April 27, 2023

Prioritize and reorganize to reclaim your garage

Somewhere along the way most American garages became more like barns or sheds – used for storage instead of housing for the family car.

According to a 2001 study done at UCLA, only about 25% of homeowners still have room to park their cars in the garage.

Some of these folks took advantage of the garage space to create another room. As the cost of real-estate rises, garages can become valuable extended square footage – for playrooms, gyms, man caves, workshops, or craft rooms.

But a disturbing number of the homeowners in the study had turned their garages into glorified junk drawers, filled with loose items and boxes.

The good news is: You can reclaim your garage. It’s a slippery slope for a garage to become a receptacle for everything that has no place else to be – explaining why a rusting pasta maker sits inside the warm garage, while a nice BMW or Lexus is relegated to the driveway.

Choose a dry day to reorganize. Categorize items like recycling, recreational equipment, camping gear, tools and so on. Trash or donate items that are broken or unused.

If you still have an excess of usable goods, consider a garage sale. When pricing, think like your customers, who are likely expecting a deep discount. Fridays and Saturdays are best for holding sales, of course. But the first weekend of the month is usually best because it takes advantage of when the most people will have the most disposable cash.

Built-in cabinets, shelves and storage help set limits. Make the most of vertical space with wall-mounted pegboards and wire grids. Large items like ladders and bikes can hang from the ceiling.

Clean up the outside, too. A new garage door can open a few eyes. A dilapidated door or non-functional automatic opener are automatic turn-offs to potential buyers. A beautiful door is a window to higher asking prices, returning an average of 93.7% on investment.

The first garages were carriage houses - essentially barns for the rich – where cars shared space with carriages and the horses who pulled them.

The prosperity of the Post-War 1940s and ‘50s led to more and bigger cars. Garages expanded, too. Attached garages followed, most with entryways directly into the home.

According to the UCLA study, there are still a few people (about 25%) who use their garages for car storage. If the garage space is not meant for people, it should be used as a nice home for your car.

Experts say it is good for a car to be parked inside. The paint job stays nicer than those left out in the sun and rain, and an engine kept warm is less likely to have problems in the winter.

Cars kept inside won’t get ice on the windows, and drivers won’t have to start or enter the car when it’s burning hot or freezing cold.