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Architects, Designers, and Home Builders – Don’t Overlook the Residential Garage Market

Architects, Designers, and Home Builders – Don’t Overlook the Residential Garage Market

THE GREATEST MISSED OPPORTUNITY IN HOME DESIGN

Many building trade professionals that plan, design, and build homes are missing out on a burgeoning market and leaving money on the table. Custom garage design is a market that's young but growing fast, and one that's moving closer and closer to the mainstream. Tapping into this market will allow industry professionals to address an expanding set of client needs and expectations, while also expanding the number of billable hours attached to a project.

WHY THE GARAGE MATTERS

Ultimately, a home garage should be as well-planned, well-designed, well-organized, and well-furnished as any other room in the house. Not only does the space itself demand it, but the behavior of homeowners points to the garage's growing importance, as well.

Here are just a few reasons why garages matter more than ever:

Garages are a huge factor in "curb appeal." On paper, the garage dominates the square footage of most homes. In addition, it's one of the most dominant features, visually, especially when seen from the street. It also offers a more hidden value: it's the only part of the home where neighbors, passersby, and strangers can peek inside the home. And what outsiders can see in the garage may ultimately reflect on the homeowner.

Many homeowners are unhappy with their garage situation, and are ready to act.  Even if the rest of the house is immaculately furnished and organized, a cluttered garage will define how outsiders view the entire home and its inhabitants. And homeowners are aware of the problem. One-half of homeowners say their garage is the messiest room in the homes (Harris Interactive). At the same time, though, more than half of Americans want garages their neighbors will envy (Impulse Research/Rust Oleum).

Homeowners are giving their garages more attention. A couple decades ago, pretty much every garage you walked into would have exposed studs, a concrete floor, and harsh, utilitarian lighting consisting of light bulbs screwed into a ceiling socket. But that's changing. More often, you're finding upgrades or new designs to make the garage space more habitable, sometimes even pleasant. Drywall, insulation, finished ceilings, more pleasurable lighting, and interior decorations are being added – the kinds of comforts that make you want to spend more time in a particular space.

No room in the home is as versatile as the garage, and people are finding new and creative uses for it.  Maybe homeowners are giving garages more attention because they're finding so more uses for them – or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, the fact is that a garage is an incomparable space. Where else inside the home can you store and work with automobiles, gardening tools, sporting goods equipment, and car care equipment? As a result, the garage has become more than just a space for protecting cars and collecting clutter. Some have been transformed into home gyms, wood and metalworking shops, small business factories, and garden prep areas. And usually more then one of these at once.

The demographics of garage interest are wider than you think. Because of the garage's traditional identity as a car storage space, many professionals have ignored the expanding demographic interested in this dynamic and versatile space. It's not just the male car enthusiast that's the garage enthusiast anymore. Women do not want a cluttered home, which is why a significant percentage of our garage design consult requests at VAULT® come from women, who are demanding that their garages be every bit as tidy, well-organized and functional as their home. 

Garages are must-have features for many homebuyers. When people are shopping for a home, the lack of a garage – or the right garage – is often a deal-breaker. 74% of homebuyers ranked the garage as the single most important amenity in a home (Century 21). And 82% of homebuyers said that the garage would be one of the factors in their decision to move when looking for a new home (Rust-Oleum). 

LOOKING AT PAST MARKETS TO PREDICT GARAGE GROWTH

Despite all signs pointing to the ascendance of the garage as a premier homespace, though, many professionals are not seizing the limitless potential of this market. Perhaps that's trepidation due to the market's infancy – that builders, architects, and designers are waiting to see what this movement grows into in the years to come. 

The future of garages, though, can actually be best understood by looking to the past. Two other home design trends of the last couple decades were once seen by many as overly extravagant and perhaps even absurd, but have since exploded into ubiquity: home theaters and custom closets.

The Home Theater Revolution
With the availability of home video players in the early 1980s, the concept of home theaters was also introduced. For the next decade, though, the installation of a home theater was looked at as the height of extravagance: a high-quality video source and screen, multi-channel surround sound, and a custom-build space with furnishings to match. Those at all income levels saw this as some combination of pretentions and absurd. Who would dump money into such a thing?

Fast-forward to today, though, and no one's asking that question. Because a home theater, in one form or another, has become so commonplace that even entry-level homes are wired for surround-sound and designed with an "entertainment area" in mind. In only a couple decades, the pretentious had become ubiquitous.

Even Closets Get a Chance to Shine
If a look at home theaters reveals that something seemingly elite can find a niche in every home, then a look at closets reveals that a huge market can be tapped for a seemingly pedestrian space. There was a time when closets were not a particularly important room. After all, most homeowners spend less than a few minutes a day, at most, puzzling over what shirts or dresses to wear, picking out some shoes. Yet pioneering companies such as California Closets were successful at convincing people that closets were crucially important to their day, important enough to drop $15k-$20k on a little-used space tucked in the back of an upstairs room away from plain view.

A closet simply stores clothes, and yet the custom closet market has exploded. Compared to a closet, though, a garage is both much larger and infinitely more versatile. A garage is a workspace, a storage space, an entertainment space, a gathering space, a display space, and more. If the closet market achieved such success with a one-dimensional space, logic dictates that the versatility and value offered by garages sets this market up for an even greater boom.

SEIZE THE UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITY OF GARAGES

From looking closely at homeowner and homebuyer behaviors, to examining the evolution of comparable markets, one conclusion is certain: garage design is a growing market ready for a boom.

Garages are an indispensible part of new homes, but are also spaces being reimagined in existing homes in terms of their use and their features. And this is true across the spectrum of homes, from luxury to entry-level. So if you're an architect, designer, or builder, it's time to capitalize by engaging more actively in garage design and redesign. This means organization, storage, lighting, flooring, garage doors, décor… the possibilities and permutations are as limitless as your and your clients' imaginations.

And we're here to help. VAULT®'s industry-leading garage-design experts are always happy to chat about the garage revolution. Feel free to reach out for a consultation about the industry or the latest garage design trends, or to ask how we can help turn your clients' visions into reality. At VAULT®, designing organized and functional custom garages is our passion, and we’ve been doing it longer than anyone.

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