As we’re all spending much more time at home, many homeowners are thinking about investing in their homes. Michael Beninati, a Colorado Realtor and one of our contributors, talked to the magazine about how to help customers add value to their homes with custom garages.
Movement from cities. After the shelter-in-place order and self isolation comes to an end, Beninati predicts that Coloradans, especially those in the Denver core, will migrate out toward the suburbs, particularly those living in smaller spaces. People will be “feeling like they’re done, like the walls are too tight on the people living in high rises.”
He added that “a percentage of people [will leave] Denver in general to move somewhere more cost-conscious. Not everyone who is unemployed will be able to go back to work.”
Family focus. The benefit of the economy opening up again, he added, is that it means a lot of home buying and building activity in general. People who move away from the city will be paying less for their homes and able to obtain more space. We know Coloradans are already interested in large outdoor areas for their homes. Custom garages are an easy addition to these spaces.
Custom-built garages have a large value proposition for families. Families with children are a demographic likely to stay put: “They want to stay in their neighborhood, their kids are in school there, kids are getting their own cars,” Beninati explained. This means families will need more room in the garage for those cars.
He’s also seen interest in “man-cave style condos, where people can have their hobbies and toys at home.” Many garage customization companies, such as Garage Living, specialize in building storage to accommodate tools, applying floor coatings for tires, or installing hardware like car lifts. All of these features are geared toward care and workspace for vehicles.
Beyond that, adding living space to a renovated garage provides quiet and privacy for work or hobbies. He mentions that even for people with designated home offices, the house may not be free of distractions between kids, dogs and general movement throughout the home.
New home necessities. In particular, Beninati is expecting to see “more of this with home offices,” as the need for a functional home office space increases.
“A family with a mom, dad and two kids may not be able to find a five-bedroom house in their neighborhood. Their options are either to scrape a house and remodel, or build on top of a custom garage, and be able to work a normal day job without being in the house.”
According to Home Advisor, custom office spaces are one of the most affordable garage remodel options, making them even more likely.
Beninati discusses options for habitable space beyond just offices, such as a guest apartment that provides the guest with privacy. As the pandemic has also brought shifts in family living, such as college-aged or adult children moving home unexpectedly or possibly care of an older loved one, this is another addition we’re expecting to see more of.
Creativity and opportunity. Beyond the family home functionality, homeowners who have the money, the space or the ideas can turn a custom garage into something spectacular. In one Architectural Digest profile, designer Dan Fink combines an office space and luxury car garage to create the man cave of homebuyers’ dreams.
In another, a Seattle-based couple turns their garage into an accessible and attractive tiny home for an aging family member. This house was complete with a convertible loft, used for storage or another guest bedroom should they ever need it.
Long-term value. While many of these solutions address homeowner needs during the pandemic, Beninati believes that these renovations will only become more popular after it’s over. It’s already been a request from clients, he said.
“In the last five years, I’ve had a handful of clients who couldn’t find [customized garages], so they’ve had to buy three to five acres of land so they could build. They don’t exist among city living, so they have to move outside of ideal neighborhoods,” according to Beninati. Some clients are so invested, they’ll give up other priorities for the garage.
In addition to the functional value of the additional space, custom garages also add to the financial value when an owner eventually decides to sell. In Beninati’s experience, the return on investment has always been worth it, and it may be even more so now.