Monday, November 30, 2009
Family's new garage finally functions like a garage
By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer
The Ashworth family came to us needing two things from their garage: a place to park their cars and some much-needed additional storage space.
Though the existing 1920s garage was large, the doors were so narrow that getting 21st century cars in was a chore. In addition, the leaky, sagging roof did not provide a place for storing anything but mold.
"We needed our garage to function in some way," said Liz Ashworth. "But we also wanted it to match the style of our house, blend in with the neighborhood, and we wanted to make sure we were in code. We didn't want to have to go back and redo something just because we didn't know."
The Ashworths hired an architect who began the process with a thorough zoning study to determine what was allowed in terms of lot coverage, placement, size and height for the new garage.
They then designed a new detached garage that would meet the family's needs. The new garage is longer and slightly wider than the original one, with wooden doors large enough to fit today's cars.
The architectural style matches their Tudor home: A stone veneer, a steeply pitched roof, stucco and decorative half-timbering make the garage look like it belongs with the house.
The Ashworths added storage above the garage under the steeply pitched roof, with an exterior staircase providing convenient access. The garage is now heated and insulated, which makes it easier to store everything from holiday decorations to food.
One of Liz Ashworth's complaints about the old garage was that if the rain water from the leaky roof didn't destroy her stored items, then the freezing temperatures would. "Plastics would often get brittle and break being stored in the freezing garage," she said. "I love having temperature-controlled storage. Plus, now the cars aren't freezing in the morning either."
Her husband, Jim, loves having a heated man cave, too. He is able to comfortably work in his wood shop nestled at the back of the garage. "Now Jim has space for his machines," she said. "He even has more space for projects when he backs my car out."
Even though the Ashworths tried to prepare in every way they could, their garage remodel didn't come without challenges. If you have been following our column, we have spent the past few weeks talking about selecting a contractor. Well, the Ashworths have a bit of a horror story:
What should have taken four months ended up taking more than a year, and they ended up hiring a new contractor to redo some of the work from the first contractor. Liz Ashworth said her first mistake was selecting the lowest bidder, and the second wasn't firing the guy sooner.
Even though they would have preferred not to have had that experience, some life lessons did come out of it.
"Our kids saw the whole process and all the challenges," Liz Ashworth said. "Now when our kids are doing homework or other projects, we ask them: ''Are you going to be like our first contractor? Or like our second contractor?'' They get it. They were able to learn some real life lessons."
Even though the Ashworths had to learn the hard way with their contractor selection, they have vowed to not make more common remodeling mistakes.
When they were creating the plans for their new garage, they also designed their dream home master plans. They decided not to remodel the house at the same time as they built the garage, but when they do tackle the house they know the two parts — garage and house — will fit together well and will meet all zoning ordinances.
Now that it is finished, the garage is a big hit with the whole family. From an organizational point of view, having the storage space in the garage has made life inside their home easier.
"Our home was built in 1927, and there is not a lot of storage space in the house. It is very nice to have all the storage space outside for all of our camping stuff, decorations and food storage. Anything we are able to put outside helps. It is wonderful to have a garage that functions like it should. After that, I like the way it looks." As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.