Nicholas Fitzgerald Plano, Frisco Home Improvement Services

Garages

A great way to improve your home is to build a garage. A garage not only serves as a place to protect your car(s) from the elements, but somewhere to store tools, sports equipment, and boxes of junk that you just can’t seem to part with. It can also provide a space to work on various projects – anything from pottery to potting plants to repairing and restoring cars.

Garages aren’t just for cars anymore!

You can also build a garage to add square footage to a house for less cost than a standard home addition – for example, as a playroom for the kids or as a home office. Just think, in 1939, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard created their first product and formed their company, Hewlett Packard, in their garage. And what about the countless bands that have started out in the garage? For anyone with a musically-inclined teenager (and even moreso for the non-musically-inclined), a garage can be a godsend as a practice space.

Do it for the benefits, not the resale value

But for all the added convenience of a new garage, be aware that you probably won’t get fully reimbursed for the addition when you sell your house. A garage addition can cost upwards of $15,000, and you can expect to get around a 40%-50% return on your investment (although these numbers may vary depending on factors such as your geographic location, your neighborhood and the real estate market at the time you’re selling your home).

Think of the remaining 60% of the cost in terms of the personal and other financial benefits you’ll enjoy. Things like improved lifestyle, recreational benefits, protection and safety for your car, a tax write-off if you use the space for a home office, and the cost savings of not having to move to another home.

Check local building regulations

When you’re building a garage addition, start by consulting your local planning department for information about building permits, zoning regulations and set back requirements, which regulate how close you can build to neighboring property or to the road. Failure to comply with these regulations, and failure to obtain a building permit (when necessary) can mean having to tear down your new garage. Usually, what you’ll need for building a garage are the construction plans and a plot plan which indicates where on your land the garage will be built.

Consult with a municipal building inspector – it’s free!

It is a good idea to consult with a local city building inspector before you begin your project. Their advice is free, and they can help ensure your project is up to code. Rick Perry, a building inspector for the city of Plattsburgh says about municipal building inspectors, “We are a great resource for the community. Our goal is to help homeowners care for and improve their properties safely. We want to work with the homeowners to make their projects successful.”

How big?

garage-add-onsSo how big should you build your garage? A single garage should be at least 20 feet long and 11.5 feet wide, measured on the inner walls. The minimum width for a double garage should be 18.25 feet, but you’ll need more space if you’re planning on putting in a workbench or if you’ll need to store bicycles, tools or firewood. Whatever size you choose, your garage will cost roughly $40 per square foot.

Don’t forget that you can take advantage of the height in your garage by using the trusses or by building a loft area to store canoes, kayaks, boxes, and patio furniture and bicycles in the off-season.

Your contractor will orchestrate the show

Building a garage addition can be a complex job, so it’s important to hire a reputable, licensed contractor. A general contractor can help you design a basic garage and even make working drawings that you can use to obtain the necessary permits. But more importantly, your contractor will need to coordinate the various phases of the project, and bring in appropriate specialists at the right times. These may include sub-contractors to do demolition, excavation and back filling to prepare the site for building, form setting for the foundation, framing and carpentry for the structure and roof, and adding insulation, windows, doors, roofing, eaves troughs, exterior siding, electricity, plumbing and ventilation.