A garage can be an ideal space to park a car, store items, or build a workshop. However, because garages can be used in many ways, garage features need to be planned carefully.
Create a blueprint first, then use it to apply for a building permit. Your garage has to follow building regulations in your area, but you can begin the construction and inspection process once you have your access. Are you getting frustrated by your clutter and garage organisation? Here at Garage Storage Solutions, we offer extensive professional organising and declutter service.
Tips For Planning Your Garage
Tall Doors Prevent Great Goofs
Every month we receive at least one Great Goof letter from a reader who strapped something to his roof and wrecked the garage door.
So when our set builder built this new extra-large double garage, he wanted to be able to drive in with a load on top of the van.
This meant installing an 8-ft.-tall garage door rather than the more common 7-ft. size. But, of course, if you decide to install an 8-ft. door, you’ll have to build the walls at least 9 ft. tall to accommodate it.
But tall walls are better anyway. They allow you more room to maneuver 4 x 8-ft. sheets of plywood and 8-ft.-longboards without hitting the ceiling or breaking light bulbs.
Add Second-floor Headroom
Incorporating shed dormers in your plan allows you to gain some of the benefits of a second-floor— more headroom and extra windows—without the added hassle of an entire second floor.
Unfortunately, you can’t just throw up trusses, though. Instead, consult an architect or structural engineer to help work out the framing details.
You’ll probably end up hand-framing the roof, but don’t worry. It’s not that hard, and you’ll gain a real sense of satisfaction from building it yourself.
Don’t Forget The AC.
Many of our field editors suggested adding garage air conditioning. A through-the-wall AC unit is a good choice since it doesn’t block a window, and you can put it wherever you want.
Air conditioning in a garage may seem like a luxury, but there are a lot of advantages. Our field editors like that AC reduces humidity, which helps keep their tools dry and rust-free.
Use the dimensions provided with the unit to build the opening in the wall. Then, add a header over the door, just like you would if you put it in a window. Also, add a separate 20-amp circuit for power to the AC.
Put In A Sub-panel Now— Or Regret It Later!
Lots of field editors told us that their biggest garage mistake was not installing a sub-panel. But, on the other hand, many others said including a sub-panel was the best move they made. The reasons are pretty simple: more power and more convenience.
If you want to use your garage for a shop or plan to install air conditioning or other power-hungry appliances or tools, you’ll have all the power you need.
And it’s more convenient to have the circuit breakers in the garage. If you pop a breaker, you don’t have to run to the main panel to reset it.
Plus, you can easily add more circuits without having to run wires to the main panel.
It’ll cost you a few hundred dollars more for the load centre, circuit breakers and heavy-gauge wire that runs to the main panel.
But for convenience and future flexibility, it’s hard to beat a separate panel in the garage.
The Simplest Way To The Attic
Many field editors suggested adding a pull-down attic ladder as one of the cheapest, easiest garage upgrades.
You’re more likely to take advantage of the storage space in your garage if there’s an easy way to get up there. Most attic ladders fit between 24-in. on-centre trusses so that you can install them without any structural changes.
Search online for “attic ladder” to see what’s available. Prices start at about $150 for wood ladders or about $250 for sturdier aluminium models.
Choosing A Basic Garage Design
Use Your Property Deed To Identify Your Property’s Boundaries.
The property lines may limit where you can place your garage. These lines are noted on the deed, which you get when you buy the home.
Then, step outside to find the boundaries. Use the landmarks on your property to estimate where the boundaries are.
If you don’t have the deed available, you can visit your area’s zoning department. They will have maps displaying your property.
Choose A Spot For Your Garage.
Spend some time thinking about what you want out of your garage. For example, if you desire an accessible garage, you might place it right next to your home.
On the other hand, you might place the garage further back and give it a different design from your house. Depending on the location, you may need to spend more on features to get the kind of garage you want.
The space available on your property, as well as local regulations, can influence where you place your garage.
Measure The Amount Of Space You Have Available For Your Garage.
Bring a tape measure outside. After measuring any property lines that might interfere with your project, make a rough measurement of your space.
Try to mark down the maximum amount of space you have available and how much of it you want to set aside with your garage.
Writing down these measurements is recommended. Show them to any architects or contractors you hire.
Get An Attached Garage For Easy Access.
Many modern garages are attached, which means they connect directly to a home. This type tends to be a little costlier to build since you will need to install a door between your house and garage. When it is finished, though, you can reach the garage without having to step outside.
You will need space to put the garage next to the home and freedom in your home to install a door.
You also need to consider how the garage’s roofing connects to the house for this type of garage.
Build A Detached Garage If You Need More Building Space.
Detached garages can be positioned anywhere on your property. This is useful if you don’t have space next to your home for a garage. In addition, this type of garage is cheaper to build and can offer a little more stylistic creativity.
Since the garage isn’t attached to the house, you have more leeway in the design. You still want it to fit well with your home, but it doesn’t have to look identical to the house.
Detached garages can still be positioned right next to a home. However, the garage will be a freestanding structure not connected to the house.
Design A Second Floor For More Storage Space.
Even if you can’t widen the garage, you may be able to make it taller. The building codes in your area are likely to limit this, but there are a few ways to work around them. For example, you may be able to build an attic, a loft or alter the garage’s framing to clear out more space.
For example, you can build a dormer. A dormer is a small projection on the roof but isn’t technically a second floor.
Depending on your garage, you may even be able to build a separate room above it. However, remember that you will also need to install stairs or a ladder.
If you don’t want your garage to have a second floor, consider including wall and overhead storage in your design.
Choose The Size And Number Of Doors You Need For Your Garage.
The size of your garage door depends on how you use your garage. An average garage door is about 7 ft (2.1 m) tall and 9 ft (2.7 m) wide.
If you plan on parking trucks and other vehicles, you may need a taller garage with more enormous doors. Also, prepare for any additional entries you need, such as back doors or attachment doors.
Also, consider the number of doors you need. For example, you may want separate entrances to multiple parking cars, but you can get one large door instead.
Features like electronic door openers cost extra, but they can be installed at a later date.
Creating And Detailing A Blueprint
Establish A Budget To Avoid Overspending On The Garage.
The blueprint is the first concern you need to handle. The blueprint costs money to make. Any features you add to the garage and the materials you use can up the final cost of your project. Also, consider any contractors you need to hire.
You can research the costs for most features and services online before speaking with contractors.
You can discuss building costs with any contractors you need to hire. They can offer alternatives if you exceed your budget.
Adding a storage loft, for example, may cost you $1,000. You may then need to pay extra for a pull-down ladder to reach it.
Calculate How Big You Want The Garage To Be.
Settle on an ideal size for your garage. This will depend on how much parking and storage space you need. More comprehensive, deeper garages are good if you want to park large or multiple vehicles. Keep this size in mind as you begin working on a blueprint and speaking to contractors.
For instance, if you want space for a workshop, you may wish to a smaller garage without car parking.
The space you have available depends on the zoning regulations in your area and the size of your property.
Place Windows Around The Room For Visibility.
Most garages will have a couple of windows. This is especially useful if you plan on converting your garage into a workshop since the windows can let in light and fresh air. First, however, you will need to determine the placement and add this to your plan.
Freestanding windows are placed away from garage doors and attachment walls.
You may be able to place windows on your doors to let in more light.
Position The Wall Outlets So They Are Accessible.
A trained architect or electrician can help with this. The electrical wiring needs to reach all outlets and light fixtures without being intrusive. You may need to add more wiring and outlets if you plan on using your garage as a workspace.
You may want to install a subpanel if you plan on having air conditioning or using power tools. This is because it acts as a second circuit breaker.
Add Heating, Air Conditioning, And Other Special Features.
These features are often not included in a garage because they raise the cost of building too much. However, if you plan on spending a lot of time in the garage, they can be worth installing. You often need to install these features before you lay the garage’s foundation.
For example, you may want a radiant in the floor heating system or a water drain. These need to be installed before the floor is finished.
Install A Retaining Wall If You Live Near A Hill.
Retaining walls are stone or concrete walls that hold soil in place. For example, if your garage is near a slope, you need a retaining wall to prevent dirt from sliding into it.
Get a construction company to build the wall for you if you aren’t comfortable making it yourself.
Building a retaining wall is similar to setting up the garage’s foundation. You will need to dig and level the ground in addition to cutting and assembling the wall material.
Purchase Garage Plans Online.
Type “garage plans” into a search engine. You can find many free plans to download right away, or you can buy different methods off of various websites.
These plans provide you or your contractors a blueprint on how to construct the garage. Paid plans may cost you $100 to $200.
Try to get a plan that shows exactly what you want your garage to look like. Garage Storage Solutions features an innovative wall storage system with heavy-duty sliding wall components such as hooks, garage shelving and stylish, durable steel cabinets designed to hold your gear securely and neatly in place.
You can constantly adjust the plan, such as a more oversized garage or extra features.
Hire An Architect Or Drafters To Customise Plans For You.
An architect or an architectural drafter can sketch plans for you. Hiring someone to create new projects costs $1,000 or more, so this service is a significant part of your budget.
However, they can ensure your garage is exactly what you want while still complying with local building codes.
Architects and drafters can match your garage to your home or add custom features to existing plans.
If you get plans elsewhere, you can still hire a drafter to make alterations. Sometimes you can have them customise an existing project for as little as $50.
Sketch Your Plans Yourself To Save Money.
Get a pencil and a piece of graph paper, then draw out the garage you want. Try to make it as accurate as possible.
You may need to take measurements of your building space so you can include them in your drawing. Many times, you can work directly from the plan you have sketched.
Depending on where you live, you may still be required to get a plan from an architect. They can often copy your sketch.
If you don’t draw, having a photo of your ideal garage can help. You can find images online or snap pictures when you see garages you like. Then, take the images to your architect.
Handling Legal Permits And Inspections
Submit A Permit Application To Your Local Building Authority.
Consult your local government to learn about their building rules and application process. In addition, you will most likely need to bring them a sketch of your project.
The sketch should show exactly what kind of garage you plan on building and prove that it falls within the authority’s regulations.
The location of your garage and its size can affect the chances of getting your application approved.
If you hire an architect or other contractors, they can usually help you get your application approved.
Pay The Fees For The Building Application.
Your government will likely charge an administration fee, which varies in cost from place to place. Fork over the money when you turn in your application. The building authority will then review your application.
You will typically need to pay by check or with a credit or debit card.
You may also need to pay additional fees for inspections. Many times, contractors handle these fees and include the cost in the final bill they give you.
Wait 6 To 8 Weeks To Get Your Application Approved.
During this time, the building authority considers your permit. After that, anyone in the community with an objection to the project has an opportunity to discuss it. Once the hearings are over, the local council sends you an approval notice, which means you can begin building the garage.
Most objections come from the building authority and have to do with local building regulations. You may need to adjust your proposal to get the permit.
If the review seems to be taking a long time, call the building authority to speed up the process.
Have An Inspector Check The Garage As It Is Built.
Check your local government’s building regulations to see when you need an inspector to look at your garage. You will usually need to have someone come out a couple of times during the process. The main times are when you lay the concrete foundation and build the frame. The inspector checks the work to see if it follows local building codes.
If you hire contractors, they will often contact an inspector for you.
You may need to have an inspector review the work at other times, such as when electrical wiring is installed and after the garage is completed.
Building The Foundation
Call The Utility Company To Mark Underground Utilities In The Area.
Underground utility lines, such as water or gas lines, can easily be damaged during construction. In addition, you cannot build over these lines. Instead, contact your utility companies so they can mark the location of the lines with paint and little flags.
If you want to build over a line, you must ask the utility company to move it first.
Stake-Out The Construction Area.
Once you have your plans in hand, position wooden stakes around the area’s perimeter. Connect the stakes with twine, then let the twine rest on the ground. This boundary maps out the construction area so you can see where the work needs to be done.
Double-check to make sure the utility lines aren’t in the building area.
Grade The Building Area By Leveling It.
The construction process is started by flattening the land. Next, you or an excavator you hire will dig up the area marked by the stakes and twine. Finally, you will usually need heavy construction equipment to dig a hole for the garage’s foundation.
The foundation is the garage’s concrete base. The soil around it may be shifted to form a slope, which helps water drain away from the garage.
Dig Out Footings To Keep The Garage Steady.
Footings are trenches dug around the foundation. They are filled with concrete, which prevents the garage from sinking into soft soil. The tracks are big and deep, usually running along the sides of the foundation. You will need to hire an excavator to do this.
Unless you have experience constructing building foundations, you are better off hiring a professional with an excavator instead of doing it yourself.
Install Any In-ground Drains Or Heating Elements.
These features need to be put into place before the foundation is complete. Once you pour concrete for the foundation, you cannot install in-ground components without breaking your garage floor. So instead, install these features by laying them on the ground and connecting them to any necessary utility lines.
If you have contractors working on the garage, make sure they know that you want these features in your garage.
Pour The Concrete For The Foundation.
After the soil is settled, it is time to fill in the footings and create the foundation. Next, you or your contractor will need to mix a lot of concrete, pour it into the construction area, and then smooth it out. Once the concrete dries, you can begin building your garage.
Let a building company handle this if you don’t have much experience creating foundations. A good foundation ensures your garage is stable.
Things To Consider When Planning Your Garage.
If your primary purpose for building a garage is to store vehicles, your primary concern in planning will be the size. Depending on the number of cars your family owns, a two-car garage may be large enough, or you may want a garage that can accommodate three or more vehicles.
If you own a large vehicle like a van, SUV or truck, you will want to design a garage with larger bays. Likewise, if you own a boat or motorcycle that you want to store indoors, be sure to include this in your size estimates.
Extra Storage Space
A garage can be an excellent place for storing outdoor gear, tools, lawnmowers, bicycles or holiday decorations. In addition, you may want to use your garage for extra food storage or to hold paper products, especially if you prefer to buy groceries in bulk.
Planning for storage space ahead of time will allow you to incorporate shelves or cabinets into the design of your garage.
You can also build a loft above your garage for additional storage. Finally, depending on what you plan to store in your garage, you may want to consider installing climate control.
Avoid having food products get mouldy or stale in a humid garage by installing a cooling unit. You can also insulate your garage for warmth in the winter.
Whether your hobby is woodworking, painting, or cars, your garage can provide a fantastic workspace. Consider building a solid workbench or table and allowing enough space to get your projects done.
Knowing what kind of work you may want to do in your garage will also help determine how much extra storage you will need. For example, if you plan to use your garage as a workspace, you will probably install lights.
You may also want to plan for enough outlets for electrical power tools. Heating and cooling units will also be vital so you can enjoy the time you spend working in your garage.
If your crafts will involve painting or other activities that produce fumes, be sure to install proper ventilation.
Just Hanging Out
While it may not be your primary purpose for building a garage, your garage can become a space for you or your kids to hang out — playing video games, practising musical instruments and more.
Also, garages usually have cement floors; they can be an excellent space for messy school projects, so glue and paint do not end up on your living room carpet. If you want your garage to be mess-proof, consider sealing the floors for extra protection.
Planning your garage and designing the space is a long process, but it’s worth taking time to do correctly. Follow these tips when planning or updating your current garage–whether you’re just starting with an empty lot or looking for ways to make additions to existing structures–to ensure that your project will be successful. Garage storage wall hooks should form part of any garage makeover as they provide a clean and really easy way to lift anything from your garage floor and have it accessible via your garage wall.