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A garage with a lot of open space

Organizing Your Garage to Maximize Space

For many households, a garage is far more than a place to park the family minivan. In fact, a significant percentage of Americans park their cars in the driveway while using the garage for storage. Holiday decorations, photo albums, high school yearbooks, and other treasured memorabilia that often dates back twenty or thirty years can be found in the garage, stacked in boxes and labeled with magic markers.

Making Room for Cars       

However, parking a car in the garage can be a great theft deterrent. This is especially important for Columbus, Indiana residents, since crime rates are slightly higher than the national average. Most recent data shows a rate of 207 auto thefts per 100,000 people in 2011, which was significantly higher than the previous year’s rates.

One way to safeguard the family vehicle while still maintaining storage space is to maximize the amount of space available. Whether your home has a one-car, two-car, or three-car garage, builders often leave enough space either in front of the cars or around them to store at least one level of marked boxes.

Using Shelving

But boxes can be bulky and inefficient. In the search for Halloween decorations or a cherished photo album, a family can often waste hours sorting through stacks of boxes. By finding a more effective way to organize items, families can not only make the most of every square inch of garage space but create a more transparent storage solution that helps them find things quickly when they need them.

For items that can be stored in open air without suffering damage, shelving is the perfect solution. Built against the wall, shelving offers an area to store tools, lawn care items, cables, and even bicycles and ladders using hooks built into the wall. Several Columbus companies specialize in creating custom solutions for customers that will not only make the most of space but provide visual appeal.

Do-it-yourselfers can create the same shelving system using only a few common tools, saving money while improving the space. For those items that must be stored safely in containers, clear storage boxes are available that will stack together. Because they are clear, homeowners won’t be required to open every box to find the one item they’re seeking.

Storage space is at a premium in many households. By making the most of the space available in the garage area of a home, homeowners can store items while also leaving room to keep their cars safe from crime, as well as the elements.

Picking the Ideal Garage Door

How to Pick the Garage Door That’s Ideal for Your Home

Whether you’re building or remodeling your home, more than likely you’re faced with numerous decisions based on practicality, cost, function, and aesthetics. You also may be contemplating which areas require the most attention. If a new garage door is on that list, it’s important to take the time to consider which material will work best.

While appearance and budget are the driving factors behind many garage door selections, it’s important to review the materials currently used in the manufacturing of doors. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on environmental factors, frequency of use and potential for damage or distress.

A look at the top 4 types of garage doors:

Aluminum door

The popularity of an aluminum garage door is due primarily to its inexpensive cost. However, corrosion resistance and its light weight are other distinct advantages worth considering.

Aluminum doors require little maintenance and, if manufactured with a layer of insulation, they can be almost as energy efficient as steel. The major downside is that aluminum can easily dent and repairs are costly. If you know there is a risk of damage due to high winds, hail storms or even active kids, you probably should consider other options or plan for a replacement much sooner than you would with other options.

Fiberglass door

Like aluminum, fiberglass doors are less expensive and lighter than steel or wood. They resist corrosion and tend to perform better in the sea-air of coastal environments. They also will experience very little shrinkage and expansion with changes in temperature. Because fiberglass is translucent, these doors typically allow more light into the garage space. Fiberglass is not a good insulator, however, and doesn’t do much for energy efficiency in a climate-controlled garage. Over time, fiberglass doors tend to yellow with age and, in extremely cold climates, often become brittle.

Steel door

There’s a reason steel doors are among the most popular garage doors with homeowners. Without question, they offer nearly endless design options to suit most budgets; high levels of energy efficiency with optional insulation; and low maintenance. While steel doors cost more than aluminum or fiberglass, they tend to be more cost efficient in the long run due to a longer life span and improved insulation. The downside of steel doors is that they can be dented and are subject to corrosion, especially in coastal areas.

Wood door

Wooden doors are highly rated because of their aesthetic value; they’re more like pieces of furniture meant to complement your home’s exterior design. Despite their beauty, one of the biggest drawbacks to wood garage doors is the ongoing maintenance. Unlike other materials, wood doors need repainting every year or two, and weather proofing against sun and moisture. Warranty periods are typically shorter for wood doors than they are for steel. From a budget perspective, standard wood doors are available and affordable. Costs rise with the amount of customization, but the options are usually far more varied than most materials.

Garage air conditioning unit

Should You Air-Condition Your Garage?

Warm, dry days are ideal for working on projects in the garage, because you can open the door to let the breeze in or the dust out. But once temperatures reach 80 degrees, a garage can feel uncomfortably stuffy.

If you plan to spend a lot of time tinkering in your garage this summer, you may be wondering how to keep your workspace cool. Air-conditioning could be the answer, if you’re willing to insulate your garage and spend money on the right option for your space.

Insulate first

Fiberglass insulation batting is sold in widths that fit snugly between wall and ceiling studs, so adding insulation is relatively easy. But then you’ll have to cover the insulation with drywall or plywood (check your local fire codes to determine the appropriate way to cover the batting).

You might want to replace the garage door with a new high-efficiency polyurethane door containing insulation, and add weather stripping around windows and doors to seal air leaks.

Air-conditioning capacity

Air-conditioner outputs are measured in BTUs, and the larger the space to be cooled, the higher BTU number you’ll need. An air-conditioner with a 21,000-BTU capacity could cool a space of about 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. An appliance that lacks the cooling power to suit a space will overheat and stop working.

Unit types: Window, portable and mini-split

Window air-conditioners have a much higher BTU capacity than portable units, but if you don’t have a window, a portable model might be the next best choice. It still needs to be vented to the outside, which means you may need to drill a hole in the wall. If you’re going to make a hole in your wall anyway, it may be worth the extra expense to invest in a mini-split system.

Mini-splits have an exterior compressor, connected by a small hose to an interior cooling unit. These appliances offer greater cooling power and energy efficiency than portable units and double as a heater in the winter.

Easy solutions

If you decide installing air-conditioning in the garage isn’t worth the hassle, an oscillating fan or ceiling fan may be adequate for keeping you cool during your summer projects. Whatever you decide, you can expand the functional space of your home by cooling off the garage.

Garage Sale Sign

Tips for Holding a Garage Sale

If you’re preparing to move to a new home or just want to get rid of some non-essential items, a garage sale is an easy way to lighten your load and earn a few bucks at the same time. Garage sales don’t take much effort, but keep the following tips in mind as you plan your event:

  • Advertise. Today, advertising your garage sale means more than tacking a hand-drawn sign to the nearest telephone poll. Create a free craigslist ad and include a couple photos of some of the more desirable items you’ll be selling.
  • Have a helper. People are inevitably going to ask questions about items you’re selling and might ask you to demonstrate how something works. Customer service matters, even in your own garage, so make sure you have a buddy who can help you respond to shoppers’ questions or keep an eye on the cash box.
  • Be prepared to make change. Don’t be surprised when people hand you a $20 bill to pay for a $1 item. If you can’t make change, you may miss out on a sale.
  • Hide the good stuff. Put away any valuable power tools or other items that aren’t for sale.
  • Put clothing on hangers. Clothing usually isn’t the best-selling item at a garage sale, but shoppers are more likely to browse through your belongings if you make browsing convenient. Don’t pile clothes on a table – hang items from a clothing rack.
  • Be ready to compromise. Garage sale shoppers know you want to get rid of what you’re selling, so they may try to haggle for a lower price. If it’s a reasonable offer – maybe a few dollars less than what you wanted – take it. The alternative might be not selling the item at all and having to cart it off to a donation center the next day.
  • Sell bottled water. Keep a cooler full of cold bottled water on site and sell it for 50 cents or a dollar per bottle. It’s an easy way to make some extra money, and anything you don’t sell, someone in your household will drink anyway.
  • Collaborate. A multi-household garage sale will always attract more shoppers than a single garage sale, so ask neighbors if they’d like to participate. When several homes hold a garage sale together, there are more people to keep an eye on merchandise, talk to customers and help move items, if necessary.

Home Not Selling? Boost the Curb Appeal With These Updates

Home prices in major U.S. cities were up 5.7 percent in December 2015, and the market is predicted to be seller-friendly this year. If you’re planning to sell your house in 2016, you may have some competition from other homeowners looking to take advantage of a favorable market.

Improving your home’s curb appeal is one of the easiest ways to stand out in a competitive market.

The National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Remodeling Impact Report evaluated the impact of interior and exterior home improvements for people planning to stay in their homes and for people planning to sell. They ranked eight exterior improvements, in two categories: appeal to buyers and biggest boost to resale value.

Top-ranked exterior improvements:

  1. New roof. A new roof topped the list of exterior upgrades most attractive to buyers and most likely to increase resale value. This is also a costly upgrade, so if your roof is a few years old but in good condition, you might want to focus on less expensive projects.
  1. New vinyl windows. Realtors ranked new vinyl windows second in both categories. If you have a large home, new vinyl windows may assuage buyer concerns about heating and cooling costs, because so much of those costs depend on window quality.
  1. New doors. Number three in both categories was a new garage door, and a new steel front door was the sixth most appealing upgrade for buyers and seventh most likely to add resale value. The report estimated a new garage door averages an 87 percent return on investment, and a new steel front door offers a 75 percent return on investment.

If you’re going to replace either the garage door or front door, consider replacing them both, so their color and style match. Garage doors aren’t just white, utilitarian necessities these days — they’re available in a variety of finishes and designs that can add visual interest to a home’s exterior.

Other improvements

4 & 5. New vinyl siding and wood windows ranked fourth and fifth on both lists, and new fiber-cement siding and fiberglass front door also made the cut. A Realtor can help you decide which improvements would be most likely to appeal to buyers in your area and improve the value of your home.

Spring cleaning in your garage is important for keeping your home safe, clean, and functional.

5 Reasons to Clear the Clutter and Park Your Car in the Garage

 

If you’re like most homeowners, the available space in your garage is probably shrinking by the year. Old furniture, big plastic tubs full of who-knows-what and miscellaneous clutter can turn a two-car garage into a no-car garage before you even notice what’s happening.

And once the garage has completed its transition to a storage space, some homeowners decide it would be easier to park in the driveway than to try to reclaim their former parking spot.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and need some motivation to clear out that clutter, here are 5 reasons you should park in your garage:

  1. Security. A car that’s locked, inside a locked garage, is much harder to steal than one sitting in a driveway or on the street. Plus, small-time thieves have no problem throwing a brick through a car window to look for cash, electronics or anything of value. And if it’s a garage door opener they’re after, you could be putting your household in jeopardy too.
  1. Aesthetics. Keeping your car in the garage will preserve its paint job longer. You won’t have to wash it as often, and you can avoid a lot of environmental nuisances like berry stains and sticky sap from nearby trees, and bird droppings.
  1. Mechanics. In the winter, your car will stay warmer inside the garage, which means the oil won’t thicken as much as it would outside in the cold. When you start your car, the warmer oil begins to lubricate the engine immediately.
  1. Weather. Don’t waste precious time scraping snow and ice from your car in the winter, or thawing frozen locks — keep your car in the garage, where it’ll also be protected from costly hail damage.
  1. Random threats. Any number of random occurrences could damage your car when it’s parked outside — an errant baseball, a falling tree limb or even a curious raccoon that takes a walk across your hood could result in expensive repairs.

If you can’t get rid of the garage clutter, at least move it somewhere else for now. Paying for a monthly storage unit is a good investment, considering the direct and indirect costs that can come from parking outside.

Why You Need to Protect Your Family From Garage Door Accidents

Many of us take precautions to protect our families against hazards like food poisoning, falls, and fires. Unfortunately, accidents caused by garage doors are not always at the top of that list. Yet, 30,000 adults and children are injured in accidents involving garage doors every year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Accidents include injuries and fatalities caused by falling doors, section joints, DIY projects, broken doors, entrapment, racing to beat the door, and riding the door.

Garage doors are typically the largest moving objects in a home. Like all machinery, proper installation, operation, maintenance, and testing are crucial to providing safe operation.

An improperly adjusted garage door or malfunctioning opener can cause a door to slam shut with tremendous force — enough to have deadly consequences.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Safety Counsel and the Industry Coalition for Automatic Garage Door Opener Safety have identified some routine but key, steps you can take to protect the health and safety of your family and keep your door operating properly.

  1. Reinforce the fact that garage door openers are not toys. As tempting as it may be to open and close automated doors, children should not be allowed to play with them. Take the time to discuss the dangers they can cause, including being trapped under the door. Also, stop the practice of “beating the door” to run out of the garage if you haven’t already done so. This practice has led to serious injuries or, in some cases, death.
  1. Take the time to understand how your door operates. Although you may never have to use it, locate the emergency release and practice how to use it. If someone gets trapped beneath the door, you can quickly engage the emergency release. Teach other residents of your home on how to use it as well.
  1. Perform routine maintenance and safety checks. Like other equipment and appliances in your home, your garage door system may malfunction. Regularly perform inspections and testing of the opener, door and other parts to make sure that it is functioning properly. Check the owner’s manual for a schedule of recommended maintenance for your specific model. If you can’t locate the manual, contact the manufacturer for a copy or directions on how to locate the information online.

For more tips on how to keep your family members safe from garage door accidents, read the complete guide at the International Door Association website.

Make Your Home More Secure in 2 Days or Less

It’s not something we like to think about, but banks, businesses, and other commercial locations aren’t at the top of robbers’ list of places to break in. In the vast majority of cases, they’re stealing stuff from residential homes, according to the most recent data published by the FBI. Out of 2 million burglaries reported in 2010, nearly 74 percent were committed on residential properties.

You can take steps to make your home more secure against burglaries in less time than you may think. Here are several important measures you can implement within 2 days or less.

1. Make your security system visible. There’s a good chance you may have an alarm system on your home. Besides regularly activating it when you leave the home, consider installing surveillance cameras at different points of your property. Don’t try to hide them. Likewise, make sure your alarm company installs stickers in places where they are visible. Taking these measures could deter criminals from trying to break into your home, according to a study by the University of North Carolina. Out of 400 convicted felons surveyed, 83 percent said they would try to find out if a home had an alarm before trying to burglarize it. And 60 percent said they would try to find another target if there was evidence of an alarm.

If you already have an alarm system, it should only take a day or two to get some of those decals from your alarm company. Posting them on your home takes just a few minutes. And if you don’t have a security system, it’s time to get one. A professional can install a security system and those cameras in a day or two.

2. Secure your doors, garage doors and windows. Surprisingly, many burglary victims didn’t make sure their windows and doors were locked. Although 60.5 percent of burglaries were classified as forcible entry, 33.2 percent were unlawful entries — meaning that the burglars entered through unlocked doors, windows and garages. Also, if you regularly park your vehicle on the street, make sure you don’t leave your garage door remote in the vehicle. A burglar could break into the car as a way to get into the house. It only takes a minute to adopt these preventative security habits.

3. Regularly maintain garage doors. In some neighborhoods across the nation, police are reporting that burglaries of garages are spiking. In Spokane, Wash., for example, 180 burglaries of garages were reported in August of 2015 — compared to an average of 150. Have your garage inspected annually to ensure that it’s not vulnerable to break-ins.

An inspection should include checks on all of the parts, including springs, tracks and cables, to ensure they are properly operating and secure. Schedule an appointment with a garage door professional to conduct the inspection, and ask how secure your overall garage is against intrusions. An inspection and any potential maintenance only will take a couple of hours.

With some simple precautions, as well as a few changes around your home, you can help you discourage criminals from trying to burglarize your property. And it only takes a couple of days or less.

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