Garage Renovations for Improved Functionality

Articles & Interest

As warmer weather approaches, you’ll likely be in and out of your garage more than usual. You may be grabbing sports equipment, reaching for gardening supplies, tackling a DIY project, or packing up the car for a beach vacation. Whatever the occasion, an organized and efficient garage makes life run smoother.  

However, for many of us the garage becomes a disorganized accumulation of stuff and doesn’t meet our needs. It doesn’t have to be that way! With some thoughtful changes, or even an entire garage renovation, you can unlock the potential of this underrated space.  

“There is a lot of stress in life, and your garage shouldn’t be one of the sources,” says Reilly Novak from Novak Contracting & Construction Ltd. in Surrey, British Columbia. In this article, Novak shares some helpful advice for things to consider when renovating your garage for improved functionality.  

Start brainstorming and constructing your plan

“Prioritize a detailed plan that is well thought out before doing anything,” says Novak.  

Start by taking note of how you currently use your garage and what your needs are. Don’t hold back! Think about all the potential changes you would like to incorporate. What sports equipment do you want accessible? Would you like a sustainable worm composting station? How would you like to display all your fishing rods? Are you a budding rock star that could benefit from soundproofing?  

In your final plan, Novak suggests including “thoughts about whether you have enough room to move when the vehicles are in the garage, how the flooring will react to snow and wet in the winter and whether it will be slippery, or what coverage your lighting will have once adding overhead racking.” 

Design should only come after you’ve worked out the functional needs of your space. Professional renovators that specialize in garages will be able to offer insight and design assistance.  

Back of home with trees, sunlight and garage door.
Serene garage and home renovation by Novak Contracting & Construction Ltd.

Can you DIY your garage renovation?

You may be able to make some changes yourself, especially if you’re just tidying up or adding some storage solutions. If you go that route, pay attention to the garage designs you see in your community and by doing some research online.  

But if you’re introducing new technology, need to expand your garage or are working with chemicals, it’s time to call in a professional. Our blog post Should You Do It Yourself? offers some great guidelines on how to assess if your project makes sense to do yourself, or if you should bring in a professional renovator.  

“Professionals will have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t, what the best ways are to lay out your storage and workspaces, and foresee possible problems before spending a lot of time and money,” says Novak. “They will also take all the stress out of a renovation. Remember: you get what you pay for!” 

Smart homes deserve smart garages

We have come a long way since the first automatic garage door was invented in the 1920s. Today, home technologies often extend into the garage. Smoke detectors, fire alarms, and moisture, radon, and carbon monoxide detectors all provide additional safety features.  

Lighting is another simple way to elevate your garage and increase its usability. Consider adding motion sensor lighting, LED lighting, or even adding a skylight or windows to brighten the space. Garage door styles with windows can also bring in a surprising amount of light. 

If you own an electric vehicle, the installation of a charging station is an essential upgrade. If you have the means, installing a car lift is a great way to take advantage of unused space in your garage and double your parking space. 

Electric car charging at a port in garage.
Electric car charging port by Shutterstock.

Upgrade your storage

Cars are certainly not the only items stored in Canadian garages. Every homeowner has unique interests and storage needs. It’s important to think about what you need organized and to allocate a generous amount of space for all. Nothing is worse than squeezing yourself past tennis rackets and under a weed whacker to slide in your car door that can only open 20%. 

“Utilizing wall and ceiling space can take a garage from a cluttered storage locker to an open useable space,” says Novak. “Not only does this help with the space, but it will also be calming to the homeowner’s mood.”  

Organization stations for tools, equipment and supplies in garage.
Thoughtfully designed garage storage system by Novak Contracting & Construction Ltd.

There’s a lot more to the garage floor

The type of flooring in garages has evolved over the years. For years, the floor was typically a simple asphalt or concreate surface. However, the introduction of epoxy floor coatings provided a method of protecting and improving the look of the floor. Novak recommends that “the coating you put on the floor should be well researched, thinking about how it will stand up to tire marks, whether it will be slippery in the winter when it gets wet or has snow tracked in on it, and how easy it is to clean if something is spilled on it.” Furthermore, Novak shares “garage floors should always slope outward to alleviate any standing water or fluids.” 

Vintage car parked in garage with shiny garage floor.
Garage by Novak Contracting & Construction Ltd.

Don’t forget about heating and cooling 

If you experience fluctuations in temperature in your location, consider adding additional heating and/or cooling in your garage renovation. You can consider a combined unit that provides both heating and air conditioning, or portable air conditioning and space heaters. More comfortable garage temperatures mean you’ll use the space more often year-round, especially if you use the space for multiple purposes. Of course, if your garage isn’t insulated at all or enough, you’ll need to address that first, or your heating and cooling bills will be severely impacted.  

Increase curb appeal by upgrading your garage’s look

The exterior appearance of your garage affects your home’s entire aesthetic. Don’t believe us? Search photos of before and after garage door renovations and you’ll be blown away by how a simple addition of windows or change of colour can transform the entire look.  

Allocate time to research to see what you prefer. Your garage door style and colour should fit cohesively with the rest of your home (though an accent colour is often a great way to add some personality to your home). Don’t be afraid to experiment with different window styles that compliment your home, decorative handles, outdoor lighting, or tasteful greenery. 

Close look at a garage detailed with wooden overhang, windows and cream colour.
Exterior garage design with decorative features by Novak Contracting & Construction Ltd.

Ready to renovate?

If you’re ready to start talking to a professional about renovating your garage, you can find a trusted contractor in your area through RenoMark’sprofessional directory. 

Want to impress your friends and family with a little garage history? 

Early in the 20th century, the first vehicle owners would park beside their horses in carriage houses and barns. Talk about horsepower! As the use of cars increased, so did the innovation of at-home garages. As you can imagine, classic barn doors were quite cumbersome to access your vehicles, so entrepreneur and inventor C.G. Johnson designed the overhead garage door and, just five years later, invented the first electric door opener in 1926. By the 1940s, garages attached to houses began appearing. By the 1970s, automatic garage door openers were popular among homeowners. Today, in addition to cars, it is likely you’ll find modern garages filled with storage, construction spaces, band practice, and even budding startups. Source: