What is the Difference Between Attached, Detached, Built-In, and Semi-Attached Garages?

Written By Sarah Ford

Have you heard people complaining about how small their garage is? Or how they wish they had more storage space? Or how they can’t buy another car because their garage is too small? Constructing a garage is no small matter. You must keep many factors in mind, lest you regret it.

Unfortunately, not many people consider the need for more space in their garage when getting a house or renovating an old one. As the years go by, the family grows, and your career progresses, you might want to buy more cars for yourself or your family. Or, you might need more storage space or even want living quarters above the garage.

While building the right garage can have more advantages than disadvantages, people don’t put enough thought into it, especially when deciding the kind of garage they want. Then there is the question of what kind of garage you will need.

Let’s first understand the different types of garages one can consider. The attached garage shares a wall or more with the main house. Then there is a detached garage, a completely separate structure from the house. You can even have a semi-attached structure connected to the house through a breezeway. Each of these has its advantage and disadvantages.

Keep in mind that it is costly expanding a garage later. And sometimes, expanding it is not an option, especially in the case of an attached garage. So consider all factors before making a decision. If you are on the verge of constructing a garage, you have come to the right place.

This article will help you look at each type of garage’s various aspects, advantages, and disadvantages. You need to look no further for a complete guide to decide the size and type of garage you will require. Let’s consider each of the available options in more detail.

1. What is an Attached Garage?

What is an Attached Garage?

An attached garage is a car shelter or a storage structure that is joined to the house and often blends seamlessly into the house design.

It generally shares one or more walls with the home’s structure and has an exit door leading directly into the house. For example, this garage exit door could lead into the pantry or the house’s laundry room. The garage can be at the home’s front, side, or back.

Generally, if these garages are built simultaneously with the house, they share the same roof. For garages that are built afterward, this is not the case. Such garages do not share the same roofline as the main house and look offputting.

Note: Even if a garage is structurally independent of the home but is still attached, it is called an attached garage. (Under rule 4781-6-024781-6-03 of the Administrative Code)

Garages with direct access to the house through a door are popular among homebuyers. This is because you can quickly enter the garage or the house without stepping outside in bad weather. In addition, this type-of garage gives you privacy as you don’t have to chat with neighbors unnecessarily while going to and fro from the house to the garage.

Attached Garage Specifications:

Speaking of the size, according to lawinsider.com, an attached garage should be at most 32 feet long and 10 feet in height. The standard wall or walls between the garage and the home are usually insulated to protect the house from cold temperatures in the garage. Further, the garage door leading into the house should also be a fire door to protect any occupants from accidents in the garage.

Below is an image of a house with two attached garages. Both share two walls with the house and have a common door leading into the utility room. One garage can house two cars, one big and one small. Alternatively, the more oversized garage can shelter a vehicle, and one can use the smaller garage to store junk or stuff you don’t often require in the house.

Image: Source

Important Points:

  • The attached garage with access to the interior of offered space is more desirable.
  • Attached garage doors shall not exceed 32 feet in length and ten (10) feet in height.
  • An attached garage is connected to your home, sharing one wall and featuring direct access into the house.

Source: 1

1.1 Pros and Cons of the Attached Garage

There are several pros and cons to having an attached garage instead of a detached one. 

2. What is a Detached Garage?

A detached garage is a free-standing structure and not attached to the house. It could be just a few feet from the main house or at the other end of the property.

These are generally larger than attached garages because of the freedom of being a stand-alone. Small detached garages in residential plots may qualify as Accessory Structures under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements. You may have to check for the rules that apply to them while building such a garage.

A detached garage gives you more curb appeal. Further, since it is not part of the main house, you have much more freedom in design, architectural and decorative qualities. Detached garages generally have an exit door at the side or back with a path leading up to the house. They are prefab structures that one can set up quickly. You can make a garage of steel frames, bricks, or precast concrete.

Further, you can make the structure look entirely different from the house or give it a design and color that makes it blend with the house. Unlike earlier, today, prefab structures are built with high-quality materials and with skilled craftsmanship. So they need not be temporary structures. Before building a detached garage, check the permissible limits regarding the height and width of a garage in your area from a garage professional. Rules may differ from county to county or state to state. I

3. What is the Built-in Garage?

What is the Built-in Garage?

A built-in garage is built into the residence at the first floor or grade level, with a living area above. 

A built-in garage is a car shelter built into the house structure. These garages do not have roofs; the floor of the room above acts as the garage roof. The large door is the only giveaway to distinguish the garage from the house. A built-in garage usually shares one or two walls with the house. One can access this garage from within the house through a door.

This type of garage is often very convenient for narrow or small lots or where detached or attached garages are impossible because of the need for more space or land. In addition, the architect will generally maximize the use of vertical space because of the smaller footprint of the house.

According to the IRC (International Residential Code (IRC) Section R302.6), one should separate the garage side from the residence and attics with not less than a half-inch gypsum board or equivalent, for example. For the rooms above the garage, the partition should be no less than ⅝-inch Type X gypsum board or equivalent. This section also requires the structure(s) supporting floor-ceiling assemblies used for the separation to be not less than half an inch of gypsum board or equivalent.
Lastly, garages that are located fewer than three feet (914mm) from a dwelling unit on the same lot require at least half-inch gypsum board or equivalent material applied to the interior side of exterior walls within this area.

4. What is the Semi-Attached or Breezeway/Portico garage?

What is the Semi-Attached or Breezeway/Portico garage

Semi-attached or breezeway/portico garages combine the benefits of attached or detached garages.

  • They look like an extension of the house.
  • A breezeway separates them from the house, so there is no direct connection between the semi-attached garage and the house.
  • Even though the garage is not attached to the house, the portico/breezeway protects you from sun, snow, or rain when going to and fro from the house. 

The breezeway can be just a roof or an enclosed area between the house and the garage. If you enclose it, you can use it as a small storage room for shoes, golf kits, bikes, bicycles, etc. You can add a semi-attached garage to an existing house and still have the flexibility to make it large and possibly with a room on top. 

A portico garage with an attractive door design enhances the house’s appeal. The roof of the pedway can be of any waterproof material, including wood, plastic, or glass. On average, a portico roof measuring 40 square feet in length costs between $2000 and $4000. The price varies according to the roof’s pitch and construction materials.

5. Attached Vs Detached garage

Whether you should go for an attached or a detached garage depends on several factors. Some of these would be overall cost, the difficulty of installation, design, future expansion, noise in the garage, convenience, electricity, health risks, security and insurance, privacy requirement, and resale value of the garage.

5.1 Cost

An attached garage will cost you much less than a detached garage. For example, installing a two-car attached garage and workspace would cost anywhere between $7,500 to $27,040. We’re talking about a 26 x 26 garage storage space with vinyl siding, a door, windows, two garage doors, built-in wiring, and minimal finishing options.

On the other hand, installing a detached garage of the same size with a similar setup would cost anything between $58,430 to $86,400. This is because setting up a detached garage is akin to setting up a separate building altogether. It would require separate infrastructure such as electricity and plumbing. The cost of a detached garage is about 10-15% higher than that of an attached garage.

A detached garage would cost $40 to $70 more per square foot. Roughly half this cost is towards materials and tools, while the other half is towards labor.

5.2 Installation

An attached garage shares one or more walls with the house, and the roof ties into the home. Additionally, while marking the home’s foundation, the surveyor will include the attached garage in the footprint. The surveyor will charge roughly $1,000 for a building.

Getting permission for an attached garage is more complicated. In the case of a detached garage, this is a separate building, and the surveyor will charge higher accordingly. Check the zoning requirements and any homeowner association (HOA) restrictions. Some HOAs restrict the type or size of garages.

5.3 Expansion

As your family and income grow, you might require a more oversized garage. However, getting a permit to expand an attached garage is much more complex and expensive. Often it is not possible or quite challenging to expand an attached garage because it is part of the main building, and any changes will not only be costly but may interfere with the look of the house.

Expansion is easier in the case of a detached garage because it is a separate structure and not tied to the house’s architecture like an attached garage.

Design Building an attached garage may cut off access to the backyard for narrow plots. Further, a two- or three-car attached garage will overshadow a small home. A detached garage makes more sense even though it would take up more space. You can also add living quarters above a detached garage which is difficult in the case of an attached garage. You can have more landscaping space and window views with a detached garage, as an attached garage will have one or more walls in common with the house.

5.4 Noise

Noise travels quickly from the garage to the house in the case of an attached garage. This is because attached garages share one or more walls with the house. If you plan to have a workspace and make a lot of noise in the garage, a detached garage makes more sense as it will not disturb the house’s occupants.

5.5 Convenience

It is easy to access the house through a door in the case of an attached garage. So you are safe in the case of inclement weather such as rain or snow. Similarly, if you want to carry groceries or other packages from the car to the house, it is easier and more convenient in the case of the attached garage. In the case of a detached garage, you will have to walk out in the open to access the house in bad weather unless you build a breezeway. However, that will cost more and may not protect you from the elements.

5.5 Electricity

Connecting electricity and other utilities into an attached garage is cheaper and easier compared to a detached garage. In the case of an attached garage, you can run utilities from the main house. You can use the same heating and cooling system too.

In the case of a detached garage, you will have to wire for another building (the house) for electricity and run utilities from the main building. Plumbing will cost more too. In addition, a detached garage will need separate heating and cooling systems. All these costs will increase with the distance of the detached garage from the house.

5.6 Health Risks

Time spent backing the car out of the garage or parking/idling can result in unpleasant and toxic exhaust, which can quickly enter the house in the case of an attached garage.

You may also store hazardous chemicals in the garage. The American Lunch Association advises that there should be enough ventilation for attached garages because of the health risks. A detached garage provides safety because it is away from the house. Therefore, there is little chance of toxic fumes or unpleasant smells from the garage entering the house.

5.7 Security and Insurance

There is the risk of someone gaining access to the attached garage and, consequently, to the house. This is especially if the locking system is not secure. Further, the house is also at risk in case of a fire. This risk is reduced or eliminated for a detached garage. Anyone gaining entrance to the garage cannot enter the house directly.

Further, the house is not at risk if the garage catches fire. You need to check with your insurance provider and decide which type of garage you prefer. Some insurance companies require a separate rider for detached structures. Other insurance companies look more favorably on a detached garage than an attached one because of the abovementioned risks.

5.8 Resale Value

The resale value of a home will go up or down depending on how the garage complements the house. For example, it must be consistent with other homes and not stand out like a sore thumb. If you have a detached garage in a neighborhood with attached garages, this will reduce the house’s resale value.

An attached garage can affect the look of the house, especially if the house is small and the attached garage faces the front. However, an attached garage will be better if you stay in a place with extreme weather. The resale value of an attached garage is also higher – about 81%. If it costs about $27,000 to construct, you can add about $21,000 to the house’s value when selling.

On the other hand, a detached garage’s resale rate is about 64%. If you have constructed the garage at about $50,000, you can add about $30,000 to the house’s value when selling it. Of course, here we’re talking about the standard garage with regular fittings. Real estate professionals estimate that a two-car attached or detached garage can increase the resale value of a house by up to $30,000. A one-car garage can add half that. Of course, the final resale value will depend on other factors, such as how many utilities or accessories you have.

For example, extra storage space, an electric door opener, or an opening that does not face the street will increase the resale value. Privacy If you prefer privacy from the house’s occupants or guests who may keep dropping into the place, a detached garage will make more sense. You will get little privacy if the garage is attached because only a door separates it from the main house.

5.9 Looks

You will have to decide on the type of garage you want based on the house’s look. For example, an attached garage will make the house look more prominent if you have a small house. However, if the house is tiny, an oversized attached garage may take away from the house’s overall look. In such a case, a detached garage will make more sense. A detached garage also has increased curb appeal, especially in the case of a smaller home.

5.8 Key Differences between the attached and detached garage

Attached GarageDetached Garage
An attached garage is estimated to cost $7,500-$27,040.A detached garage is estimated to cost $58,430 – $86,400.
Getting permits for an attached garage is more complicated.Getting permits for a detached garage is easier.
It is difficult to expand or change the structure or expand an attached garage. Permit for expansion is more difficult to get and more costly.It is easier to change the structure or expand a detached garage. Permit for expansion is easier to get.
The design of an attached garage blends seamlessly with that of the house.The design of a detached garage gives more room for variation. 
Noise from an attached garage may disturb the occupants in the house.Noise from a detached garage will not travel easily into the house.
It is easier to enter an attached garage through the standard door.One must walk outside to go to and fro from the house to the garage. 
Fumes from the car’s exhaust may enter the house. In case of a fire in the garage, the house is at risk too.There is no danger of harmful emissions entering the house. In case of a fire in the garage, the house will be safer. 
Security risk is greater since the garage and house have a common door.Security risk to the house is less if someone breaks into the garage.
You have easier access to the utilities in the house.You do not have easy access to the utilities in the house.
Resale value of an attached garage is about eighty-one percent of its cost.The resale value of a detached garage is about sixty-four percent of the cost.
Privacy is lower for an attached garage due to its proximity to the house. A detached garage is ideal if you require some privacy.
It may not be possible to build living quarters above the garage. You can quickly build living quarters above a detached garage.
An attached garage has a lesser curb appeal.A detached garage has more character and exterior curb appeal. 
A large garage will make the house look bigger as well.An oversized detached garage may make the house look smaller. 
One can have a central heating or cooling system for the garage and the house.One will need to install separate heating or cooling systems.
Convenient for large and spacious plots. Convenient for small or narrow plots.
More common in modern homes. More common in old-style homes.
Limited in size as one has to keep the house structure in mind.It can be larger than an attached garage.
An attached garage will offer less landscaping space and window views.A detached garage will offer more landscaping space and window views.
Some insurance companies may consider this a fire hazard risk for the home.Insurance companies favor detached garages because of the lower fire or safety risk.

6. Attached Vs Built-in garage

The main difference between an attached garage and a built-in garage is that an attached garage does not have any living quarters above it. On the other hand, a built-in garage has living quarters above it as it is structurally a part of the house. However, one can access both garages through a garage entry door from within the house. 

A built-in garage is ideal when the plot is small or narrow, as there is less space for a separate or attached structure, which would require a larger footprint. In the case of a row house, townhouse, or sloping land, architects use this type of garage to maximize vertical space because of the lack of horizontal area. A built-in garage does not increase the house’s footprint, whereas an attached garage increases the house’s footprint.

In the case of a built-in garage, the lower floor could be cramped for space or have fewer rooms since the garage occupies part of the ground floor. You could have more rooms on the floor above the garage. One can solve this space issue with an attached garage because it does not interfere with the house structure.

A built-in garage may disturb occupants of the house, especially the room above the garage, because one can easily hear the sound made by the car or any work in the garage within the house. The sound from an attached garage may not be heard easily within the house as it does not have a room above it.

6.1 Roof Style

In the case of an attached garage, it will have its roof. The roof material and design are likely to match the house. On the other hand, a built-in garage has a room above it, so the floor of the room above it is its ceiling. The only way you can identify the garage from the outside is because of the large garage door.

6.2 Shared Walls

While an attached garage may share one or two walls with the house, a built-in garage is likely to share at least two or three walls. 

6.3 Applicable code: 2018 IRC

Since a built-in garage is only a subset of an attached garage, the code applicable for both is the same. Section R302.6 of The 2018 International Residential Code (IRC), relevant to the Dwelling-Garage Fire Separation, applies to built-in and attached garages.

One must separate the garage as per Table R302.6. Garage wall openings must adhere to Section R302. 5. Gypsum board attachment must conform to Table 702.3. 5. Garage walls that are perpendicular to the wall of the next housing unit are exempt from the wall separation provisions of Table 302.6.

The third row of the table below would be valid for a built-in garage but not for an attached garage.

From attics and the residenceThere must be at least 1/2 inch gypsum board or an equivalent surface on the garage side.
From every livable space atop the garageA minimum of 5/8-inch Type X gypsum board or an equivalent is required.
The structure(s) needed to support floor-ceiling assemblies are separated under this section.Minimum of 12-inch gypsum board or an equivalent
Garages on the same lot that are fewer than 3 feet (914 mm) apart from a housing unitOn the interior side of exterior walls located in this area, there must be at least 12 inches of gypsum board or an equivalent installed.

The above IRC code is typically a replica of the local building code for the use of drywall in a garage. Some local authorities may add to the code mentioned above for greater clarity or to make the code more rigorous in their jurisdiction.

6.4 Architectural Design

Building a built-in garage requires more aesthetic thought as it is part of the main house and uses design techniques more pleasing to the eye. On the other hand, an attached garage attaches to the main house. It may or may have a different architectural design. 

A built-in garage is necessarily better than an attached garage. Built-in garages are a necessity rather than an advantage due to a house’s tiny footprint. Both these garages have a disadvantage in terms of unwanted fumes and smell that are wont to enter the main house through the garage door leading into the house. However, you may reduce this with a little weather stripping and make a well-sealed, airtight doorway.

7. Attached Vs Semi-attached Garage

A semi-attached garage has all the benefits of an attached garage and does not have downsides of the same. The key difference between attached and semi-attached garages is that the former shares one or more walls with the main house, while the latter does not share any wall with the main house. 

Semi-attached garages generally have a breezeway connecting the garage to the house. In other words, a semi-detached garage is a detached garage with a connecting breezeway or portico. This breezeway may be enclosed or semi-enclosed to protect from inclement weather. 

While attached garages have direct access to the house through a doorway into the pantry or other parts of the house; semi-attached garages do not have direct access. With an attached garage, car exhaust fumes or carbon monoxide from the garage may enter the house through the doorway. This is not the case for semi-detached garages because there is no direct connecting door to the house.

Similarly, loud sounds from the attached garage can easily be heard in the house and disturb its occupants. However, noise from the semi-attached garage will be more muffled or not heard within the house because it does not share a wall with the house.

An attached garage will require less lawn space attached to the main house, while a breezeway or semi-attached garage will require more space slightly away from the main house. The attached garage will also cost less than a semi-attached garage as the former shares one or more walls with the house, while the semi-attached garage will require separate walls. The breezeway will be another additional cost for the semi-attached garage.

Since a semi-attached garage is a separate structure, it may have a room above the garage, allowing for maximum utilization of vertical space. However, this is generally not the case with attached garages. Attached garages share a wall or more with the house, and it would be difficult or impossible to add a room above without interfering with the aesthetics or look of the main house.

7.1 Key Differences between the Attached and Semi-attached Garage

Attached garageSemi-attached garage
Shares one or more walls with the main house.It does not share any walls with the house and is a separate structure.
Direct connecting door to the main house.No direct connection with the main house.
It has a greater security risk, as anyone entering the garage can easily enter the house through the connecting door.There is less security risk as anyone accessing the garage cannot enter the house without a connecting doorway.
Easy to use utilities and amenities from the house. For example, getting electrical wiring from the main house is easy as the garage is attached.It will require wiring from the main house and separate utilities. Amenities are further away than in the case of an attached garage.
Can use central heating or cooling.It will require a separate heating or cooling system.
An attached garage is less expensive as it shares one or two walls with the house.Building a semi-detached garage will be more expensive as it is a separate structure.
Building an attached garage will leave more lawn space for other use as it is attached to the main house.Building a semi-detached garage will take up more lawn space as it is a separate structure away from the main house.
Difficult or impossible to build a room above the attached garage as it will look bad.Easy to build a room above a semi-detached garage as it will not interfere with the house’s aesthetics.
Expanding or changing the structure will be difficult as it is attached to the house.Enlarging or changing the garage’s structure will be easier as it is separate.
Car exhaust fumes or carbon monoxide can easily enter the main house through the connecting door.Car exhaust fumes will not enter the house easily.
Noise from the attached garage may easily disturb the house occupants.Noise from the garage will not disturb the house occupants.
An attached garage will have less privacy as it shares walls with the house, and anyone can easily enter it through the connecting door.It will have more privacy as it is away from the house.
A large attached garage will make the house look bigger.A large semi-attached garage may make the house look smaller as a separate structure.
It is harder to acquire building permits for attached garages.It is comparatively easier to acquire building permits for a semi-attached garage.
A floor plan with an attached garage will have less landscaping space and fewer window views.A floor plan with a semi-attached garage will have more landscaping space and window views.

8. Detached Vs Built-In garage

The main difference between a detached garage and a built-in garage is that while a detached garage is a separate structure, a built-in garage is part of the main house. Detached garages are generally larger than built-in garages because nothing restricts the size of a detached garage. However, since a built-in garage is part of the house, there is a restriction regarding how much space it can take up since other rooms also need to be included in the floor plan. 

You can build an additional room above a detached garage. A built-in garage already has a room above it; the floor of the room above it is the garage’s ceiling. One can expand a detached garage but not a built-in garage.

Built-in garages may be required if the lot is small and a separate structure is impossible. Detached garages occupy more space as they are separate from the house. 

A built-in garage will restrict the number of rooms on the house’s ground floor. This differs from attached garages as these occupy space outside the main house.

Detached garages have added curb appeal and more landscape space, unlike built-in garages. Further, with detached garages, it may be challenging to go to and fro from the house during bad weather. So if you have bought a lot of groceries, you will have to lug them into the house. In the case of built-in garages, one does not need to go outside the home as a connecting door gives direct access to the house. You can quickly transfer groceries or packages from the car to the house.

Detached garages are more expensive to build as they are separate structures. They will also require separate wiring from the house, independent heating or cooling systems, different utilities, etc. On the other hand, a built-in garage allows a central heating or cooling system. You don’t have to wire for another building, and one can easily access utilities within the house from a built-in garage.

8.1 Key Differences Between the Detached and Built-In garage

Detached garageBuilt-in garage
It costs more to build as it is a separate structure and does not share any wall with the house.It costs less to build as it is part of the main house. Share all walls with the house.
Needs electrical wiring from another building (the main house).Use wiring from the house as it is like a room in the main house.
Needs separate utilities and heating and cooling systems. This will make it more expensive to build.Has easy access to the utilities in the house, including the central heating and cooling system. Costs will be lower than an attached garage.
An additional room can be added above the garage.No additional room can be added here, as there is already a room above the garage.
You must carry groceries and other packages from the car to the house.One cannot expand it as it is already a part of the house. It will be restricted in size as you need to leave space for other rooms on the ground floor.
There is no security risk to the house as there is no attached door. There is more security risk as anyone accessing the garage can easily enter the house through the connecting door.
No fire risk to the house as the structure is completely separate.Added fire risk as any fire in the garage can quickly spread through the rest of the house.
More privacy as the building is separate from the house.Less privacy as the garage is part of the house.
Noise and exhaust fumes cannot enter the house from the garage.Noise and exhaust fumes can easily enter the house through the connecting door.
One will have to walk outside to go to and fro between the garage and the house in inclement weather. No need to worry about going to and fro between the garage and the house when it is sunny, snowing, or raining.
You will have to carry groceries and other packages from the car to the house.Moving groceries/packages from the car to the house is easy because it has a connecting door.
It may be easier to acquire building permits as it is a separate structure.Building permits may be difficult as there is added fire risk to the house.
Ideal for larger plots as it requires more space to build.Ideal for smaller plots as it is within the main house.
A large detached garage may make the house look smaller.A large built-in garage will make the house look bigger.
It has more curb appeal, landscape space, and window view as a separate structure. The house can have more architectural and decorative qualities without a large garage door.It has less landscape space and window views as part of the house. The house will have a sizeable unsightly garage door.

9. Detached Vs Semi-attached Garage

A detached and semi-attached garage are separate structures from the main house. However, the main difference is that a breezeway or portico connects the semi-detached garage to the house. 

Another difference is that one has to brave the elements in bad weather while going to and fro between the detached garage and the house. On the other hand, the breezeway of the semi-attached garage provides some protection against rain or snow. If the breezeway is enclosed, this provides added protection against the elements.

The detached garage will require less space, while a semi-attached garage will need more space for the breezeway. An enclosed breezeway or portico will provide additional space for storing bicycles or coats.

The semi-attached garage is more expensive than a detached garage as one needs to construct the breezeway and the garage.

9.1 The best types of garages as per requirements

9.1.1 For single family

Which type of garage is suitable for a single family?

According to an NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) analysis of the 2021 Census Bureau Survey of Construction data, most single-family homes constructed in 2021 (67%) had a two-car garage. In fact, among all the country’s census divisions, the two-car garage was the most popular choice, and only a few divisions differed from this.

In the West North Central division, for 47% of completed homes, three-car (or more) garages were the most popular choice. On the other hand, 77% of all new homes in the Pacific division had 2-car garages. The Middle Atlantic division had the highest percentage of one-car garages (29%). Further, New England had the highest percentage of “other” parking spaces (13%), which includes carports, off-street parking, and other parking facilities.

About 19% of newly constructed single-family homes had a garage big enough to fit three or more vehicles. About 24% of finished homes in 2015 had three-car garages, but the percentage has fallen steadily since then. Only 1% of newly constructed homes featured a carport, and only 6% had a one-car garage. About 7% of brand-new houses didn’t have a garage or carport.

9.1.2 Garage Space for Single-Family

The 2021 data shows that as the size of the home increases, the number of one-car garages or “other” categories declines. Larger homes preferred garages that could house two or more cars. About 75% of houses smaller than 1,200 square feet had “other” parking options. Among homes larger than 5,000 square feet, only 4% had “other” parking options. About 16% of homes between 1,200 to 1,599 square feet preferred a 1-car garage, but only 1% of homes larger than 5,000 square feet opted for a 1-car garage. 

About 73% of homes between 1,600 to 1,999 square feet had a two-car garage, but this percentage increased to 83% for larger homes which were 2,000 to 2,399 square feet. For larger houses between 2,400 to 2,999 square feet, this percentage was lower at 75%. The percentage steadily decreased for larger houses.

Very few homes (only 3%) smaller than 1,200 square feet preferred a three-car garage. This percentage kept increasing for larger houses. For example, 66% of homes larger than 5,000 square feet had a three-car garage.

9.2 The Garage Apartment 

Large families generally prefer garage apartment plans. This is a unique way to expand home and office space. Garage apartments are detached garage plans that include finished living quarters above the garage. These garages have parking spaces for one or two cars on the main (or ground) floor, with living quarters situated above the garage. These are modest living spaces designed for practical and efficient living. Most garage apartments offer one or two bedrooms and baths.

The living quarters above these detached garages are private dens or private office spaces. Some such garages also feature a shop in addition to or instead of living quarters. It is also possible to rent these living quarters to college kids or young professionals. Alternatively, one could use the living quarters as a guest room. 

Here is a benchmark table that will help you understand the garage space required if you have one, two, three, or four cars.

SizeWidth (ft.)Depth (ft.)Door width (ft.)Area (sq. ft.)
1-car garage12’ to 16’20’ to 24’8’ to 10’240 to 384
2-car garage18’ to 22’20’ to 22’8’ to 16’440 to 624
3-car garage32’ to 40’20’ to 30’8’ to 16’620 to 816
4-car garage40’ to 44’20’ to 24’8’ to 16’800 to 1056

9.3 Single-car Garage

9.3.1 Dimensions

A single-car garage is usually at least 12′ X 24′ (feet), which can fit a car with a little storage room at the sides. Generally, the side of a one-car garage has a 12′ to 16′ (3.5 to 5 meters) width, 20′ to 24′ (6 to 7.5 meters) depth, and a height of 7′ to 12′ (2 to 3.5 meters). The total area works out to 240 to 384 square feet.

The single-car garage door is around 8 to 10 feet in width or 2.5 to 3 meters. Other standard sizes (in feet) include 14 x 22, 16 x 24, and 14 x 24. You will also have to consider how big your car is while deciding the size of the garage. For example, if you have a compact or sports car, the garage will need to be 14 to 16 feet in length, 5 to 7 feet in width, and 4 to 6 feet in height.

Remember to add 5 to 6 feet to the width of a car to account for doors opening on both sides when figuring out the ideal garage size. Sports cars, longer cars, coupes, and heavy-duty trucks are more comprehensive than budget cars, shorter cars, sedans, and regular pickup trucks.

9.3.2 Cost

A typical single-car garage with 12′ x 22′ dimensions will cost you between $6,000 and $10,000. Single-car garages are much cheaper than double-car garages because they take half the time and material to build. But, of course, the actual cost would depend on several factors, like the contractor, the material, and the specific square footage of the area.

Just make sure that if you are spending on constructing a one-car garage, you will be fine without a two-car garage. While the cost is lower, it is not suitable for single families who own two cars (at some point in the future). Moreover, one can use any additional space for storage, so think before you opt for a one-car garage.

9.3.3 Architecture and Design

Architects don’t always consider bigger as better. Some homes may look better with a one-car garage than a two-car garage with a massive door. Sometimes, single-car garages also complement a small house. For example, carriage-house styles and other small designs look better with single-car garages because the smaller garage door complements the vintage style of such homes.

9.3.4 Safety

Safety is also one consideration while building a garage. For example, if you are used to storing hazardous chemicals or fuel in your garage, you must guard against the chance of a fire. In such cases, it is better to have a detached garage because an attached garage could pose a fire risk to the main house.

Likewise, if you don’t want car exhaust fumes or other smells to enter the house, you will wish to have a detached garage. An attached garage will enable such fumes to quickly enter the house, harming your loved ones.

9.3.5 Privacy

A detached garage will make more sense if you are accustomed to making noise in the garage or using it as a workplace. This will provide you with a bit of privacy. Further, any noise you make in the garage should not disturb the house’s occupants. On the other hand, an attached garage would be ideal if you want a central heating and cooling system.

If you want to build living quarters above the garage, you will need a detached garage. You can make the garage tall and include a loft that you can use for storage or as a den. An attached garage will not allow you this luxury.

9.3.6 Work/cabinet Space and Doorway

What kind of garage you want will depend on what you want to do inside. You may wish to have some working space in the garage. You may need a workbench, cabinets, a place to keep your lawnmower, some additional living space, or a gym.

A bigger garage is always better for all the above reasons. Cabinets will need at least 1 to 1.5 feet of space. You will have to ensure you have enough space so you don’t make mistakes like closing the garage door down on the trunk of your car. Also, you will need room to walk around in the garage. The doorway also requires careful thought.

A tiny door is okay for motorcycles and golf carts, but generally, there are standardizations. For example, there are 9 feet wide garage doors to allow more space on each side as you pull in. Additionally, there are garage doors that are 8 feet tall, in addition to any other custom height you desire. Although the thickness of the door varies, two plates typically sandwich half an inch of insulation to control energy flow.

9.3.7 Zoning Regulations for Garage Sizes

Make sure to check the zoning regulations in your area. The country, city, or state set out rules, and you need to consider these before constructing a garage.

Go through the minimum size requirements, building codes, and specific ranges. You will also be surprised at the rules in each state. Some may require a minimum size or dictate the hardware you can use for your garage door. Some conditions may dictate where to place the remote control or the motor for the door. Some will not allow the garage to be in front of the farthest backside of your home.

Consulting a professional builder and asking them to make the required adjustments would be a good idea once you have the plan ready. Then, if you have the time, you can research by reading books or checking the local government websites for more information.

9.3.8 Keep your Future Needs in Mind

Remember that you will most likely trade up from a small compact car as you begin to do well in your career. You can trade up to a mini-van as your family grows. Or if you have any older children, they might soon learn to drive and need another car. If you or someone in your family like to take up DIY projects, you can accommodate them by increasing the size of the garage in such cases.

People generally never complain that their garage is too big. They only complain about how small their garage is. Underestimating the amount of space you may require in the future is the most critical mistake one can make.

9.4 Three-car Garage

Three-car garages are the largest standard garages. These are for families who have three adults requiring different vehicles. It could be parents and a grown-up child or large families. Alternatively, one could need garage space for two cars, and the extra space can be used for storage or as a work area. You can even convert the extra space into a guest room if you have only two cars. 

9.4.1 Dimensions

A three-car garage must be a minimum of 24’ x 30’. This will fit three small-sized cars. Again, your actual size will depend on your car size and if you need any extra storage space. For example, if you need to add cabinets and a workbench, you must factor these into the dimensions. The total size of the three-car garage could even go up to 30’ x 60’.

Remember to fit in extra space to open all three car doors without one banging into another or hitting the wall. Opening and closing doors in a hurry may damage car doors if the garage is too cramped. You should leave two feet of space in front of and behind your most extended vehicle. 

Further, you will need at least two to three feet between each vehicle and two to three feet between the car and the side wall. Putting a few feet more between each vehicle and between the cars and walls will make things more comfortable if you have that large plot.

The width of a three-car garage can range from 32 to 40 feet, and the depth can vary from 20 to 30 feet. Similarly, the door width can be anything from around 8 to 16 feet. The most common sizes for a three-car garage are 24’ x 22’ and 30’ x 30’. The approximate area needed for a three-car carriage is 620 to 816 square feet. The height can be anything from 7 to 8 feet. 

Again, these are standard sizes, and you will need to measure your cars and decide on the dimensions that best suit your needs. For example, your requirements may vary if you have three large cars. Just remember that you will not regret it if you make the garage extra large or slightly larger than what you think you need.

9.4.2 Cost

Compared to a single-car garage and a two-car garage, a three-car garage won’t cost significantly more than a traditional two-car garage. However, it will offer much more space than a two-car garage. So if you have plenty of space, you can opt for this kind of garage even if you have two cars. One can use the extra space for the third car as a workspace or storage space. 

9.4.3 Architecture and Design

A three-car garage will give you even more flexibility than a two-car garage in design and architecture. For example, you could have a single large garage door, a double garage door and a single garage door, or three single-garage doors. Having a double door and a single door is the most popular choice. Your choice will depend on how you plan to use the garage and how it will look next to your house. People generally have custom-built three-car garages.

If you have only two cars, you could install a double door for the vehicles and a single door for the third car bay, which you could use as a den or work area. Alternatively, you could put a workbench on the inside of the door and always keep it shut. This will give you more space to work in, as well as privacy.  

9.4.4 Things to Consider

Here are some points that you need to consider while building a three-car garage:

  • You may need space to store your sporting equipment if you are a sports lover.
  • If you or someone in the family needs to use a wheelchair, you must design the garage accordingly.
  • If you only plan to park two cars, you can use the extra pay for storage. However, if you have three vehicles, make sure to add additional space for storage.
  • If you require a freezer or refrigerator installed in the garage, factor in the space needed.
  • Will you require extra shelves to store things? Add more room where you plan to place them.
  • Lawnmowers, snow blowers, garden equipment, and wheelbarrows will need much extra space.
  • If you are building an attached garage, remember that sometimes the floor level of the garage and the house may be different; the house may be at a higher level. In such cases, you will have to keep extra space for a couple of steps leading from the house to the garage. Since these steps will be sticking into the garage, you will require 10 inches per tread (the part where you step on).
  • You may want to install bumpers into the front wall of the garage so that the car doesn’t hit the wall, damaging the vehicle or the structure. You need to add space for this too.

9.5 Four-car Garage

9.5.1 Dimensions

A four-car garage must have a minimum size of 36’ x 22’. The width of the garage could range from 36 to 44 feet, while the depth can be anywhere from 20 to 30 feet. The door width could be 8 to 16 feet. The most common sizes for four-car garages are 36’ x 22’ or 38’ x 36’. The approximate area for a four-car garage is around 800 to 1,056 square feet.

9.5.2 Design and Architecture

This type of garage is uncommon and usually seen on properties with a lot of space. Their size dwarfs the single-car or two-car garages. People who like to collect cars as a hobby generally build such garages or those who have grand homes. Because of their size, detached garages are ideal in such cases. Compared to smaller garages, four-car garages generally have custom features and upgrades, such as raised ceilings, insulated garage doors, and upgraded shingles.

Four-car garages look more like two two-car garages next to each other. They have a shallow and wide shape. One way to design these is to build them in a squarish shape, putting two cars in the front and two at the back instead of all four cars next to each other. You can have two large garage doors, one each for two cars in either case. Of course, you could also have a single door for each vehicle.

You can always use the remaining area as a work or storage space if you have two or three cars.

9.6 For SUVs

If you are building a garage for SUVs, you will need to check your vehicle’s dimensions. For example, you will require a different-sized garage for crossover SUVs, mid-size SUVs, or full-sized SUVs.

9.6.1 Dimensions and Design

A crossover SUV will have a length of 15 to 15.5 feet and a width of around 6 feet. If you want a two-SUV or three-SUV garage, multiply this length and add space in between to open the cars’ doors. Check the car’s height so you don’t build too low a roof. A standard door for a single crossover-SUV garage would be 7 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

Mid-size SUVs are generally between 16 to 16.5 feet long and about 6 feet wide. We’re talking about SUVs such as a Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Kia Telluride, or other trendy choices. These SUVs are taller than crossover SUVs, so keep that in mind while building the roof and garage doors.

The Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Suburban, or Ford Expedition are full-sized SUVs. These have a height of about 6.6 feet and are about 7 feet wide. You will have to go for a larger door for these SUVs. For example, a standard garage door housing two full-sized SUVs would be 16 feet wide and 7 feet tall. 

Whatever size SUV you have, you will have to measure its length and leave space for maneuverability. Remember the zoning regulations while building these garages, as you might need signed consent.

9.7 For Trucks

A garage for a truck will again depend on the size of the vehicle(s) you have. For example, you may have a mix-sized or a full-sized truck. A midsize truck would be a Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, or Toyota Tacoma. A full-sized truck would be a RAM 1500, Ford F-150, or Toyota Tundra.

9.7.1 Dimensions

A midsize truck would require a minimum of 17 to 18-foot wall with a width of about 6 to 7 feet. Make sure to keep a height of 6 to 6.5 feet. You will require at least a 20-foot-deep garage to be on the safer side. 

On the other hand, a full truck’s length is around 20 feet, so you will require a much larger garage. Your garage will have to be at least a few feet more long. Giant trucks can be about 6 to 7 feet wide and 6 to 6.5 feet in height. 

9.8 Low Budget Car Garage

Only some homeowners may have enough space or funds for a large garage or the smaller garages we have discussed. However, you will need a designated space for your car or at least some storage space for equipment. Here are some alternatives to consider in such cases and still maintain the aesthetic appeal of the front of the home. These are cheaper and easier to build, and yet permanent structures. You can also have lightweight, portable covers that can be stored in the car and used as necessary.

9.8.1 Sheds

Sheds are more convenient for storing equipment such as lawnmowers, gardening tools, or other items. They are generally not large enough to hold big vehicles but can safeguard smaller cars. You can get custom-built or ready-made sheds that you can buy and have delivered to your property. 

Sheds of steel are sturdier, but some people may prefer wooden structures. Sheds made of wood can look beautiful if you put in much effort and design it well. 

It would help if you chose whatever option is cost-effective for you. Remember why you want a shed while deciding on the construction material. The best thing is that the sheds don’t cost much and don’t take up too much space. The downside is that it doesn’t provide much storage space and may not protect your car from the elements as well as a garage does.

9.8.2 Carports

A carport is another option if you have a single car. This is just a roof that will shade the vehicle, and it is easy to build and cost-effective. You only need to know the dimensions and do not have to consider living space or storage. Give a little extra room for off-center parking. Base the size of the carport on the car dimensions and factor in another 6 feet of width to open both side doors simultaneously.

The carport will provide your car with essential protection from rain and snow. You can build an attached or a detached carport because of its simple structure. It is quite cost-effective, and you can reduce the cost by taking it up as a DIY project. This is especially useful if you don’t have enough space for a garage on your property. 

The downside is that the carport will not provide complete protection from the elements but will prevent you from having to shovel snow off your car. Also, you won’t have any storage space like a garage or shed. 

9.8.3 Awnings

Awnings are similar to carports. However, the difference is that awnings are generally attached to another structure, such as a house. It protects the car from snow or anything falling on top of the car. Awnings are structures extending outward to provide shade and protection for the equipment or cars below. 

Awnings are usually above a patio area or deck, but you can also place them over the driveway. It is easy to set up, and you can do it as a DIY project, like the carport. As long as you have space next to your house, you can purchase and set up two awnings (since one may not be long enough) in conjunction. This should be enough to protect the car. 

This can be cost-effective depending on the material used to make the awnings and how long you need it. The good thing is that it won’t take long to set up, and you can also buy a retractable one. The downside is that awnings are not cheap, and you may find a carport works better if you are on a budget. It all depends on your choice and is an option to consider.

9.8.4 Telescoping Tents

Another option you can consider is telescoping tents. These are portable awnings and are much easier to use. Telescoping tents are open at the side and have a roof to protect the car from sun, rain, or snow. 

It is easy to set up, and you can set it up anywhere to protect the car. You can carry it in the car on long trips or when traveling and quickly use it in an emergency. Another advantage is you can use it as an open tent. It is a much cheaper option than an awning. The only downside is that it doesn’t have storage space and the sturdy protection of a garage.

9.9 Best Garage as per Size

Finally, what kind of garage best suits your needs will depend on how you plan to use it. There is no ideal size for any particular person. Just ask yourself a few questions before you finalize your particular choice:

  • Do you want to store bikes inside?
  • Will you be spending a lot of time in the garage?
  • Which cars will you keep in the garage? Is it a small, medium-sized, or large vehicle?
  • Do you want living quarters above the garage?
  • Do you want a workbench and cabinets inside?
  • Do you keep flammable stuff in the garage?
  • Is there a termite problem in your area that can damage wooden garages?

The answers to all these questions will give you an idea of what kind of garage suits you. For example, if you have a termite problem nearby, you can opt for a durable and strong metal structure that can withstand termites, strong winds, and even seismic forces. Steel garages will last longer, and these are the best building materials for metals.

Further, if you plan to build living quarters above the garage, you must opt for a detached garage. If you want to store bikes, you will need added space. If you keep flammable material in the garage, you will need a detached garage since any fire should not spread to the main house.

9.10 Best Garage Door for Security

Garage doors come in various shapes and sizes. Many choose the door that looks best with their overall garage or home. However, the garage door is also a security feature that will decide how safe your car is. Today you have theft-proof garage doors. But no garage door can guarantee 100% security. It’s just that some doors are safer than others.

Skilled thieves can break into a garage in minutes. They can pull the garage safely release lever using a coat hanger or brute force to break down an old door. They can also use tools to dismantle the garage door’s locking mechanism from the outside. So make sure you have modern garage doors with appropriate safety features.

Here’s a look at some of the safest garage doors:

  • Sectional garage doors

These are the most popular residential garage doors. These garage doors include hinges that allow the horizontal parts to separate and glide overhead when you open the door. Sectional doors are small and simple to operate as a result.

  • Roller garage doors

Roller garage or roll-up doors consist of horizontal slats with rollers to open and close them. You can enhance them by using double-skinned roller garage doors and making the bottom slat solid and durable. 

  • Side-hinged garage doors

Because of their appealing appearance, these garage doors are popular. They create a “French door” style opening by swinging open from the intersection of two portions of the door. They give your garage a touch of luxury and are especially helpful if it sees more foot activity than car traffic.

  • Up-and-over garage doors

Because they travel vertically up and come to rest in a nearly horizontal position above the garage, up-and-over garage doors are comparable to sectional doors. Ensure the up-and-over garage door you’re thinking about has several locking points. A euro cylinder anti-snap lock is also quite effective at deterring burglars.

  • Automated garage doors 

Automated garage doors might be the best garage security system. These well-known garage doors can be opened and shut with a button or a security code. They are practical for vehicles because you can open the door while still inside by using the wireless remote. These are considered one of the best garage doors for deterring burglars.

10. What is the Current Demand for Garage Features in the USA?

What kind of garage you choose also depends on where you are located. For example, in the historic mining town-turned-ski village Telluride, Colorado, you can increase the price of your home by 20% or more by just adding a garage.

In another nearby town of, Mountain Village, having a large garage can add a 10% payback for resale. Many homes here have three-car garages that house off-road vehicles, sports cars, and even golf carts. In places like Maplewood, New Jersey, you are not allowed to remove a garage unless you replace it. Only 18 houses in the entire town have no garage.

Having a big garage is always beneficial because you will always need more space in the future. Your child may be growing up soon and may need a car of their own. Further, you may need a bigger car in the future if you have a small one now. Additionally, you may need to make way for a guest vehicle if you have visitors often. 

Today, only some new homes come with a garage. Most of them have a two-car garage or larger structure. But what exactly is it that residents consider essential features in their garages?

It all depends on your needs, wants, and budget. Let’s talk about some of these features.

  • Decluttered and clean garages

Having a clean, safe, and strong garage is something that most home buyers want and immediately like. Make sure not to use the garage as a dumping ground. Don’t stuff it with unwanted things over the years. This will harm your garage and become a breeding ground for insects and bacteria. Clean all the equipment you store here regularly, and use an antimicrobial or antibacterial finish on surfaces.

  • Interior floor and walls

Cleaning the garage floor can sometimes be painful, so floor coatings similar to epoxy can make this task much more manageable. Today one has a choice of a wide range of colors and textures. You can match the interior of your house or have a neutral shade like gray that hides dirt.

  • Climate control and other extras

You can include climate control for four-season use if you plan to be in the garage for long durations or have living quarters above it. Insulating the walls and ceiling will reduce energy loss and improve temperature maintenance. 

  • Storage options

Many people use a garage to store unwanted things they don’t use often. So you will need to make up your mind about what kind of cabinets or storage shelves to use. Adding slats and other systems along the walls would be wise to add cabinets, drawers, and bins later. Other features include overhead racks that one can reach with a ladder or pulley system. You can also add aesthetic or stronger lighting to make things brighter.

One good thing to do is to leave lots of space for future expansion or additions. Installing adjustable systems will ensure you have to make minimal adjustments in the future. Also, storing things above ground will protect them from floods and give you more space to store equipment or maneuver cars.

  • Windows

Windows on the garage’s top panel or just below are becoming popular today, especially in garages in the upper price range. This breaks the monolithic slab look of the garage. Some people may even place the window on one side, for example, in front-loading garages.

  • Door Styles

Galvanized metal doors or even vinyl doors are low-maintenance and durable. You can choose doors that match the house style or give it a completely contrasting look. Some people make their garages look more charming than their houses. You can choose according to colors, styles, and materials. 

Adding exterior lights, automatic controls, and smartphone controls can also make the garage door attractive. This is especially so since people use garage doors as entry or exit points from their homes regarding attached garages. Installing cameras will be safer and also helps package delivery verification.

  • EV charging stations

As electric vehicles become more popular, people have begun adding home charging stations to their garages. Even if they do not have electric cars, people have started asking for the rough-in for work to be finished later when they decide to buy such a vehicle. New house constructions generally come with one charging point, sometimes two. 

  • Car lifts

If you’re a car addict or foresee a good addition to your cars, you can increase the height of the garage and install car lifts. This will ensure that even if you have larger or more cars, you won’t have to add horizontal square footage to the garage.

  • Entertainment or workspace

Remember that many prefer to make a private den in their garage or use it as a workspace. If it’s a detached garage, you can construct living quarters above. They may use it as an entertainment area as well. Some people make their garages lively enough to entertain guests during parties.

You can have your cars displayed, add a lounge bar, music system, color-changing LED lights, a large TV set, or even a little room for the kids. What you can do inside the garage is only limited by imagination. 

Bottom Line:

Needlessly to say, garages are one of the most important and overlooked structures of your house. A well-thought-out and spacious garage can add to your home’s value and aesthetic appeal. However, a poorly constructed garage can take away from your home. So, before building one, do understand your requirement and budget.

Written By:

  • An experienced marketing consultant with a decade of hands-on experience in real estate. You might catch her at a local jazz bar on a Friday night or at home experimenting with vertical kitchen gardens.

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