Is there a new garage in your future?


If you’re thinking about a new garage, there are a few important factors you might want to consider. Here is a bit of information that will get you started in the right direction.

Zoning Laws

Before doing anything, find out what the zoning laws are in your area. They will make you aware of such things as where a garage can be located on your property and any size restrictions. Zoning codes will also specify requirements on things such as foundation, wind and snow loads, roofing materials, trusses, drainage considerations, etc. With this zoning information, you’ll know whether you can build a garage on your lot and what is allowable.

Attached vs Detached

If you just need something in which to park your cars you might consider an attached garage. Depending upon the architecture, this is sometimes a less expensive option because one wall is already in place. A detached garage would be a good option if you are using it for a workshop with noisy power tools. Moving the garage away from the house would help create a sound buffer.

Single or Double Car or more

If you’re planning on a single car garage, think about building a structure no less than 14 feet wide by 20 feet deep. The most popular garage addition is a two-car garage and the most desired sizes are 24 ft. by 24 ft. or 24 ft. by 30 ft. This will allow you to get your cars in with a little room to spare. Need additional space for storage or a workbench? You’ll want to add 4 to 8 feet to either dimension, generally to the width.

An attached Garage is an Expansion of your home

You’ll want to make the garage appear as if it is part of your home so it does not detract from its appearance. With an attached addition configured with the garage door openings on the side, you are able to put windows and landscaping on the front side so that it looks like a room addition. This can increase the driveway expense, but it will increase the home’s curb appeal. Whenever possible, for appearance, if the garage doors need to be on the face of the home, consider using two one-car doors as opposed to one large door. When attaching to a one-story structure, blend the roof overhang into your home’s roof for continuity.

Added Living Space

Take a moment and think about your garage addition and whether you would want additional living space above it. This is very common.  It could be a man cave, playroom, new living area or even an apartment. Once the construction is done you can wait awhile before embarking on completing the final interior finishing phase.


If you currently have a carport and are planning on an attached garage, your existing driveway may be satisfactory, but again, check your area zoning codes. If not, for a single car garage, you’ll need to plan on a minimum of a 12 ft. wide driveway from the garage door to the street. If there are obstacles that are not removable, trees, wall, etc, you may want a 14 ft. wide driveway to make sure when parked, the car doors clear these obstacles when opened.

For a two-car garage, you’ll want a 20 – 24 ft. wide driveway. Also, if you need to turn the car around to pull out into busy traffic in a forward position, you’ll need to plan on an appendage pad at least 12 feet wide by 14 feet deep attached to the driveway. This also makes a wonderful out-of-the-way area for shooting a round of hoops.

DIY or Contract It Out or a Little of Both

If you choose to build the garage yourself, this can be a rewarding experience, but you’ll need to know the zoning laws and codes. It takes approved plans, a lot of planning, not to mention, a financial plan. Permits will need to be obtained and you will need to call the Building Inspector for various inspections during different phases of construction.

Check with equipment rental companies to see what the costs are for trenchers and backhoes. You’ll need to know how to set rebar, re-mesh and forms and be able to do site preparation before pouring concrete. You’ll need to find a concrete supplier to pour footings and the foundation wall, place drainage pipe, backfill and then the floor slab and driveway. Or, you may want to sub this out. Excavating, construction forms and concrete work can typically be done by a single company and they can also deal with the concrete supplier.

Take your approved plans and/or material list to a qualified lumber and building materials dealer and get a building materials estimate.

In some areas, unless you’re a licensed plumber and/or electrician, you’ll need someone to do that work. In some cases you can do the work, and have a qualified plumber and/or electrician inspect your work and sign off that it meets code before you call for an inspection. Remember, during construction you will need to call the Building Inspector for various inspections during different phases of construction.

If you choose the DIY route, be an educated consumer and do your homework first. Make sure that the costs are staying in line with your own budget.

Before You Dig

And most importantly, underground power lines, communication cables, gas lines, water lines or other utilities may lie at various depths below the surface of your property or areas of planned excavation. It is important to be safe before excavating by alerting the appropriate state notification center and allowing time for the area utility companies to mark the location of their underground facilities.