A garage can be a versatile feature of your home that can act as everything from a work-out room, arts and crafts area, and more! Adding a garage to your home can also increase its overall curb appeal as well – a home with a garage is more likely to be sold than one without.
There are many different reasons why you may consider building a new garage. Your current garage may be unsafe or doesn’t meet your needs anymore.
Building a new garage is no easy matter, so before even finding out if you need garage planning permission, there are multiple factors you need to keep in mind before getting started.
A well-built garage is more than just a place to store your car. So many homeowners aspire to build or upgrade an existing structure. Garages can create extra family space, allow you to express talents or explore new passions, and much more.
However, it’s a significant project and requires careful planning and attention to detail to execute well. Think of these eight tips as your homeowner’s checklist to ensure you’ve thought through all the factors you need to consider when building a new garage.
Note: Building a garage yourself can prove dangerous, not to mention deceptively complicated. The information below is intended to be used to help you plan your project with a pro. This is one we recommend you don’t DIY. Instead, consult a local garage builder who can craft a one-of-a-kind space for you.
FAQs About Garage Renovation
What Is The Biggest Garage I Can Build Without Planning?
How high can you build a garage without planning permission? Your garage must be no higher than 4 metres to build without planning permission. That’s 13.12 feet.
Where Should I Place My Garage?
Ideally, having at least 20-feet from the back of the home to the front of the garage – as long as the garage isn’t hidden directly behind the house – typically provides sufficient space to get vehicles in through the overhead door and then reverse them out and back down the driveway.
What Side Of The House Does The Garage Go On?
Whether the garage for your new home is attached to the house or detached from it, it is wise to put the garage on the “high side” of the lot. So, if when looking at your lot face-on, it slopes down from left to right, the garage would go on the left side of the house.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A 24×24 Garage?
The average expense for a two-car garage measuring about 24×24 feet ranges from $28,000 for an attached to $48,000 for a detached. It’s about $55-65 per square foot to add an attached garage to a home. A detached one can run up to $65-75 per square foot.
Can I Build My Garage?
Building a garage yourself is a serious project but can be done with enough motivation, planning, and knowledge. By taking on the project yourself or contracting out portions of it, you could save money over hiring a full-service general contractor.
Things To Consider When Building A Garage
Understand Local Garage Zoning Laws
Local zoning laws control how and what you can build on your property. Read up on these before building a garage, and be confident you’re in the clear before installing one. The office of your city or town’s government (in-person or online) is usually the best place to find information on your area’s regulations.
More often than not, you’ll need a permit for home additions. Rebuilding an existing structure on the same footprint may not require any permits, but it’s still good to be sure. Zoning violations can come with hefty penalties and even short jail sentences in some states. This is also an area where your pro can likely help.
Determine If You Want An Attached Or Detached Garage
The two main types of garages are attached and detached garages. A detached garage stands alone, while an attached garage becomes an extension of your home’s structure.
An attached garage costs about 10% to 15% less to build. In general, the cost to build a garage that holds one to two cars ranges between $16,000 and $39,000. A three-car garage can run more than $57,000.
Benefits of an Attached Garage
- Can hook up existing electricity and plumbing
- More affordable
- Increase property value
- Complies with most HOA agreements
- Bonus: No scraping ice or snow off your windshield on winter mornings!
Benefits of a Detached Garage
- Keeps vehicle noise and emissions further from the house
- More freedom to build how and what you want
- More space
- Some homeowners find a detached garage more attractive
- Easier to expand or add to
- Increases property value
Beginning with the end in mind is always helpful when planning any home improvement project. So, it’s worth asking: how will you use your new garage space?
Parking cars inside is pretty much a universal desire, but other possible functions include:
- Workshop or building area
- Entertainment room
- Space for passion projects or a small business
- Gym or workout area
- RV garage
Make a list of what functions you want your garage space to serve. If resale value is a priority, consider any highly personalised plans before executing them. For example, many homeowners are willing to pay extra for good storage space, but some may not care about (or even want) an entertainment setup in their garage.
Determine How Many Stalls You Need
How many cars do you plan to fit in your new garage, and how big are they? Not all parking spaces are created equal, so if you drive large trucks or SUVs, you may have trouble fitting them inside standard stalls. Take measurements and chat with your garage building expert about dimensions.
Two- or three-car garages are usually your best bet for resale value, whereas building too small or too big of a garage could deter some homebuyers.
Consider Garage Door Design
One thing homeowners often don’t think about until it’s too late? Door design—or, more specifically, the height of their new garage doors. A local garage door company typically charges $750 and $1,600 for installation, so make sure you get what you want.
8- or 9-feet wide by 7-feet tall is the gold standard for garage door dimensions. But building space with higher ceilings and doors could be essential depending on your lifestyle. For example, if you go camping and frequently strap outdoor gear to your roof, taller garage ceilings and doors might be nice.
Carefully Consider Garage Ventilation
Trapped car fumes in a garage can make you and your family sick. If the airflow in your garage is stagnant, harmful carbon monoxide could even make its way into your home if you’re building an attached garage.
Installing an exhaust fan is one option, but make sure your new garage’s design includes windows, vents, and a good balance of insulation and ventilation in cold-weather climates.
Consider Driveway Ramifications
Your new garage may affect your existing driveway’s layout, making it ineffective or simply too small for your space. Building a new driveway from scratch costs about $4,500, but even modifying it could cost a couple of thousand dollars (especially if you’re widening or lengthening it). Factoring this into your budget is equally important.
A good rule of thumb: a new one-car garage requires about 10 feet of driveway, while a two-car garage needs at least 20, if not more.
Consider your usage plans too when designing your new driveway. If, for example, you’re building an entertainment area in your garage, maybe you make plans to install a flatter driveway so you can set up a basketball court. (Swish!)
Consider The Cost Of Your New Garage
Building your garage is a huge undertaking. It could also be dangerous when you consider the number of projects that go into installing equipment (think motorised doors that involve wiring electricity and hooking uploaded springs).
Those who go the DIY route stand to save some cash. A metal garage kit you install yourself may only cost $3,000 and $11,000. A garage contractor charges between $16,733 and $38,913 on average but comes with the benefit of having experience (and even potentially existing layouts to choose from).
A garage builder can give you an accurate quote for building or upgrading your garage.
Designing A New Garage
As new homes keep getting larger and larger, so has the trend toward designing new garages to accommodate more (and bigger) vehicles and a host of storage needs. Garage design has started receiving more attention than it used to.
A typical garage is not an expensive piece of construction, but too often, the drive to keep costs to minimum results in a finished product that detracts from the visual appeal of the house, not to mention the experience of living in it.
If you are planning a new garage, here are some ideas that may help you create something truly special and “outside the box.”
Attached Vs. Detached
It’s been a long time since we saw a newer housing development that didn’t have garages attached to all houses. Attached garages offer a lot of conveniences, especially in cold, wet weather, but they also severely limit the design options for the house and garage.
If you are planning to build a garage, take some time to consider the benefits of separating the garage from the house.
A Better Entry
In new home construction in recent years, the standard house plan has a big garage facing the street, attached to the side of the house, with entry to the house requiring a tour of the laundry or utility room, often passing a small bathroom on the way. That nice entry out front gets very little day-to-day use.
For a variety of reasons, this layout saves money. But is cutting costs in the primary entrance a smart choice to make? A nicely designed mudroom with good storage and a place to sit is certainly more welcoming and useful.
Getting Bigger All The Time
In 1971, 18 per cent of new homes in the United States had a one-car garage; 39 per cent had garages big enough for two or more cars. By 2007, those numbers had stood on their heads: 63 per cent of new homes had two-car garages, 19 per cent had garages for three or more cars, and only 7 per cent had a one-car garage.
The two-car garage has become the minimum standard, and it needs to be large enough for SUVs, minivans, and large pickups. Three- and four-car garages are increasingly popular in high-end developments, and many real estate agents will tell you that they can be a positive selling point.
A Better Orientation
Rather than having your garage face the street, try to adjust the footprint so that the garage entrance is angled away from the street. A 90-degree offset from the house is ideal, but even 45 degrees can significantly reduce the impact the garage entrance has on the street view of the house.
Living Above The Garage
It’s not too difficult to design a simple garage that can be attached to a house without looking overly dominant. But it can be a challenge to create a living space above the garage.
Because of the combined wall heights of the garage and a full-size space above it, the roofline may need to be higher than that of the house.
Living space over a garage can be the most economical way to create a new home office, media room, or rental space. But you may find that this can be achieved more easily with a detached garage.
If you want to add living space over an attached garage, try to keep the distance between the garage ceiling and the top of the door closer to 12 inches than the typical 18 inches.
Some of the nicest garages I’ve seen don’t look like garages. Instead, they look like part of the house itself. Think about ways in which you can give your garage a house-like facade. Match any siding, windows, entry doors, and trim with what’s on the house. Break up the bulky appearance of a single garage door with two or smaller doors.
Plan The Stairs
You will need stairs to get to the upper level. If you want them to be inside the garage, place them along one side and then create a work or storage area of equal size on the other side of the garage to create balance in the facade.
Note that if the upper level is used as a bedroom or a rental unit, you will probably be required to have an outdoor stair for egress. Check with your local building inspector.
Prepare For The Elements
If you live in snow country, keep in mind that you will want to leave room for snow removal. This is especially important if you use a plough to remove the snow. If your garage is located at the end of a driveway, it can be very hard to plough it cleanly.
Pro Tips For Planning Your Dream Garage
For most of us, a garage is more than a place to park. We use it to build big projects, we load it up with everything from Hot Wheels to Harleys, and sometimes we party or hang out with the guys there.
And for all these purposes, you want more than the basic four walls and a roof. You want to make your garage a better place to work and play.
So we teamed up with our field editors to show you our favourite garage features. Whether you’re planning your dream garage or just looking to improve your old one, check them out!
Tall Doors Prevent Great Goofs.
Every month we receive at least one Great Goof letter from a reader who strapped something to his roof and wrecked the garage door. So when our set builder built this new extra-large double garage, he wanted to be able to drive in with a load on top of the van.
This meant installing an 8-ft.-tall garage door rather than the more common 7-ft. size. If you decide to install an 8-ft. door, you’ll have to build the walls at least nine ft. tall to accommodate it. But tall walls are better anyway.
They allow you more room to manoeuvre 4 x 8-ft. sheets of plywood and 8-ft.-longboards without hitting the ceiling or breaking light bulbs.
Weekend Mechanics Love Warm Floors.
Tom Kapikian was looking for a DIY-friendly heating system for his new garage. He was tired of crawling around on a cold concrete floor to work on his car and wanted a system that was quiet and efficient. He decided to install a PEX radiant in-floor heating system and loves the results.
PEX tubing carries warm water through the slab, releasing heat, warming the floor and garage. Since the floor is warm, you can keep the heat set lower and still feel comfortable. Materials for a DIY, in-floor heat system cost about $2 to $3 per square foot.
A professionally installed system costs about twice this much. And you don’t need a boiler. You can use a conventional water heater or an on-demand water heater as a heat source.
To insulate the tubing and prevent heat loss through the slab, you install sheets of rigid insulation board under the tubing and around the slab’s edges.
And, of course, you’ll want to insulate the garage walls, ceiling and overhead door and pay close attention to sealing air leaks around all the doors and windows too.
Shed Dormers Add Second-Floor Headroom.
Tighe Belden knew he wanted space on the second floor for an office, but local building codes restricting the height of the roof were throwing a wrench into his plans. His solution was to add shed dormers.
By carefully planning the size of the dormers, he was able to meet code requirements and still get plenty of headroom on the second floor. Incorporating shed dormers in your plan allows you to gain some of the benefits of a second-floor— more headroom and extra windows—without the added hassle of a full second floor.
Unfortunately, you can’t just throw up trusses, though. Consult an architect or structural engineer to help work out the framing details. You’ll probably end up hand-framing the roof, but don’t worry. It’s not that hard, and you’ll gain a real sense of satisfaction from building it yourself.
Don’t Forget The AC.
Many of our field editors suggested adding garage air conditioning. A through-the-wall AC unit is a good choice since it doesn’t block a window, and you can put it wherever you want. Air conditioning in a garage may seem like a luxury, but there are a lot of advantages.
Our field editors like that AC reduces humidity, which helps keep their tools dry and rust-free. Use the dimensions provided with the unit to build the opening in the wall.
Add a header over the opening, just like you would if you put in a window. Also, add a separate 20-amp circuit for power to the AC.
Don’t Forget The Heat.
How difficult will it be to warm your garage in the heart of winter? How easy is it to get cheap heat in your garage? Consider how cold it gets in your part of the world, the square footage of your space and if you have sufficient insulation.
Heat output is measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. To get to that number, you will need to measure your space and think about how warm you need it to be.