If you’ve ever circled a busy urban city block multiple times searching for a parking space, you’ll no doubt know the value of having a dedicated personal parking enclosure conveniently located on your property.
A garage is also an excellent space for storage and for hobbies like auto restoration and woodwork. Another recently popular trend is using a garage to create a “man cave” – a space dedicated to “manly” features that are dedicated to pastimes such as sports, video games or drinking beer.
If you can afford to make the investment and have enough room on your property, building a new garage can also provide you home with a great resale advantage over nearby homes that don’t feature one. Finally, you may want to build a new garage to replace an aging, damaged or structurally unsound existing one.
Considerations for building a new garage
If you’re thinking of building a new garage, one of your first considerations should be whether or not you’re legally able to do so. If you have an existing garage on the property, it’s likely that you shouldn’t have a problem building a new one to replace it. However, no matter your current situation, you or your contractor should first check with the local building department to learn what steps are necessary to gain clearance for construction.
Depending on local building codes and regulations, you may need to obtain a permit to demolish an existing structure. For new construction, it’s a good idea to find your property’s current plot plan or to have your property surveyed to make sure the new garage doesn’t abut too closely to property boundaries or existing utility corridors for municipal water or electricity lines. Your building plan will also need to pass muster with the local building department before a new building or construction permit can be issued.
The contractor who built this Kentucky garage took care of securing all required permits. | Photo courtesy of Roger Paige
If you live in a neighborhood or district with a historic designation or a neighborhood association, gaining clearance for a garage demolition and/or construction is also an essential to-do before commencing with any work. These types of committees will also likely have some say-so in what dimensional properties and aesthetic features your new garage will have.
Can you afford it?
As mentioned previously, adding a new garage where one didn’t previously exist may give your home a resale advantage, but that comes with a cost. According to experts, a new garage will cost tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum and more depending on its size and features. And while adding a new garage may provide a resale advantage, it’s unlikely that you’ll recoup the investment upon resale. According to Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value report, if you built a mid-range garage that costs about $60,000 to build, it would only add about 60 percent that cost to your home’s resale value.
Who should you hire to do the job?
As with any major home investment or improvement, you’ll want to thoroughly vet the contractors you ask to bid on the job. Getting at least three estimates, especially for a project of this size, is highly recommended. If your locale requires one, it’s a good idea to select a licensed contractor, as they’ll be able to obtain building permits, if needed, and they’ll likely be more familiar with local building codes.
Don’t forget to personally verify references provided as well as ensuring that a contractor’s licensed, bonding and/or insurance are current and adequate to cover your project.
What features do you want?
If you’ve cleared the hurdles of building permits, association approval and financing, you’ll want to start considering what features you may want to include in your new garage. Beyond the basic stick-frame construction of a garage – four walls and a roof – there’s a myriad of options available, especially as more homeowners are bringing traditionally home-based elements into garages.
Do you want the interior to be finished with drywall or remain unfinished? What kind of electricity options do you need for your equipment? What kind of lighting? How many windows? All of these are questions to answer before building begins. If you’re unsure about these elements, you may benefit from hiring a firm that can provide design services as well as construction. And don't forget about the most important feature in your garage -- the door. There is a wide range of choices in garage doors to consider.