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 when planning your project
- How much garage space do you need (want)? Many new homes now include a third car stall for a golf cart or storage when there's no basement. Do you want extra space for a workshop, gardening center or storage? If you have any thoughts about buying a recreational vehicle in the future, consider the extra height they will need.
- What type of garage will your local zoning laws allow? There are often restrictions on:
- Percentage of land that buildings can cover. This includes your house, garage and other buildings like a shed.
- Distance between buildings and the property line. When I put an addition on my Victorian home, I had to get a variance to continue the existing line of the house which was only nine feet versus the required 10 feet.
- Access to the street.
- Would you like to attach the garage to the house? This is often a less expensive option but it's not as straight forward as some homeowners think. The land may not be level and there are zoning laws that control the distance between your home (and now garage) is from the property line.
- Where will you put the garage and driveway? Will you see the garage doors from the street or have a side wall face the street with windows that make it look like another room? Do you want a driveway where you can turn around so you don't have to back out onto the street? And don't forget that open car doors need extra clearance.
- Will you add living space over the garage? This is a cost effective solution once you've put in the foundation and a roof and you have the option of finishing this space at a later date.
- Do you plan to build it yourself or hire a professional? It might seem tempting to DIY a garage addition because it's much smaller than a house but in reality, it still requires the same steps to be followed for a lot less square footage … with the exception of finishing the interior. You'll be better off if you hired someone to handle the structural work while you focus on the finishing details. That's what this Newburyport, MA homeowner decided – he did the electrical, plumbing and all interior finish work for the living space on the second floor.
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 of these structural costs. That's why many homeowners decide to turn their garage addition into a 2-story addition with living space above the garage.
How Big a Garage Do You Need?
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 will 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 probably want 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.
But wait, when you're building a new garage you have lots of options about the floor plan. When you've got the space, you can get really creative like this carriage house plan (below) from TheHousePlanShop illustrates:
- Garage doors opening on different sides of the house.
- Three separate garages (3 cars plus RV) in one building.
- Separate entrance for a tenant living above the garage.
- Workshop accessible from two of the 3 garages.
Tradeoffs When Building a Garage
We listed the decisions you have to make earlier. Here are some of the tradeoffs you can 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 typically have to leave the last ten feet up to the property line open. If the cost to build your garage addition elsewhere is significantly higher, you can try to get a variance showing the added cost is a hardship.
- Attached or freestanding (not attached to your home) garage addition? If the new garage can sit next to one side of your house easily (house and land), it can save on building costs when you tie into the existing wall. However homes aren't as square as you think, and especially with older houses, it can be costly to connect the new garage. With the project shown here, the older house in Newburyport MA wasn't level and floor heights sloped, so they built a room between the house and new garage which eliminated the savings you could expect from an attached garage.
Cost vs Value Report for Garage 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. It's also become more common to put up drywall on garage walls and ceiling, leaving the floor 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. The Cost vs Value survey includes 2 composite 9 x 8 foot overhead doors with motorized openers. Pick your garage door carefully for ease of operation and ya composite will require the least maintenance. Consider the cost of repairs when picking your garage and especially the opener, as my experience running a handyman business is some garage door manufacturers like Overhead Garage Door, lock you into their brand.
- Electrical service required when building a garage. The Cost vs Value survey includes a 100-amp breaker at the main house panel and 50 linear feet of trench buried conduit to feed a new electrical subpanel. There's also electrical wiring for the garage door openers, outlets, 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?
The Cost vs Value report is a great research tool because it tells you the average cost of building a garage addition. You can review the data for the US overall, across 9 regions and if you're lucky, there's also data for 81 cities.
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.
Sheds & Garages: Building Ideas & PlansGarage: Reinventing the Place We ParkGarages & Carports: Step-by-Step ConstructionBuilding a Garage: A Complete Guide
Common Garage Addition Q&As
Can you add onto an existing garage?
Extending your existing garage is similar to putting an addition on your house. You need to follow local zoning codes, prep the ground, utilities and put up the structure, with flexibility on how to finish.
Is it cheaper to add onto an existing garage or build a new one?
Adding onto an existing garage will save material and labor costs for the fourth wall. At the same time, connecting a new structure to an old building that's not level can be costly. Talk to several contractors and get their recommendations before drawing up plans.
Do you need permission to convert a garage?
You typically need a building permit to convert a garage to make sure plumbing, electrical, HVAC and egress meets code. This will increase property taxes so for advice on resale value, talk to a realtor on what finishes will give you the best ROI.
Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful article here up on the website. Very information article 🙂
Kristofer Van Wagner
I am thinking of having a garage built for my home. I appreciate that you shared it is advisable for us to be decisive of the size and purpose of the garage before starting the construction work. I will heed your advice and plan it out prior to calling prospective contractors.
My dad told me that he would like to have a garage where he can park his trucks and also have space for his tools. I did not know that there are laws that you need to follow to be able to add a garage in your own property. I will recommend him to hire a professional contractor that can help him get the project done.
This is definitely the go-to article that goes in-depth and everything needed. Thank you so much
Jennifer G Sun
Great information and thank you! I am looking to purchase a property that has a massive permitted garage addition (more square footage than the house). Granted, my husband would use the space for his business but the seller’s have added the cost of the garage into their list price which would drive the property taxes up substantially. I’m not certain that the value would be worth the higher property taxes. Probably not.
Jennifer, The value of the garage will be based on what’s customary for the neighborhood & size of your house. If consistent, you will get value … if not, then best to find another house that already has the office space your husband needs.
Thank you for the info! I recently purchased a home and the existing detached garage needs to go and be redone. I’m thinking the foundation, fairly new garage door and floor will help lower the costs. My question is if it would add enough value to justify adding a bonus room to the garage? Would it be best to build up or out?
Michelle, You need a lot more info to make this decision. If you’re not comfortable deciding on your own, an appraiser can help you determine how much value a bonus room would add to your home’s potential selling price. To give you an idea – it has a lot to do with how big your house is, whether you already have a family room, the size of your home compared to others in your neighborhood & the size relative to your property as you don’t want to overwhelm the space so … good luck.
I am in a gated lake side community, I have received all the required permits and permissions from the POA to build a large garage(40 X 60) yes….an additional 2400 sq ft! This structure will be tall enough for the largest Class A motor home available (18′ X 14′ door) and three 10 X 10 auto doors. I wanted to add the motor coach space for resale in 10-15 yrs. Most homeowners here have a coach and either pay a monthly fee to store off site or have built an exposed carport to “cover” them vs enclosing them.
Total building cost with DIY help on interior and some framing is approaching 70K including concrete, framing, doors, electrical.
Hard question is am I just doing this more for me or will it add anything to the resale value and can it be worth the time/money in resale
Michael, You’re wise to do your research now before making this investment. I strongly recommend getting an appraiser to help you with this decision. You can save money by telling them no written report is needed, just a walk through & discussion of your home & the plans as drawn up. Here’s my story of how this can help you …
When buying a 1940s house to flip (and keep my handyman techs busy through the winter), I had an appraiser walk through the house with me. I shared my ideas to create a larger kitchen, add a half bath downstairs and convert the deck to a family room. He told me that a house in the price range absolutely needed a deck and that a family room wasn’t necessary. He then went on show me how I could create a large eat-in kitchen by removing the walls between the dining room & kitchen, and the large pantry which wasn’t needed in a house this size. It worked perfectly & the house sold in less than 2 weeks.
In my opinion, investing in your property will result in a great return on investment. I recently renovated my basement into a kids play area.
Alex, With the kids spending more time in the basement … is your house quieter?
This is all really good stuff – thank you for posting it!
I’ve wanted a basic 2-car detached since just a few years after moving into my current home with an attached “barely-2-car” garage. I have a pickup truck in addition to a daily each for me and my wife (rural living!), and now we have a teen with a car. If that’s not already enough, one way my son and I stay connected is via a mutual interest in, guess what… cars! So we also have an older “hobby” car that needs to be kept in from the elements. 4 of the 5 are needed, but I would argue the one for my son and I is as important as any of the others 🙂 Here is my issue (aside from having 3 cars fully-exposed outside):
I designed a 2+ car garage with a side overhanging roof (like a carport) for a third vehicle. Completely unfinished inside with only basic electricity for light and power door openers. Prices quoted so far are between $56,000-77,000. As a car guy, I see a couple nice used sports cars or a slightly used Ferrari fr that kind of money. So my options appear to be: 1) Suck it up and leave all the regular-use cars outside, 2) install an inexpensive (maybe removable?) carport in a semi-hidden spot and at least shield a couple cars from sun, rain, and ice, 3) Do as a wealthy friend has done and find warehouse space (buy as investment or rent) in which to keep the truck and a collectible, 4) Spend $70,000 for some car, shop, storage space and don’t think about the cars I could have bought with the same money, or 5) think of other ways to use the garage such that the cost is more justifiable. Rental cottage in future years? A place for my son to work on cars, should he end up in some line of work that involves automobiles? Build on my hobby and buy-sell classic cars?
I’m in an enviable yet still difficult quandary. I can “afford” to pay for an expensive, detached garage, but would it amount to a frivolous expense? I plan to live out my days in this home (age 59 now), so getting my money back via resale is not an immediate issue. Maybe in 10 years – more if health is good.
Loved your comments so here are my best ideas … but understand that I have no idea what building conditions are like (could you extend current garage out the back?) and what the market value of your home is because that may be a cost factor, for materials to match what’s on your house. So let’s explore a few strategies:
1. Minimize cost of extra garage space …
2. Let’s think outside the box …
So hope these ideas help you push through & find a solution you’re willing to invest in. From experience, I always want my investment to be something I can recoup on selling a house because I keep moving, even after I think this is my forever home.
I live in a cold weather town, in a neighborhood with mostly ’50s ranch style homes… most have 2 car garages. My house had one but the previous owner converted it to a living room off the kitchen. This adds to square footage, but detracts from potential buyer pool.
I could easily attach a garage to the front of the previous garage. I would like to think the ROI would be higher for my situation than the average. What do you think?
The value of a garage depends on many factors from the price of your home & whether comps do/don’t have a garage. The best way to learn if a garage addition will give you a good return on your investment is to talk to realtors active in your neighborhood, or even better … ask an appraiser.
David Allen Elliott
Great advice and great things to think through if I should do such a thing. I think I would be nervous because there are so many zoning laws it can be difficult to do anything.
When you compare what it will take to put an addition onto your home …vs selling your house, buying a new one & moving, it often makes a lot of sense. Good luck with your decision David
Eventually I will get there to where i can build a garage like this! My husband would love this!
This is a great post. It will really help those looking to add a garage. Thanks for sharing this.
A proper plan is required in order to build a garage. Thank you for sharing this thorough information
Sounds like a smart investment to me – even if people don’t want to use it to house a car they can have it as a spare room, games room or utility room. Any extra space has got to add value hasn’t it?
Most of the time, added garage space is valuable … and you’re right that many people use a garage for storage, not cars.
It really helps someone who wants to have a Garage. Thank you for all the information! Great tips for homeowners.
I’m very impressed with the very comprehensive and insightful information you shared on building a garage addition! Does this come from going through building this with various homes of your own? You definitely know your stuff!
Thanks Ching, While I’ve built a house & added a 4-story addition, I haven’t added a garage personally. I have though worked with remodelers as they’ve added garages to several homes so I do have first-hand experience … and the photos here are ones I took, plus a lot more.
This is great info. Our home already had a garage, so it’s not something we had to consider
Gideon Akachukwu Okorie
This is definitely an insightful post that explains all the details one needs to know when building or renting a home. Unfortunately where I come from the landlords don’t care about garages.
Gideon, Hopefully you’ll one day become a homeowner vs renter, and then the decision will be yours.
These are all amazing tips. It really helps someone who wants to have a Garage. I recommend this article to my other friends too. Thanks for this great article.
When we bought our current home about 5 years ago, we were specifically looking for either with a garage or space to build one. Our home in our opinion has room for a garage, but the city disagrees, we could put in a large shed, that would be almost like a garage, but it likely is not worth the cost. So now we are looking to move. This is a great post, I appreciate this information.
Tara, Sorry you’re having so much trouble with the city & it truly is ridiculous that you have to move to get the space you need. You didn’t mention what you want to use the garage for but if it’s not to park a car, you might find an affordable shed where they deliver it to the site or you simply have to assemble (but make sure it doesn’t have too many parts per my advice on swing sets … https://hometipsforwomen.com/tips-to-installing-a-swing-set
You were very thorough with your garage analysis. I think it is a great addition, but it definitely depends on the neighborhood. You may not get your money out.
Julie, You’re right that it’s also important to consider the ROI for improvements as you don’t want to throw away hard earned money.
You say a freestanding garage is cheaper than attached. That is NOT the case since an attached garage requires only 3 sides, not 4, cutting cost significantly.
“Freestanding (not attached to your home) garage additions tend to be cheaper,” the author wrote:
$7,500 – $27,040
(2-car, with storage and workspace, installed)
$58,430 – $86,400
(2-car with storage and workspace, installed)
Dale, I finally had time to review the article you cited. Yes it’s true that an attached garage can be cheaper if you can use it without many problems. My experience is primarily in the northeast where houses are older, not square, ground slopes & most often an attached garage like the one shown here, requires a room between the house & garage to make adjustments for all the problems.
Thanks for the tips for building a garage. A freestanding garage would be great for us, to put all of our yard equipment and things in it. Plus, now I know that those types are cheaper to build!
Free-standing is the easiest to build especially if you are DIY! Good luck
I am researching adding a 18″ wide by 30′ long attached garage to a house in rehabbing. My daughter and son in law will live there a few years while they are finishing school but then we will sell. We can only do 18′ wide because we have to leave 7′ from property line and that’s the biggest I can go. But I’d put a 16′ garage door and sell it as a 2 car garage with a workshop area. I’m wondering if it’s worth it. The winters are cold in Illinois and I think it would add to the value, but maybe just a nice carport would do? Hmmm. Thx for the article.
Leslie, I’ll try my best with the information you provided. The resale value of the garage will depend on whether most homes similar to your house have a garage or not. Here’s how I learned this when renovating one house. The appraiser told me homes the size & value of mine needed a deck & didn’t need a family room. That stopped me from converting the deck to a family room & instead we removed some inside walls to create an open kitchen / dining room with extra living space. So I’d guess if 50% of the homes you’ll be using for comps have a garage, then you’ll be able to recoup at least half of your investment ( this changes each year so check the latest Cost vs Value survey for your area).
The other half of this equation is cost. If these are reasonable meaning the land is flat, that’s helpful. My biggest concern here would be the design of the garage & how it attaches to the house. This is very, very important as you want it to look right from the road versus having it detract from your home’s curb appeal which is critical when selling a house.
Best of luck with your decision & turning it into reality.
Thanks for the reply. I didn’t add a garage. I rehabbed the house from top to bottom including all new plumbing and electric, a kitchen family room and half bath on first floor (instead of everything on second). It was a 2 bed, 1 bath, now it’s a 3 bed, 2.5 bath that is really great space. I did add a very nice new 2 spot driveway that is deep enough for a future owner to add a garage or carport. I’d maxed out on budget without losing money. It does depend on the town and comps, thanks so much.
Good article, with a sobering look at cost and return on investment. This is why I’ll probably go with a pre-fab carport if I can get my county to allow it.
The money spent on a garage would be mostly down the drain.
Kyle, Yes, a garage addition is costly & often you can’t recover the investment. One way to learn the value on resale is to talk to appraisers, as it depends on what’s expected in the location where your house is … and price point. For one house I was told the house had to have a deck (expected) but didn’t need a family room at given price. That quickly nixed my idea to enclose and finish the back deck for a family room which I would have preferred.
Thank you for all the information!! What about the ROI of 2 or even 3 car garage, with a nice apartment on top?? I would like to buy a house that doesn’t have a garage. Build one with an apartment on top. Rent the house out and I would live in the apartment (single male).
In my area most housed have on street parking and access to the garage and a parking pad in the rear alley. I plan to live in this area for at least 10 years, if not a bit longer. Louisville KY is the area. I am just guessing the cost would be $60,000 to $70,000.
Thank you for your advice on this.
Bernie, Great question & you’ve got some work to do to decide on the best investment decision, so here are some steps to get started:
1. I’m not familiar with Louisville, KY but you can look at ROI for home improvements in the Cost vs Value, East South Region which includes Tennessee. They don’t include a garage addition, so you’ll need to look at the details on their master bedroom addition.
2. Your investment should be consistent with the street and neighborhood where the house is located. You never want to own the most expensive house so you’ll need to research home values around you. It will also help if you talk to an appraiser about the home features in your neighborhood that add value. I once learned that a house I was buying needed a deck & didn’t need a family room.
3. Be open & flexible as your idea for a studio apartment (or master bedroom) might be wise without the garage given you’ve indicated the use of parking pads in your area.
Good luck with your research, your addition & happy to see that you’re looking at this house for its financial value, in addition to a place to live.
I am looking into building a attached 2 car garage to a ranch house in New England .. the winters have been brutal on the north side of house (where it would go with icing / snow .. I’m concerned with getting to garage from kitchen as back door has small mud room that has one door into kitchen and another door to the cellar with 11 stairs .. and suggestions ?
Patricia, I’m not able to visualize your ideas so if you could draw them out & email to me ([email protected]), I might be able to offer some ideas.
What an insightful post. This is definitely a must-read primer for any homeowner planning to build a garage.
Nina, Glad you liked the article & please share with those you know are considering a garage addition … although I’m sure building codes are a bit different in Canada.
It would be a great investment and addition to your home! I would just have more room to store junk though lol
This is very insightful. It’s a nice addition to any home if you’re planning on staying there for a long time. I think it’s a good investment if you’re going to use the extra space.
I have never thought about a garage addition so far, but this sounds like a wonderful resource that could help anyone who would be ready to go for it. In few years time when we think about one such addition I am sure this could come handy!
If you’re planning to live in your current home for a long time. I think it’s a good investment and you can definitely take advantage of the space that you have.
CYNTHIA M NICOLETTI
Great tips for homeowners. It is amazing how the value of your home goes up with special additions.
I know lots of people have done this. It wouldn’t work for us though, but it seemed to work well for them!
That’s an interesting article. I live in a flat building but when I buy a house of my own I would consider looking for one with a garage. I think that it’s not only protection for your car but also a great place to store different tools.
Joanna, People store a whole lot more than tools in their garages … so if you start checking them out now, you’ll know better when buying your first house.
I often wish we had a three car garage. Our two car garage is okay, but I find it’s a tight squeeze with both our vehicles inside, and in the winter time its a must to have both cars in the garage so you don’t have to defrost windows before leaving in the morning.
Heather, Be glad you’ve already got the 2 car garage & all I can say is check the width of new cars before you buy them.
What an informative post! We live in an apartment and are renting the parking space. I think having a garage is a good idea, especially for cold climates and it’s good as an extra storage space too!
I wish we had to space too as this would be great for us although we do have a very large double drive
Emma, Maybe someday you’ll be able to add a garage to go with your driveway …
I think it really depends on where you live if a garage is worth it. Here in California, all new homes have attached garages.
Debra, Our first house in California had a 1 car garage, the second house … 2 cars. We didn’t realize until we moved in that the 3rd garage space is for storage, in lieu of the basements we are used to having in the northeast.
I wish I had a garage. I think it would definitely be a smart investment where I’m considered.
Jenn @ EngineerMommy
We have a 1 car garage but we’d like to have a bigger one. We have been thinking of expanding it. Thanks for the tips.
This is so true. A thorough planning and a lot of consideration must take place before building a garage.
That is such an interesting post. I think I have to talk to my husband about this.
A 3 car garage would be wonderful. The cost though is not for right now
Wonderful article, covers all the Important stuff! Thank you Tina, it was pleasure reading your work.