Tailored Living (Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, BC)

Your Home, Tailored to the Way You Live


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Renovating Your Garage: When Do You Need a Permit?

old garageThis is a question that sometimes gets asked when extensive garage renovations are being undertaken. It’s a valid and pertinent question and one that, despite some of the differing nuances in language and minor specifications in the various municipalities that make up the Lower Mainland, has basically the same answer no matter where you live.

Because nicer weather is beginning to drive home owners out to their garages, be it for building and tinkering purposes or simply for hanging out, it’s the time of year that garage renovations pick up steam. Tailored Living does all kinds of different garage transformations, from Man Caves to workshops to basic all-purpose rooms for parking the car and storing tools and sporting gear. In the vast majority of garage renos that we are involved in here in the Greater Vancouver area, no building permits are required.

We strongly urge home owners to do their due diligence and check with their city office if they suspect that they may be doing renovations that require a permit. That being said, there are some general rules of thumb that you can apply when planning your garage reno (or any other home renovation for that matter). You will most likely need a building permit if:

* You plan to add onto an existing structure.

* You want to move any walls or partitions.

* You must move any lines such as plumbing, gas or electrical.

* You are making repairs or changes to the structure itself.

* You are adding, removing or moving doors or windows.

* You are changing the primary use of your garage space, i.e. converting your garage into a permanent living space (rather than a place to park and store household items).

You may also be required to get a trade permit along with a building permit. Trade permits are often required for alterations on or significant changes to electrical systems, gas systems, plumbing systems and sprinkler systems.

Another thing you need to be aware of when planning a garage renovation or other room or home renos is that, in order to undertake certain kinds of renovations, your municipality may require you to install entirely new systems or components you weren’t planning for. Sometimes these installations may even apply to other parts of the house that aren’t part of the space you are renovating. For example, one Greater Vancouver home owner wanted to make renovations to his family room area, including an addition. However, in order to comply with local code, the homeowner would have had to install a sprinkler system in his whole 1970’s-built home in order to comply. This requirement would have cost the home owner more than double what the basic renovation to the room would have cost and simply made the project unfeasible. Instead, he made significant changes to his plans and decided to forgo the addition in order to be able to get a cosmetic upgrade without having to install the sprinkler system.

In general, it can all be boiled down to a basic rule of thumb: if the changes that you are making to your garage are “cosmetic” and not structural, you will not be required to get any permits. If, however, you are adding to, upgrading, repairing or changing the basic structure or those crucial systems mentioned previously, this will likely require you to get a permit and, subsequently, an inspection to ensure that all new work is up to the current code in your municipality. As we already mentioned, most of the garage renovations that Tailored Living does in Greater Vancouver are considered “cosmetic” and do not require any permits. However, it’s always prudent to check with the municipal authority, just in case.

City of Vancouver building permit info.

Coquitlam building permit info.

Burnaby building permit info.

Surrey building permit info.

Maple Ridge building permit info.

Pitt Meadows building permit info.


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Five Garage Design and Remodeling Trends to Watch for in 2017

tl_garageflooring12-2_tIf you’re trying to finish your Christmas shopping and baking, don’t worry… there’s still time. However, we’re already looking forward to 2017 and what it will bring in terms of design trends. We’re especially excited about how far the humble garage has come in the New Millennium, which, now 17 years in, isn’t all that “new” anymore. We expect to see several trends in garage design and garage remodeling in the coming year, particularly these five:

1) More tech: Technology is everywhere, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t using it in some way. Garage tech is gaining momentum and is poised to become commonplace in the next 20 years. For now, there are lots of ways homeowners can retrofit an existing garage with tech gadgets of all kinds. How about laser guided parking? For as little as $40, you can purchase a device that will guide a car’s driver into his parking spot in the garage and keep him from hitting the back wall. It’s just one of many tech gadgets currently available specifically for use in the garage.

2) More “smart:” Not only is the 2017 garage going to get techy-er, it’s also going to get light-bulb-1511911smarter. Many homeowners have already adopted smart technology into their homes, and they’re discovering that what works there also works in the garage. The newest garage doors are just one example, starting with getting rid of that pesky garage door opener. Smart garage doors can be controlled through your smartphone, and some can even be controlled remotely (like when your neighbor phones you on vacation in Mexico to tell you that you forgot to close your garage door). Smart light bulbs are also finding their way into garages. These LED bulbs turn on via motion detector and self-adjust depending on how much sunlight is available to augment their illumination during the day time. They cost approximately 4 to 10 times more than ordinary bulbs, but the energy savings will eventually offset the cost of the initial purchase.

3) More re-purposing: Upcycled is the new “new,” and re-purposing items and materials for the garage is becoming more and more popular. Re-purposing can be done in all kinds of ways in the garage: using cast-off wood from demolition projects to remodel, re-designing and finishing old and salvaged doors and other garage accessories, and even little things like using empty coffee cans for rope dispensers.

tailored_living_garage_746_edit_t4) More efficient storage/less buying: Homeowners are becoming much more aware of the problems associated with consumerism and, at the same time, growing increasingly intolerant of clutter in the garage. This, coupled with the fact that it costs money and/or time to dispose of anything here in Greater Vancouver, homeowners are simply buying less stuff that they’ll have to store or dispose of later. They’re also becoming more efficient when it comes to garage storage by taking advantage of all available wall, floor and ceiling space for creative storage of everything from tools to winter tires to seasonal decorations.

5) More multi-use: There has been a continuing trend over the last two decades to make tailored_living_garage_717_edit_tspaces as functional as possible by creating more multi-use spaces in the home. That philosophy has trickled over into the garage. The Man Cave – garage is one of the most popular garage upgrades and we anticipate more of these in 2017. Larger, rural properties with free-standing garages are adding guest quarters to their garages, either attic or loft-style, which still leaves room for vehicle parking, another trend that we predict will rise in 2017.

Ready to join the wave yourself and create a multi-use garage? Tailored Living has all the products and accessories you need, plus great advice and free in-home consultation to get you started.