By Bree Fowler, AP auto writer In Print: Sunday, October 9, 2011
For a lot of homeowners, their garage has become their go-to place for stashing everything but their cars. But for those looking to sell their home in today's tough real estate market, or who are just looking to get the most out of the space, a garage facelift may be the way to go. Here are three steps you can take to improve your garage:
Clean it up
There's no dispute among Realtors and design experts: The worst condition a garage can be in, especially when you're trying to sell, is messy and disorganized.
"There's nothing people hate to see more than cobwebs or evidence of critters," says Elizabeth Blakeslee, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker in Washington, D.C.
The garage should be kept in the same manner as the rest of the house, she says. Keep it tidy, paint the floor and garage door and keep the roof in good condition.
To eliminate clutter, it helps to store items close to where they are needed, says Barbara Butensky, director of marketing for GarageTek, a Syosset, N.Y., company that makes custom garage organization and storage systems. For example, extra rolls of paper towels and other household items should be kept close to the entrance to the house, while lawn care items might be better kept close to an exit to the yard, she said.Add shelves and cabinets
It's amazing how much more you can do with a garage and how much better it looks if everything is off the floor. Shelving units and cabinets, preferably made out of heavy-duty plastics can help de-clutter the space.
"Most garages are not climate controlled," Butensky says. "PVC (cabinets and shelves) holds up the best to moisture heat and cold. It can even take a few hits from kids' bats and toys and even the garage door."
Think you don't have space for them? Look up. Butensky says cabinets and shelves can often be installed near the ceiling, freeing up precious wall and floor space. Certain large items that don't get used a lot like kayaks and sleds can also be hung from the ceiling or placed on racks or hangers that hang from the ceiling.
GarageTek offers their design service for free, in part to let homeowners know exactly what the renovations will look like and how much it's going to cost.Renovate
For those whose home just didn't come with the playroom, art studio or man cave they need, garages can be converted into extra rooms — even small apartments.
Butensky says some of her company's clients have chosen to turn part or all of their garages into a living or recreational space. Projects ranged from something as simple as painting squares for hopscotch or a shuffleboard court on the floor, to the fancy indoor rink complete with synthetic ice that a customer in Palm Beach in south Florida had installed.
The key to any renovation is doing it right. A garage done cheaply and without the right people involved won't attract buyers or allow you to recoup your investment if you sell, Blakeslee says.Renovate
Butensky says some of her company's clients have chosen to turn part or all of their garages into a living or recreational space. Projects ranged from something as simple as painting squares for hopscotch or a shuffleboard court on the floor, to the fancy indoor rink complete with synthetic ice that a customer in Palm Beach, Fla., had installed.
The key to any renovation is doing it right. Just like a kitchen or a bathroom, a garage done cheaply and without the right people involved won't attract buyers or allow you to recoup your investment if you sell, Blakeslee says.
Homeowners interested in big projects such as enclosing their garage and turning it into a climate-controlled extra room need to talk to a realtor to find out if that's something that reduces the value of homes in their area. Zoning regulations also need to be thoroughly researched, Blakeslee advises.
A lack of covered parking usually doesn't keep a home from selling, as long as it's not located in part of the country with extreme weather conditions, Blakeslee says.
The realtor also noted that she's seeing an increasing number of homes where the owners have turned their garage into a small apartment, usually to house adult children or elderly parents that need a place to stay, but want to be a little separated from the rest of the house.