Building a garage addition can be an expensive home addition. A garage addition might be cheaper than other home additions but the question is whether the value justifies the cost for space that will only be used to store cars and/or stuff.
If you're thinking about building a garage addition, here are some of the things you want to take into consideration:
- Need space for one, two or three cars?
- Will the garage be attached to the house?
- Where will you put the garage and driveway?
- Will you add living space over the garage? Alternatively, you can make the garage large enough for a workshop or extra storage.
The American Housing Survey in 2009 showed that 66% of homes have a garage or carport. This number might be skewed by new construction because most new homes include a garage, where costs for excavation, foundation, framing and roofing are shared across the entire house. When building a garage addition, the new structure must bear all these costs … unless you turn your garage addition into a 2-story addition with living space above the garage.
When Building a Garage, How Big Should It Be?
If you're going to keep your cars or trucks in the garage, you need it wide enough to open the doors and walk around the front of the cars. The challenge when building a garage additions is our cars and trucks are much bigger.
Everyone has different ideas about the type of car/truck you should use to size your garage. Not being an expert on cars and trucks, I found this helpful table at ConsumerReports.org. You need to identify three measurements – maximum car/truck length, width and height. Ceiling height is key for larger trucks which are much taller than the average car, affecting building height as well as the size of your garage doors (width and height).
Then you need to add space for a workbench and storage shelves, which are typically 2 feet deep plus you need another 2 feet to access them comfortably. You can add these on one or multiple walls, depending on how many different activities you want to use your garage for.
Tradeoffs Building a Garage Addition
We listed the decisions you have to make earlier and here we want to look at the tradeoffs you'll make that affect costs.
- With garage doors facing the street, a shorter driveway can access the garage.
- Town building codes may limit garage size or where you place the garage on your limit. For example, you must usually leave the last ten feet up to the property line open, unless you can get a variance.
- Freestanding (not attached to your home) garage additions tend to be cheaper. You have more flexibility in where you place the garage. You don't have to connect the new structure to your existing hom, saving on design work and less costly construction.
Cost vs Value Report for Building a Garage
The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs Value report (cost value graph below) includes a two car garage addition that is freestanding, meaning it's not attached to your house. The construction details for building a garage include the features listed. The only costs not included are for a basement or crawl space, insulation plus heating/cooling and the interior finishes you include in other home additions.
- 26 x 26 foot free standing garage addition – for two cars seems adequate for at least one SUV or truck but doesn't necessarily allow much room for storage along a side wall or the back wall where many homeowners include a workbench.
- Footings and slab-on-grade foundation.
- Framing with 2 x 4 studs and gable truss roof at 6/12 pitch, with OSB structural sheathing, all pretty standard except you can't achieve insulation standards in northern climates without 2 x 6 walls … and interior walls, ceiling and floors are unfinished.
- Exterior envelope has 25 year, asphalt shingles and vinyl siding and trim.
- Garage building has 5 double-hung, vinyl windows (30 x 48 inches) and 1 exterior door (3-0/6-8 exterior door with half-glass and lock set).
- Most important when building a garage, are the overhead garage doors – 2 composite 9 x 8 foot overhead doors with motorized openers, the one item you want to pick carefully, including repair parts and who can service the door as my experience running a handyman business is most garage door manufacturers lock you into their brand.
- Electrical service required when building a garage – so this one has “100-amp breaker at main house panel and 50 linear feet of trench buried conduit to feed new electrical subpanel”. You need this power for the garage door openers, outlets and lighting inside (3-way switch for fluorescent ceiling fixtures over each bay) and outside (3-way switch for 2 exterior spotlights).
What's the Value of Building a Garage Addition?
This report can help you set a reasonable budget for your project that will maximize how much you should recoup when you sell your home. If you do move forward building a garage addition, you can also look for ways to cut costs to increase your ability to recover more of your investment.
Building a Garage? Consider this…
The very, very first thing you need to think about if you’re considering building a garage is how long you plan to stay in your current home. A typical double detached garage project could cost you around $50,000 and might only add $30,000 to the value of your home. If you plan on staying for 5 years, that garage would cost you $4,000/year. Is it worth it? Only you can decide that. Now let’s assume you still want to add a garage to your home. Here are some books that can help you identify and prioritize your requirements.