How to Design a Detached Garage

A garage is a necessity in parts of the country with high snowfall, and yet some homes have no garage or they have an elderly detached garage too small to address the needs of most homeowners. When you decide to design a garage it is important to consider access, function, appearance and budget. A garage should match the style of the home, it should be easily accessible through a finished driveway if possible, it should be large enough to handle the functional needs of the homeowner and it should fit the projected budget.

Designing A Detached Garage

Detached 3-car Victorian style garage.
  1. Using your plot plan, calculate how much land you have available to build on, and using tracing paper lightly sketch in the outline of your home in relation to your lot. If you have lots of land this step may be less critical except that your garage will have a relationship with your home and this positioning for access should be considered in your design.

  2. Using your list of city, county and neighborhood restrictions or guidelines, mark on your tracing paper any setbacks, easements or other restrictions that will affect the placement and potentially the size of your garage. Some locales have size limits and shape or style limits. Check first. Most locales have height limits.

  3. Review your budget for this project early. If you are required to match siding (such as brick) this may limit the size you can reasonably afford. A garage should not be remarkable. It shouldn't be too large for your size of home in your neighborhood. It shouldn't be too small to fit a reasonable sized car. It should be proportioned to fit with your house and neighborhood.

  4. Invite a Realtor who regularly sells homes in your neighborhood to your home and ask them his opinion for the size and design of garage that will be a good investment. Take notes.

  5. Determine the size of your garage. Most garages should be oversized so that a normal car can pull in easily and all of the doors can be opened without touching any walls. In addition, because you are custom building you should include room for workbenches, possibly a freezer, an exterior door other than your garage doors and room for storage. The extra square footage is inexpensive when built in initially.

  6. Sketch your garage size on your tracing paper to show its relationship with your house. With many older homes the garage is in the backyard. Often there are decks or patios as well as grass areas. Plan your garage so that it fits the landscape and can be blended into the property. Plan on sidewalks to the garage from the house and deck. Plan on adequate lighting and clear pathways for carrying groceries to the house.

  7. Develop and design your front elevation based on the style of your home. If your house is a colonial then your garage should be a complementary colonial. If your house is brick, your garage may be vinyl siding but it should be in trim colors that match the house. Plan on a paved or concrete pad and driveway when possible. Once you have your finished elevation, review your plan with your Realtor and determine the added value your design will contribute to your property. This figure is likely to be less than what building the garage will actually cost.


  • Making personal choices in size and finish of your garage without taking into account your neighborhood or the future value of your home may negatively impact your resale value.
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