Ideas, Costs and Hiring a Professional Organizer
It’s all too easy for the garage to become a disaster area. Tools end up strewn all over the workbench. Boxes of Christmas decorations and your children’s old toys stack up over the years. Rakes and shovels lie haphazardly on the ground or lean up against walls.
If the state of your garage is driving you nuts – or worse yet, you can’t fit a car inside anymore – it’s time to think about investing in a garage organizer. Whether you do the job yourself or hire a professional, there are many types of organizing systems from which to choose at a variety of price points.
Most garage organization projects start with some kind of cabinets or shelving to neatly store boxes, bins, tools and any other items you have lying around.
- Garage cabinets are similar to your kitchen cabinets, just not as fancy. You can opt for a combination of overhead cabinets, lower cabinets, full-sized cabinets and drawers. Popular materials include metal, plastic and wood composite (or you can use old kitchen cabinets – you can often find them on Craigslist for cheap or even free). This is the neatest option because your clutter is out of sight when the cabinet doors are closed.
- Freestanding shelving is simpler and less expensive, but the look is not as neat because you can see everything that is being stored. Some people care about that; others do not. Shelving can be made of steel, plastic or metal, and it is sold in a variety of sizes and configurations.
- Overhead shelving is a great option for small garages so you don’t have to sacrifice valuable space. The shelving is attached to the ceiling and hangs down to your desired height.
- Tool cabinets and work benches are great for the handy man or woman with lots of tools to store and organize. There are wall-mounted tool cabinets, freestanding cabinets and complete work benches with a combination of storage and work space.
Other organizing/beautifying options include:
- Hooks and wall hangers for hanging tools, rakes and the like
- Bike racks and stands
- Gear tracks and panel systems
- Flooring tiles or flooring coatings
- Garage lights
The cost of garage organization project depends on what you choose. Spend a little or spend a lot. Simple projects such as DIY installation of hooks and wall hangers costs less than $100, while a complete, top-of-the-line garage makeover by a professional might cost upwards of $10,000. The average cost is probably about $2,000 to $5,000.
- Twelve-piece cabinets sets usually sell for about $2,000 to $5,000, not including the cost of installation. Metal and wood composite cabinets fall on the high end of that range, while plastic cabinets fall on the low end.
- Jumbo, three-piece, floor-to-ceiling cabinet sets sell for about $1,000 to $2,000.
- Professional cabinet installation will add at least 25 percent to the price of the cabinets – and sometimes upwards of 35 percent.
- Metal shelves cost about $50 to $200 each, depending on quality. Hanging multi-shelf units cost anywhere from $100 to $600.
- Basic work benches start at about $150 to $200, while deluxe versions with attached cabinets sell for several thousand dollars.
Hiring a Professional
Hiring a professional organizer is much like hiring an interior decorator. You’re paying for a trained eye to identify the best use of space. If you don’t have much of a knack for organization and design (or you’re just plain messy), it’s wise to hire a pro. But if you pride yourself on creativity and organization, by all means go it alone.
Hiring a professional doesn’t have to break the bank. The average hourly rate is $50 to $100, and you can always set a spending limit that the organizer is not to exceed. Budget just $200 or $300, for example, for the organizer to come up with ideas and a rough layout. On the other end of the spectrum, set aside several thousand (not including materials) for the organizer to plan and manage the project from start to finish.
If you decide to go with a pro, do some background research before hiring anyone. Look for someone affiliated with organizations like the National Association of Professional Organizers, and check the organizer’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Ask lots of questions before hiring anyone, including:
- Do you specific experience with garages? If so, can I see before and after pictures of previous jobs?
- Do you have references?
- How exactly do you bill? (Although many organizers charge by the hour, some charge by the job.) Do you have a minimum charge?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you purchase the materials or do I? Do you charge a premium or shopping fee for materials that you purchase?
Finally, make sure you’re comfortable with the organizer. Sit down with anyone you’re thinking of hiring to get a feel for how he or she operates. Does the organizer listen to your needs and wants? Does he or she have creative ideas? Do you generally feel like this person is a good fit for your personality and tastes? If something seems wrong, move on.