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Chicagoland garages more than a space for cars

Angie's List asked to talk to three experts about trends, maintenance and what not to do when building a garage or shed.

Chicago garage building experts

Rick Newtoff, owner/president, Blue Sky Builders Inc., Downers Grove, Ill., blueskybuilders.com

Lucy Gonzalez, office manager/salesperson, Garage For You Inc., Mount Prospect, Ill., garageforyou.com

Terry Roszkiewicz, manager, Regency Garages, Addison, Ill., regencygarages.com


What should I know about local codes before I have a garage built?

Newtoff: A trip to the zoning office frequently changes someone's direction — either they find out they can't do what they want, or they can do something they thought wasn't allowed.

Gonzalez: There are different levels of licensing and insurance required in different suburbs.

Roszkiewicz: Meet with a zoning official and describe what you'd like to do, so you know your limits and allowances before you obtain bids.

What are people doing to customize their garages?

Newtoff: A garage is more than a place for a car these days. It's also a storage and sometimes an expanded living space.

Gonzalez: People are doing things like putting their office in a garage rather than the home.

Roszkiewicz: We're putting in a lot of lofts, staircases and storage space. Screened-in porches are becoming more popular.

How are people designing garages as an extension of their house?

Newtoff: We'll match features of the house such as wood trim or siding to make them look as identical as possible.

Gonzalez: I've had customers put specific features on their garages, such as French doors instead of regular doors.

Roszkiewicz: They'll frequently match trim and siding to make it complement the house.

What kind of foundation do you recommend?

Newtoff: Sometimes it's dictated by code, but you always want to make sure the footing can handle the size and height of the garage.

Gonzalez: In Chicago, you need 4 inches of concrete, 4 inches of crushed gravel and wire mesh. Other villages have different requirements.

Roszkiewicz: It varies by municipality. Some villages want the foundation to be below the frost line.

How should I maintain the garage to ensure a long life?

Newtoff: Keep the paint in good condition, or else wood will deteriorate.

Gonzalez: Don't wait to do repairs, because they can cause other problems and cost you more in the long run.

Roszkiewicz: Hose down vinyl siding at least once a year, and apply sealer to concrete on an annual basis.


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