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Update: Building a garage is a great way to add space and value to your home. A garage is a bonus for anybody looking to buy a house so when you come to sell yours it will increase its value much more than you’ll initially pay for it to be built. Garages are also safer for storing tools, equipment and vehicles as it is a solid building with much more protection than a shed or outhouse. Leaving cars on the street also leaves them vulnerable to crime, and by keeping your vehicle in a garage you can even lower your insurance premiums.

If you are tired of trudging through rain or snow to get to your car, adding a garage to your home might be just what the doctor ordered. If your car or truck is beginning to show the effects of bright sunlight and the elements, a garage might be just what the body shop would recommend.

Adding a garage to your home can provide controlled access to your vehicle, protect your vehicle from damage or theft, and also provide a little extra storage or work space, or both. Best of all, adding a garage can also increase the resale value of your home possibly more than you paid to have the garage built!

Before you go too far with planning your garage addition, you will need to check with your municipality and understand local building codes, space requirements, access requirements, etc.

The first decision to make is whether the garage will be free-standing or attached to your house. Local building codes may require that your garage be attached to the house.

The second step is to begin to plan the project.

  • Select a style and roof line that is consistent with the style of your house
  • Select building materials that are consistent with the style and exterior materials of your house; ensure that the materials meet local standards
  • Decide whether the garage will be designed to accommodate one or two or more vehicles
  • Decide whether you will build an “oversized” garage to provide space for a workbench, gardening supplies and equipment, lawn care tools and equipment, etc.
  • Decide whether you will include an exterior door, perhaps for access to the back yard
  • Decide whether you will include windows and a skylight. The added light can change a dark, dingy garage into a much nicer space
  • Choose a garage door and opener
  • Decide if you will use the space above the garage for storage and, if so, how you will have access to that space
  • Consider the electrical wiring needs you will have in the garage (for example, will you need outlets all around the interior, or only in one or two places; will you need a 220 line and outlet for a freezer or other appliance?
  • Decide if you want the space heated and cooled
  • Determine if you want to have a sink or bathroom in the garage. A mud room with full bath can be a nice feature

When your plans are complete and you have the necessary permits and permissions in hand, it is time to begin construction. Here are the primary steps in the construction process:

    1. Clearing the area of trees, fences, shrubbery, etc. Contractor Selection Workbook
    2. Excavation . removing grass, top soil and dirt
    3. Filling the excavated area with gravel and compacting
    4. Build and set the form for the footings and concrete
    5. Anchor the floor to the foundation of the house
    6. Pour the concrete floor and footing
    7. Frame construction
    8. Roof construction
    9. Install exterior siding
    10. Install shingles
    11. Install ventilation, plumbing and electricity
    12. Install windows and the garage door(s)
    13. Install insulation and vapor barrier
    14. Install interior walls and ceiling
    15. Install access to attic area
    16. Prime and paint

Building a garage is not a simple project. Unless you have the specific skills required, you will probably need to hire either a contractor or several skilled workers or teams. Assuming that you will do only decorating and finishing work, the kinds of skilled professionals you will need are:

  • Excavator
  • Concrete form builder/setter
  • Carpenter
  • Roofer
  • Electrician, plumber
  • Bricklayer, stone mason, wood or vinyl siding installer
  • Drywall installer
  • Window and door installer

Current trends in garage construction clearly favor building a garage that is attached to the house, with windows on at least one side and an automatic garage door opener. If you want to provide access to the attic without sacrificing space, the best answer might be a drop-down stairway. If space permits you to do so, some built-in shelving or strips for hanging lawn and garden tools make a garage very functional. The more organized the garage, the more functional it will be. Anything you can include in your plans that will enable you to organize the space for neatness and cleanliness will be a clear asset when you sell your home.

Another thing to consider, both for your own comfort and to protect your investment, is a coating of sealant on the concrete. This will protect the appearance of the garage in the event of fluid leaks from your vehicle.

Insulation may seem an unnecessary expense in a garage. Spending the additional money to insulate a garage will generally make the garage more functional in any of a number of ways. First, it will make the journey from the house to the vehicle more comfortable in hot or cold weather. Second, it will be more comfortable if you use the garage for a work area. Third, if you store gardening or lawn care chemicals or automotive fluids in the garage, insulation will reduce the risk of fire. Finally, an insulated garage reduces the influx of hot or cold air into the house.

Adding a garage to your home can answer several needs and provide some much-appreciated creature comforts. With careful planning, you can create a multi-functional addition that will meet your current needs and increase the value of your home.