, and air conditioning contractor to completely do all their work, and then we can move forward with the drywall.

And this opening will be two nice French doors that will open out to the backyard. Perfect for a little outdoor entertainment. Hey we’re going to put this one all together, but first, check out this week’s Simple Solutions.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: Every do it yourselfer knows the importance of wearing safety equipment when working around the house, particularly when dealing with power tools like this circular saw. The challenge of course is finding the safety gear when you need it. I know in my case, I often didn’t use the equipment because I simply couldn’t find it.

But I’ve since solved that problem of keeping all my safety gear in a food storage bag. And in this case, I put it on a pegboard hook right near my tools so it’s always available and I can see what’s in it. And this type of back has a label on it so you can actually write on the label what’s in the bag as if it weren’t obvious enough.

So, whenever I need it, I just take it off the hook, open it up, and in here, this is a one gallon size bag, so it’s large enough to store some dust masks, earplugs, and some safety glasses.

Now, the added benefit of using a bag like this is once you zip it closed, it will keep all the dust out, so you can reuse this equipment, and when you take it out, you know it’s clean. And that goes particularly well for safety glasses which can get scratched if it gets dusted in a bag.

Danny Lipford: This addition is looking more like the game room that the homeowners wanted, instead of the carport that we started with. The challenge we had is, what material to use on the outside of the new addition, because we have a couple different ones to chose from, with the bricks on the lower part of the house and lap siding on the upper part.

But these were a fairly old brick, very hard to match, and instead of almost matching the outside, we wanted to go for the sure match and put lap siding on so once everything is painted, it will blend right in. But instead of putting wood lap siding on like the homeowners have now, and you can see they’re having their own challenge keeping it all painted, we suggested a fiber cement siding.

This siding material was installed in much the same way as wood lap siding. After all the windows and doors had been set in place and secured, the siding is nailed up in courses, starting from the bottom and going up. The size of these fiber cement planks is identical to the wood siding so there’s no visible difference. However, the performance is vastly different.

Fiber cement is made from a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and wood fibers, so it’s incredibly hard, non combustible, it resists termites, and won’t rot or decay with moisture. Now that’s perfect for siding, but it’s also available in several sizes of trim board, like the ones we used earlier to wrap around the exterior columns.

On top of all of that, fiber cement holds paint better than other materials, so there’s a lot more free weekends between those paint jobs. And since the cost is about the same or in some cases even a bit less than wood siding, it was an easy choice for this addition.

Now, once the project was weather tight, we could begin the finish work inside. And the first big step was hanging the drywall over the newly framed walls.

When you install drywall on any project, it really makes you feel like you’re getting close to being complete. And, we really are. All we need’s a little drywall finishing, trim, painting, and a little bit of floor work, and everything is complete.

Now when the drywall was being hung, we told the guys just to hang it over the window that’s right here. If you remember, this was a window between the kitchen on the other side and the game room. That’ll be changed out to be a pass through to pass those snacks out into the game room, but leaving this in place like this will minimize the amount of dust we get inside the house.

Now, the cardboard that you see me standing on is a corrugated cardboard that works so good to protect a finish floor. And usually, we won’t put it down quite this early in a project, but if you remember, this floor is actually the concrete slab that we’ve scored.

We’re going to clean this up later and then apply a coat of stain, but you have to concrete sit for about thirty days before you can apply any type of stain on it. But the reason we want to put the cardboard over it, we want to protect it from any dings or dents and the concrete is very porous, so it’s easy for drywall mud to soak down in it and affect the finished look of concrete, so this will prevent that from having any problem at all. So, right now, what we really need is a drywall finisher.

This room isn’t all that large and it’s fairly uncomplicated as far as drywall goes, so this two person crew moves through it pretty quickly. The flat box they’re using also speeds things up because one finisher can apply an even, generous coat of drywall joint compound to the seams, while the other follows behind, feathering it out to the surrounding surface.

Though they make it look simple, the tough part of this job is getting the right amount of compound on the boards to mask the seams without getting too much which would require a lot of sanding later on to smooth it out. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen, so Mark and his crew can start on the trim work the very next day.

Besides the typical things like crown moldings, base moldings, and door casings, this room has a few custom features that these guys can handle. The drywall over the new pass through has to be cut out so that they can trim around it, and there’s a custom entertainment center to be built so the kids will have a place to play games and watch movies in the new playroom.

This kind of site built cabinet isn’t done much in new construction anymore, but it’s an efficient, attractive way to add function and storage space to a room. These guys are also responsible for cleaning up the transition from the rest of the house to the playroom with a new door and a new set of stairs.

However, it starts to take on a real finished look when the painting begins. The owners wanted a bright space for the kids, and if this color doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will.

Well there’s wet paint just about everywhere and you can see Michael, our painter, is applying the last coat of white on our trim and the kids are dying to get out and start using their game room.

You can see how the pass through turned out. This would be a perfect place to hand those snacks out right out to the kids. Now speaking of snacks, the owner of the house also is planning on generating a lot of snacks on his own with this outdoor entertainment area. We’ll look at that next.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s Best New Product. Brought to you by The Home Depot.

Danny Lipford: As a contractor, I love it when someone can make work go a little faster. For a pro, time is money, but it’s pretty important for do-it-yourselfers, too. Now here’s a way to really speed things up.

These new wood boring bits from Ridgid are designed to reduce work time. Three features in particular make these bits work a little first. The first is the self starting screw tip that really pulls the bit into the material. Second is the cutting edge. The cutting spur and the side lip can both be resharpened. The cutting edge slices through wood like there’s no tomorrow. They say six times faster.

Now third, is the quarter inch heck shank which makes for fast bit changes. The bits come in six different sizes from half-inch up to an inch-and-a-quarter, with prices ranging from four to six dollars.

Now for less than 13 bucks, you can find a three piece set like this one, or for a little bit more, a six piece set for around 25 dollars. A pretty good value and a great time saver.

Announcer: For more information about the products featured in this segment, visit our website at dannylipford.com.

Danny Lipford: As I mentioned earlier, almost all of the works completed inside the playroom. Just a little more painting, and we can turn it over to the kids.

Now, the big kids in the family, the parents, well, this is their space. This is what is left over from us converting part of the carport into a living area. It’s a nice little open porch that will become a very special outdoor entertainment area.

Now, we’ve already completed a lot of the work. The painter is almost finished and our electrician has installed our new ceiling fan that’s rated for the exterior use as well as a few recess lights to provide lighting, but we still have a lot of work to do in this area.

The owners were dissatisfied with their old grill and decided if they were going to buy a new one. They wanted a built-in grill. We’re going to help that along by building them a complete grilling station.

This little custom center is being built out of pressure treated lumber and plywood, and it’s designed specifically not only the grill, but a small fridge, a sink, and some storage space. So, we’re effectively creating a small outdoor kitchen.

The top of the unit will have cement backer board applied to it, so a tile countertop can be installed, and we’ve primed and painted it with the same color that was used for the trim on the house. To blend it in to the rest of the outdoor entertainment area, we’re doing the same thing for the railings around the existing deck.

I can already tell what a great area for entertaining this will be out on the wood deck that already looks a lot better now that the hand rails have been painted. This will be perfect when the weather is nice, and when it’s not so nice, you have a covered area to keep the party going.

Now, the cooking station is really at the point where we’re ready for the tile to be installed. And this is a marble tile that the homeowners have selected, about 3/8ths of an inch thick, very easy to glue it right down to the cement backer board. After that’s in place, it can install their new gas grill they have ready to go, and slip the refrigerator in place, and they’ll be ready for the first cookout.

Now, another finishing touch that is about to take place on the slab that’s here—the original slab—is to match the same score joints and stain that we’re putting inside the house. Now, this was a lot harder to score this than the inside because, this is about a 15-year-old slab, the surface a lot harder than the month old slab we dealt with inside, but I can’t wait to see what this area will look like once it’s stained.

The first step for an old slab like this one outside is cleaning it with an acid solution to remove old stain and to encourage it to accept the new stain. Michael is applying the semi-transparent stain, in very small sections so that he can control the consistency. By varying each individual square in the grid, it’ll look more like separate tiles that one big concrete slab.

Now, speaking of tiles, they go in next on the grilling station, and after they’re grouted, the small sink is added to complete this part of the project. The floor on the inside is next, but here the owners have opted for a more clear finish to keep the room nice and bright.

Because the slab is smoother, after Michael rolls the sealer on he, he goes over it with a brush to remove the roller marks, and to ensure the score joints are adequately covered.

The play area for the adults is completely finished and kind of has a feel of a cozy, outdoor family room. With the stained concrete flowing together really nicely with a center rug and comfortable furniture, not a bad place to spend an afternoon.

Now, one thing this outdoor family room has that an indoor room wouldn’t have, a nice grilling station with the stainless steel sink, the under counter refrigerator, and a nice, brand new stainless steel grill. The homeowners really anxious to get some use of this.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for around the yard with lawn and garden expert Trisha Craven Worley.

Tricia Craven Worley: You know, as the weather starts to cool, a lot of people turn their attention away from the garden. And I can understand that, but there are a couple of things that would be good to do during this period.

One is to test your soil, and I bought this kit at a local home store, but possibly you can get one from your extension. And what you want to do is test your soil for acidity. And in the Pacific Northwest and in the East, these soils tend to be a little bit more acidic. So if you test to a PH of six of lower, you might want to add limestone. And also, in cooler regions, a dolomite limestone is good. And what this does is it neutralizes the soil and lawns love that and a lot of gardens like it, too.

Something else you might want to do is dig up your tender bulbs, like gladiolas and begonias and dahlias. These are not going to back it through the winter in the ground, but if you lift them out, dust them off, and put them in a cool, dry place, I actually put them in a brown bag, they’ll be safe for the window, and obviously don’t let them get wet either.

Danny Lipford: This is when remodeling is a lot of fun. When we’re able to help homeowners accomplish something they wanted for a long, long time. In this case, to build a playroom for the kids, a couple extra storage areas that you can always use, and a nice outdoor entertainment area for the adults.

What we started with was an underused carport with a flat roof. By improving the roof system, pouring a level concrete slab and building walls around the carport, we were able to create some great new indoor living space. The area’s the perfect size for the kids to play in, and the built in lockers and entertainment center will ensure that there’s plenty of room to store all those things they’ll be using when having all that fun.

Outside here’s both uncovered and covered space for entertaining or just relaxing. And, with this great new grilling station, we’ve added to the outdoor space, even the cooking chores, won’t seem like chores at all. These homeowners are already getting a lot of use of this space, both outside as well as inside.

Now one of the reasons this project went together so well is that the homeowners took a lot of time deciding on a exactly what they wanted to accomplish, and then they made sure the design reflected all of those great ideas. Now it’s a good thing to keep in mind when you’re planning your next renovation.

I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you next week.

Next week, we’ll make a big change in the curb appeal of this home, starting at the curb.

Announcer: If you’d like to purchase a video tape or DVD of this week’s show, visit our website at dannylipford.com or call us at 1-800-946-4420.