A few weeks ago, I saw an article in the NY Times on “The Final Frontier in Home Renovation.” That final frontier is, of course, the garage. After all, with empathic cars on the horizon, folks will want to start treating their cars like one in the family. And if they’re spending $120K for a new Tesla, they’re not going to squawk about $22K to spiff up their garage, which is what the lead-off, Exhibit A in the article did. With a growing number of folks redoing their garages, there are, of course, a growing number of design/construction firms specializing in garage renovation.
Not that carless me will ever be in the market for a garage reno, but it’s still an interesting idea. And it’s just a matter of time before there’s a new show on HGTV devoted to garage do-overs. Garage, Sweet Garage. I can see it now.
As the show starts, we’re introduced to a couple who are gung-ho about a garage reno. They both agree on open concept. After all, we’re talking about a garage. But she wants Craftsman Style or Victorian, and he’s looking for Mid-Century Modern. He wins the argument by pointing out that there weren’t any cars in the Victorian era, and damned few during the height of the Craftsman movement. He underscores his point by noting that Mid-Century was really all about the American love affair with the automobile. She concedes, but only when he agrees to put in an island, because they plan on doing a lot of entertaining.
The Property Brothers show up, and twin brother Drew stands around in his suit looking cute while twin brother Jonathan, also looking cute but in jeans and a flannel shirt, lets the couple know that he can get the reno of their dreams done in six weeks, for a budget of $87,500.
Jonathan’s design, which he worked on with Hillary, quite naturally features granite counter tops, dual vanities, and dark hardwoods throughout. (No laminates for these cars!) At the last minute, the husband decides that he wants crown molding, plus they need to get rid of the popcorn ceiling, and, of course, they want a combo home-office/mudroom - so there goes the contingency budget.
At this point, the wife notices that the walls in the garage are grey, and tells the Property Brothers and Hillary that this could be a deal-breaker. Drew then pops in to demonstrate his value by telling the wife that the color the walls is purely cosmetic, and that a can of paint will do the trick. He then takes off with David to scour the neighborhood looking for the perfect garage, just in case the couple decides to list it rather than love it.
Chip and Joanna are now on the scene, Chip announcing that it’s Demo Day. He starts swinging his sledge hammer, while Joanna declares the couple and the garage “sweet.” Chip knocks a hole in the popcorn ceiling and discovers that – wonder of wonders – what’s underneath the popcorn is shiplap. Joanna notes they can use the shiplap for the feature wall. Sweet!
The reno begins in earnest, until Jonathan discovers, halfway through laying the floor, that the subflooring won’t support two cars. They’re going to have to excavate, put in rebar, pour a new concrete subfloor.,,Meanwhile, everyone at home watching is thinking, ‘Holey, moley. This is going to cost – what – $10K? $20K?’ Then Hillary’s general contractor – it’s Eddy this time – shows up and announces that the new floor will cost $1,200. And Hillary says that, since the contingency fund already went for the crown molding and the can of paint to replace the cement-gray with a pop of color, they’ll have to give up on the island.
The $1,200 for the excavation, etc. of the floor gives us a clue that we must be in Waco, where Chip – because The Wall has not yet gone up – can find Mexican laborers who will do the work for $.75 an hour.
But even though that $1,200 overage sounds like chump change to those of us who thought this fix would cost $20K, and even though – what the hell – $1,200 over on an all-in budget of $87.5K isn’t that big a deal, the wife has a fit. The island must stay!
She has, at it turns out, gone behind Jonathan’s back and found the perfect island – it used to be a drugstore soda fountain - which she’s shoved in the back of her mini-van and delivered to the work site. Jonathan is annoyed. Is this perfect island – which costs 5x more than the one he was going to custom build – coming out of his budget? But the wife is cute, and she’s kinda-sorta been flirting with Jonathan, and she manages to convince him not to rat her out to her husband about spending all that much on the perfect island. Our little secret. Tee-hee.
All the while, Hillary is stalking around muttering garage, garage, garage, under her breath, with her clipped Brit accent. So it comes out GAR – as in Garanimal – ahge.
Minus the combo mudroom/home office – something had to give - the reno is complete, and Christina and Tariq swing by to help with the staging. They may not be a couple any longer, but they did find some comparables in the neighborhood, and they’re pretty sure they can improve the value of the property by staging the garage with a Bentley and a Tesla. Joanna joins them, as she has a lot to contribute to the staging. She’s baked cookies, but she’s had her kiddoes pick out some really sweet vintage prints of flivvers, which will look perfect up against the shiplap.
Anyway, when husband and wife see their reno’d garage, they’re beyond delighted. The husband, in fact, is in tears, and doesn’t even mind when Jonathan and the wife – tee-hee – reveal that she went overboard on the perfect island. After all, that drug store soda fountain was authentic Mid-Century Modern, so the husband is actually thrilled.
While they love it – you can tell, because they both said, “Oh, my gosh!” - they’ve also seen a pretty darned nice garage – which, like theirs, has a house attached – just around the corner.
Now they have to decide whether to stay or go. Or, in HGTV parlance, whether to love it or list it.
But before they decide, David has one more thing to show them: the post-reno value of their home, now that the garage is swanked up.
They show the arithmetic on the screen. The pre-reno value of their home was $600K. They spend $88.7K on the reno, and their home is now worth $690K. While those of us at home are sitting there going, okay, swell, their house is now worth $2.3K more when you net out the costs of the improvement, the announcer is announcing that the post-reno value of their home is now $690K – and increase of $90K – and David tells the couple they now have $90K more than they thought they had to put towards the purchase of an entirely new house and garage. We are, thus, encouraged to ignore the obvious fact that they really now have $2.3K more, not $90K (and that’s only if we ignore that the wife blew the budget on a more expensive perfect island).
Anyway, the garage avec house around the corner costs $700K and it’s just perfect – it includes the mudroom/home office – and, what with the old home now worth a mythic $90K more – they really can afford to move to new digs.
It’s a tough decision, but the couple decides to love it – if Tariq and Christina throw in the cars that were used for the staging. Chip and Joanna invite Christina and Tariq to their church for marriage counseling. David, Hillary, and the Property Brothers go out for a drink. Property Brother Drew pays for the round. After all, he hasn’t done a darned thing but stand around pointing out the paint color is just a small cosmetic change.