The opportunities to convert a garage into something more than just vehicle storage are endless.
Story by Ann Butenas
It’s not uncommon these days to drive around a neighborhood and discover that many homes have turned the garage into a multi-functional space. Move over, automobiles! We need to make room for the inspired creativity! With a bit of imagination – and a cooperative budget! – you can turn your garage into most anything you desire. Of course, you have to have access to essential utilities and a high-quality garage door for proper insulation and protection. Once you attend to the basics, then the fun can begin. Would you like a game room, office or even a studio apartment? Say hello to the garage. You can even set up some exercise equipment in this space and use it as a workout room. If laundry space is at a minimum in your home, you can stretch your garage space to incorporate these elements. Some folks have even installed multiple flat screen TVs, a refrigerator, seating areas and a bar, creating a welcoming area where the (garage!) door is always open. Basically, you can turn your garage into whatever suits you and your lifestyle.
Today, more and more builders are seeing an increase in requests to upscale the garage a bit, and the Kumpfers, owners of the award-winning Wynne Homes, Inc., are no exception. While not every home-building client wants to completely transform their garage, the Kumpfers have seen a few requests in recent years that are not necessarily what your grandparents had in their garages.
KCH&S: What are some of the most common requests people have with respect to the garage when building a home?
KUMPFER: Some of the most requested things include epoxy floors, dog wash/utility sinks, extra electrical outlets, windows, a pedestrian door, flat ceilings (as opposed to popcorn ones) and cabinets/shelving for storage. However, as with any project, one’s budget will determine what can be accomplished.
KCH&S: How is the garage changed in recent years in terms of form and function?
KUMPFER: Homeowners are making the garage a true extension of their home with cabinets and extra storage in a warmer, more inviting environment than the traditional cold, grey, dirty garage for cars only in years past. Painted walls, epoxy flooring, and a separate heating system for the garage all help to transition from outside to inside. Also, when the pantry backs up to the garage, we have installed doors that allows for instant unloading of groceries directly into the pantry. This added convenience helps to save the heavy lifting and the dangerous trips carrying groceries and supplies back and forth from car to kitchen.
KCH&S: What are some popular requests for garages in homes now?
KUMPFER: Some more recent requests have helped to transform the traditional garage into a part of a backyard oasis. With an enlarged opening and taller bay door that opens to the back yard, the front opening can be closed to the street traffic and the back bay can open to a private entertaining space that can flow into the back yard. Another use of the enlarged bay can help to store and make more accessible any large vehicles/boats, etc. for storage or hobbies.
KCH&S: What are some standard features in garages today that otherwise we would not have seen 5-10 years ago?
KUMPFER: Our personal standard feature is to increase the beam size in all our garages which totally eliminates all the vertical posts.
KCH&S: How has the use of the garage changed in recent years?
KUMPFER: Not only the old garage anymore, it is used as an outdoor casual game room with hot and cold water, vending and soda machines, and/or extra stairs to the basement for an independent/private entrance.
Final things to consider:
In addition to ensuring the garage is insulated and have an overhead door, you should also check with an electrician about wiring outlets and any safety procedures. It is also important to check with your municipality on any rules in your area and to determine if a permit is required.