SIZE DOES MATTER
My clients ask me all the time, “What size is a standard garage?” I reply that although most builders would tell you that a 24’ x 24’ garage is standard size, I don’t personally believe that there is a “standard size” garage, no more than there is a standard size house.
I believe that a garage should be sized for your own personal needs. A retired couple with one car and a couple of bikes may easily get by with a 16 x 24 single car garage.
On the other hand a younger couple with a pickup truck, a motorcycle, a car, a riding lawnmower, a snow blower, bikes for themselves and two kids, plus misc. kids toys would need at the very least a 28 x 28 garage, (or larger if they want to park their vehicles in it too).
Ask any guy, and he’ll tell you (and I agree) that a garage should be as big as you can afford. If you live in New England, you definitely need a big garage, because we collect stuff. Heck, if you ride around anywhere in New England in the wintertime you’ll find everyone parks their cars outside because there isn’t any room for them in the garage….….…because the garage is full of ………stuff.
GARAGE DOOR SIZE
Just as there is no standard garage size, I don’t believe there is a standard garage door size either. Now, if you called a garage door company they would disagree with me, and they would tell you that a 9’ wide by 7’ tall garage door is “standard” size. As far as I’m concerned the size of the garage doors you put on your new garage should be in relation to the size of your garage and the size of the vehicles that are going to be put in it.
9×7 garage doors work fine on small garages, say 24×24 garages or smaller, especially if you drive a small car or small pickup.
If you decide to build a garage larger than 24×24 though, I recommend 10’ wide by 8’ tall garage doors. That size not only makes it easier to drive standard size cars in and out, but also makes it much more comfortable when driving a full size pickup in or out. Even though you might never own a pickup, installing 10×8 doors in your garage may be a very good selling point when you go to sell the house, especially if the prospective buyer happened to own a truck.
GARAGE ACCESS TO YOUR CELLAR
Most people do not like bulkheads to get into their cellars. They are usually placed in the backside of the home, under the eaves of the house, and as such are continually wet with rain or covered with snow and ice. Consequently they end up rusting and leaking very quickly.
I highly recommend installing the entry to your cellar in your garage. Having it there allows for easy access to your basement any time of the year, in all kinds of weather. The majority of our home plans that have a garage have access to the basement in them.
GARAGE WINDOWS AND ENTRY DOORS
I never had windows or standard entry doors in any of my garages, but with good reason. I was a builder for almost 30 years, and I always had tools and building supplies stored in them, and didn’t want anyone seeing in or worse yet, breaking in.
The simple truth is, that if someone wants to break into your home, the easiest way in is through a garage window or a garage entry door. Once someone gets in the garage, getting into the house is easy.
As for windows, instead of large windows that may be easy to enter through, I recommend 3’x3’ awning windows placed a little higher on the side or rear walls. These will allow for light and ventilation, yet make it harder for someone to gain illegal entry. They will also allow for space under them for workbenches or storage.
With places like Lowe’s and Home Depot, it is relatively affordable to install organized shelving and storage options for all the “stuff” that you can’t part with and want to store in the garage.
INSULATING AND HEATING YOUR GARAGE
I always recommend insulating your garage. Even without heating it, it will help it stay warmer inside during the winter. Add a small propane heater or separate zone from your boiler with a ceiling mounted heater, and you can keep the garage very comfortable on the coldest winter nights. You could also check Craig’s list or local facebook selling sites for garage heaters. I found a new, never used electric garage heater for $150, which was about half the price of the same thing from a store.
GARAGE FLOOR DRAINS AND PLUMBING
If the town you are building in allows floor drains in garages, definitely have them installed. Their convenience far outweighs the cost. If you insulated and heated your garage as recommended above, in the wintertime when you pull your car in covered with snow and ice, that mess will be all melted off by morning, and drained away.
If you insulate and heat your garage, and have floor drains installed, definitely consider having hot and cold water put in the garage. I’m a car guy, and like to keep my vehicles clean, so I had hot and cold water connected to a hose fitting inside my garage. I also had a wash sink installed. Now on the coldest winter day, if I want to wash my car I can. Cost of this convenience is really minimal.
CAR GUY GARAGES
If you are a car guy, I also specialize in planning garages for the purpose of working on your toys. Call for info.