How to Design Your Own Garage Plans
The garage should complement the style of the house.
Perhaps you long for a garage with a workshop and a mini-bay for your golf cart; maybe you’re just tired of parking your car in the driveway. Whatever your reasons for wanting a new garage, you’re more likely to be happy with the outcome if you play an active role in the planning and design phase.
The best place to start is the local building authority office where you can get a list of the zoning rules and building codes that apply to your garage project. Zoning regulations cover things like how close your garage can sit to the property lines. Building codes tell you the minimum acceptable construction practices in your community. If you have a homeowners association, here you can find out if the garage must meet design regulations concerning things like roof pitch, cladding or other aspects that affect the garage's exterior.
Getting the Permit
Your local building authority might ask for an architect’s or an engineer’s drawing before issuing a permit, even if your design meets code. You can still design your garage, but have an architect or engineer redraw your plans to ensure that everything is structurally sound. Drawing with designing software is nice, but it isn’t essential; an architect can work from a pencil drawing on graph paper just as easily.
Garages usually look best when they match the style of the house. This is especially true if you’re designing an attached garage where the roof must tie into the existing roof. After completion, the garage should look as if it’s always been there. You can be a bit more creative with a detached garage, but opting for the same roof style and pitch as the existing house is still a good idea.
Foundation and Placement
If the house sits on a crawl space with footings and a stem wall, an attached garage should be of similar construction. It’s usually permissible to use monolithic slab construction for detached garages, but check local covenants and codes because this can vary not just by community but also by development. You can’t build over buried utility lines, which must be relocated if they are in the spot you pick for the garage. Local utility companies will come out on request and mark the line
Once you start figuring the cost per square foot to construct the garage of your dreams, you might find it necessary to scale back while keeping the aspects that are most important to you. Codes determine minimum garage dimension, typically around 20 feet wide by 20 feet deep for a two-car garage. If you plan to park a large van or pickup truck, you need a minimum of 24 feet by 24 feet. You can get by with 12 feet by 20 feet for a single-car garage, but to accommodate a large vehicle, increase the depth to at least 24 feet. For a visual reference, park your automobiles side-by-side and string lines to represent the garage perimeter. Make sure you have adequate room to open doors and walk around the front and the back of the vehicles.
Garage Doors and Windows
Garage doors should be large enough to allow for easy vehicle entrance and exit. A single garage door needs to be about 9 feet wide and 7 feet high for parking most midsize automobiles. You can cheat a bit in small garages by installing a single 16-foot door to service two car bays. To install door openers, allow at least 12 inches above the garage door, bringing minimum ceiling height to 8 feet. Wider doors require larger headers in the framing above the doors, and the engineer or architect that redraws your design determines that. A walk-through door should be in spot where it’s convenient to access from the house. One or more windows are welcome in most garages, especially if you are planning a workshop.
Wiring must meet code, but during the design stage, determine where you want lights and outlets. If a workspace is desired, make sure there will be enough outlets to plug in your power tools and testers and make ample lighting provisions.
Garage Floor and Driveway
The garage floor should slope toward the car entrances to ensure that water drains out of the garage. A gentle slope of 1.5 inches per every 10 lineal feet is standard for garage floors. The driveway and approach should also slope at the same grade away from the house and from the garage. If space permits, it’s desirable to pour an approach large enough for cars to park without entering the garage.