It’s rare for a person to get their big break into the music industry right away. As a matter of fact, Bruce Springsteen, Beck, and other famous artists started their careers recording music in the comfort of their own homes. As far-fetched as this may sound, converting your garage into a recording studio is more doable than you’d think.
Converting your garage into a studio will cost you around $5,000. The actual price will vary depending on the work needed and how much equipment you already own. Your most significant expense will be the basic renovation, with equipment and other costs falling behind.
In this article, you’ll learn the ins and outs of budgeting for your garage recording studio renovation. I’ll also include some tips to help you stay within your budget.
Cost Breakdown of Converting Your Garage Into a Studio
Before you even consider renovating your garage, it’s essential to check with your city on any conversion ordinances in place. Failing to do this can lead to extensive fines, void home warranties, or trouble with selling your home.
The price range of a building permit can vary but will typically fall between $424-$2,239, depending on where you live. Your city may also require a certain amount of space dedicated to parking, so it’s essential to make sure you follow any homeowner rules and guidelines.
Once you’re in the clear, there will be several expenses you’ll encounter: general renovations, appropriate lighting, sound absorption additions, and studio equipment.
If your garage space is unfinished, you’re going to need to budget for drywall, ceiling tiles, and other general things to make the space usable. Ensuring proper ventilation is vital for usability because a recording studio needs as few windows as possible. Too many windows allow outside noises to leaking inside, which can mess with your sound quality.
The cost for drywalling your garage will likely fall somewhere between $1,200 to $5,100, depending on the size of the space. Most contractors will use a thick, fire-resistant drywall type, which is more costly than typical drywall.
You can use objects like standalone or exhaust fans in terms of ventilation, but those make noise. Too much excess noise will mess with your sound, so installing some venting will suffice better as it’s much quieter. If you choose to install a vent, you’ll have one of two options: a roof vent or a ridge vent.
Roof vents will typically cost you around #300-$650, while a ridge vent will cost somewhere between $2-$3 per linear foot.
It’s important to balance natural and artificial light to have a functional garage recording studio. Natural light is best achieved through skylights. Having a window on the roof instead of the walls helps eliminate sounds from outside while also providing adequate natural light.
Regardless of your window choice, it’s crucial to soundproof them anyways. If you choose to buy soundproof-specific windows, they’ll cost you somewhere between $500-$1,200. You can also DIY soundproofing, or you can purchase a unique window screen that helps block out outside noise.
Experts recommend using LED lights for artificial lighting. LEDs are better than other lighting options for several reasons.
For starters, they don’t get really hot like other types. LED lighting is also long-lasting, and they save on energy too. They’re much cheaper than different lighting types and will cost you around $150 or less in most cases.
Sound Absorption Additions
Sound absorption objects are essential for reducing noise pollution and are a must for any recording space. If you’re planning to convert your garage into a recording studio, you’re going to want to install things like acoustic panels, proper insulation, and rubber mats to ensure high-quality sound. There are also soundproof garage doors you can install if you choose to do so.
These products will vary in price, and you’ll end up paying as little as $200 or as much as $3,500, depending on how you choose to soundproof your garage recording studio.
Check out my article about whether concrete flooring is a viable option for recording studios.
After you’ve done the main renovations and soundproofed your area, you’re ready to buy and move in your studio equipment.
There are five main pieces of equipment you’ll need to have a proper home studio:
- Digital audio workstation (DAW)
- Headphones and monitors
The computer will be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you’ll need, and it’s important not to skate by with a cheap model.
Most industry leaders will use a Macbook Air or other Apple products. Most Apple products are compatible with leading studio software, so those are your best bet. You should budget between $800-$1,200 for a good quality computer.
Your digital audio workstation is what connects your computer to the rest of your equipment. There are free versions of this software, while other DAWs can cost as much as $2,600. You can typically find headphones for $100 or less, and a studio monitor will generally cost somewhere between $250-$300 per monitor pair.
Microphones and cables will be the least expensive expense on your list and should cost you around $300 total.
How To Convert Your Garage While Sticking to Your Budget
Converting your garage into a recording studio is a significant project, and with that comes hefty expenses. With a project as big as this, it’s essential to stick to your budget as best you can to prevent hemorrhaging your money into the space.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to keep you on a budget:
- Plan your budget ahead of time. Knowing how much you’d like to spend on each step of the process with a project as big as this will help you keep your head on straight. It’ll also keep you on track and help you make mindful decisions when choosing different products.
- Map out your floor plan. If you know where you want everything to go, you’ll save time and money that you’d spend rearranging things if you chose to go with the flow. Mapping out your floor plan also helps you maximize storage space and prevent overcrowding.
- DIY when and where you can. If you can install drywall yourself or you know how to install vents or LED lights, you’ll spend a lot less than you would if you hired a professional. However, if you aren’t skilled in either job, it’s better to hire a professional who can get it done right on the first try.
- Prepare yourself for upcoming expenses. As important as planning your budget ahead of time is, it’s equally important (if not more) to anticipate future costs. It may be helpful to create a timeline list of what you’ll be completing and when. This way, once you finish one task, you can begin a new one without forgetting any necessary steps.
For more information, check out my guide to the best flooring for home recording studios.
So many popular bands got their start recording in their garages. Weezer, Nirvana, and many other classic groups have successfully utilized their garage space in their craft, which means it’s definitely doable for you too.
All in all, a typical garage renovation will cost you around $5,000. However, that cost can be much less or far more, depending on the materials you choose and how much work needs to be done.
The best thing you can do to make sure you stick to your budget is plan everything ahead of time and prepare yourself for upcoming expenses.