Calgary Renovations: Home Improvement & Design
JULY-SEPTEMBER 2010 Volume 8 Issue 4
Garages do a whole lot more than protect your family’s vehicles from the elements, so you need to think ahead when planning your garage if want it to meet your primary needs. According to The Calgary Foundation, Calgary has one of Canada’s highest vehicle ownership rates per capita, which means that a number of households have more than one vehicle. As a result, Amanda Lavigne, a sales and marketing manager with Calgary’s Carshacks, remommends a two-vehicle garage, even if your family just has one vehicle. Since 1999, CarShacks has built thousands of garages in Southern Alberta, and Lavigne notes that in Calgary the average, basic, double-vehicle garages averages close to a 100 per cent return on the investment at resale. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), a garage will typically offer a 50 to 75 per cent on the investment although it doesn’t specify the size of that garage. Lavigne suggests a two-car garage is worth the additional cost because some Calgary homebuyers will see a single vehicle garage as a teardown.
The AIC also suggests that when beginning a garage project, homeowner should survey their neighbours to determine the most common types of garages. Are they attached or detached, one car, two cars or more? Will a carport suffice? The organization recommends that you not build above the neighbourhood norm, while ensuring that it is aesthetically pleasing and conforms to the surrounding properties and neighbourhood. “Calgarians are typically multi-car families and prospective buyers may automatically take the cost of tearing down a single-vehicle garage and building a two-vehicle garage off the asking price,” explains Lavigne.
Typically, each vehicle require 10 feet in width and 20 to 22 feet in depth, but if, like so many Calgarians, you love your oversize pickups, you’ll need at least 12 feed in width and 24 feet in depth, as well as a door that’s right feet tall versus the standard seven feet. The building code requires both a vehicle and a person door, and CarShacks always makes the person door at least three feet wide, although some builders doors are 24 to 30 inches wide. “Homeowners don’t think to ask for the extra-wide door until they’re trying to wrestle a snowblower, wheelbarrow or patio furniture through it, so CarShacks made it a standard feature,” says Lavigne.
Because so many Calgarians store seasonal items in their garages (i.e. lawnmower, garden tools, children’s playground sets, bicycles, canoes/kayaks, snowboard/skis), those additional space requirements must be factored into the design and layout. Since no formula or rule of thumb can accurately predict storage space requirements, Lavigne recommends considering the quantity and size of things you plan to store. You might also think about placing the overhead door off-centre to give you more uninterrupted space. In storage areas, homeowners may forgo windows as a security measure. “When you’re determining the size of your garage, ask yourself how much of your usable backyard you’re willing to sacrifice to the garage,” says Lavigne. “Do you want to give up a piece of your garden or your children’s play area?”
While storage is typically the most common secondary need, some homeowners also create an additional furnished, heated room. However, a Calgary piano teacher had a small studio created in the garage to free up the family living room and give her family more privacy and quiet time. Windows are more common in these rooms where the natural light is more necessary and appreciated. However, Lavigne cautions homeowners that a live-in space over or inside the garage will triple and even quadruple the cost of your garage. “True living spaces are increasingly common, but still relatively rare because, according to building code, you’re building a house with a garage beneath it, not a garage with an apartment on top of it or in it,” says Lavigne.
Make a wish-list, then use it to plan your garage based on your family’s needs and the return-on-investment that makes sense for you.
CarShacks was recently selected to be featured as one of the “pro’s” in the Mike Holmes magazine. Click on the link below to see the advice our expert gave.
CarShacks – Ask the Pro
Produced by TaMeka Marshall & Written by Kellie Ducharme
From the Canadian Executive Journal
The saying “built to last” is not an unusual mantra for a construction company when speaking of its work in the field. But with CarShacks Garage Builders the saying also applies to the firm, itself. CarShacks, located in southern Alberta and incorporated in 1999, is based off of a top-to-bottom,
previously untapped business model, which is why despite the economy the multimillion dollar firm has expanded to three new locations in the past four years.
Steve Martin, the designbuild company’s founder and current owner, originally owned Calgary’s Anchor Concrete. He would often lay the concrete foundations for garages (called garage pads) and customers would frequently ask him if they knew anyone who could build standalone garages. After some research, Martin realized that there was no one in the Calgary area that specialized in building standalone garages. The transition became inevitable. Along with his father, Wayne Martin, and his business associate, Rolly Ashdown, the younger Martin launched CarShacks, a construction firm that specializes in building residential detached garages. Though they expected to construct 30 garages at most during their first year, they built more than 60.
With the addition of James Lavigne, a construction professional with more 20 years of extensive knowledge, CarShacks production doubled its production from 2000 to 2001. Lavigne is vice president of operations and manages the construction process and develops procedures to make it timelier. Currently, the company can build more than 200 garages a year. Eventually, the company would like to be at the capacity where it could make twice that, says Lavigne.
From Baseline to Build Out
Once someone calls inquiring about a garage, CarShacks sends a team of trained consultant estimators to determine the specific needs of the client and discuss steps the company will take if moving forward. After a plan for a garage is sold, a project manager guides that project to completion. First, the project manager inspects the site, locates the underground utilities and then obtains the necessary building permits at the municipal level. “We don’t build anything without all the required permits,” explains Lavigne. “We apply for them on behalf of the homeowner, so we are basically a one-stop shop; the customer doesn’t have to do anything on the project.”
Next, the excavation process begins and the concrete footings are poured, then the curb wall is cribbed and poured, followed by a gravel base installation. Steel rebar is then installed at the base to reinforce the structure, the concrete pad is poured and “finished,” and then it is sealed. Once the foundation is finished, the structure is assembled in five stages. The sill is placed, the wall sections are erected, leveled and aligned, the trusses are placed and attached, the sheet roof is installed, after which the doors, windows, and overhead car door are installed. Next, the exterior work is done – including the protection of the framing materials using Tyvek or building paper then covered with siding or stucco, to match the homeowners existing dwelling. Finally, the exterior is completed with the installation of soffit, facia and eavestrough.
After the exterior work is finished, the roof is finished. Shingles are loaded onto the roof, a felt base and starter strips are then set up, followed by the installation of the shingles. After this, the venting and roof cap are installed. The electrical fitting is the final stage of building the garage (though it can be completed earlier in the process) and consists of digging a sizable trench, and then running conduit and wiring from the source to the garage. Next, boxes for switches and plugs are put in place, and wiring is attached to the breaker.
From Initial Anchors to Long-term Advantages
According to CarShacks’ research, most customers get a 100-percent return on their investment when selling their home. Also, all garages come with a five-year warranty. Lavigne says an overwhelming majority of customers are extremely satisfied with the finished product because CarShacks does “whatever it takes to make them happy.” In those rare situations where something needs correction, a CarShacks executive will contact a client within 24 hours of the filed complaint, and then fix the problem within days to no cost to the customer. “Our customers are confident knowing that their experience is hassle- and worry-free,” explains the company’s Web site. Lavigne says the key to this experience is communication and responsibility. “When you say you are going to be there, you’re there,” explains Lavigne. “That’s why the construction manager actually meets with the customer, because it defines expectations.”
CarShacks has a very loyal base of 10 full-time employees who pass this enthusiasm to clients. “It’s a positive atmosphere,” explains Lavigne, adding that because CarShacks has a good balance of labor force and projects, employees don’t feel overworked, a common side effect of the construction industry. “We’re careful not to overwork ourselves and put too much on one person.” All employees receive a comprehensive benefits package and the company encourages and compensates regular training. Every employee has taken a first aid course and almost all attend monthly safety breakfast seminars hosted by the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA), of which CarShacks is a member. “We don’t have a huge amount of employee turnover rate,” says Lavigne, adding that much of the company’s success is due to its long-term employees.
From Getting the Word Out to Getting More Work In
CarShacks has an extensive advertising program. “We do radio, our Web site is quite extensive and features online quotes, plus we do local advertising, newspapers, community-focused newsletters and home and garden shows,” explains Lavigne, who says that CarShacks runs about three percent of its annual gross on advertising each year. CarShacks also has a fleet of vehicles decorated with the company logo, puts a sign on each property they build while the project is underway. In addition, the company’s involvement in the CHBA, with Lavigne sitting on the renovation council and the company supporting its local Renomark program, helps the Alberta community find a
reliable, trustworthy contractor.
“The construction industry has been booming here in Alberta,” explains Lavigne, who adds the company is “looking at neighboring provinces to … expand our dealership network.” Having gained momentum so quickly over the past few years, with its additions in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer, CarShacks is bound to continue expansion as its experience and reputation continues to last throughout the province.
By Nicole McLaws, SunMedia
April 25th, 2010
Without a front attached garage, homes have a more traditional, inviting look, with verandas, eye-catching front doors and oversized front windows.
However, homeowners still need to park their car, and the street doesn’t often cut it.
In Calgary, snow, rain, ice and wind can wreak havoc on a vehicle, which is why, for many, a garage is a must.
That’s why we asked the experts: When someone has a garageless home, is it worth adding a garage to the backyard?
“It’s simple to add a garage to a laned home,” says Shane Homes’ Candice Albo.
“It can be constructed at the same time your new home is being built — and in Drake Landing, we have lots wide enough for a four-car garage if you wish.”
However, most homeowners prefer a double-car garage, as they’ve got space for two vehicles and seasonal storage, while leaving plenty of outdoor room for grass and a patio.
“Our lot inventory with lane access can accommodate both attached and detached garages,” Albo says.
“And it’s nice to have the garage completed and ready with your new home, especially when the winter months are upon us. It’s also easier to plan your rear yard landscaping.”
However, some homeowners opt to build a rear garage after they’ve already moved in — and those who do often go to a specialized garage-building company.
“People build garages for a few reasons,”
says Amanda Lavigne, sales andmarketing manager for CarShacks Garage Builders.
“One of the main reasons is to have a place to store your car and another big reason is the added indoor space.
There’s storage space for bicycles, off season storage and extra working space for things like wood working.”
And while a garage can cost an average of $20,000, Lavigne says the investment is well worth it.
“It really adds to the property value — we usually see people getting close to 100 percent return on investment,” she says.
However, in order to recoup costs, it’s important to have the garage built properly — there are codes and rules to follow and a building permit from the city is reuiqred — otherwise, it could end up as money down the drain.
“In Calgary, there are a lot of rules and regulations about the size of the garage you can have on your property, there are rules like you can’t build over a gas line and there are a lot of other things involved in the process such as code, materials or even how long it takes to build a garage,” Lavigne says.
“It’s good to get a professional involved because that way, you know you’re protected.”
Prepping a pad in winter
Building a garage doesn’t have to be a spring or summer project when you build with CarShacks. Take a look around; have you ever seen construction come to a halt just because it’s winter? Not here in Southern Alberta. Construction doesn’t stop in the winter – and the same is true for garage building.
CarShacks builds year round using the latest standards and technology provided by the construction industry.
Spend your spring and summer enjoying your yard! Don’t spend it looking at a construction site.
Request your free on site quote today!
Winter Construction – Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the advantage to building in the winter?
- Will I be eligible for the Home Renovation Tax Credit?
- Isn’t the ground frozen in the winter? How do you dig/excavate?
- How do you pour concrete in the winter?
- Will I get a less quality product if I build in the winter?
- Another contractor told me that concrete flakes if you pour it in the winter – is this true?
- Will it cost me more to build in the winter?
- Will my garage project take longer in the winter?
Question: What is the advantage to building in the winter?
The biggest advantage our customers find to building in the winter is having their garage completed when they aren’t typically using their yard. Think about it… how much do you really use your yard in the winter compared to the summer? In the spring and summer people want to be outside using their yards – which is hard to do when your yard is a construction site. Also, by having your garage completed in the winter you can use your time in the spring and summer to focus on your other outdoor projects.
Question: Will I be eligible for the Home Renovation Tax Credit?
Provided that you meet the criteria set out by the government, your CarShacks garage project is eligible for the home renovation tax credit. If you book your garage project with us by December 15 2009, we will help ensure that the maximum eligible portion of your project is at a minimum completed by January 31, 2010 (when the eligibility period comes to an end). Talk with your CarShacks estimator for more details.
Question: Isn’t the ground frozen in the winter? How do you dig/excavate?
CarShacks owns several ground thawing units which we can use to (as the name implies) thaw out the ground. This makes excavating year round possible. This is the same type of technology which home builders use to excavate for basements in the winter.
Question: How do you pour concrete in the winter?
After we thaw out the ground using a ground heater, we pour the concrete using a special winter concrete mix designed for our climate. Then, special tarps and winter concrete blankets are used to ensure the concrete cures.
Question: Will I get a less quality product if I build in the winter?
Not with CarShacks. With every project we take on – be it summer or winter – we ensure that our high quality standards are upheld. All projects come with our standard warranty on both materials and workmanship.
Question: Another contractor told me that concrete flakes if you pour it in the winter – is this true?
Issues with concrete can occur regardless of the time of year it is poured. This is often a result of a poor concrete mix, improper finishing, or inadequate curing. CarShacks has experiencing pouring concrete for winter projects and offers the same warranty on its concrete for the winter as it does in the summer. Inexperienced contractors unfamiliar with pouring winter concrete may try to deter you from winter construction using this as an excuse.
Question: Will it cost me more to build in the winter?
No. CarShacks does not practice charging more for winter construction.
Question: Will my garage project take longer in the winter?
Potentially. Weather can play a big part in construction timelines – and we all know how unpredictable the weather can be in Southern Alberta. For example, siding and shingles becomes brittle to work with if temperatures are too low. Additionally, the number of daylight hours to work with is fewer in the Winter. CarShacks will keep you up to date with your construction timelines. The most important thing to note is that CarShacks treats each garage project with the attention it deserves to be done right, we are not going to carelessly rush through your project or work in conditions that we know will impact the quality of our product.
Wednesday August 16th, 2006
CarShacks VP Operations, Jim Lavigne
A Crash Course in Building Vehicles a Home of their Own
Are your vehicles baking under the sun this summer? Are you tired of scraping winter windshields? Then it’s time to put the wheeled ones where they belong: in a garage. Here’s how to get started, whether you’re building it yourself or calling the pros.
“What do you want to use the garage for?” asks Jim Lavigne, operations manager for CarShacks Garage Builders in Calgary. Answering that question, he says, provides the foundation for all the decisions that follow. Will your garage be a place to park vehicles, or something more — storage, workshop, hideaway? And how much space will you need?
Minimums run approximately 3.6 metres wide by 6.1 metres deep (12 x 20 feet) for a single-car garage, and 5.5 metres by 6.1 metres (18 x 20) for a double — but Paul Holm, owner of Calgary’s Holm Contracting, says you’ll likely regret going with the minimum when you keep banging the car door against the wall. His advice? Build the biggest garage that your lot, budget and needs allow. “For depth, go 22 feet if you can — 24 feet gives you enough room for a bench,” he says. To position the garage, first phone Alberta One-Call for a buried utility check. (Lavigne notes that you can’t build on top of a gas line unless you move it or sleeve it.) Then use your Real Property Report to calculate your lot coverage. >>> Continue reading A Guide to Great Garages
Business in Calgary Magazine
CarShacks discovered a niche market in 1999 and launched a garage building company in Calgary that has become a leader in its field. Their entrepreneurial formula to be the “best” has resulted in rapid growth for CarShacks, a company that is on the brink of expansion throughout Alberta.
“Our business has always been growing and I believe it’s because of the way we build garages. We don’t try to be the cheapest, but we absolutely are the best.”
Creating a garage building company that is in a league of its own, they expected to build 20 or 30 garages in the first year, but with superior service and professionalism, they completed 60. The next year business doubled to 120 garages, then 150, then 200. Their eventual target is 30 per cent of the garage building market share (400 per year). >>> Continue reading “CarShacks is in a league of their own!”
Business Edge News Magazine
By BE Ad Features – Published: 02/13/2003 – Vol. 3, No. 7
There’s no cutting corners with this team of experienced pros
At CarShacks Garage Builders, they have a unique perspective on garages.
For the thriving Calgary based business, a garage is not exactly a garage. It’s more like a house.
“It’s a building like a house except it doesn’t have carpet, a kitchen and a bathroom. I often tell people that the care and quality we put into our garages make them more like a house for your car than a garden shed with an overhead door.
“When CarShacks builds a garage, it’s like building a house. We use only professionals – framers do framing, siders do siding, roofers do roofing, electricians do electrical and so on.”
An uncommon appreciation for garages goes a long way to explaining why business at CarShacks has been going through the roof, so to speak. >>> Continue reading “CarShacks Garage Builders offers quality ‘homes’ for your vehicles”