Snicker all you want, but those who sell and install expensive garage lifts and custom garage cabinets say these are not just bling to impress your neighbor or brother-in-law.
Garages need to multitask in the South because fewer homes have a basement. Lifts, cabinets with wood-grain finishes and flooring can make it work – without resorting to the open metal and plastic shelves that put clutter on display.
“The majority of the people we see want a solution so they can get their car back in their garage,” Jim Riggs, owner of Carolina Custom Garages in Charlotte and Raleigh.
A lift also can work if yours is a two-car garage and you really need space for three cars. One vehicle is hoisted up out of the way, and another parked underneath. You can lift your ATV and riding lawnmower, too.
Automotive Equipment Company in Iron Station sells lifts for residential garages, with prices starting at about $3,500. “We’re not just doing it for guys with awesome car collections,” said Joe Mendola of Automotive Equipment Company in Iron Station. “A lot of times it’s for utilitarian reasons.”
Probably every other week Mendola finds himself at Carolina Lakes, an age-restricted community in Indian Land, S.C.
“Many of these folks are downsizing, and trying to make the most of smaller spaces,” Mendola said.
Research before you shop
Plan your project carefully, focusing on specific needs. You can get started by visiting online sites for home improvement stores. Lowe’s, for instance, sells garage-organizing gear from Kobalt, Gladiator and Rubbermaid, among other brands.
Or, visit www.kobalttools.com, where you’ll find an array of cabinets, work benches and rack systems, along with helpful tips.
Rails and hooks from Rubbermaid are among Lowe’s top sellers for smaller stuff, according to Sean MacDonald, vice president in merchandising for Lowe’s. The rails are about $11, and hooks start at about half that.
Cabinets designed for garages start at about $100, and go up to $600 or more.
Flooring is an important finishing touch for a garage. There are all sorts of choices, including interlocking floor tiles, but Riggs said the most popular finish is an epoxy sprinkled with color chips.
Do-it-yourself kits are available for epoxy garage floors, starting at less than $100. If you do tackle it yourself, don’t cut corners. Proper floor preparation is crucial.
The typical customer will spend about $5,000 to finish the floor and install cabinets and other storage in a two-car garage, Riggs said.
Interest in garage lifts growing
Some of Mendola’s customers also want over-the-top storage solutions. He provides home garage lifts for NASCAR folks and serious car buffs. If you want your lift painted to match your candy-apple red vintage Corvette, he can do that.
His most popular home lift, at http://wegotlifts.com, is a four-post model that sells for about $3,500 installed. Prices for others, including single-post models, rise to $7,000 to $10,000.
Lifts are hydraulic, with pumps operated by typical household electric power. You don’t need special wiring. They can be free-standing, although Mendola recommends they be bolted down. He recommends a ceiling height of at least 10 feet.
Mendola said interest in lifts is growing, as word spreads and prices come down.
“A lot of people don’t know this type of solution exists. Then they see one at their neighbor’s house, and go, ‘Oh, wow!’ ”