Everything You Need to Know About Garage Additions

Everything You Need to Know About Garage Additions

Since their introduction in the 1920s, garages have become more and more popular. The garage’s original purpose was to replace the carriage house, and it was only meant to protect the homeowner’s automobile, but that has certainly changed. In addition to housing the car, a garage can provide safe storage for all kinds of vehicles, and serve as a laundry room, storage area, and place to work and play.

Is a Garage Addition Right for You?

Before deciding if building a garage is in your future, there are several things to consider. First and foremost is whether your location’s code restrictions will even allow it. The more urban you are, the more likely there will be city zoning concerns. Of course, if your neighborhood is governed by a homeowners association (HOA), there may be another set of rules you have to comply with.

Some of the questions you will need to answer include:

  • What is the required setback from the street?
  • How close to the side of the property can you build?
  • Are there any special restrictions, such as height?
  • Would driveway requirements affect the position or design?
  • Is a turnaround area required?
  • What are the consequences of increasing the impervious area on your lot?
  • Does the HOA specify style, materials or colors?

Locating and Sizing the Garage

Once you’ve established that adding a garage to your property is feasible with respect to zoning and coding, you need to decide where to put it and how big it should be. Unless you have a very large house, the garage will take up a large portion of the face of the building and can dominate its appearance. While there are entire neighborhoods made up of homes that are largely built behind their garages, these “snout houses” are not very attractive, and it’s a design you want to stay away from.

One way to avoid the excessive visual impact is to face the garage to the side, and add windows to the street-facing side that match the style of the rest of the house. If the doors must face the street because of space or code requirements, setting the garage further back from the street than the front of the house will minimize the impact.

It’s important to match the architecture of the house to help the garage blend in. If the front of the house has a roof overhang, design the garage roof similarly. For a two car garage, having two separate doors will also break up the front visually and allow you to incorporate more of the home’s style in the design of the doors.

While you may be able to get away with squeezing in a narrower driveway in an older neighborhood, allowing at least 10 feet gives you room to maneuver and open doors without scraping anything. For a two car garage, the driveway should be at least 20 feet wide, with 24 feet being preferable if there is anything alongside the drive.

Will you be parking in front of the garage at all? If so, there should be 20 feet from the front of the garage to the sidewalk, but this figure may change depending on whether you use an automatic opener (an obvious benefit) and which city you are in.

If your home is on a busy street, it’s advisable to install a turnaround area. This is a requirement in some cases, so be sure to check your city codes. This area for pulling out of the driveway and turning around so you always enter the street facing forward should be 12 feet deep and a minimum of 10 feet wide.

Should the Garage Be Attached or Freestanding?

You can avoid the massive-structure conundrum by making the garage freestanding since you have more choice about where to locate it. A detached garage keeps dust, odors, and fumes away from the house, which is especially nice if you use the garage for work or hobbies that produce them. Depending on the location, a covered walkway between the house and garage may be an option that will minimize the disadvantages of a detached garage.

There are several advantages of an attached garage that outweigh the disadvantages in most cases. Here in Peoria, you won’t have to worry about the garage being freezing cold in the winter, but during the rest of the year it will stay cooler if it is attached to the house, and likewise, provides a large area of insulation on the side of the house it is attached to.

Since a remodeling contractor only has to build a structure with three walls instead of four, an attached garage is usually less expensive. It’s also much more convenient for getting to and from the car because you won’t get wet if it’s raining, but more importantly, don’t have to be running back and forth in the heat and sun when you are loading or unloading the car. You will be glad your home remodeling plans included attaching the garage every time you come home from the grocery store on a hot day!

An attached garage is highly recommended by universal design professionals. Making aging in place easy for Phoenix-area retirees is one of our specialties at TWD. As home renovation contractors with over 20 years of experience, we know how important it is to be able to get from the car to the house easily and can design an attached garage to avoid stairs, tight spaces, and other areas that are difficult to maneuver in. In fact, we have certified universal design specialists on staff to make sure we incorporate the latest features into our home remodeling projects.

Top Features and Options for Garage Additions

The garage is much more than a place to store the car. Or even two cars or a car and a boat. Retirees, young adults, and families with kids all find may uses for garages. Here are some of the uses you should consider when designing your new garage as well as some important features to consider.

  • Golf Cart Storage – Whether you use it to actually play golf or for transportation to the pool in your retirement community, you’ll appreciate having a storage space that keeps your golf cart clean and out of the sun, and also provides a convenient place to connect to electricity to charge up the battery.
  • Laundry/Utility Room – Older homes may have been built without a laundry room, but if you have a relatively new home, it probably does have one. Moving the laundry or utility room to the garage during home remodeling can free up space indoors for an additional bathroom or small home office, which many people find they need. It also can be a place for a second refrigerator or a freezer which is especially useful for anyone who hunts or just likes to stock up on meat or frozen food when the price is right.
  • Work Area – Having a work bench where you can set up your tools and not have the put them away every time you stop work for the day makes it easier to pick up a task where you left off. It also provides the kind of work surface you need for many projects, but are hard to find inside the house. Be sure your design includes having your remodeling contractor install lights over the work bench and electrical outlets of the appropriate type right at the bench. Built-in cabinets are also a great feature of a garage work area, so there will be a place to keep everything you aren’t using at the moment easily accessible.
  • Hobby Space – One of the benefits of a hobby like crocheting is the ability to just drop the project into a bag and set it aside. That’s not true of leisure activities like making stained glass lamps or building railroad models. They need a lot of space and make a mess. Set up takes a while, so having a space dedicated to the hobby makes it much more fun to just get to work and not have to worry about putting everything away every day or taking up space in the house.
  • Windows – Not only do windows make the garage look better from the outside, they make it a more pleasant place to work or play.
  • Lighting – The garage could be lit by a single overhead bulb, but you won’t get the best function that way. To make the space as safe and functional as possible, your remodeling contractor should install sufficient light fixtures to illuminate the entire garage with additional lights in any spaces where work will be done.
  • Electrical Outlets – Everything from hobby gadgets and gardening tools to golf carts uses electricity. Any home renovation should take the needs for electricity into account and include installing the appropriate wiring and outlets. You may need
  • Insulation – Fire codes require insulation between the garage and the house, but it’s a good idea to insulate the entire garage, especially if you are setting up a workshop there. Make sure to consult with your home renovation contractor to find out what kind of insulation you should install to best accommodate the ways you want to use the garage.
  • Air Conditioning – Another thing that will make the garage usable for hobbies and working is air conditioning. If you will spend a lot of time there, it makes sense to be comfortable, so discuss your intended uses with your remodeling contractor so they can make sure to plan accordingly.
  • Storage – Decluttering your home is all the rage, and getting the junk out of there will definitely make your home a more pleasant place to spend your time; however, there is a lot of “stuff” that goes along with modern life. Garage storage is the perfect place for oddball things like Christmas trees and all those decorations that you have to have but only need once a year.

Covering one wall with a storage unit consisting of quality cabinets, shelves, and a pegboard will provide a huge amount of storage space without taking up much room. Not only will it provide storage for everything you need in the garage, but it will let you reduce the number of things that have to be inside the house, making it both more enjoyable and easier to clean.

A climate controlled garage is a much better place to store collections and heirlooms than an attic, so even if you aren’t going to spend a lot of time there, consider what you will be storing and factor that into your specs.

If you have bicycles, plan a space for a hanging rack to keep them out of the way and safe. If you are tall and strong, you can install simple hooks on the wall or ceiling and lift your bike onto them. Otherwise, there are racks that include lifts that make it easy to get the bikes onto them.

  • Plumbing – If your activities include the need for water, or even just washing up, having running water in the garage is a good investment. It also makes caring for pets and cleaning up outdoor gear quick and easy, and if there’s a fisherman in the house, getting fish cleaned without bringing them in the kitchen will make the whole thing worthwhile.
  • Entertainment – If you are able to go with a high-end setup, then installing a sound system and TV is a great idea during remodeling. You can have your remodeling contractor tie in to the in-house sound system so that your music plays in the garage as well, and run cable for the TV.
  • She Shed – It’s a less common garage feature than a manly (or womanly) workbench, but creating a private retreat space is another option for the garage. It doesn’t require a huge area, but can be a place for mom to get away from the kids without actually leaving the house, a writing nook where the next Great American Novel is birthed, a yoga studio, home gym, or whatever else you’d like to have a special place for.

Costs for Building an Attached Garage

To add a golf cart garage onto your home, the cost will typically be between $10,000 and $15,000. A two car garage will take that figure up to the $25,000 to $35,000 range. The materials are a large part of the cost and a major reason for the variability in prices. Additionally, you’ll need to hire a remodeling contractor, and there will be fees for the permits, electricians, carpenters, painters, etc. who will be involved to make sure it’s done correctly and built to code.

Detached Garage Building Costs

For a freestanding intermediate range garage, the cost goes up to the $40,000+ range. Such things as wells, sewer and the location of your electrical panel on your existing home all play a role in the cost of a detached garage and whether relocations will be needed. The addition of extra amenities within the design can increase that budget, so it’s a good idea to consult with your remodeling contractor on the needs of your garage first.

Costs of Attic Storage

Standard trusses are the cheapest way to go, with the length necessary for a two car garage running about $88 each. The tradeoff for the low-cost version is that the trusses block off potential storage space. Storage trusses don’t cost too much more, just about $25 each, and are open in the middle so you have a good amount of storage space in the attic. To get the most out of your home remodeling, invest in attic trusses, which will only cost about $1,000 over the basic truss cost and will let you build a room and install shelves in the attic.

You’ll have many choices available for each of the features and options discussed above. For example, you can have a standard drywall ceiling or you can give it a different look with popcorn texture. You could go inexpensive with Styrofoam or pay more for eco-friendly cork.

If you would like more information on adding a garage to your home, or if you would like to discuss your own project, give us a call at 623-544-1211. Phoenix area residents have trusted our certified design professionals with their home remodeling plans for over 20 years, so let us help you with yours.