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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Seven Luxury Garage Accessories Dads Will Drool Over

man working with tools in garageFather’s Day season is always a great time of year to highlight the ultimate Man Cave: the garage. It doesn’t really matter what guys (dads and non-dads alike) like to do in the garage, whether its tinkering with engines, building stuff or just hanging out. There are all kinds of luxury garage accessories out there that dads can’t help but drool over. We’ve picked out seven of our favourites. What guy wouldn’t want one of these:

1) Automotive elevator: Only a two-car garage? “Two car” might be relative if you install an automotive elevator. This way, you can stack cars two-high, so a two-car garage might become a four-car garage. It’s a great way to store your classic car or the sports car that only comes out storage in the summer.

2) Automotive lift: Every guy who likes to work on cars can appreciate how much easier it would be to have one of these. You’ll be able to throw your hydraulic jack away.

bar-1329386 beer keg

Photo by Elizabeth Espichan

3) Bar: There’s no rule that the garage is only for cars. Or for that matter, that bars are only for basement rec rooms. Turn your garage into a neighbourhood hangout with a bar, counter and bar stools. Install a beer tap and get ready for the influx of new friends you’ll make. If you can’t afford to convert your whole garage because you still need someplace to park the car, how about a mini bar instead? Install a small cabinet to hold your favourite spirits and a mini fridge for beer and other cold drinks.

4) Gym: Even a small, single-car garage can be transformed into a gym with rack, bench and weights. If you are lucky enough to have an exceptionally-large garage, go crazy and put in a basketball or racquetball court for the ultimate home athletic centre.

black car in garage5) Flooring: This is a luxury that is much more affordable to indulge in than an elevator or bar. Tailored Living’s PremierOne floor coatings cover your existing concrete floor, protecting it from potential damage due to moisture and other elements. Plus, it looks amazing! It even makes a great garage gym floor. Even more affordable is Tailored Living’s PremierTrax interlocking floor tiles. These durable tiles are laid right over your existing floor. Installation can be completed in a matter of hours and there is no wait time to get back inside your garage (and maybe set up your weights and bench).

6) Entertainment/gaming centre. Call it a Man Cave if you like, but there’s nothing cave-ish about a garage that doubles as a place to hang out with the guys, complete with built in big screen TV, DVD player and gaming console. Throw in your favourite beat-up couch, popcorn and beer and you have a party just waiting to happen.

Stainless steel cabinets and drawers with work table by Tailored Living. Gridwall on wall allows for easy hanging and storage of tools and other items.

Stainless steel cabinets and drawers with work table by Tailored Living. Gridwall on wall allows for easy hanging and storage of tools and other items.

7) The ultimate workshop: Whether wood work, welding/metal work or automotive repair or restoration is your thing, your garage can be the ideal workshop. Build in work benches, tables or equipment. Add pegboard, slatwall or gridwall and you’ll have a place to hang tools and other things you need.





These are just a small handful of ideas. Even if a car elevator is out of the question, you can still get a great garage makeover at an affordable price. Tailored Living offers free in-home consultations and can work with you to create a customized garage space for whatever you like to do in the garage.


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Four Summertime Garage Security Tips


Garage security is a year-round problem here in the Lower Mainland, and theft from garages is sadly common. Garage thefts go up slightly during warmer weather months, so we thought this would be a good time to address the issue and offer some perspective based on our experience working with Premier Garage of Tailored Living in greater Vancouver. The most common items stolen out of garages include:

  • Bicycles
  • Tools/Tool Chests
  • Power Tools
  • Guns
  • High-end toys and sports/recreational equipment (skateboards, golf clubs, etc)
  • Electronic gadgets
  • Items left inside of cars parked in garages. This includes loose change.

Cars and motorcycles have also disappeared right out of garages, though this is a much less common occurrence. Most Vancouver thieves are looking for small to medium size items that they can grab and carry away quickly and sell for cash.

We like these four garage security tips because they’re concise and easy to implement and may end up saving you a lot of money and loss in the long run:

  • Don’t make a habit out of leaving your garage door open. Thieves love to cruise greater Vancouver neighbourhoods to try to catch glimpses of what’s inside a garage when doors open. It can happen in just the little time it takes for you to open the door, pull your car out and close it again. There’s no good way around this but do make sure that you close your garage door as quickly as possible. Take note of anyone who seems to be hanging around the neighbourhood with no real purpose, especially if they’re showing interest in your garage. Believe it or not, garages are also sometimes targeted because they have been caught on satellite imaging and then show up on Google Earth or similar Websites. This is another good reason to always keep your garage door closed.
  • Keep valuables out of plain sight. For those times when you do have to open your garage door, however briefly, don’t make your garage a temptation to would-be thieves. Store valuables like tools and sports equipment inside garage cabinetry. If you must keep them out in the open, camouflage them if possible or keep them off to the side and near the front of the garage (where they’re harder to catch a quick glimpse of from the outside).
Stainless steel garage cabinets from Premier Garage by Tailored Living

Garage cabinets like these hide valuables like tools from the eyes of would-be thieves

  • Keep anything you don’t want to lose under lock and key. A determined thief may not let a closed cabinet stop him, so for those very valuable items you can’t afford to lose, consider installing locking cabinets and make sure that you keep the key indoors (not hanging next to the cabinet).
  • Watch out for your neighbours and share information. Communicate with people in your neighbourhood about garage theft and other domestic crimes. Talk to those living next door to you about home security. If you or other neighbours experience a garage break-in, report it to police and then post a warning in a common area, such as around your neighbourhood mailbox. Report suspicious activity to police and to neighbours. Better yet, start a Neighbourhood Watch program. This alone may be enough to deter thieves from even trying to hit your area in the first place.

Tailored Living offers a variety of cabinetry options in various colours and finishes, providing extra security in your garage and helping you get better organized.

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Extend Your Personal Style Beyond the Home and Into the Garage

The garage is no longer merely a utilitarian space or an afterthought on the bottom of the home decorating list. Today more homeowners than ever are viewing the garage as another room, just as important a one as the kitchen, the family room or any other room in the home. They’re recognizing that style and design don’t have to stop at the garage door stoop. Consequently, many home owners, and men in particular (who tend to spend the most time in the garage, though this is a generalization and in no way diminishes the women who like to tinker with motors or DIY projects out there) are extending their own personal style into the garage.

The experts at Tailored Living have put out a brief and helpful list of four things that you’ll want to consider when transforming your garage into the ultimate personal space, Man Cave, workshop or entertainment centre, depending on what you most like to do in your garage. You can view a web version of that list at http://lms.dbmgroup.com/Email/TailoredLivingCorporate/J119263/J119263.asp?EmailAddr=rhelferty@tailoredliving.com&LogID=6940&ID=74046079&EID=NzQwNDYwNzk= .  But we’d also like to summarize those four points here and offer some advice based on our own personal experiences working with our greater Vancouver customers:

1) Personalize your garage with custom cabinetry. Cabinets are not only functional storage pieces, but they can be configured to suit a homeowner’s individual and unique needs. Tailored Living can recommend the best type for the kinds of things that you tend to store in your garage, whether it’s engine parts, sporting equipment or tools. Finally, you can choose from a variety of finishes to match your taste or the rest of your home’s décor.

"Traditional" Garage Cabinets by Tailored Living

Custom garage cabinets made to fit YOUR stuff

2) Refresh the look of your garage floor. Tailored Living offers several different garage flooring solutions that provide both protection for your garage’s floor as well as personalized decorative flair. From traditional epoxy coverings to easy-installing PremierTrax garage floor tiles, you can get a look that is one-of-a-kind.

PremierOne floor coating, just one of several excellent garage flooring options from Tailored Living

PremierOne floor coating, just one of several excellent garage flooring options from Tailored Living

3) Remove dangerous materials. All kinds of things from chemicals and automotive fluids to sharp tools can pose a hazard to people and pets. Things like these should be stored carefully, away from children and pets in a locking cabinet or on a high shelf.

4) Provide a walkway or clear path in the garage. This might seem like common sense, but with living and garage space at a premium in greater Vancouver, many homeowners have every square foot in their garage covered with stuff. This can be dangerous not just for walking but can also pose a fire hazard. This is where good cabinetry and shelving comes in, but we also recommend getting rid of as many things as you can. Storing things in your garage that you don’t use isn’t worth the hassle or risk. Donate it to charity or take it to the landfill or recycling depot and make sure your garage floor stays uncluttered.

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Seasonal Storage Tips from the Organization Pros at Tailored Living

We’re well into Fall now and marching swiftly toward Winter.  Now that Halloween is over, like it or not it seems that everyone is getting into holiday mode.

Transitions between seasons are always a great time to evaluate (and re-evaluate) your home and to get organized.  It may soon be time to get out the winter jackets, mittens and scarves and to polish up those sleds, so remaining organized during the transition will make everything smoother. We’ve already blogged about getting organized for Fall, and now we’d like to share a few more organization tips that have been provided to us courtesy of the Tailored Living home office’s team of professional organizers and planners.  They can also be viewed in full-colour online by visiting http://lms.dbmgroup.com/Email/TailoredLivingCorporate/J111010/J111010.asp?EmailAddr=pachal@tailoredliving.com&LogID=6596&ID=61097732&EID=NjEwOTc3MzI=

1) Have a closet in your home dedicated to seasonal items for the entire family.  This is where all of your winter coats would hang during the spring, summer and fall, for example.  When winter arrives, these items can be moved into your main entryway closet and spring/summer items can take their place until winter is over.

Cedar-lined closet dedicated to seasonal clothing for the family

Dedicate an entire closet to the family’s seasonal wear

2) Make the most of unused garage space.  Garage space in 95 percent of homes is either under-utilized or could be made more efficient by re-configuring garage spaces.  The garage is the ideal place for storing seasonal items like holiday decorations as well as things found in most garages like tools, spare vehicle parts, automotive and cleaning fluids, etc.  Need ideas for making better use of this space?  Visit Premier Garage.  You can also check out our recent blog post for garage winterization tips, perfect for this time of year.

Tidy renovated garage by Tailored Living

The transitions between seasons is always a good time to reorganize the garage

3) Enhance your entryway.  This area is another space that is often under-utilized or poorly configured.  Tailored Living suggests that doing some very simple things like adding strategically-placed hooks can make dramatic improvements in this area.  Or, consider having an entryway makeover to really get the most out of this space.

Entryway renovation with cubbies and hooks for coats

Prevent clutter at the front door with an organized entryway

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Winterizing Your Garage

It’s not too early to talk about winterizing your garage, although hopefully here in Vancouver we still have a month or more before frost sets in.  But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  (Just look at the freak winter weather that hit Calgary in early September!)

Fortunately in Vancouver we rarely have to worry about block heaters and having our engines freeze overnight.  Nevertheless, we get cold enough winter weather to warrant some attention to the garage during the autumn months as we prepare to head into colder weather.

Winterizing your garage will only take up a few hours at best, and it will be time well spent if it means preventing damage that can happen when things in the garage unexpectedly freeze.  Here are just a few things to remember when you winterize:

1) Plug up drafts.  Most homes don’t have heated garages, and that’s okay for the most part.  But do take the time to make your garage as warm as possible by plugging up any drafty spots around windows, doors and the garage door.  Replace any damaged weather stripping and cover windows with plastic if necessary.  You may want to get a hold of a garage door insulating kit that comes complete with everything you need to banish drafts from entering through your garage door.

2) Insulate vulnerable items stored in your garage.  Here in Vancouver it rarely gets cold enough to worry about things freezing in your garage, like motor oil and other liquids commonly stored in the garage.  But do take inventory of the things you have in your garage, liquid or otherwise, and make sure that anything that is vulnerable to freezing is either insulated well (i.e. covered tightly with blankets or stored inside of cabinets) or moved to an indoor location for the season.  (Note: Some chemicals and items like vehicle batteries can be dangerous or are susceptible to damage if frozen.  Always know what’s in your garage and what temperature it can safely be stored at.)

3) Clean out your gutters.  Even though it might seem like gutters outside have nothing to do with the inside of your garage, a plugged gutter can lead to leaks in the garage.  Wait until after most of the leaves have fallen and then clean out your gutters for the season.

4) Clean and pack away seasonal items.  As long as you’re out there, take a bit of time to keep organized.  Pack away all of the pool noodles, water skis and gardening equipment for the season.

Just because it’s now officially autumn it doesn’t mean that it’s too late for that garage renovation you’ve been thinking about.  Tailored Living has just kicked off its Customer Appreciation event.  You can save $250 on your garage renovation, or apply it to another part of your home like your closet, kitchen, laundry room, pantry or home office.

Get $250 Off of Your Garage Reno This Autumn