What Is A Tandem Garage: Our Complete Guide

House with a tandem garage

Are you considering a home with a tandem garage? There are many benefits to a tandem garage over a standard garage. Some of the benefits are that they reduce urban sprawl, leave more room for yard space, require fewer materials to build, and you can use them for unique storage solutions.

But what even is a tandem garage? I had never heard of one and couldn’t even fathom what the term meant. Well, I’ve done my research and have come up with all the information you need to know about tandem garages.

What is a tandem garage?  It’s simple. Traditionally, builders construct multi-car garages so that vehicles are parked side-by-side. In a tandem garage, the cars are stored “in tandem,” that is, one behind the other - kind of like the concept of a tandem bicycle.

Most older homes, specifically those built before 1960, were constructed with one-car garages because most families only had one car. Over the last thirty or forty years, however, most homes have been built with two-car garages since most families now own more than one car.

Although standard garages are still the norm in most areas, many builders are now constructing tandem garages. As property becomes a more precious commodity due to urban sprawl and more single-family households, tandem garages are becoming more and more popular.

​Why Would I Want a Tandem Garage?

Tandem garages are ideal for homes with space constraints. Any neighborhood where homes are built close together could benefit from the use of tandem garages. On a larger scale, tandem garages help in small part to reduce urban sprawl, something today’s young home buyers are beginning to appreciate more and more.

When you consider the cost of purchasing property these days, it might not make sense to pay more money for garage space rather than living space. Building a tandem garage can be beneficial, by allowing the living space to be wider while the garage space is more narrow. A narrow garage will still allow the same amount of room for storing cars as a standard garage.

The differences as far as the property value is concerned, depends on the location of the home. In some areas, a tandem garage can lower property value, but in areas constrained by space, the construction of a tandem garage could raise the property value. 

Builders construct traditional garages to accommodate more than one vehicle, allowing cars to be parked next to each other. But a standard garage isn’t always the most practical solution.

Narrow lots usually don’t have enough space to accommodate a standard garage. In which case, homeowners are forced to park additional vehicles in the street or to pay for off-site parking. 

Many urban homes, especially in older neighborhoods, have relatively small plots because the original builders were trying to fit as many homes into the space as possible. Trying to build a standard garage in this setting would mean taking away living space from the house.

​Types of Tandem Garages

Tandem garages come in a few configurations. They can be built to accommodate any number of vehicles, but they most commonly house 2 or 3 standard size vehicles. Most have one door for moving vehicles in and out, but some have additional exits at the rear of the structure.

2-car Tandem Garage


A 2-car tandem garage is only as wide as a single-car garage, but it’s longer so you can park two cars in tandem. This is the most common setup for tandem garages since it is the narrowest layout. 

The front door of the garage is as wide as a typical single-car garage. To retrieve the car parked in the space furthest from the door, you have to move the other vehicle out of the way.

3-car Tandem Garage


A 2-car tandem garage setup is ideal for homes with two cars, but if you have a third vehicle, you’ll want an additional parking space.

A 3-car tandem garage is has a layout that allows you to park three cars inside without being as wide as a typical three-car garage layout. In a 3-car tandem garage, two vehicles are parked side-by-side like in a traditional garage setting, and you park the third car in front of one of the other two. 

Typically, the garage door is as wide as a traditional 2-car garage allowing the side-by-side cars to pull in and out as needed. You park the third car in a space in front of one of the other two cars.  To remove the third car, you would have to have to remove one of the other cars first.

Drive-Through Tandem Garage


As described above, accessing a vehicle from the interior of a tandem garage can be tedious since there is only one access point in the form of a front door. To relieve this issue, sometimes builders will add a rear door.

A door at the rear allows for increased accessibility to the vehicle parked in the interior portion of the garage. Of course, you will have to carefully consider driveway placement and street access when building a drive-through tandem garage, but if possible, it’s an ideal setup.

​Advantages and Disadvantages of Tandem Garages

Two cars near a yellow garage door

image source: Unsplash

Tandem garages have some advantages and some disadvantages over standard garages. Here we’ll take about these key differences so you can see how a tandem garage sizes up against its counterparts.

Advantages


1.  Tandem garages aren’t as wide as typical multi-car garages, so you can construct a much narrower house overall and a smaller driveway as well. A narrower house significantly reduces the amount of area needed for the construction of a home, which lowers the cost of building the home. 

2. In severely congested regions, building a wide structure isn’t an option. Building a tandem garage uses lengthwise space which makes use of land that is already appropriated by the rest of the structure.

3. Since the garage may take up more yard space, there may not be room for a shed or outbuilding to house lawn equipment, tools, or other possessions. A deep tandem garage can make additional space available, which you can use as a storage or workspace. 

4. Lastly, in a 3-car tandem garage, the third space is an ideal place to store vehicles that aren’t used daily such as a classic car or a seasonal vehicle. If you have only two cars, the third space is ideal for storing lawn equipment, sporting goods, or gardening and home maintenance tools.

Disadvantages


1. In tandem garages, you park one car in front of the other. If you want to remove the car furthest inside, you’ll have to move the other car out of the garage first. This is the biggest disadvantage of a tandem garage because most people don’t want the inconvenience of having to move a car out of the way. 

2. To solve the logistics problem of a tandem garage, you could add a door to the back of the garage. If your lot isn’t big enough to accommodate a rear exit, then this won’t work. You’ll also have to consider street access, but if possible, this is an excellent solution.

3. Builders will have to consider municipal codes when constructing a tandem garage. Some municipalities may not count a tandem garage as two parking spaces. If they require a minimum amount of parking to be constructed, then you may have no choice but to build a standard garage. 

4. Most people still want regular garages for the reasons listed above. As a builder, you might find that you won’t get as many buyers who want to purchase a tandem garage except in areas with especially narrow lots.

​Tips for Living with a Tandem Garage

It will take some time to get used to the logistics of a tandem garage if you’ve never experienced using one before. However, it’s no different than having a home with no garage and parking multiple vehicles in the driveway. If your car is in front of another and you need to leave, the other car will have to be moved. 

The best way to accommodate parking in tandem with another person is by having a schedule. You can try to leave for work at the same time if possible. This is more likely to work if both drivers work typical bankers hours. 

You can also plan ahead for who will need to leave the next day and then park accordingly. Understanding the schedules of the other car owner will help make living with a tandem garage simpler. 

The best case scenario for accommodating life with a tandem garage is to share vehicles whenever possible. For instance, when you need to leave, you take whichever vehicle is nearest the door without regard for who the owner is. If you’re a married couple, this scenario would be better for you and your partner than for say, roommates.

If you decide to share vehicles, you’ll want to make it a habit not to leave personal items in your vehicle since you won’t have access to it some days. You should also contact your insurance agent before driving another vehicle to make sure that you are following appropriate laws and that both drivers are covered in the case of an accident.

​Conclusion

Tandem garages offer a practical solution for housing vehicles in the limited space of urban residential properties. You can also use tandem garages for storing sporting equipment like bikes and sports bags, gardening and home maintenance tools, holiday decorations, and many other items. 

If you’re building a new home, consider building a tandem garage rather than a standard garage. If you’re in the market to buy a house, don’t dismiss tandem garages out of hand. There are benefits to tandem garages that standard garages don’t have.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments