When you imagine building a home addition, you might think of creating a guest suite for holiday in-law visits or perhaps a spare bathroom to end the whining and hair-pulling that results as your kids elbow each other for space while they get ready in the morning. Depending on your needs, there are many different types of home additions all designed to make your life easier.
Bedrooms and bathrooms are great, but you might consider another type of home addition: you could build a garage to increase the usability and value of your home! If you’re thinking of this kind of addition, the next step in the planning process is working through the pros and cons of an attached garage or detached garage.
Attached Garage or Detached Garage — Which is Right For You?
Many homeowners love the convenience of an attached garage. You pull up to your home, hit a remote control button, pull into your garage, then get out of your car and walk directly into your house. This is especially wonderful if it’s raining out or if you live in an area with extreme weather or temperatures (no one loves unloading groceries while getting pelted with sleet). Attached garages are also less expensive to build, as you can often attach into the current heating, cooling, and electrical systems that already exist in your home.
In the great attached garage or detached garage debate, however, attached garages do have some downfalls. First, you’ll need to make sure the foundation on your existing home is sturdy and in good shape before proceeding with an attached garage. Building on any kind of home addition if your foundation has damage, cracks, and leaks can exacerbate these kinds of problems and make them worse.
There are other reasons why some homeowners don’t like attached garages. They can be a security risk because they provide an additional entry point into your home and give thieves a place to pull in a vehicle and load up before making a run for it. Some people don’t like the design aesthetic of having an attached garage on the front of a home (although the attractive, high-quality garage doors available today are a far cry from the unappealing styles that were so common years ago, nearly eliminating this as a concern).
Detached garages may not offer much in the way of convenience in terms of moving directly from garage to house, but they do have a whole list of benefits. For starters, if you’re trying to decide between an attached garage or detached garage and you’re working with a narrow or small lot, a detached garage will typically be the winner. Because they aren’t connected to the house in any way, a detached garage can be placed anywhere on the property (as long as you stay within zoning and HOA regulations).
Many architectural purists prefer detached garages for this reason, as well. When you tuck the garage away at the back of a lot, the visual focus is on the home itself. In some cases, this simply looks better, and some homeowners prefer it. Detached garages also provides no direct access into the home, meaning that they can’t compromise the security of your house.
Because a detached garage can be positioned and built nearly anywhere, this also means that it provides the potential for more room for car storage and workspace. If someone in the family has a woodworking shop or a gardening work area, a detached garage may be an ideal solution.
With a list of pros comes the inevitable list of cons, and detached garages do have a few. For starters, there’s the obvious issue of no direct garage-to-house access in inclement weather. In addition to this, you’ll have to build from scratch in terms of creating a foundation and a separate electrical, HVAC, and (should you choose to install a work area sink or above-garage bedroom suite) plumbing system. Some HOAs don’t allow detached garages, so it’s a good idea to check first before you settle on a design.
As with any home renovation, there is no one best answer in the attached garage or detached garage discussion. Talk with your family and your contractor and really think about how you will actually use the space. That way, the finished result will be one you’ll be pleased with for years to come.