Images Courtesy of GarageTek
After updating the kitchen, improving the outdoor spaces, and giving the master suite a makeover, what’s left for the ambitious homeowner? “The garage is the last frontier of reorganization,” says Sherry Sansing, president of the California Closets branch in Baltimore, “when you look in most people’s garages you see Christmas decorations, clothing, sports equipment, everything except the car.” Although her company specializes in de-cluttering closets, Sansing also helps out in the garage. “In the organization business, garages have become a growth industry,” she says.
In any reorganization project, the first step is usually the most challenging for the homeowner. “They are calling me because they are experiencing pain,” says Dave McClintic, president of PremierGarage of Maryland, “they have so much stuff they can’t find anything.” While Sansing’s organization will help homeowners cull through the belongings, McClintic likes to start after the clean out is complete. “There are a lot of people who would like us to do that part of it but there are several companies we refer people to,” he says.
If you want to put off the stressful task of deciding what stays and what goes, McClintic also works with companies that specialize in temporary storage solutions. David Farnum, owner of Garage Doc in Howard County will carry out the junk but it’s not his favorite part of the job, “I can help clients with that but I don’t look at myself as a moving company,” he says.
Once you’ve tackled the clean-out phase, either by yourself or with help from the pros, the real fun of a garage makeover can begin. “We typically coat and seal the garage floor to keep dust from coming off the concrete,” says McClintic. Sansing’s operation doesn’t do floors, and Farnum’s prefers rubber flooring. A coat and seal job from McClintic which includes preparing the existing concrete can set you back close to $2000, depending on the size of your space.
With your new floor in place it’s time to think about storage. All the big companies offer garage-grade cabinetry which is usually made from melamine and built to hold heavy, garage-style stuff. You can choose between open shelving or cabinets with doors to hide what’s inside. Just like the kitchen, cabinetry comes in a wide variety of colors and styles in either standard or custom sizes.
The other option for storage is installing a wall system similar to what’s used in retail stores. “It’s a heavy-duty, plastic wall that goes on right over the drywall,” says Farnum. Specialized hooks attach to the wall to hold bicycles, skis, horse riding gear, gardening tools, hoses, ladders and anything else you want to get off the floor.
To layout how the cabinetry and storage systems will be configured, some of the firms use computer aided design (CAD) software to figure out which cabinets will go where, how much stuff they will hold and what it will look like when it’s finished. “We measure all the floor, walls, and ceiling heights then we can change the different styles of cabinets on the computer,” says McClintic.
While floors and storage represent the basic components of garage reorganization, there are always people who go beyond. “Work bench areas are very popular with people who like to tinker,” says Sansing, “and storage for sports equipment is a big thing, especially when there’s children in the house.” “We’ve turned some garages into play rooms complete with pool tables, refrigerators and La-Z-Boy recliners, ” says McClintic. You might think the husbands lead the charge of cleaning out the garage but all the experts agree that the wives typically play major roles.
The length of a garage makeover project – not counting the clean-out time is usually about four to five days but if your space requires custom cabinets, you should tack on a couple more weeks. When it comes to costs, Farnum says, “they can be kind of pricey, a small garage job can run you between three and four thousand dollars and can go as high as fifteen to twenty thousand.” Sansing says she can do a wall of storage for about $1500 but most two car garage jobs with a storage system come in between $7,500-$10,000. McClintic pegs his average job, with the floor at about $3800.
Now, here’s the good news. All the garage experts point to one thing when asked about the best part of their job. “After a garage project, I’ve had clients call me up and say ‘guess where my car is,’ it’s like they never thought it could happen,” says Sansing.
“Seeing the transformation with the before and after pictures is really cool and seeing the homeowners faces,” says Farnum. “I really enjoy working with people who are struggling to find the answers, because I have the solution to their pain,” says McClintic. So grab a big trash can, head out to the garage and let the healing begin.
Text and images originally appeared in the April/May 2009 issue of Chesapeake Home Magazine.
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