Well, it’s finally happened. We’re finally ready to call the priest to perform last rites on the water heater we were convinced was on its last legs on the day we moved in. The water heater is old. 28 years old to be precise. Consumer reports pings the average lifespan of a water heater at about 13 years, so yes – the thing is old. And we knew it was quite old when we bought our lovely little house 4 years ago.
Which is why we made a deal…
While the rest of our little house is very functionally designed to maximize space and usability, the designers seemed to forget about that goal when designing the garage. So ever since we bought our house we always wanted to make some changes to the garage to make it more usable. But even minor changes ended up feeling like a cookie problem (that’s what we call problems that seem to snowball out of control).
Since one of the things we hate about the garage is the location of the water heater, we made a deal with each other. Once the water heater kicked the bucket, we’d spend some time and some money and really make the garage a more functional space. We just never expected it to take this long.
But here we are. Time to pay the piper on this deal.
On a side note to the water heater – I gotta say, “Thank You, water heater, you have some pretty fabulous timing!” You waited patiently plugging away doing your job while we did some major remodels on the rest of our house, then while we bought a duplex and did some major remodels there, then while we bought another piece of investment property, and then while we paid off over $100K in debt. Thanks for all your hard work and waiting until we really do have time to tackle this well.
He Said / She Said: Our Feelings On Garages
Mr PoP: I grew up having access to a 2 car garage with attached 500sq ft work room, a shed, and a barn for the really big projects. Between my father and 4 brothers the family tool collection was better than some automotive shops and from elementary school on I was either taking something apart, or putting it back together.A garage is way more than a place to put stuff – it’s also a workshop where you can maintain, fix, and create your stuff.
Mrs. PoP: To me, a garage is an ultimate luxury item. Not only do we have 3 bedrooms (for 2 people and a cat), but my car gets its own room to sleep in as well? Amazing! And since it’s so luxurious, I want to be able to use it – not stuff it so full of crap that I’m embarrassed to leave the garage door open for fear of being outed as a secret hoarder.
Garage Status Quo
Truth be told, our current garage utilization isn’t horrible. Everything fits. Kindof. It’s just messy. And poorly lit. And has too few electrical outlets (which necessitates cords being run for long distances). But instead of having nice shelving that fits many of our tools, we have awkwardly shaped cabinets that while they look like they offer a lot of storage actually don’t help much since they’re ineffective to use.
So this is what our garage looks like today.
From angle 1, you can see the only clear place to park my bike (except the middle where the car normally is) blocks the doorway. Also, the shelves by the washer and dryer are largely unused because they aren’t adjustable height and most of the tools we have stacked up on the side are too big to fit on the shelves. The cabinets over the water heater are also too high and small. Once things go in there, they seem to get lost in an abyss where we can’t tell what’s inside!
And from angle 2, we’ve got a similar issue where the cabinets and shelves aren’t adjustable, and are awkward sizes for the tools and supplies we’ve ended up with. And can someone admire Mr. PoP’s red tool chest? That thing was NOT cheap (It wasn’t that expensive, its just that were completely broke when we bought it-Mr. PoP) and we’d like to get it in a location where Mr. PoP doesn’t have to climb over 70 lbs of kitty litter (I bulk buy when it’s on sale!) to use it.
Our Garage Ideas Wish List
- Epoxy the floors (Mr PoP’s wish) – the floors are ugly, and Mr. PoP also says that epoxy would protect the floor that is already a little damaged in places
- Paint the walls (Mrs PoP’s wish) – There are actually a couple different colors of paint on the walls and I have no idea where or when this color was ever in another part of the house; may as well make it match while we’re doing everything else!
- New water heater (need, not wish!) – but we are examining more space saving options (and energy efficiency options) than the one we currently have
- Utility sink (Mrs) – like this one along with an overhead drying rack installed next to washer and dryer so messy projects don’t need to come inside for clean up
- More countertop workspace (Mr) – means more space to organize projects and tinker and be able to pause projects in the middle without having to pack everything completely away
- Bike parking (Mrs) – preferably near the garage door, with a special place for bike supplies and tire pump. Even maybe a garage door remote for my bike, too! (Seriously, how cool would that be?)
- Adjustable shelving (Mr & Mrs) – to replace the oddly sized cabinets and most of the non-adjustable shelves
- Lighting, electrical outlets, and a water spicket for the new countertop space (Mr) – This workspace really is Mr. PoP’s first stop in the morning (it’s where he keeps his espresso machine and little happens in Mr. PoP’s day before visiting his Silvia), so he wants to be able to see what he’s doing, have a couple extra outlets, and fill the water on his espresso machine without trudging back into the house half asleep.
- Nothing on the floor (Mr & Mrs) – Storing things on the floor invites bugs. Specifically cockroaches which make my skin crawl. So (for example) I want to have the option of putting a shelf a few inches off the ground to store paint cans on rather than setting them on the floor.
- A transitional storage space (Mrs) – By this I mean a spot specifically set aside for supplies being used on current projects. If there’s something in that spot, the project is not done. Looking at these pictures is a reminder that we have too many supplies we bought for projects that we haven’t finished in this garage. Eep! =/
And this is how we’re trying to map out our wish list. (Kitty PoP decided he wanted to sink his teeth into the project as well.)
Budget & Timeline
We’re not averse to finding used materials on Craigslist or Freecycle, but this project is about making something that’s usable for the long haul. The old set-up was what we cobbled together from found scrap cupboards (Mr. PoP’s current “workbench” is actually a door sitting on cabinets we hauled off a street corner) and it’s been pretty ineffective. So our attitude this time around is that if we need to spend some money to buy some high quality shelving brackets or other supplies that’ll be easy to use and last a long time, we will.
We’re planning on doing most of the work ourselves (though perhaps except for the water heater installation depending), so that means that while we’ll save on money, this project is definitely not going to happen overnight. Right now the goal is for it to take about 6 months, finishing by the end of January, and we’ll track the progress of some of the various DIY projects and spending as we go here on the blog. Estimated cost right now is looking to be $2K – $3K in total, with the biggest variable right now being the type of water heater we end up with. Of course, if we come in under that spending, you won’t be hearing any complaints.
So, for posterity’s sake. Here’s the official “before” picture – a complete panorama of the current garage. (And yes, that’s no mistake there are two lawn mowers at the moment…)
*Fingers crossed* that the “after” picture is going to be awesome!
Is there anything missing from our wish list? Are we being a bit too ambitious with what we want to cram into 350 square feet of garage? While also leaving room for a car?