Is Building a Garage Addition a Smart Investment?

building a garage addition provides more space but it's not as flexibleBuilding a garage addition can be an expensive home addition project. 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. Of course Americans love to collect things and when we don’t have enough space at home, we pay to store our belongings in self-storage units.

The latest American Housing Survey (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 (or maybe (Garage Storage for Tools, Gardening Supplies, Cars?). The challenge when building a garage today is not only have we super sized our homes, our cars and trucks are much bigger. Everyone has different ideas about the type of car/truck you should use to size your garage, and I’m not an expert on trucks so I found a helpful table for exterior vehicle dimensions, at ConsumerReports.org.   

A workbench and storage shelves are typically 2 feet deep plus you need another 2 feet to access them comfortably. When building a garage, you also want to consider ceiling height as larger trucks are much taller than the average car, which will affect building height as well as the size of your garage doors (width and height).

 Building a Garage: What It Takes 

When building a garage, the key decisions are size, 1 or 2 cars and extra storage space, and will it be attached to your home? Building a garage that’s not attached to your home (freestanding as shown above) is cheaper because there’s more flexibility in where you place the garage, and you don’t have to worry about tying the new structure to your existing home which requires more design work and more costly construction because buildings are rarely square.

Cost vs. Value Report for Building a Garage

The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs Value report (cost value graph below) includes a two car, freestanding (not attached to your home) garage. The construction details for building a garage include … lacking only 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).

data for your research on building a garage additionWhat’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 — nationally, across 9 regions and if you’re lucky, there’s also data for 81 cities. You can look at the report 

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.  … and if you do move forward building a garage, you might want to look for ways to cut costs while achieving your final goal.

 

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 $20,000 and may only add $15,000to the selling price of your home.  If you plan on staying for 5 years, that garage could have cost you $1000 / year.  Is it worth it? Only you can decide that. Now let’s assume that you’ve considered it and decided that it is time for building a garage.  How big should you build it?  This is, of course, a matter of personal needs and opinions also.  However, generally a double garage has a greater resale appeal than a single.

 

About Tina Gleisner

Tina Gleisner helps women homeowners create homes they love, homes that support how we live today. Leveraging her experience owning 13 houses and running a handyman business, Tina writes at www.HomeTipsForWomen.com, offers Savvy Homeowner Guides and a free Savvy Homeowner Report.

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