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Buying a Home with a Frog: Finished Room Over Garage

Thursday, April 14, 2022   /   by Anne Rose

Buying a Home with a Frog: Finished Room Over Garage

A FROG, or "finished room over garage," is a common feature in coastal North Carolina homes. Because homes on the coast don't typically have basements, additional living space can be realized by going upward, and the first place to do that is often over either an attached, or detached, garage.

Some homebuyers determine that the additional room would mostly go unused. They decide not to spend the money during construction to finish the raw space above the garage. They would rather invest their money in a Carolina room, larger first floor primary bedroom, or an extra room for a home office. Opting not to buildout a FROG also eliminates the stairway that would need to be added to the first floor, which can free space for a larger laundry room, pantry, or storage closet.

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For a large majority of home buyers, however, a FROG is an excellent construction investment. A finished room over the garage is more than just a good place to stow a couple bunkbeds for the grandkids that visit once a year. A finished room in the space above the garage can be used as a family room, at-home office, or fully-equipped home theater. 

A FROG must have fully sheetrocked walls and be heated to be included in the home's square feet, advises Nancy Baldridge, Broker/Realtor® and listing specialist. She adds that a FROG can be considered a bedroom as long as the total ceiling height is 7ft or more, there is a door and a window (ingress and egress), and the room is large enough to fit a twin bed.

"When listing their home for sale, if sellers want the FROG - finished room above the garage - to be considered a fourth bedroom and it meets that criteria, I always suggest they go for it." says Nancy. "That makes their house a four-bedroom home, instead of a three-bedroom home, for example, which adds value and increases the number of potential buyers."

One of the advantages of using a FROG for additional living space is that it is often removed from the other living space of a home, which creates a sound barrier and some level of privacy.

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"Many times we talk with potential clients that want 'single level living,' explains Janine Pugh, Broker/Realtor®. "That typically leaves very few options, and could negate what would otherwise be a perfect floor plan. We then shift the discussion to homes with the 'owners suite' on the main floor and that include a bonus room upstairs - aka 'a FROG.' We discuss what other homeowners have done with this extra space: turn it into a guest room, office, child playroom, workout room, a pool table room, 'man cave,' or even heated/cooled storage."

Having a FROG allows extra bit of space for a room that may not be utilized often, but is still sometimes necessary. Homeowners who downsize may no longer need a four - or three-bedroom home, but find that a guest suite above the garage makes it easy to host occasional family and friends. 

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"My experience with FROGs has been dealing with builders and home buyers. Builders have stated that building a FROG is adding to the home horizontally which is less costly to build than adding another room (office, etc) vertically onto the main floor." says Carey McClure, Broker/Realtor®.

"Recently when dealing with new builds, clients have requested homes with a FROG due to wanting a separate space for children to play, a man cave, theater or an office. COVID forced a lot of people to work from home so buyers are requesting the FROG to be able to work separate from their family due to noise. I have even seen a FROG used for storage of things that you would not want in an unfinished space," says Carey.

When a home has the advantage of a FROG, homeowners have increased flexibility in how they use their living space. For the current WFH people, the benefits of an additional room that feels somewhat removed from the main rooms are obvious. A FROG often has an access stairway that is not central to the entryway or Great Room, and there is also usually a door that can be closed at either the top or bottom of the stairs to the FROG.


There are more creative ways to use a FROG, too. 

"In some instances, if a family has an older parent living with them, the older parent will occupy the 'owner suite' on the main floor, while the adult children (the home owners) will use the FROG - which can include a full bathroom, ample closets, and even balconies - as their 'owner suite.'" Janine adds. "That way both demographics of the home have their own space."

Nancy Schappell, Broker/Realtor® agrees with the decision to finish the room over a garage, or to seek out a pre-owned home with a FROG.

"I would always recommend one. In a new build, a FROG provides great return for the initial investment. It is desirable, flexible space that can be a craft room, guest space, or extra hang-out for the grand kids," Nancy adds.


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