How to evaluate your house for a garage addition 

When planning to add a garage to your existing home, you will need to consider sizing, location, access and how the garage relates to the current architecture of the home. There are several motives that entice people to want to expand or rebuild their current garage space. Some dream of having more storage, a workshop, office, or home gym, others want space for the multiple cars they own, and some build out a garage for rental income property. Prior to moving ahead with a garage addition project though, there are a few key decisions that will need to be considered.

Zoning and Code Restrictions

First homeowners must determine if their lot allows for a garage expansion. Local codes and zoning will dictate how far out you can build to the edges of your property, as well as any restrictions that apply to garage additions. There are generally restrictions on the percentage of land that a building can cover, including your house, garage, and any other sheds. The distance between the building and property lines will be subject to restrictions as well.

Local rules can also dictate driveway design, roof heights, access to the street and the percentage of your lot that can be covered with roofs and pavements. A locally licensed architect or engineer can help you with the requirements specific to your neighborhood and obtain any necessary permits for your garage plans and materials.

Size Requirements

With the increase in sizing of the average car, many older homes simply feel too tight to fit more than one car. Due to the larger size of cars, homeowners looking to expand a garage will need to consider a larger size garage, especially if attempting to park multiple cars in one space. For example, the average two-car garage can be built as small as 20 feet by 24 feet, however adding an extra six to eight feet in length and width will provide much more space and flexibility.

Before designing, ask yourself how much garage space is needed? Newer homes often come with a third car stall for extra storage. Determining if your building for multiple cars, a workshop, or simply for additional storage will help dictate how much space is needed for your addition. If you are pondering space for multiple recreational vehicles, then consider additional height space in your size requirements.

Attached or Freestanding

Perhaps the biggest decision for homeowners when building a new garage is whether to attach the garage to the home or build it as a separate structure. An attached garage typically costs less as its often a remodel or expansion of the current garage. Attached garages are also more convenient as they allow for easy access in and out of the home. Zoning laws that control the distance between the garage and property line could ultimately affect this decision though.

A detached garage however, also offers several advantages. While the associated costs tend to be more because an entirely new structure must be built, there are often more options for the physical use of the garage. Having a separate garage structure can offer more sizing options, allow for a workshop or office away from the home or become a showroom for multiple cars. A breezeway or connector to shelter homeowners against the elements is also an easy way to fix the convenient access from the home to the garage.

Access and Transport

The addition of any garage requires an accessible driveway. Single-car driveways vary from 8 feet wide in older neighborhoods up to 14 feet wide in newer homes. Two-car driveways on the other hand, must be at least 20 feet wide and up to 24 feet if the sides are not clear. Depending on the length of the driveway, homeowners may even need to consider a turnaround area when planning their garage and driveway remodel.

Some factors that will need to be considered when determining where to place the driveway and garage are placement of garage doors, ability to turn around in the driveway, and clearance for open car doors. Again a professional architect or engineer can help you with these decisions that have a large impact in the feasibility of your garage space.

Architecture of the Home

When building or expanding a garage it is essential to construct a space that fits the architecture of the home. The garage should look like an extension of the home, not an accessory to the house. Working with an architect or engineer will help you to minimize the visual impact of a larger garage in relationship to the size of the home.

Adding Living Space

The most cost-effective solution to adding living space to a home is doing so over the garage. Increasing the size of the garage by transforming vacant, overhead space into living space can add value to a home. An architect can help to convert your ideas into a professional floor plan that can accommodate renters, guests, or aging parents. Simply converting the garage into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can add long-term value and versatility to your home while providing rental income property.

These accessory dwelling units come at a price though. An attached ADU can cost between $40,000 and $50000, where a detached ADU can cost up to $90,000. Across the United States the trend of building out ADU’s is quickly growing as it provides for substantial supplemental income, and a more affordable and flexible way to house elderly parents or even adult children.

Ultimately home owners must consider the space and functionality purposes of their expansion in relationship to property values and cost. Our team of professional engineers here at Design Everest can help you to determine the appropriate garage expansion for your space and needs. Contact us today at (877) 582-8089.

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.


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