Having a traditional garage attached to your property may be convenient for a time, but when families grow and needs change further down the line, you may find that being stuck with the same garage space can be quite limiting. Some homeowners prefer to have the option of expanding their garage space to accommodate two or more cars in the future by adding their own detached garage to their home.
But how much does it cost to build your own detached garage and how should you go about it? When thinking about constructing a detached garage, there are many variables that will determine the final cost – primarily, how large you intend your detached garage to be (for 2 cars or more etc). The cost of a basic one car detached garage can cost up to $3,500 whilst the cost of building a multiple car structure for 3 cars or more can cost up to and beyond $50,000.
Unlike an existing ‘attached’ garage, a stand alone garage requires careful planning and consideration of everything from the building foundations to the roofing, and the cost of all this can quickly add up – particularly if you have very unique specifications! Whether you take on the project yourself or hire a contractor, there’s no escaping the high costs of building a detached garage, but the final result can be well worth your time and effort if you do it right. Below, we look at a detailed breakdown of the costs of a detached garage, the benefits and the steps needed to ensure yours meets legal and safety standards.
Should I Build a Detached Garage?
Building a detached garage on your property can offer many long-term benefits, but perhaps the most obvious one is the freedom and greater flexibility it can offer you as a homeowner. By constructing a space that is separate from the main structure of your home, it allows you to return to the drawing board and customize the area to your specifications. Being free from the home structure opens up design possibilities that not only allow for greater vehicle capacity, but perhaps added tool storage and even a bedroom or office conversion.
The first thing to ask yourself prior to beginning your garage project is – how will it specifically benefit me or my family? If you and your partner like to make the extra effort to keep your home environmentally friendly, for example, a detached garage can be a far greener option than a detached garage (more below). Or perhaps you are looking to sell your home in the near future and wish to add a touch more aesthetic beauty to the property to offer future buyers a unique feature that is unlike other properties in your neighborhood?
Whatever your personal motivations for building a detached garage are, it might be helpful to read a little more into why other homeowners have undertaken a detached garage as their DIY passion project. The following lists the most common reasons for constructing a separate garage…
- To go green: separating your garage from your main home will prevent toxic car fumes, noise, debris and other pollution associated with your car from entering your household, making detached garages a much more eco friendly choice. Homeowners looking to apply for a green rating certification often receive ‘green points’ in recognition of their conscious efforts to construct an eco friendly building.
- For extra storage: families in need of more storage space than the limited area provided by normal attached garages may build a detached garage to comfortably house extra tools, mementos or clutter to free up space in the home. According to research by the Self Storage Association, 1 in every 10 Americans who pay an average of $90 a month on self-storage units are typically homeowners with a garage – so the option of a detached, expandable garage can eliminate these unnecessary storage fees once you have your own personal storage unit.
- To add more living space: most of us would love to have the space for a quiet study, a games room or even a home cinema and with a detached garage, homeowners have the opportunity to add this extra interest to their home (without the noise from other family members!). Many homeowners may also choose to turn the garage into a luxury guest bedroom – perfect for giving guests and relatives absolute privacy when they come to visit.
- To add value: though the initial costs of constructing a detached garage can be high, homeowners know that this is an investment that will reward them enormously in the long term. Adding this unique extra space will increase the appeal for potential buyers and help to drive up your home’s resale value. Your estate agent will be able to provide greater insight to the potential added value depending on your area and other factors, but real estate professionals estimate that homes with a detached two-car garage can add up as much as $30,000 to the value.
Pros and Cons of Building a Detached Garage
Now that you have some insight into why other homeowners like yourself may decide to build a detached garage, what about the immediate and long term benefits of taking on this project? And are there any downsides to constructing a detached garage? Let’s explore these below.
PRO – The option to expand
With an attached garage, there is a limit to how much you can do with the given space, but with a detached building, you have the freedom to extend your garage to meet your needs – whether this is to expand your workshop, build a craft room or simply extend your families storage space.
PRO – Creates a versatile living space
The surrounding area of a traditional attached home garage is often too cluttered by a second car and other features for anything else to exist there and so it becomes the designated car driveway and nothing else. A detached garage meanwhile frees up space for a pretty walkway, a patio or perhaps a water feature. It also means that your kids have space to play sports a safe distance from your home (and from your cars!).
PRO – Increases resale value
Future buyers will appreciate the extra space, whether they wish to use the extra garage as intended or to convert the added space into spare bedrooms or an office space. Extra space and storage potential will drive up your home’s value enormously. In fact, it’s estimated that homeowners can expect to see an 80% return on their investment in home value terms.
CON – High upfront costs
The initial costs of constructing a detached garage are much higher than building an attached garage, since you are erecting four walls instead of three and from the ground up! However, considering the flexibility a detached garage can offer, the effort certainly pays for itself over time.
CON – Inconvenient access
It may not be the worst ever drawback of building a separate garage, but running out to your detached garage property in poor weather is no fun. The extra effort to remove snow and leaves from an additional walkway might also put a damper on having a detached garage.
Detached Garages by Car Capacity and the Approximate Costs
The cost of your detached garage will depend on many factors which we’ll discuss in detail in the breakdown section (below), but the immediate price factors to consider are the number of cars you wish to fit in your garage. Even if you only have plans for a single, one-car garage, you will need to consider the length of the individual car to determine your final costs. For instance, a standard passenger car (approx. 14 inches) will be shorter than a people carrier or minivan (approx. 18-22 inches) and this will need to be factored into your measurements.
The average cost to build a garage, attached or detached, will fall at around $49 per square foot, but this will, of course, depend on your chosen dimensions, your finishings and your intended uses for the garage i.e. whether it will include a living space inside and all the accessories and maintenance fees that entails. But before we get into all that, below is a summary of the average costs of a detached garage by car capacity:
- 1 car garage – the average cost of a 1-car detached garage is around $13,200
- 2 car garage – on average a 2-car detached garage will cost $24,200
- 3 car garage – based on the average dimensions of a 3-car garage, this can cost between $28,200 to $42,300
Building multi-car detached garages
If your not constrained by a budget, you may decide that building a detached garage to accommodate 4 or more cars is a worthwhile investment. If you are considering opting for a multi car garage of this size, it may be simpler and more cost-effective to outsource this large-scale job to a contractor specializing in prefab garage structures.
People considering a garage of this size may have specific needs when it comes to storage space – homes with a family of young teenage drivers, for example, may decide a multi garage structure is more practical. Other homeowners may be motivated by a basic lack of storage space in the main home, i.e. households without a basement or an attic etc.
Building a Detached Garage: Breakdown of the Costs
Building a standard 2-car garage on your property can cost between $19,600 and $28,200 (which works out at around $49 per square foot). For a clear idea of what your garage project will come to personally, you can get an estimate of the costs for your specific needs here. In the meantime, the following is a breakdown of the average costs you can expect to pay in each area of a detached garage construction.
The lifespan of your detached garage begins with careful ground preparation, and you must take care to choose the right type of foundation depending on the height and size of your garage. If you’re on a tight budget and wish to lay the foundation yourself, a basic gravel pad foundation will be suitable for smaller 2-car detached garages. These can cost between $2,500 to $3,500.
For a larger detached garage project, meanwhile, a concrete foundation will provide more durable support and can cost anywhere between $6,000 to $10,000 for a standard 2-car detached garage, depending on whether you choose a basic concrete pad or block and floating concrete foundations with moisture barriers and extra reinforcements.
The final cost of your wall will depend on your finishing style – on a budget, you may wish to leave the inside of your detached garage as basic, unfinished drywall or you may choose to erect a brick garage wall or choose a style of wall panels. At the very least, most state building codes will dictate that you have drywall installed due to its fire resistance at a cost of approx $2 per square foot.
Wall panel options can range from cheap PVC, Metal and Bamboo walls (costing between $1.87 to $2.34 per square foot) to slightly pricier and more robust wall panel options such as Galvanised steel walls, Faux brick and concrete block styles (ranging between $8 and $14.75 per square foot).
The cost of the garage ceiling will depend on how you intend to make use of your detached garage space. If it is simply a space to park your car and nothing more, then it may be unnecessary to add extra ceiling materials on top of the basic timber or concrete block frame of the garage structure itself.
If you do intend to use your garage to set up a workshop for instance or create a living space such as a guest bedroom or games room then you will need insulation materials to finish out the garage ceiling. At a detached garage size of 288 square feet, the total cost of ceiling panels and insulation will cost around $800. You can use this guide to decide upon the best ceiling type for your garage.
Popular roofing options include corrugated metal for ease of installation and asphalt shingle which homeowners favor as it gives an elegant, architectural look to garages. Asphalt shingle style roofs will start at $3.60 per square foot whilst corrugated metal roofing can cost anywhere between $2 and $7.50 per square foot depending on the gauge of metal.
As well as factoring in the cost of your overall garage roof, add on to this the possible cost of your roof trusses. Roof trusses and supports will vary in price depending on your unique specifications for your garage. If you require attic space or want a stairway leading into the attic, this will require a larger with basic installed trusses starting at about $4.90 per square foot.
Installing a garage door on a single 1-car garage may cost as little as $500 to $800, though this is largely dependent on the style and the quality of materials. A 9 x 7 inch garage door is a standard size to accommodate most vehicles, but you may have different specifications depending on the style and security features you add to this e.g. a garage door opener or a door style that includes windows (a great way of increasing the natural light into your garage).
You must also consider the convenience of adding a pedestrian or ‘entry’ door into the design of your detached garage, since you may not want to open and close a huge traditional garage door each time you need to get in and out. Entry doors can cost around $100 for basic styles up to as much as $2,500 if you wish to pursue a high-end security option.
Unless your garage is a basic skeleton structure for storing your car, you’ll want to add plenty of natural light to your space by installing at least 2 or 3 windows. Depending on your chosen window dimensions (common sizes include 18 x 36 and 24 x 36 inches), garage windows can start from around $100 to $600 per window installation.
You may also want to consider skylights as an alternative to traditional windows. These come in at around $140 for a full Velux style glass window and as much as $331 for solar-powered skylights. The cost of garage windows can sometimes be included in the framing labor costs, so shop around for a contractor who may be able to include window installation.
Construction permits normally cost around $200 – permit laws and requirements will differ from state to state, however, so take care to do your research and contact your local building office before proceeding with your detached garage plans.
As well as local state laws determining your eligibility for a building permit, you may also require additional permits such as a plumbing or electrical permit if you are designing a detached garage to be used for living purposes i.e. your property requires electricity, running water and other amenities etc. So take all this into careful consideration before submitting a building permit application.
Considerations with a Detached Garage
It may not be the most cost effective DIY project you ever take on but making the decision to build a detached garage on your property will inject new appeal into your home for future buyers and can prove to be a practical and hugely rewarding investment. If you’re still unsure about proceeding with your detached garage, read through a few of these considerations concerning both the aesthetics and practicalities of building a garage on your property.
Key things to consider:
Maintenance – like every modification and building work carried out on your home, a detached garage for 1 (or multiple cars) will require regular maintenance. Ensure you are prepared for the cost of things like resealing your concrete floors, re-painting and power-washing the structure and replacing garage door openers and other mechanical features on a regular basis.
Style – you should think about whether your garage construction will match your home’s exterior style or stand out. A drastic difference in styles could bring down the resale value of your home if your chosen garage finish is seen to clash. You could also consider whether a standard or two-story garage will suit your needs best. If it’s important to you, a second floor may make a great art studio away from the chaos of family next door!
Legal requirements – Normally, you will not be subject to building regulations when constructing a detached garage, but even so, be sure to check with your local planning authority. In the meantime, the following requirements are things your detached garage property must comply with:
- Be sited at ground level
- Have a surface area of less than 30m2
- Be mainly constructed of non-combustible materials
- Be built at least one meter away from your main property
DIY vs hiring a contractor – some homeowners may choose to tackle the project of building a custom-made 1-car garage themselves, but despite the sense of pride and accomplishment this might fill you with, it can cost you more in the long run.
You need to decide whether building a detached garage on site (and all the labor costs to go with it) is worth the effort compared to purchasing a prefab garage. A basic kit for constructing a standard single detached steel garage, for example, can cost up to and beyond $6,500 whereas a 2-car prefab garage will start in the price range of $5,000 – leaving plenty left over for accessories and customized features.
How Much Would It Cost to Build a Brick Garage?
A brick garage can make a lovely, traditional finish for your detached garage, but the construction costs can be a lot more compared to a basic concrete garage structure. Overall, a full brick garage structure can cost between $10,000 to $27,000 depending on the size and your choice of roofing. Roughly, a single, 1-car brick garage will cost $20,000. For homeowners on a particularly tight budget, a prefab concrete garage with a faux brick wall panel or faux brick finish could be a good alternative option.
You should bear in mind that the installation of a brick garage will also take much longer to complete compared with a concrete built structure, but for those with the budget and patience, the aesthetics of a detached brick garage can be worth the wait!
How much does bricklaying cost?
The cost of bricklaying work may differ depending on your state and area, but generally, bricklayers may charge between $14-$26 an hour. Often though, bricklayers will charge according to the number of bricks used to complete the job rather than charge by the hour. In the case of 1000 common bricks used at a cost of $1,050, the cost of bricks and combined labor could bring the total cost between $2300 and $2400.
This of course will depend on the quality of bricks used (common or ‘render’ bricks which give a smoother, more contemporary finish) and the size of your detached garage project. You can only really have a clear idea of the final costs by getting a quote from your local garage builder and setting out your specs.
The Labor Costs of Building a Garage
As a rule of thumb, your garage labor costs are only as much as your project demands and no two detached garages have a set price menu. Labor costs can be high with a 1-car garage if it requires additional plumbing and electrical for the purposes of adding a second storey living space and comparatively, a basic no-frills 3-car garage may have the same labor costs since fewer materials and features will make for a quicker, easier job.
While a detached garage is built up from scratch, the labor rates will be in line with the cost of building an ‘attached’ unit, since the garage will technically form a part of your home property. Where the labor costs really start to add up, however, is in the division of jobs from hiring several carpenters (at approx $70 an hour) to painters ($20 to $35 an hour) and electricians ($65 to $80 an hour). Fortunately if you make sure to hire a general contractor they can remove this headache for you by subcontracting each job to the appropriate experts.