New Living Space in the Garage, 5 Things to Consider

1. The floor. A converted garage is made into a bright and spacious living space. The new concrete floor is raised above street level to keep water out of the interior. More often than not, the existing garage floor concrete slab is sloped, cracked and quite a bit lower than the house floor. So converting a garage to living space usually requires installing a new floor structure. There are several options for doing this. One is to build up a wood framed floor that aligns with the floor in the main house. Another is to install a wood framed or concrete floor that is a step or two down from the main house. An advantage to installing a concrete “topping slab” over the existing floor is that a radiant heating system can be installed within the concrete.

2. The opening. When converting a garage to livable space, there’s always the issue of what to do with the garage door opening. Because this opening and the garage doors have such a large impact on the overall look of the house, it makes sense to fill the opening with a large-scale element. For example, a good solution is to keep a garage door in the opening while making sure the door is weather tight.

3. Windows. Additional windows will more than likely have to be installed, as garages typically have few, if any, windows. It’s important to check and comply with any local building codes and ordinances when sizing and locating these new windows.

4. Additional plumbing. Adding a kitchen or bathroom to a garage conversion can be difficult because tying into the existing plumbing lines is problematic. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done as, say, an additional bathroom is always a nice amenity to have. So investigating ways (such as building up the floor to provide a space for plumbing pipes) to overcome the technical difficulties is well worth doing.

5. Ceiling height. Though the type of framing used at the garage roof will dictate what can be done economically, increasing the height of the ceiling is a possibility if the garage is free standing or has no second floor above it. A vaulted ceiling will certainly add to the room’s overall spaciousness.

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Weekend DIY Garage Projects

Install Motion Sensors

Motion lights are a safe and efficient source for outdoor lighting. Admit it, it’s kind of nice to walk up to a home and have the lights turn on for you like magic. It’s welcoming… and it’s definitely a great security feature. Outdoor motion lights and sensors range from $30 all the way up to $200 and they come in all sorts of shapes, colors,and installation options. The solar powered ones are really cool. Sears even has portable, LED motion sensors.URL But if you’re replacing an existing outdoor light fixture start by cutting the power to the fuse or breaker. Remove the old light and disconnect the wiring. Install the new fixture and match up each wire with it’s respective terminal: black (hot), white (neutral) and green (ground). Just replace wire for wire on the new fixture. If you’re installing new lights, call an electrician. The whole idea here is safety.

Paint The Floor

Adding a little color to your floors can give your garage a whole new look. If you don’t want to paint the entire thing, painting at least the floor will make it pop and give it a fresh, clean look. First, make sure the surface is clean and dry. Tape off all the areas you don’t want to get paint on and then simply paint two coats using a latex and floor enamel in the color of your choice. This will be durable and won’t have a strong odor or slow-dry time like oil paint.

Perform A Garage Door Tune-Up

Make sure your garage door is functioning smoothly by giving it a small tune-up. Coat the springs and the chain with a lubricant. You should also replace the rubber seal on the bottom of the door. Then, inspect the rollers and replace them if broken or damaged in any way.

Install Wall Shelves

Installing a shelf in your garage is a weekend project worth looking into since it creates extra storage space in an otherwise empty room. We recommend that you use pre-packaged shelves if you’d prefer avoiding using big tools.First, make the appropriate measurements to ensure the units are aligned properly. Then, drill in the anchors, followed by the screws and, voila, your garage shelf is complete.

 Hang A Peg Board

One of the easiest ways to stay organized in your garage or shed is to install a pegboard, which you can find at any big box home improvement store. This will help to keep tools and supplies in order and free up valuable floor space. What’s not to like?

Organize Your Stuff

Trying to find something in this area can often be stressful because it tends to be a catch-all for everything you don’t want inside the house. Installing cabinets and shelves will make it easier to find things. You should also label everything from Christmas decorations to sporting equipment.

The 6 Essentials for Every Garage

Safety Gear

Don’t put yourself in a bind in which you can’t find your safety glasses but need to work on a project, so you proceed without eye protection. Set up your shop with a dedicated area for safety equipment. You’re much more likely to actually don safety gear if you’re able to find it easily.

At the very least, you should keep two pairs of impact-rated safety glasses (one for yourself, one for an onlooker or a partner), safety goggles that wrap tight to your face for chemical splash protection, leather and/or mechanics gloves, disposable gloves, earplugs or earmuffs, a face shield (to be used with safety glasses) and a brand-name disposable respirator. You should also download and print out material safety and data sheets for any hazardous chemicals you use or store in your garage. Plus, keep a small first-aid kit handy.

 

Power Strips and Extension Cords

If you find yourself hunting for free power outlets, it’s time to think about power strips and extension cords. A 4-foot, 10-outlet power strip is perfect for placement on a workbench and can handle corded tools and cordless-tool battery chargers with ease. Use smaller power strips to make difficult-to-reach outlets more accessible. For the garage, use metal-encased power strips like the Yellow Jacket surge protector; they typically come with generous 15-foot cords.

 

General Storage

Pegboard, a garage staple, is by far the most economical way to store individual tools and pieces of equipment. There are different hooks available for hammers, extension cords and other tools.

 

Tool Chests

The more tools you own, the more important organization becomes—few things are as frustrating as spending an hour looking for a tool you need for a 15-minute project.

 

Workbench

A workbench is the first thing you should build or buy since it will be central to most of your projects.

A DIY workbench can be as simple as slapping an old solid-core door or plank of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) on top of two sawhorses. If you want something more sophisticated, though, there are hundreds of easy-to-build designs floating around the Web for workbenches constructed of 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s .

Lighting

Inadequate lighting can hurt the quality of your work and lead to time-consuming or costly mistakes. Luckily, it’s not too difficult or costly to upgrade your lighting with ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixtures. Start by looking at 4-foot instant-on T8 bulb fixtures with wide reflectors or diffusers.

Hanging shop lights, such as this low-profile one by Lithonia, are single-, double- or four-bulb fixtures that drop down from above your workbench to provide illumination where you need it most. Sometimes just adding one of these lamps to an otherwise dimly lit garage can lead to noticeably better visibility.

If it ain’t broke why fix it!?!

Sometime we neglect the older things because well….”If it ain’t broke why fix it!”

But we don’t want to wait until we have a serious problem and then find a solution. If your garage is outdated take a look at this “outdated” video as a reminder.

Tips to avoid Break-in

Precision Door and the St. Charles Police Department are offering the following TIPS:

20 BREAK-INS IN JULY 2013

1. Lock all doors that lead into your house from the garage.
2. Make sure your garage door is shut and secure at night.
3. Close and lock all windows in your garage at night.
4. Lock all cars parked inside and outside the garage, do not leave remotes laying in visible areas.
5. Make sure the garage door is not disengaged from the opener, this allows the door to be manually opened.
6. Do not let children play with your car keys, they might accidentally unlock your car or open your garage door.
7. Report any suspicious activity to your local police department.

Take Extra Precaution: A Thief can Still Break-In Easily

If you have taken the above precautions, a trained thief can still possibly gain entrance through your garage door.   See our previous blog posting that shows how easily it is for a trained thief to open your garage door, and how an easy an inexpensive precaution could stop them.

WATCH NEWS REPORT: 20 BREAK-INS

Checklist for a Carport to Garage Conversion

Carports are inexpensive to build, but they aren’t nearly as useful as garages, nor secure. If you would like to convert your carport into a fully enclosed and secure garage, here are some tips on what to look for and think about.

  • Check your local building code and HOA regulations. Find out if the project is allowed and what you may need to do to get a permit. For example, an attached garage will likely need a fire-rated wall on the house side.
  • Measure the slab. At a bare minimum, a garage should be 20-ft. deep, with a width of 10 ft. for one car and 18 ft., 6 in. for two cars. A more comfortable garage would add 2-4 ft. to each dimension.
  • Check the height. Will there be room for a header above the garage door opening? A standard garage door requires a rough opening 8 ft., 1 in. high, with a 2×8 or 2×12 header spanning the opening.
  • Carports are built with gable roofs and shed roofs. Try to imagine what the converted space will look like with the existing roof. A shed roof may look fine for your carport, but not particularly pleasing when it is enclosed.
  • If you plan to keep the existing roof, have a contractor, home inspector, or structural engineer examine it. If the roof is in poor condition, you might want to remove it and start your garage project from scratch.
  • Check the slab. Is it structurally sound? Is the footing wide and deep enough? Though the slab surface may seem fine, it may not necessarily meet current code requirements. Once you apply for a new building permit, you may be required to address that issue.
  • Determine in advance how electrical service will be delivered. And if you want to add plumbing for laundry or other purposes, talk to a plumber about your options before proceeding.

Planning for a New Garage

If you are having a new garage built, there’s a good chance that the builder will suggest 9-ft. wide by 7-ft. high doors (assuming you are planning one door for each vehicle in the garage). That’s a good size for most of us, but what if you happen to have a large truck, with large mirrors projecting from the sides or a snowplow on the front. Many such trucks have lost those mirrors trying to squeeze into a 9-ft. wide opening. In this case, you might want to give serious though to going with 10-ft. wide doors, and perhaps increasing the height to 8 ft.

Another big decision to make when planning a new garage is whether or not to have it attached to the house. Though attached garages are the norm these days, there are several benefits to a detached garage. Particularly if you are accommodating unusually large vehicles, a detached garage may provide more latitude in design.

How To Measure for Garage Doors

If you are replacing a garage door, the easiest way to determine the size you need is to measure the existing door. If you happen to have a doorless garage, you will need to carefully measure the width and height of the opening. You will also need to check the clearance above the opening to ensure that there is sufficient room for the garage tracks to be installed.

This is assuming that you plan to buy and install the garage door yourself. If you are going to let a professional handle the job, let him determine the exact size of door you need.

Changing the Size of a Garage Door Opening

From a structural standpoint, it is easy to reduce the size of the opening in a garage, thus creating the need for a smaller garage door. Unfortunately, few people have any need to do this. Instead, it is much more common for homeowners to need a larger garage opening, primarily because their larger vehicles just don’t fit well through the existing opening.

Enlarging a garage door opening is often nearly impossible without substantially increasing the size of the garage. The biggest obstacle is usually the headroom above the existing opening. The span above the opening is framed with a long header that will have to be raised (or more often rebuilt). If there isn’t enough room above the opening, this can’t be done without raising the roof of the garage. That’s a big, but doable, job. You also need to consider allowing room for the garage door opener.

You also need to account for the depth and width of the garage after the opening has been enlarged. Just because you can get your bigger vehicle through the doors does not mean you’ve improved the garage. In fact, you may now have too little room on the sides and in front of the parked vehicle to move, much less to use for storage.

A Dozen Reasons Why You Need A New Garage Door

1. New garage doors can increase the value of your home.
An online survey says that 71% of homeowners who recently replaced their garage door believe it increased the value of their home. When nationwide real estate agents were shown “before” and “after” photos of houses upgraded with new, stylish garage doors, they increased the list price of the home anywhere from 1 to 4 percent. That means a $2,000+ investment in a garage door could increase the sale value of your home by as much as $7,000 if you’re selling a $175,000 home.

2. New garage doors can put money back in your pocket.
The Federal Government’s Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extends tax credits for energy efficient home improvements. This includes qualifying insulated garage doors. That means that adding a new garage door in 2009 can save you money by helping to lower home energy consumption and costs AN D it will help pay for itself this year through the tax credit incentive, worth up to $500.

3. New garage doors help you Lower The Door On Crime.
According to statistics compiled by metropolitan police departments, approximately 50 percent of all residential burglaries can be traced to an open or an unsecured garage door. How many times have you gone in your house after working in your yard or carrying groceries out of your car and left the garage door open? The garage door industry suggests that you Lower the Door on Crime in 2009 by making it a practice to always close and secure your garage door to protect the valuables in both your home and your garage.

If you’re looking for helpful security devices to remind you to close your door, you can purchase an open garage door indicator that can be affixed to your door. When a garage door is left open, a warning light will indicate “open door.” Homeowners can sleep easy, knowing their garage doors are closed and their families are safe.

4. New garage door openers have built-in safety features.
Photoelectric eyes – mounted about six inches above the floor – cast an invisible beam across the door opening and provide extra protection against entrapment. If a door is closing and a child or pet runs underneath the door, the beam breaks, causing the door to automatically reverse.

5. New garage doors can work even during power outages.
A popular accessory sold with new garage door openers is a battery back-up system that allows you to use your opener several times, even after the loss of power to your home. It’s a wonderful feature that prevents you from being trapped outside in a storm.

6. New garage doors are today’s front door.
A nationwide survey of consumers said that 71 percent of homeowners use their garage door openers to get into their homes every day, even more often than the front entry door. The key to the front door is now the garage door’s remote control and keypad. Yesterday’s latchkey kids are today’s keypad kids.

7. New garage doors can help you keep your house clean.
With a keyless entry pad mounted outside your garage door, why traipse dirt in through the front door when you can enter through the garage? You can leave muddy shoes or boots and drenched coats in the garage and keep your house cleaner.

8. New garage doors can be a fashion statement.
People are becoming more style conscious when replacing their garage door. On many American homes, the garage door claims a third of the façade, so it’s a snap to quickly makeover the look of your whole house. You can easily increase curb appeal when you choose from hundreds of different looks in elegant and stylish carriage house, contemporary or raised panel doors.

9. New garage doors can express your individuality.
Housing developments have their advantages, but individuality usually isn’t one of them. In homes that are more than five years old, chances are your door is a solid-colored, raised-panel door that looks like every other garage door. Choose a fashionable contemporary or carriage house garage door, and your house instantly stands out from the crowd.

10. New garage doors can protect your family from powerful winds.
Reinforced garage doors are now available to help your home stand up to brutal winds. Researchers studying the wind effects of devastating storms know that garage doors are often the entry point for severe damage. A new strong garage door is an integral part of maintaining the structural integrity of your home.

11. New garage doors can help accessorize your life.
Garage door opener accessories abound. Many new garage door openers switch on lights in your home as you’re pulling up the driveway. Some alert you if you left the garage door open. Some door openers are activated only by your fingerprint. You can even make a fashion statement with your garage door remote by customizing it to match your car’s interior.

12. New garage doors should be installed by a professional.
Don’t try to install the door yourself. It’s a complex and dangerous task. Garage door springs are under extreme pressure and, if not handled properly, can release with enough power to seriously harm or kill someone. Specific tools and training are needed; therefore, it’s highly recommended that you have a professional who can do the job in just a few hours and haul the old door away. The cost of installation is well worth it. Find a professional near you at GarageWowNow.com’s “Your Local Garage Door Professionals” page.

Most Common Garage Door Opener Problems

When your garage door opener suddenly stops operating properly, the explanation and solution are usually pretty easy to deal with. Here are the most common problems, along with the most likely repairs for each. For adjustments and repairs that aren’t self-evident, check the owner’s manual or contact a professional.

Garage door opener does not operate with either the remote or the wall switch.

The power source has probably been disrupted. Make sure the motor unit is plugged in. Check the circuit breaker, fuse or GFCI.

Garage door won’t close all the way.

The close limit switch needs adjusting. If not, see if the door is binding when raised and lowered manually.

Garage door reverses immediately after hitting floor.

The close limit switch probably needs adjusting.

Garage door reverses before hitting floor.

The close force probably needs adjusting.

Garage door does not open completely.

The limit switch may need to be moved toward motor unit.

The garage door opens, but the motor won’t stop running.

The limit switch probably needs to be moved away from the motor unit.

The garage door won’t open or close with remote control.

There are several possible solutions: (1) Move closer to the door (you might be out of range); (2) Make sure that the antenna on the motor unit is hanging down; (3) If the door functions fine with the wall switch, replace the battery in the remote; (4) Reprogram the remote.

7 Easy Steps to Programming a HomeLink Garage Door Opener System

Many people find they need to program the garage door opener on a HomeLink system that came with their car. Maybe you bought the car used and don’t have a manual, or you do have a manual but find it hard to follow. In either case, it really is not difficult to program the garage door opener. It should require no more than 5-10 minutes, as long as you follow each step carefully. Having a helper will make the process go even quicker.

The HomeLink system is available on a wide range of cars, and it can also be purchased as an aftermarket product. It is compatible with nearly all garage door opening systems, including Liftmaster, Chamberlain, Craftsman, Genie, Overhead Door, Allstar and Wayne Dalton. The primary requirement is that the garage door opener operates on a frequency of 288-433 MHz. You should be able to find the frequency of your unit on the back of the handheld transmitter.

To program the garage door opener, it will be necessary to raise and lower the door. So, to keep the process safe, make sure that children and pets stay away from the garage. Once you are ready to begin, just follow these steps:

  1. Always begin with a new battery in the handheld transmitter. If you’re not sure how old the battery is, go ahead and replace it.
  2. Turn the key to the accessory (“ACC”) position before you begin programming the garage door opener.
  3. For a first-time programming (or if you think the garage door opener has been previously programmed), press the two outer buttons on the transmitter for about 20 seconds, until the light starts flashing.
  4. On the transmitter, hold the button to be programmed down until it begins flashing slowly (20-30 seconds). Keep holding the button down for the next step.
  5. Grab the handheld transmitter in your other hand and point it toward the flashing light from about 2 inches away. Press the operating button on the handheld unit. Once the light starts flashing faster, the frequency has been entered into the HomeLink transmitter. Release both buttons.
  6. This step is easiest with a helper. You will need a ladder and, quite possibly, a flashlight. On the garage door opener receiver (i.e., the motor, located inside the garage), press the training button (also called a “smart” or “learn” button). The button may not be labeled, but it will have a small light next to it that flashes when the button is pressed. (Note, if the indicator light stays on continuously, the programming is complete and the garage door opener should function.)If the indicator light flashes (or if it flashes briefly before becoming continuously lit), you have 30 seconds to perform the following step (which is why this goes quicker with a helper).
  7. In the car, with the key still turned to ACC, press the button you programmed earlier on the in-car transmitter for three seconds. Remove your finger from the button, then press again for another three seconds. If the garage door hasn’t moved yet, press the button for another three seconds. Once the door moves, the garage door opener has been programmed.