Five Practical Tips to Create Your Dream Garage

The garage may be the most underutilized room in your home. Making changes and improvements can add utility to the space and be a smart financial decision — according to Zillow, a simple garage door replacement was the top home improvement in 2019 when it comes to returning on your investment.

There are endless ideas out there to transform your garage into another gorgeous space in your home. Whether you use the garage solely for parking your vehicles or you’d like to expand its purpose to include a craft area, consider these five practical tips to add function to your dream garage transformation.

1. Look Into Permits

If you’re planning on upgrading your garage by adding storage or a small workshop area, you probably don’t need a local building permit. But if you plan on making larger changes such as converting your garage into an additional room or upgrading the garage’s electrical system, you’ll likely need that permit — or maybe more.

Before you get started on your garage transformation, it’s best to check your local building office about your ideas first. You could be liable for big fines if you build out your garage without the appropriate permits. Plus, you’ll have trouble when you sell your house since your garage addition must be disclosed as not being permitted.

2. Security is Key

Besides permits, one of the first considerations you should account for before you upgrade your current garage space is security. Protect the investment you’re about to make ensuring strangers can’t access your home or your garage. If your garage door has clear glass panels, you may want to add an opaque film that makes it difficult for thieves and intruders to peek inside and see the contents.

Make sure access doors into the house have locks. Make it a habit to lock your access doors, as well as wait until you see your garage door fully close before you drive away. A smart garage door opener can link to your smartphone and send you alerts if someone forgets to close the garage. You can also set up notifications to alert you if someone opens the garage door.

3. Examine the Garage’s Basic Structure

If you plan on transforming the garage into a space where you and your family can spend more time, take a look at the garage’s basic structure. Is there sufficient electricity for the intended use? What’s the insulation like? Many garages lack proper weatherproofing, creating a drafty or uncomfortable zone to hang around in. Insulating the garage and adding electrical outlets where you’ll need them most is worth the small investment.

Then there are the garage’s concrete floors. Older garages may contain asbestos in the cement floors. Cement tends to deteriorate over time, releasing dangerous asbestos dust, which is very dangerous for you and your family’s health. If your home was built before the 1990s, it’s best to have your garage floor tested for asbestos and address the issue before you get too far into a renovation project.

4. Add and Improve Storage

Regardless of the dream garage project you envision, you can never have too much storage. Consider upgrading old shelves and cabinets with custom-looking cabinetry available from your local home improvement or closet store. Modern cabinets maximize storage while taking up less space than older built-ins. And they will add a sleek, modern look to your garage.

Adding storage doesn’t have to break your budget. Many closet systems can be added in your garage and can be installed over a weekend with a little help from a friend or family member. Consider adding counter space to the storage area — a simple counter area can add purpose to your garage by providing a spot to work on crafts or other hobbies.

5. Upgrade the Lighting

Lighting can transform any room into a brighter or more functional space. Most garages have limited lighting in the form of a fluorescent light strip. Since most garages lack windows, adding modern, energy-efficient lighting brightens up the space while saving you money on your utility bills. Layer your garage’s lighting the following way:

  • Overhead lighting for general purpose use
  • Cabinet lighting that illuminates counters or cabinet interiors
  • A skylight to bring in natural light and expand the space
  • Task lighting if you plan on working on craft and woodworking projects

If your electrical wiring is limited in your garage and your budget can’t stretch to upgrade your garage’s electrical system, there are efficient and long-lasting battery-operated LED lights available in strips or individual units that may be good lighting alternatives.

Ready, Set, Go

A successful garage renovation starts with aspects you may not notice once the remodel is complete. A garage renovation’s practical elements such as security, structure, and basic function are not as exciting as choosing your new garage floor’s finish and color, but just as necessary. Once you’ve addressed the basics, you can get into the fun part of converting your garage ideas from dream to reality.

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