Whether you require more storage space to hold your cars and keepsakes or want to add in a tiny apartment or workshop in your garage, building a great garage can increase your home’s value. Learn how to build a garage today.
A garage is a small building near the home that’s used to store items, such as a car. Many people use garages to hold other things in addition to cars, work on home projects, store items they don’t need all the time, or extend their work and play life into another space. They’re used for work, play, hobbies, and storage above all. In this article, we’ll show you how to build a garage in 12 simple steps to increase your home’s value instantly.
History of the Garage
The word garage comes from the French word “garer” meaning “to store,” and they have been used over the years to shelter various items from the elements. The first garages were made from converted carriage houses, where they once held horses, carriages, and tack. Because cars quickly became more mainstream and widely available, more than half of the American homes built after 1969 included garages. They became so popular, in fact, most people use them as their front door.
In the 1920s, cars became more affordable. Federal bills like the road act of 1916 and the highway act of 1921 also began to change the way America functioned entirely. Thus, homes began incorporating modern garage designs so people could keep better watch over their vehicle. Early garages looked similar to carriage house still, only with a roof and masonry to match the house. Later, garages continue to blend into the design of the home more and incorporate electricity such as sliding doors.
Modern homes can offer fewer basic designs when it comes to garages, as space may be customized to include various other conveniences. Today, most homes come with at least a single car garage, and they’re commonly transformed into she sheds, man caves, or places for bands to practice. Some of the world’s largest companies were actually started in garages, such as Google, Apple, and Nike.
Technology has changed how to build a garage today, with innovation like remote garage door openers, heated garages, and cozy tiny spaces made for much more than housing animals. Use your garage to practice a hobby, expand your home, store the things you love or build a career.
Main Types of Garages
Various types of garages exist, and the type that is right for you depends on your needs. If you hope to make a little extra cash each month, for example, building a garage with an apartment may be great for you. Or if you need storage space or a room for your hobbies, other garage plans may feel more ideal. The following main types of garages don’t include customized option as well, which offer endless possibilities. The purpose of your garage is all in how you use it.
Tiny-sized garages, the compact option is the smallest garage. They’re perfect for people without a ton of building space for a detached garage, a shed for lawn care equipment, or holding a single car.
The basic type and sizing of garages, standard options are built to hold vehicles. They don’t tend to come with any other features, and you can choose how many cars you want to house.
With tons of space, an apartment garage was made with added space beside the garage or above in a loft style. The apartment added into the garage can boost your home’s value, and many homeowners rent out spaces like this to make a little extra cash or use them for their adult children to live slightly away from home.
Molded to resemble the famous 18th-century Virginian outbuildings, colonial garages pair well with an older-style home with similar architecture. They must meet your local building code requirements, however.
Hold your car and store other items in this type of garage. These are one-story buildings that hold a vehicle or two and all your hobby needs, such as water skis, motorcycles, dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, or home business needs that require space such as woodworking, painting, and more.
Homeowners who work as mechanics or have hobbies that require a lot of working space such as woodworking tend to enjoy having a workshop outside. The garage space allows you to roll up the doors to open up space, and you can store equipment and tools.
An oversized garage offers more space, including more room for you to walk all the way around your car without bumping it while getting into storage bins. Large garages are often single-story only, and added space can be utilized in the middle or side of the garage.
Designed for large vehicles, this type of garage offers more space. They have either 9 or 10 foot tall frames and door openings around 8 or 9 feet wide, which is perfect for a small or medium-sized SUV but not as great for a large truck.
Attached vs. Detached
Attached garages often come with a house and are purchased together. Most attached garage share cooling and heating systems with your home, making them more comfortable. Detached garages, on the other hand, can be built at any time and offer more privacy from the house. It’s a stand-alone building, so there is less worry over how much noise you make, and they can function as tiny apartments or guesthouses. Choosing between the two depends on how much space you have and how you use it.
If your home offers a detached garage nearby and you want the benefits an attached garage could bring you, a breezeway is a perfect option. It’s easy to build between the structures to connect the two, and the small addition to your home will allow you to customize the space as you see fit. You can use the roof of the structure to stay dry as you walk to your door or enclose the entire thing and add a door leading inside your home, so you never need to go outside to reach your vehicle.
You can likewise convert an existing carport into a garage. The process is relatively simple and often costs much less than rebuilding a new garage if the materials are holding up okay.
Benefits of a Garage
The benefits of a garage are storage. Some people also enjoy having a garage due to a few bonus benefits such as:
- You can store much more than cars and keepsakes in your garage, as they make great writing areas, workshops, living spaces, bedrooms, sheds, and more.
- If you throw garage sales, a larger space may feel more inviting to visitors.
- Throwing a party is easy in inclement weather if you have a garage, which increases the number of people you can invite as well.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Garage?
Most garages, on average, cost between $16,815 and $37,759 to build. This average price estimate is based on project costs reported by Home Advisor’s members and their experience, while the national average cost to build a garage is $26,544. A low-end DIY garage teeters around $6,000 whereas higher end garages cost about $58,000.
The price you pay to build a garage will vary based on a few critical factors, such as your location and the size of the building. Other vital factors also come into consideration like the type of material you use for the foundation, siding, roof, and doors or windows. Additional features can add on to the price tag. A garage price estimator can help you figure out your exact costs based on these features.
One of the first things to consider when building a garage is whether you want the building attached or detached from your home. This will significantly affect the price you will pay, and attached garages are not only more common, but they’re also more affordable to build. Because you can extend them from your home, the walls of the garage can reach from this one main wall to cut down on the cost of building an entire four-walled structure. If you already have a driveway, this is often the best route.
Consider how many cars you’ll need to house and the amount of space you’ll need. The size of the garage will also directly impact the cost of the materials, most of which cost an average of around $40 per square foot of space. Attached, single-car garages cost approximately $7,500 and $10,000 to have built and are often about 14 feet long and 10 to 14 feet wide, while a two-car options range between $20,000 and $27,000 (before professional service fees) and commonly range between 20 and 28 feet wide.
Detached garages, on the other hand, cost more because you must build all walls from scratch and use more materials doing so. However, you do have more options in terms of size by creating a detached structure. A bigger workspace will cost you between $9,000 and $12,000 before you add bonus features, such as electrical, plumbing, or HVAC capabilities (to run air conditioning, for example), which can add on around $2,000 to $10,000 in professional service fees and other costs. Upgraded features include:
- Stain-free flooring
- Upgraded roofing
- Designer doors
- Separate entrances
- Added lighting
- Bonus storage
- Air conditioning or climate control
Doing it yourself will also save you some cash. DIY detached garages range around $4,000 to build after the cost of materials. You’ll need a building permit as well, which can cost around $100. However, you may still need to pay a professional for plumbing or electrical work if you go this route.
The overall cost of your build will entirely depend on the garage you want to build, the size, and the materials you choose. If your build requires the help of a professional, you may need to set aside more cash. Just remember that the price you pay is all in the details.
Should You DIY or Hire a Professional?
While going the DIY route costs much less money than hiring a professional, you may need the help of a plumber, electrician, or HVAC specialist depending on the features you want in your garage.
Many homeowners choose to hire a contractor, which bids based on the job details. Collect at least three estimates before selecting a professional, and make sure they’re licensed to practice in your state.
How to Plan Your Garage
The amount of space, materials, and hired professionals you’ll need are determined by how you’ll use your garage. First and foremost, consider your personal needs. Think about:
- What you need to store, such as car(s), lawn care equipment
- How many vehicles you own
- How much storage space you require other than vehicles
- If you want to live, work, or play in the garage
After you consider the features you want in your garage, how you plan to use it, and what type of budget you have to build, figure out the size of your garage. You can choose a standard size option to start with or customize your space from scratch. Standard garage sizes include:
- One car garage – The smallest garage, this size is also used for a shed or tiny bedroom. They’re typically either 14 x 22, 14 x 24, or 16 x 24 feet (with slightly more storage space).
- Two car garage – Big enough to house two cars, many homeowners also use these garages to hold one car with outdoor equipment like lawn mowers or tools. They’re often 18 x 20 feet, which is just large enough for two cars, but you can find them in more spacious sizes including 20 x 20, 20 x 22, or 22 x 22.
- Three car garage – The largest option, three car garages are made for families with independent teenagers who drive or for a living space. They’re usually 32 x 22 feet, but include larger choices like 40 x 30, 36 x 25, or 38 x 26 feet.
Custom garages can be built to any size, and this option may be better for you if you plan to work with a garage builder or contractor or require an odd-shaped garage. You can do more with custom garages, such as a three car garage with one door or a garage equipped as a workshop or complete tiny apartment for guests.
Custom garages are also able to fit your height requirements, which may be essential for you to consider if you want to build loft space. This enables families to incorporate a living area like a second living room for the kids and still park your cars underneath. Some people use lofts for a home office space, and they can be easily converted into a temporary overnight sleeping arrangement if needed.
The Materials/Supplies You Need to Build a Garage
The type of materials and supplies you need may depend on the type of garage you build, and these materials will directly impact the cost of construction. For each part of the garage listed below, you’ll find a list of the materials you’ll need as well as a few of the options you have to upgrade. Each of these pieces determines the cost of your build, excluding the expense of other necessities like a hammer and nails.
The number of walls you must build depends on whether you choose an attached or detached garage. Either way, you have the following main options in wall materials:
- Drywall – A type of wall used in finished garages because it meets fire code requirements.
- Metal panels – An upgraded type of wall used in high-end garages and workspaces that commonly comes in copper or steel and screws into position quickly.
- Wood sheathing – A simple design, this option screws into the framing and is often used to support shelves. You have the option to paint the wood as you see fit.
- Cement board – Similar to drywall, cement board is an easy-to-maintain base panel that’s easy to install and highly durable. It comes in tile or stone veneer.
- Plastic – Plastic or fiberglass panels are insanely low-maintenance. They protect against mildew, mold, pests, and moisture, but you may need to still install drywall underneath.
With the right ceiling material, you can keep your car and other storage items safe over a long period. Whether a storm rolls in or a tree falls on your garage, the following materials are used to offer customers peace of mind:
- Drywall – The easiest option, plaster, and the board can make a ceiling look like another wall.
- Popcorn – Simply paint or spray this material onto the ceiling to create a popcorn-like texture.
- Gypsum – Made from rocks, gypsum is placed on top of the ceiling frame and is less expensive than drywall. However, it’s not as good if moisture is the primary concern for you.
- Cork – An eco-friendly option, cork appears stunning on a ceiling and comes in either waxed or unwaxed versions if you want a shiny appearance.
- Styrofoam tiles – An inexpensive option, add Styrofoam tiles into the ceiling frame in no time.
- Plastic tiles – A cost-effective ceiling material that comes in various options, plastic tiles are often finished with metal like copper or tin and are fire resistant.
The ceiling of a garage also requires insulation, especially if you want the garage space to coexist as a living or storage space. Insulation materials typically include:
- Spray foam
Having windows in a garage is entirely optional, and most people choose to do so if space is also being used as a living space, hang out area, or workspace. There are single, double, or even triple paned windows to choose from, and most options are made from glass. Although, you may be able to further weatherproof the garage by using alternatives to glass and offering a good frame made from either:
Whatever material you select for the window frame, make sure it matches the aesthetic of the rest of your garage for the best results. A mismatched frame can be stained or painted to match, however. You can also add on window treatments, exterior shutters, or tinting for a boost.
The garage door is vital when it comes to protecting your cars and must match the materials used inside your garage. Garage doors are made from materials such as:
- Aluminum – Similar to steel, aluminum garage doors are lighter and cheaper. They’re also more likely to dent than steel.
- Steel – A popular option, steel doors are durable and affordably priced. You can paint them or make them look like wood as you see fit.
- Fiberglass – The least popular material, fiberglass doors have panels with aluminum frames that are less likely to become dented and can easily be painted.
- Wood – With varying styles available, this option is easy to paint or overlay with a hardboard panel.
- Wood composite – Made from recycled wood, this option is just as strong as steel and is easy to paint or stain. They’re also unlikely to dent over time.
You may also want a door for you to easily walk both inside your house from the garage or outside. While these are commonly wood, you’ll want to paint the wood to look pleasing and match the rest of the space.
Some people choose to add extras into a garage, as we’ve mentioned. These bonus features can include added storage or hang out space such as an attic, above suite, or large storage closet. Garages can be used as an apartment or workspace, and you could even add in a basement in the foundation for a safe storm shelter. Many people consider adding in:
- Storage – Options for storage are endless, from plastic shelving to adjustable closets.
- Food storage – If you grow your own food or store up for the winter, food storage may require electricity to run a deep freeze for meat or a second fridge to keep alcohol away from the kids.
- Workspace – A workshop or office space allows you to work outside your home, and people often include cabinets or countertop space for storage and tools.
- Climate control – If you choose to spend living time in your garage, you may need climate control measures such as good insulation, heating, and air conditioning, or carpeting.
- Lighting – Electricity is required for lighting, and you’ll need a professional electrician’s help to wire your garage. If you install an electric garage door, why not add in energy-efficient light bulbs and a sensor-operated light for when you come home on a late night.
You’ll need a few necessary tools depending on the type of material you choose. Most DIY garages use wood, which requires tools to complete the work such as:
- Garage door sealer
- Safety gloves and glasses
- Miter saw or jigsaw
- Drill and drill bits
- Chalk line
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Carpentry pencil
How To Build a Garage with Step-By-Step Instructions
Because building a detached garage requires adding in one more wall to create a self-standing structure rather than reusing one of the walls existing on your home as a starting point, our step-by-step instructions will focus on how to build a detached garage. If you want to make your own attached garage, simply teak a few of the below instructions to alter them for your use.
Likewise, you may want to alter the design to include bonus features or make room for a second car. A small, detached garage used for a single vehicle is the easiest DIY garage to build and design alone. Thus, follow these step-by-step instructions to begin building a garage, and feel free to modify the steps to include any unmentioned features you want to include in your model.
Step 1 – Create Your Plan
Think about how you plan to use the space and what type of garage is best for you. A detached garage offers various sizes and shapes, and you can plan what space will look like in consideration with your home and then think about the décor and the type of materials you prefer. Sketch out your ideas.
Step 2 – Obtain Permits
First, you’ll need to obtain a permit. Most locations require you to hold a license to build a garage, but the type you’ll receive varies based on where you live. Check with your local building codes and zoning department as well before you start construction to ensure the structure will be approved. Keep in mind that you must meet many other legal requirements for safety too. Periodic inspections may also take place throughout construction to make sure everything is going to plan.
Step 3 – Consult Hiring Professionals
Getting quotes from any contractors and subcontractors can help you determine how much building a garage may take. If you want to complete the work yourself, you may save some money. However, some features people want in the garage will require a professional’s knowledge and care. Consult with the professionals your garage design may require obtaining accurate price quotes and hire the best options.
Before you begin pouring the footings or completing any work, you should also consult an engineer. They will check for safety based on the type and structure of the soil in your area and ensure the building follows all local building codes.
Step 4 – Order the Materials
Select and order the materials you need, depending on the above information and your personal preference. You may also need to pay delivery fees and keep building code information on hand when ordering the supplies.
Step 5 – Build the Foundation
A strong foundation is critical, and it’s worth paying a professional to complete this step. They take your plan and set the concrete foundation in the right location. The site needs to be dug up to compact the soil before they backfill the area with gravel and set the lines to offer reinforcements in the hole. The grid design is made of reinforced metal rebar, and the city inspects the site before it can be poured over with concrete. Bolts keep the foundation in place.
Step 6 – Create the Frame
A few days after the concrete foundation sets, you can start building the frame. You’ll need tools like a framing nail gun, nails, circular saw or jigsaw, power drill, ladders, and lumber. Start with the walls and plan out where the windows and doors are going to be on the interior.
For more step-by-step instructions and tips on building the garage frame, check out this helpful article from the Family Handyman.
Step 7 – Put up the Walls
First, you need to put up the starting wall on the ground and then lift it 90-degrees to assemble the walls to the frame. Start with the east wall and move around the building. After you have two walls, you need to anchor bolt the walls together using anchor blocks. Nail the walls together at each corner, and repeat the process on all four walls.
Step 8 – Assemble the Outer Sheathing
Once all four walls are frames, you can sheath the outer layer using a nail gun. Sheath over the windows and door and install the nails every 6 to 8 inches on the edge and interior studs. Local codes will vary.
Step 9 – Install a Roof
You can rough in the roof using pre-built trusses that are large and heavy. Install the trusses every 24 inches on the center point of the top plate, using a ladder to reach. Be safe. Once they’re adequately secured, you can close up the roof and install shingles.
Step 10 – Place Shingles
Add the shingles into place on the roof using nails and staples after the frame and roof are fully built and sheathed, and the truss tails are trimmed nicely. Get up on the roof and nail the shingles into place every 12 to 16 inches using roofing nails.
Step 11 – Install Doors and Windows
Windows and doors add in a nearly finished look. Simply remove the window and doors from their protective packaging and fit them in their desired openings. You’ll need nails to hold them into the frame. If you want heating or cooling installed, this is the time to install those systems as well.
Step 12 – Assemble the Finishing Touches
Complete the project with any other finishing touches you wish, such as carpeting, cabinets, shelves, or furniture. Paint the garage to fit your style, matching it with your home décor.
A Few More Garage Building Resources
Here are a few final resources to help you learn how to build a garage of your dreams: