Before you build that dream garage...





If you’re thinking about building a garage, what should you consider?

The very, very first thing you need to think about if you’re considering building  is how long you plan to stay in your current home.  A typical double detatched garage project could cost you around $20,000 and may only add $15,000 to the selling price of your home.  If you plan on staying for 5 years, that garage could have cost you $1000 / year.  Is it worth it? Only you can decide that. Now let’s assume that you’ve considered it and decided that it is time to build that garage.  How big should you build it?  This is, of course, a matter of personal needs and opinions also.  However, generally a double garage has a greater resale appeal than a single.

People often make the mistake of building too small.   I’ve never heard someone say - when it’s all said and done - that their garage was too big. Here’s some very general ideas of sizing based on a variety of needs.

For two cars and very limited storage space, look at 22‘x22’.  This will give you a comfortable garage with room enough to ensure you’re not banging doors, but not a lot of room for anything else

If you want room for a workbench, add 2 feet to either the width, or the depth, depending on your yard.
If you decide to build a garage wider, rather than deeper, consider offsetting the overhead door to one side (generally two feet from one corner).   Centering the overhead door on a 24’ wall (or larger) is a terrible use of space that forces you to divide up what extra room you have to either side.  Also, unless you are absolutely determined to have two single doors on your double garage, don’t do it!  Two single doors may look “pretty”, but it forces you to park your cars farther apart, eating up value space on the sides.

So if you’ve been following along, a garage with room for a bench or storage cabinets would be 24‘x22’ or 22‘x24’.  This is a pretty good size for a double garage.  You could go larger, but there’s something important you have to consider before you do.  City of Winnipeg building code requires that a garage that is 538 sq. ft. or larger (but less than 753 sq. ft.) requires the concrete foundation to have a “thickened edge”.  This means that the perimeter of the concrete is thickened to 12 inches from the surface of the pad downward (not to be confused with a curb, which rises up from the surface of the pad).  This thickened edge is actually a much better pad, but it comes at a substantially greater price, so you really must consider whether it’s worth the additional cost to you.

Possibly most importantly, if you’re going to consider hiring someone to build you a garage, always always always hire a contractor that gets the permits for you!  This is so important, and it’s a mistake that is so common.  When your contractor gets the permits, they are responsible for the job and their reputation is on the line.  They are responsible for ensuring that the construction meets city code requirements. If you get your own permit and there are “difficiencies” - as the city inpectors call them - they will hold you accountable for fixing them and you could be stuck chasing after your builder. Granted, even if you do require your contractor to obtain permits you may still be held accountable, but with the permit in the contractor's name you have an additional layer of protection. And insist on seeing a copy of the building permit before allowing work to start.  This is actually good advice for just about any situation.  If you’re not doing the work, you don’t get the permit.  Let the contractor be responsible for the work.

One final thought about building a garage.   Generally speaking, don’t tear down an old garage and build a new one to improve resale value.  Unless the garage is literally falling over, that old garage still holds value and that value is lost when you remove it. Far better to spend your money on a new kitchen or by adding a bathroom.

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Josh Nekrep

Josh Nekrep

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