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A Barrage of Garages – Design Guidelines for Your Car’s Next Home

Tips for Designing the Ideal Garage for You


You want to build a new house. As you pore over house plans for your dream home, don’t forget about where you will put the family car—or more likely, cars. Of course, you will want something that complements the design of your house, but there are other considerations, some of which may be influenced by the size, shape, and slope of your building lot. How will you enter the garage? How big should it be? Will you want extra storage space? Do you want an attached or detached garage? Does it allow access to the house, and is it in close proximity to the kitchen (for unloading groceries)? Are the doors large enough for your needs? Maybe you want a garage with an apartment over it? These are some of the questions to consider for your car’s next home.


Front-, Side-, or Rear-Loading?

The way the large garage door faces will have a profound effect on the way your home looks. Front-facing, often white, doors dominate the face that your home presents to the world. Those in developments with small lots often have no other choice. But if it is possible, moving the doors to the side or rear of the house takes the curse off the garage and may actually make your home appear larger. Another option to is to put the garage under the house if you have a sloping lot or enough space for a driveway to get the car down and into the basement area.

Traditional craftsman style ranch with front facing garage.

White double-wide doors on a front-facing garage (Plan #141-1242) can dominate a home’s facade. 


With the windows of its side-entry garage facing front, this home (Plan #153-1417) gives the appearance of being larger than it is. 


Craftsman style home with large front covered porch.

With its rear-entry garage out of site (see floor plan), this home appears to have no garage at all (Plan #142-1096).


How Big?

According to the most recent U.S. census, 80% of new homes have a two-car garage and 17% have a 3-car or larger garage. So if you are planning a two-car garage, how big should it be? Minimum, such a garage should be 20 x 20 feet but preferably 20 x 24 feet or, better yet, 24 x 24 feet. The larger sizes allow extra room at the sides and front/rear for easily getting in and out of vehicles and to account for larger vehicles than a standard sedan. For a three-car garage, sizes should range from 20 x 30 feet to 24 x 36 feet. 

In both cases, build in more width or length for extra storage room or space for a workshop or “man cave.” An extra 10 feet or so appended to the end of a garage will provide you with lots of space for a workbench, rolling tool drawers, and cabinets. While you are thinking about the size of the garage, consider the door or doors. The standard door size is 7 feet tall, but you might to install an 8-foot-tall door if possible, especially if you have a tall vehicle or one with a roof rack. You will appreciate the extra clearance.

Add some space to the end of a garage before you build or find one already designed with that space, and you will have lots of room for a workshop (photo source: Gladiator Garage Works).


Brick home with hip roof, forward-facing gables, and 2-car garage

Two-car garages are most common in new homes. Two doors, as shown here, instead of one large one is often a better way to go (Plan #153-1210). 


Attached or Detached?

The vast majority of new homes have attached garages—this, for a number of reasons. They are less expensive to build because they don’t require a separate foundation and the extra materials of a freestanding structure. They save space on the building lot. From a design standpoint, they create a unified “whole” look for the home. And they can provide a separate, protected entrance to the home plan inside the garage floor plan, which usually is convenient to the kitchen for unloading groceries. Detached garages, which hark back to carriage houses that were popular prior to and at the beginning of the automobile era, are less popular but are still seen with country homes and homes in older suburbs of cities like Chicago and the boroughs of New York. One advantage of a detached garage is separating the house floor plan from smoke or damage in case a car is left running inside or has a mishap like an engine fire.

Farmhouse style home with detached garage off to the left

If you are thinking of building a farmhouse or country home plan on a large lot, you might consider a detached garage (Garage Plan #160-1023). 


Marvelous craftsman home with rock and stone exterior finishes giving this home great curb appeal.

This attached garage, perpendicular to the home, uses a courtyard to provide entry to the house or garage. (See Plan #161-1042 for more details.) 


The automobile is a permanent part of the average American’s life, so as you choose the perfect house plan your next home, ponder the many facets of the garage before incorporating it in the design of that dream home plan. 


Footnote: The home plan photo shown as the lead image is House Plan #107-1085. More details can be viewed here.



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