Building a new garage from scratch requires a lot of preparation and knowledge, including the expertise on the local codes, building materials, as well as volunteers from your friends and family who’ll help you get the job one. While the whole project can look intimidating, here are the essential tips to make it easier.
Attached or Detached Design?
In recent years, there’s little housing development where garages haven’t been already attached to the houses’ sides. Attached garages have a lot of benefits, especially in regions with cold and wet falls/winters. However, this design can limit the design options of the whole compound. If you’re building a garage from the ground-up, take some time and weigh the benefits of both detached and attached garage design.
Does the size Matter?
In the 1970s, about 20 percent of U.S. homes had a garage large enough to fit one car only, while 40 percent of them had two-car garages. By the end of the mid-2000s, those figures looked wildly different – about 60 percent of new homes were designed with garages for two, 20 percent of garages could fit three or more cars, and only 7 percent of homes were planned with one-car garages.
A Favorable Orientation
Instead of building your garage so it faces the street, try to see if the footprint can be rotated so it is angled away from the street. Unless you want to make the garage door a focal point of your home’s curb appeal, consider offsetting the garage for 90, or at least 45 degrees from the house, as this will decrease the visual impact of the garage entrance to the home’s street view.
Door Opening Options
There are several popular door opening designs that you can choose from. Side-hinged doors are probably the best for maximizing the garage interior space, as these open outwards. Just make sure there’s enough room for the doors to swing-out. If you’re building the garage in a confined space, a retractable roller-shutter of sectionals is probably better, as it draws up into the ceiling, with no outside space needed. However, if you need the free ceiling for overhead storage, you should probably go with a door that retracts back into the wall on the inside.
Make it Secure
As the place where you park your car, the garage can be a prime location for intruders to break in. Don’t let the garage become a weak point in your home security system, especially if it’s attached to the house – invest in CCTV cameras accompanied with motion-activated floodlights. However, not even the sturdiest lock can deter the most determined burglars so consider insuring the garage as well. While your comprehensive home insurance is likely to include the garage, you need to ask around for an optimal car insurance package for your vehicle separately. Safety should be a top priority on your to-do list for this home improvement project, and that covers everything – from your own safety to finding the right way to protect your car and everything in it.
Plan for Tall Doors
You wouldn’t believe how many car owners were in a situation that they strap something to the roof of their vehicle, only to wreck the garage door while trying to drive in. So, when designing a garage, plan for an extra tall door so you can safely drive inside with a load on top of your car. If you choose to build an 8-ft. door, you’ll need walls at least 9 ft. tall. Tall garage ceiling has an added bonus as it increases your vertical storage space for boats, bikes, another set of tires, etc.
Who Said Warm Floors?
Whoever has done any weekend mechanic work in a cold garage knows that crawling around on cold tiles or concrete isn’t fun at all, no matter how warm you dress. The best way to keep both you and your ride warm during winter is to install an in-floor heating system. PEX tubes are used to carry warm water through the concrete slab, where the heat is exchanged to warm the floor. When the floor gets warm, you can lower the thermostat and still feel comfortable. If you decide to DIY this heating system, the materials needed will cost you from $2 to $3 per square foot.
Consider Second-Floor Headroom
Since the garage is already going to take a portion out of your lot, why not use the vertical space to build a second-floor home office? One of the ways to achieve this is to add shed dormers. Apart from adding more natural light, they give you more headroom with no need to build a full second floor. Hire a structural engineer or an architect to help you with the framing details.
A garage itself isn’t an expensive project, but inexperience DIY-ers often make mistakes that pile up the overhead costs. Use this short guide to make sure you include all the design features you like in the initial plan.