Over half of privately owned houses in the UK have a garage, but high property prices are forcing people to leave their cars outside and use their garages for other things.
An RAC survey more than ten years ago found that just 24 per cent of garages were used for a car; since then, property prices have gone even higher and the proportion has fallen to 16 per cent.
The Transport Select Committee said that garages should be used for their proper purpose to ease the shortage of parking spaces; however, homeowners see it differently – people come first. In the US, where garages are bigger, many are being converted into separate dwellings.
With property prices linked to the cash supply, neither government will restrain property prices in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, homeowners need to make the most of their garage space. Absorbing them into the house is expensive and often not possible, but improving them as workshops and storage space is much easier.
The first thing to consider is whether you can improve the insulation and internal cladding of your walls and whether this is worthwhile; your second thought should be about shelving. Most British garages are small; however, clever garage shelving can increase your effective storage space, floor area and elbow room at the same time.
If you have reasonable headspace, use it. One idea we like is overhead rails that accommodate the PVC storage crates you can buy at any DIY or home supply depot. These can be at a reachable height yet leave clearance for a car beneath if you are so inclined.
When the things you want to store are heavy, the strength of both the walls and the shelves can be an issue. Take care drilling walls when you don’t know what they are made of – many older ones contain asbestos. Fortunately, a large range of garage shelving is available, including free-standing and easy to assemble options.
Other great ideas
If you want to use your garage as a workshop or studio but need to keep garden tools in it, a rack is a brilliant solution. Much like a clothes rail, you can hang spades, rakes, forks, brooms and leaf blowers on simple hooks, which is definitely better than tripping over them in the dark.