Our garage plan: attached or detached?

I had a clear vision of what I wanted our addition and garage to look like.  But it looks like I will have to make some compromises.

I was absolutely determined from the beginning that the garage be detached from the house.  Our family home when I was growing up had a detached garage in the back yard.  And the house I bought in 1996 also had a garage in the back yard.  I made it clear from the start that I wanted a detached garage because I will be using the garage as a workshop. There’s the noise issue–I don’t want to disturb my family when I am making sawdust– and the housekeeping issue– I don’t want sawdust finding its way into our main living area.

Unfortunately, we are limited in what we can actually build.  We don’t want to sacrifice our view so locating the garage in the back yard is not an option. And we cannot have the garage in front of the house because of the required set-back from the road.  Our only option is to build the garage beside the house, but we are fighting for inches.

First plan:  covered breezeway

The first vision was to build a detached garage beside the house, with about 4 feet between covered by a continuous roof.

Why we liked that plan:  

The sidewalk between the garage and the house would be sheltered and the entrances to both buildings would be covered.

Why the architect didn’t like the plan:  

Our first architect had presented the breezeway concept to us before his semi-retirement. And the breezeway was part of all three options that our present architect, his former employee, drew up for us a month ago.  But with fresh eyes comes a fresh vision. She doesn’t like having only a four foot wide breezeway suggested that we attach the garage to the house.

The problem is that the addition and garage are competing for space.  We are trying to maximize the square footage of the addition so that the family room will work for us.  We cannot add any width to the family room without taking away from the width of the garage.

Minimum double car garage size:   

As long as we live here, our vehicles will never see the inside of the garage as it will be my woodworking shop.  But it’s all about the resale value.  Anything less than a two car garage won’t add any value to the house.  And given the size of trucks and  SUVs that future buyers may want to park in the garage, the absolute minimum size for the garage is about 22 feet wide by 24 feet deep.  Our drawings show a garage that is about 22½ feet wide by 24 deep.  So I was adamant; we must not tamper with the garage!

The architect spoke with my wife last week, and told her that in order to “make things work” in the family room, we really should attach the garage.

Trust the architect

In 2008-09 we wanted to restore the structure of the house.  I thought we would be reverting back to the original floor plan with a couple of very minor changes.  The architect showed us the measured drawing of the house as it was at the time and then drew a couple of lines to show us what was possible.  It was beyond anything that we had even considered up to that point.  And after living with that design for 6 years, there is nothing that we wish we had done differently.  It all works.

So when an architect says something starting with “you’ll be happy…”  or “you should consider…” or “you’ll regret…”, it pays to listen. 

The second plan:  attached garage

We have not yet seen a second set of drawings.  But I have carefully considered the attached garage and it holds several advantages over the detached garage.

Noise:  The breezeway was going to be 4 feet wide by 24 feet long.  This narrow tunnel could actually create more of an issue, by amplifying and echoing any noise.  As for the transmission of noise through the common wall, there are a number of options available for reducing that.

Electrical: With the garage attached, there will be no need to run electrical wiring underground which means savings in materials and labor.

Plumbing:  It sure would be nice to have a utility sink in the garage.  This will now be possible.

Heat:  It was always my intention to have a heated garage by running a gas line to a radiant heater. We will be able to run the gas line directly from the house to the garage without having to run it underground.

Resale:  People who use garages for cars probably prefer those garages to be attached.

Trash management:  We can keep garbage and recycling containers inside the garage so we can access them without going outside.  And keeping them in the garage will solve, once and for all, our raccoon problem.  Speaking of our raccoon, he visited us again this weekend.  This time, he moved a garbage can a few feet, removed the lid, and removed one of the bags inside, all without tipping the can over.  Quite impressive, actually.  I interrupted him before he could tear into the bag, so there was no mess to clean up.  He didn’t return.

The advantages of attaching the garage far outweigh what I perceived to be the advantages of having it detached.  I am now excited by an idea that up to a week ago I refused to even consider.

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