The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

News: Men mourn loss of garage, claims new survey

“Garage grabbing” causing skills crisis


Garages used for things other than storing cars

IT WAS once a place where a man could escape to fettle and tinker but today, as homes become more crowded, a new survey has found that the garage is more likely to be filled with junk, or have been converted into an additional living room.

According to the survey, by Halfords, of the UK’s 9.5m households that have a garage, just 28% (2.66m) of them use the place to store a car or sharpen amateur engineering skills.

Pressure on living space, or a desire to improve the saleability of their house, is driving the change with an estimated 1m garages converted to rooms in the past three years, and a further 350,000 likely to be so.

But while so called “garage grabbing” might produce a tidier or more valuable home, the trend is causing a crisis of morale among the nation’s DIYers and fettlers.

According to the survey, two-thirds of men are missing a space where they can work on small projects. Half said they would do more DIY if they had space to work in, and almost as many remember tinkering at the workbench with their fathers.

“Losing the nation’s garages not only means that there is nowhere in which to pass on practical skills but also that, in households with more than one car, an increasing number of people have to park on the street, adding to congestion,” said Dave Poulter, head of trading at Halfords.

However, householders aren’t entirely blameless. While the majority of “garage-grievers” blamed builders for the lack of storage space in modern homes, half admitted they were to blame for the garage becoming a dumping ground, and most admitted to clearing it out just once a year.

Perhaps de-coking a two-stroke engine isn’t so enticing after all.