When you're planning renovations to boost the resale value of your home, don't overlook the other money maker on your property - your garage.
The ideas and suggestions offered here are aimed at detached garages, but most apply to attached garages as well:
1. Know your target buyers
Will this outside space represent true value to the buyers you're counting on to pay top dollar? If so, transform it into the best garage it can be. How can your garage separate your property from the competition? This may mean tearing down the worn-out version and building a new one, or adding a garage if none exists. Adding electrical power and running water can add value, but check value appreciation against costs and permit expenses before you undertake these changes.
2. Know your zoning bylaws
If your municipality allows accommodation to be added to a garage, the additional space and any related income may be the deciding factor for some buyers. If an occupancy permit is out of the question, the garage can still double as an art studio, workshop, or man cave, and differentiate your property from the neighbors. Will your zoning allow the space to be used for a home-based business?
3. Know how to expand storage
Fit out every corner of your garage as storage space for everything from seasonal decorations and furniture to extra chairs, bicycles, and sports gear. Shelves, hooks, bins, and cupboards are garage "jewellery."
4. Know how to go green
If green buyers are in your target, consider a green renovation with environmentally-friendly materials. Set the garage up to house electric and hybrid cars. Make a special bicycle section with the latest storage systems. Install a solar panel for lighting and other services. Add windows and skylights with insulated blinds to increase the amount of natural light when needed.
5. Know how to expand utility
Can the single garage be expanded to a double? How about a loft? Could a greenhouse be added to entice gardeners? Is there room for a hot-tub or sauna? Could an exercise room work here?
6. Know how to make value visible
Whether you match the garage's style to that of your home or give the garage a distinctive look, make the garage shine. Murals and trompe d'oeil can transform the mundane to the magical if you have a talented artist on hand. State-of-the-art door hardware, locks, and door openers make strong value statements.
Garages can add significant value or merely make a home stand out in a subdivision's crowd to become more saleable. However, the garden space taken up by a too-small or poor-condition garage may mean that demolition of the building and landscaping of the open space is the best value-adding approach.
Take care with this strategy. Once a garage has been demolished, some municipalities may not allow a new garage to be built on the property. That's where your real estate professional comes in. This local expert knows whether your garage represents value potential or a turn-off to target buyers. Ask the professional to back up their suggestions with actual sold examples, so you're not the one who pays for a misguided marketing approach.