Garage greatness is within reach

Organization can keep it from being dumping ground

By Paul F. P. Pogue

Your garage can be a valuable zone for a wide variety of tools and hobbies, but it won’t do you much good if it’s more like a black hole than an efficient storage space. This summer, make the most out of this versatile space by creating a storage plan, so you never have to rummage through a pile of stuff to find that misplaced hammer or bike pump.

“I recommend measuring and sketching out the space and then mapping out where you want to store different things,” says Mallory Micetich, Angi Home Care Expert. “For example, you can designate different areas of your garage to different categories, like tools, sports equipment or lawn care. Storing your items by category makes upkeep easier and can help you find things faster.”

If you’re organizing your garage independently, prioritize items by size. The biggest elements dictate the space you’ll work around for everything else. Appliances, parking for cars, and large tools such as a riding lawnmower should have a specific area set aside. The rest of your garage items should be arranged around them to allow easy access when needed.

“Pay attention to your natural habits to make the system easy to maintain,” Micetich says. “Ask yourself questions like ‘Where do I tend to leave things that I use a lot?’ ‘What am I always losing?’ and ‘What are things that I need access to consistently?’”

Once you’ve organized your garage, make a schedule to keep it that way. A few minutes per day or week can go a long way toward preventing chaos from overtaking your belongings.

And if you want to really upgrade your garage to the next level, a professional organizer or garage contractor can work magic.

What a pro can offer

“A pro can help you come up with an organization system that is perfect for your specific needs and your specific garage,” Micetich says. “They’ll set you up for success, so you can have an organized garage for years to come.”

Price varies widely based on what you’re looking for. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect for your organizing and remodeling dollar:

Basic DIY setup, $50 to $200: This will get you the shelving, hooks and tool racks to bring your garage workshop under control.

Simple pro shelving, $1,000 to $1,500: A contractor will install a basic shelving and organizational system.

Mid-range custom job, $3,000 to $5,000: A more significant investment will get you epoxy-sealed floors, open shelving, cabinets, a work area and wall storage.

Upscale custom work, $5,000 and up: If you’re willing to spend the money, you can overhaul your garage into a customized organizational dream or even a living area conversion. If you want it to become a separate living area, such as its own apartment, expect to pay up to $30,000.

If you decide upon a garage renovation rather than simply organization, a talented pro can turn it into a functional living space or dedicated hobby zone while still keeping the car-storage thing going.

Ask these five questions to determine whether a pro is the right fit to remodel or organize your garage:

1How will you customize your work to my specific needs?

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for garage remodeling. Ask your pro how they will approach your job to match exactly what you want. You should also think about the infrastructure of your garage. Most basic garages only have a few electrical outlets and an overhead light. If you have specific plans for the garage requiring higher power or improved water flow, you should include those changes during renovations. This goes double if you want to add living space such as an apartment above the garage.

2How will you approach safety?

The garage strikes an unusual balance. It’s potentially a living area, a storage area, and a work area, and that means you’re often putting flammable liquids and power tools in the same space where you’re working or just hanging out. You can be storing your most valuable items, such as cars and power tools, alongside some of your least valuable, such as rakes and shovels. Make sure your garage plan takes all this into account.

3What are you going to do with the floor?

Garage flooring is its own wide-ranging field. Early in the planning stages, ensure you and your contractor are on the same page regarding how to handle the floor, whether it’s an epoxy sealer or a more elaborate decorative element. You might also think about raising your floor to match the height of the residential area of the house if it doesn’t already.

4How will you adjust the climate in the garage?

Keeping a garage warm in winter and cool in summer is a tricky matter, especially if you’re going to use it for more than storage. You might need to run new HVAC ducts to the area or bump up the insulation in the walls or garage door. Whatever the plan, the important thing is that your provider HAS a plan, or else you might end up sweating or shivering — or both.

5Will you follow code and apply for permits?

This is important in any job, but garage work is one of those areas where corners seem to get cut a little more often. Ensure your contractor pulls the correct permits and that any new licensed work like electrical lines or plumbing is done on the up-and-up. You don’t want any nasty surprises later. Work done without permits can interfere with a future home sale, and the permit/inspection process also protects you.

Tweet your home care questions with #AskingAngi.

Pogue writes for Angi. This article was provided by Tribune News Service.