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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Ending the storage shell game and searching for car-centric property | Hagerty Media

I have a pretty good life here in Newton, Massachusetts. We moved here in 1991 to be near family and take advantage of some of the best public schools in the country. It's close to Boston, but there's it's clean and safe, and there's ample room to walk around.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/ending-the-storage-shell-game-and-searching-...
24 REPLIES 24
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

Rob: When I saw the last pictures, my jaw dropped, and I fully expected you to say that you & wifey were packing for a move! That is the type of facility that I maybe once would have dreamed of, but as of now, I'm content with my 24 x 32 detached garage that I built some 25+ years ago. At the time I built it, I harbored young man dreams of all the various car projects that I'd undertake (of which only a few actually materialized!). Recently, I stated in a post that I hope someday, someone new will appreciate and utilize the structure. Don't wait too long to satisfy your garage wants/desires; time waits for no one!! 🙂
hyperv6
Technician

This would be a dream till taxes. 

I have a 24 x30 and a 24x 36 that is my man cave. It is fixed up with collectibles like a full Corvette billboard and a nose from a SCCA Trans Am Jaguar but I can still putt the wrenches out and pull an engine or other mechanical project. 

I have heat, water and a flat screen on the wall. Porsche seating for visitors and a sound system that can piss off the neighbors. 

This was my second shop I have built. What I have learned is no matter how big you build you are always 4 feet too short. 

OLDERbastard1
Detailer

I normally would say, you can NEVER have a big enough garage, BUT, you might just have shown me I'm wrong! (My wife frequently does that.....tells me I'm wrong... LOL). Love your articles. Keep up the excellent work.
bblhed
Detailer

Not sure what the problem is, that is a lot of heated garage space that you can rent out and pay the mortgage with the money.
race911
Pit Crew

I've always had commercial space attached to a business, pretty much going back to the mid-'80s when I opened my first Porsche shop. (Detour was back with mom and dad to go to law school, but I managed.)

Then, retirement was looming, and we had a nice golf course home in an Old People Community around the corner from where mom now lived, and I'd need to care for her. Solution? Found a free standing commercial building. Not huge at 2500 sq ft on a 6000 sq ft lot, but it works for me.
fstntq
Pit Crew

Besides the inherently beautiful car storage, (close enough to the new track to rent out spaces that pay for themselves, or being near the Lakes Region covered dry boat storage is worth its weight in gold?) as a serial car buyer, being in NH you don't have to continually pay sales tax on cars you'd like to drive but not necessarily keep long term.
Winner, winner chicken dinner!
hb
Intermediate Driver

Doing the garage search right now. My current garage is reasonably large but it was designed with motorcycles in mind. I need height for a full size lift. May have to build. Thinking Arizona will hold the key. Cheers and happy hunting to all.
GRP_Photo
Advanced Driver

You might try adding "butler building" to your search. Yeah, it's just a metal building, but they tend to be large.
RayBrandes
Pit Crew

I always love your stories Rob.
Tomorrow we pour the slab for our new 24 x 30 with 12'walls.
https://www.bmw700.ray-vin.com/DSC03530.JPG
Regards, Ray
RJMatt
Intermediate Driver

I have a house with a "2 car" garage, 20' X 22'. I NEED a shop for the motorcycles/car projects, but don't have the money left to build it, as I'm now "retired".
This move was from a 1 car garage that only had motorcycles and tools, with little room to work. As I write this, both cars are outside, and I'm using the one car space to prep tanks and covers for a re-paint.
Nature will ALWAYS fill the room you have!
Tinkerah
Technician

I had already planned out in my mind how I was going to remind you that no matter how big it is you'll need more before you know it....then those photos caught my breath. I wouldn't publicize it in a column Rob until you've made an offer or passed on it. It's not much more than my equity either....
Tinkerah
Technician

Never think twice about an agent's time. Their profession is built on matching properties to buyer's whims and a single commission can earn them a year's pay.
bhankinsonn
Intermediate Driver

as always, so enjoy Rob's writings!! Here in West Michigan we have a small private airport that has a housing development surrounding it with the main feature being that you can taxi from your garage directly to the runway, and by the way, they host a fantastic pancake breakfast once a year.
Hymie60
Intermediate Driver

As usual a great article.
Olexsy
Pit Crew

Rob you are casting a large net and obviously have a lot of flexibility in your search. But looking for a home with a large garage is limiting the possibilities. I am not trying to be funny here but really what you should be looking for is a garage and then a home. Consider looking for for a commercial property in a small community. Maybe a building that had been used as an auto repair or even an old style auto dealership. What comes to my mind was the Chrysler dealership in a small town in Washington State that I lived in. It was an old dealership that consisted of just a small showroom, offices and repair bays. The owner lived right behind it in a nice home that was in an old upscale merchant class neighborhood within a short walking distance . When he passed away it sat empty for years and sold for a song. As you know in New England there are quite a few small towns that have had commercial areas passed by with new shopping areas and some beautiful residential neighborhoods still surround them. Good luck in your search.
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

WOW! Appreciate your open and honest sharing. And I can relate, I built my 30X40 two story pole barn, full concrete floor and upper storage mezzanine along one side, and only wondered one thing. Why the Hell hadn't I done this years ago? Oh ya, didn't have the money till 1994. My barn was one of the best things I did on my property, luckily I live in an area zoned agriculture, so my limit for "up" was .... well .... unlimited, and that's in N MI. where we have some of the the most destructive anti-people areas of all. (although in New England, I can summize it is nearly impossible to do anything). Hope your search ends in great results! Never to much space. Oh, and my kid stores his Vette there as well, hmmmm... must be nice. LOL
SlowJoeCrow
Intermediate Driver

I can relate, it's been years since I could actually fit a car in my 2 car garage since the bicycles,. motorcycles and kayaks eat so much space. Fortunately we are looking in semi-rural areas where workshops are common so I as long as Californians are desperate to work remote I can sell for a profit and buy my dream garage. I can relate to all garage and no house, a few years ago I stumbled on a listing for a property west of Portland Oregon that was a large shop with loading dock and utilities and a small shed containing a bathroom, kitchen and laundry that was a placeholder for a house, or support for a parked RV.
I'm also familiar with a garage you can land a plane in since air park developments are common in the west. My personal is the house with the 8" gauge railway in the back yard
RougeG
New Driver

That car barn is completely awesome. You've learned most of a lesson about real estate listings - Garages and barns are secondary. Most people aren't looking for them, many listings don't include them, or much info about the, and they often don't even affect the value of a property. They may even be a liability, due to added maintenance or tax costs. So you have to really look at the listings, the photos, and often deal with the *right* local realtor who might know of such properties. And remember - kitchens are easy to remodel, many buyers buy based on such features. And you can build a barn, but an existing will probably be a better buy. And don't forget Hemmings has real estate listings - for car guys.
jsh1
Pit Crew

Great article and sounds so much like my thoughts regarding car space. Good luck on the hunt. I'm not ready to trade away decent weather for a huge car barn... yet, but I love the idea of the hunt for the perfect place.
JGMan
Intermediate Driver

Great article! At first I thought we had identical property-envy issues as well as day-dreaming-websurfer habits. But, you have built a real garage on your property. Except for the height limitations you can have a car or two, and open the doors and hood and work on it. My super-charming, 1920 gingerbread house’s garage doesn’t even afford enough space to open a door wide enough to enable working under the dashboard of my baby. Fifteen years ago my town’s building inspector even got his panties in a bunch when we re-built our unsafe, crumbling front steps topped with pre-fab, stone steps (you know, the slabs that rest on top of the brick structure of the steps, that are more wear-resistant to salt and ice) that he said were now a couple of inches wider than the old ones, thus putting me over the 75% lot development/improvement ratio for proper drainage under NJ law. (We sawed off the offending overhangs) The stone step “tops” do not even touch the ground, so how can they prevent rainwater drainage? Well, even if I had a math degree, if I wished to build your garage or even expand my garage ... fu-get-about-it! Of course my friend is jealous of my 0.92 car garage because his house, like many in the neighborhood, had their garage space converted to family room space and “sealed up” 35 yrs ago.

Nevertheless, your article reminded me of my very same “we could get this for that” web-jaunts in search of VT, NH & ME real estate with a car barn-man cave that suits my ideal picture of retirement; Only my wife is not as keen on the idea as yours. When I show her the same type of gems that you featured above, she usually says something like “nice” but she’d “never want to live there.” 😞 So, I’m content just to look, while my tiny 50’x100” lot with charming house, full of character, just outside of NYC continues to appreciate to new highs (as do my property taxes - thanks NJ). But, I have found, as another reader here pointed out, that Hemmings .com has just the ticket - a tab next to their classified listings that is just for car-collector-friendly real estate, so car guys can dream about the cars they’d want and then a car-barn to put them in. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to check out CarProperty.com. Since I’m just daydreaming here, it doesn’t matter that the listings are old and expired!
Jnick
Intermediate Driver

I liked your thoughts but sometimes having too much of a good thing has consequences! A few years back I drove my son to an air soft “war” in the forest in Oregon, as I wandered around I found something unbelievable, sheds, garages and space full of old cars! Literally dozens of nice restorable things that made me almost salivate. Mountains of parts cars were also scattered about, with lots of parts I wanted and wanted badly. Not long after the owner drove up ( in a new pickup) and all I could babble was that I wasn’t thinking of stealing anything, (which was not entirely true). Anyway he offered to sell me some things at a reasonable price to which I was grateful, but I was left with this thought and it seems to be a recurring theme in this lifestyle: hobbiest buys palatial garage but rather than focusing on a few prized pieces, continues to buy more and more stuff which is in need of attention. The work starts out as entertaining but the frustration sets in and soon enough the barn is filled with automotive lost causes creating more frustration and then the next “great deal” comes up and the cycle repeats, in the end there is just some crabby old loner in the middle of a junk pile.
To add insult to injury some people collect perfect cars but never drive them and they soon turn to problems too!
Just don’t forget to drive em, spend time with your family and pets too and do other things occasionally, (boring though it may be)!
Geok86
Advanced Driver

I always wanted acreage with a metal building, and a 3 car attached garage....but when the opportunity to retire at 45, and move south to warmer climes presented itself....I found it VERY easy to sell off 5 of our 8 vehicles, and move to a nice, nearly brand new home, with a small 20x20 attached garage, with no room for more.....I’ll always love cars, but being able to choose to work, or not, and live how I want.....IS PRICELESS FOR ME!!
Michaels_Caddys
Pit Crew

I do similar searches for houses with lots of garage space. I am limited, since my wife (and I) loves our current house, noting, "You'll have to carry me out of here". I expanded my search to include commercial properties near me. That is a different universe of land, zoning, steel buildings and financing required. I'm pretty sure my wife would divorce me or have me declared incompetent if I used a big chunk of retirement as collateral to finance a 10,000 s.f. steel box. It's not just the land or the building; it's also permits, excavating, foundation, slab, utilities, heat, fire supression, doors & windows, ... It is an EXPENSIVE proposition. I think to myself, from a pure money standpoint, it's better to continue to pay rent. What keeps me looking is the 40 mile drive to my storage facility. That's my true "cost" for low rent rates- time, fuel, tolls. Mostly TIME. At least the collection is warm, dry, secure and accessible (when I have time to make the trip).
Michael
thehackmechanic
Detailer

Yeah, I ROM'd out a 50x80 steel building, soup to huts, at about $80k. Anyone who says it's easy and cheap probably hasn't done the math.