CHATEAUGUAY, Quebec - Homebuilders are looking to add more storage and customization options for its customers. The garage, as the last frontier of the home, is becoming one of those options and Solutions Murales Proslat, which manufactures a wide variety of slatwall, cabinets, racks, flooring and lifts for both residential and commercial settings, has identified five trends that will be prominent in 2020.
“Great things happen in garages,” said Eric Letham, president and CEO of Solutions Murales Proslat, Inc. “Bill Gates started his company in a garage. Undiscovered bands play in garages. Everyday people pass through their garages multiple times. In many ways, the garage is the most misunderstood and underutilized space in the home.
“Builders who ‘tap into’ enhancing garage space can make more money. They can bond with their buyers and stand out against their competition.”
TREND #1 – Maximizing home space
As the size of homes gets smaller, space in those homes becomes more valuable. That includes the garage. “It’s more important than ever for builders to turn garage space into efficient space for the home,” said Letham. “The reduction of size in the home makes the garage an even more important part of the ‘realty’ of the house.”
The 2019 “What Home Buyers Really Want” report had almost 4,000 consumers rank 175 home features they believed were essential to their home purchase decisions. Garage storage ranked at 85 percent importance --- tied for fifth place.
TREND #2– Connecting with male buyers
According to Letham, it’s easy to see that the home buying experience is mostly geared to women. Tile selection, kitchen appliances, and faucet design --- it’s all about what women want.  So, where do the men fit in and how can builders appeal to them?
“The garage is the only part of the home that is truly ‘his’ when a couple gets a new home,” said Letham. “Builders can either leave that valuable space completely blank or turn it into a money-making room that the male buyer connects with instantly.”
To assist men in getting excited and feeling comfortable in the garage space, Letham recommends builders add in storage cabinets, racks, slatwall and lifts.
“Help the man touring the house to really envision himself, his tools, his hobbies and his equipment all filling that garage space,” Letham added. “By focusing more on the man involved in the potential home sale, you’re getting the guy to have a better feeling about the purchasing process. This will lead him to feel connected to the house.”
TREND #3- Garages get fit
People need their garages to handle their lifestyle needs.
“People are getting more fit, which means they’re exercising more,” Letham noted. “That means they need bikes, kayaks, golf clubs, skis, or even surfboards. Where do they store these items? In the garage.
 “If the garage is not properly outfitted for storage, then people end up with piles of stuff. That creates an unhealthy and unhappy environment.
“By having organizational garage systems, like lifts for kayaks and wall-mounted storage racks for bicycles, homeowners will have a calmer setting and better feeling about using their sports equipment.”
TREND #4 – Missing puzzle piece equals sales
Controlling space inside the home is currently accomplished with designer closets, revolving cabinets and kitchen islands. What about the garage?
Letham advises that builders should start thinking of garage organizational systems as a piece of the puzzle. The completed puzzle equals a home sale. A missing piece of the puzzle can equal losing the sale.
The 2019 Consumer Practices Survey reported that the most popular features of home garage storage systems purchased by homeowners include tool storage, cabinets with shelves and drawers, workbench or countertop, gardening equipment storage and sporting good storage. These products were all purchased after a home sale. Instead, Letham suggests that builders should install these products before the purchase to influence the home sale.
“Think of it this way,” Letham explained. “There’s a difference between coming into a kitchen with dirty dishes everywhere versus a dishwasher full of dirty dishes. Organization. People don’t want to walk through or into a messy garage. It makes them feel unsettled and unhappy.
“A builder who uses garage storage systems to eliminate that problem has found the missing piece of the puzzle.”
TREND #5 – Differentiating space
Garage storage systems should be thought of as “functional interior siding” according to Letham.
“For builders to maximize their investments in the home construction process, they need to adopt an attitude that slatwall is an essential building material,” Letham said. “Showing is selling. Once a builder walks potential homeowners through a ‘ready-to-use’ garage, then the homeowners envision themselves in the garage as an extension of the house itself.
“The investment in outfitting the garage will pay off by setting a home apart, making it more memorable, with ‘must have’ features.”
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