Garage Renovations
Modernizing Your Garage

There are lots of articles out there about remodeling your garage but little about garage renovations. These articles, however, usually focus on converting your garage into additional living space. Not many really focus on what might be termed "renovating" your garage-which might be more aptly referred to as refurbishing, fixing up, or modernizing a garage.

There are many reasons you might need to renovate your garage. Perhaps it is too small and you need to expand or add on. Maybe it is damaged, with dents in the garage door or damage from someone running into it or backing into it. It could simply be out of date or unfinished.

In fact, if your garage was built more than 20 years ago or thereabouts, chances are it is in need of some garage renovations to make it more usable to accommodate your current needs. Your garage may have been constructed as a simple place to park a vehicle, without much consideration for using it as a workspace or extra storage.

If you want to do carpentry work, welding, auto repair, or other projects in your garage now, there may be an inadequate power supply for an air compressor, welder, or other equipment. Or there may not be enough outlets in the right places overall. It may even be advisable to have a completely separate power source and breaker panel in the garage.

Most garages constructed before that time frame-or even more recently on a budget-are also unfinished. You may want to thoroughly insulate, heat, and finish the interior of your garage. You may also want to add more windows to let in additional light or upgrade manual garage doors to electric garage door openers.

Garage renovations could be as simple as painting the concrete floor and interior, or it could be as complex as removing an exterior wall, adding additional concrete for a foundation, and expanding the space which will require extending walls, building new walls, and revamping the roof-line.

It might simply be re-roofing your garage and painting the exterior and trim to make it more attractive outside, or adding some rain gutters. It could also mean running gas lines and power lines, installing heaters and meters and breakers, and rewiring the entire building.

Before you begin your garage renovations, consider all the different ways you plan to use the space, both now and in the future. For instance, if you have a pre-teen in your household, you may be purchasing an additional car in the next few years and need additional parking space.

Perhaps you are just a few years from retirement and want to set up an area for woodworking to use then. You get the idea. Draw out a rough sketch of a plan with anticipated measurements and the work you think will need to be done.

If you want to add on to the existing garage space, now measure your lot or property and all the buildings on the property. Draw it out on graph paper so you have a bird's eye view of your property. Using a dashed or dotted line, draw in the addition you are planning.

Before you do another thing, take the time to visit your local zoning office to find out if the garage renovations you envision is permissible under the laws and regulations of the municipality in which you live. Many municipalities require that buildings do not cover more than a certain percentage of the lot, buildings must be set back from the boundaries of the lot by a particular measurement, etc.

Even if your garage is currently not conforming to these guidelines, if you begin a renovation, you may find that you will now be required to conform to them, and this could become a much larger project than you initially thought. So it's a good idea to visit the zoning office with your rough plans in hand even if you aren't planning to move walls but you are going to do anything that will require a building permit or attract the attention of your neighbors.

Carefully consider your budget and the anticipated cost of the various stages of your garage renovations. You may decide to complete the work in phases to make it more affordable. Be sure you have a grand plan of all the renovations you want to make ultimately so you can plan the stages of renovation out logically. For instance, new windows need to be added before you drywall the interior or re-side the exterior unless you are simply replacing existing windows with new ones of the same exact size.

All the wiring work needs to be done before you insulate. If it is necessary to construct a new ceiling, you need to do that before you install a new electrical garage door opener-and you also need to be sure you have an electrical outlet on the ceiling where it will be needed.

Don't forget to consider all of the possibilities when making your plans. Examine the building's foundation, structure, and roof. Consider heating and electrical-and even plumbing if you might want to add a laundry area in your garage space. Evaluate windows, doors, and whether you need to add any new ones in different sizes.

Factor in insulation as required for your climate, finishing materials needed, shelving or storage, paint, new siding for the exterior, overhead doors, garage door openers, and anything else you might want to add, even if it is something as simple and ornate as shutters for curb appeal or exterior yard lighting.

Plan your project well before you begin, and your garage renovations will go much more smoothly.

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