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Choosing the Right Garage Plan for You
The time has come to build a new garage. Now is your chance to pick and choose the elements and features you really want and could really use with a new garage. Whether you simply need auto storage or a place for outdoor equipment with living quarters above, it is important to consider what functions the garage or garage apartment will serve for you and your family. Below is a list of tips and questions to think about when deciding what type of garage to build. As you read through the list put your thoughts on paper and prioritize them. Begin by thinking about the big picture and work towards specific details about your garage or garage apartment.
The Big Picture
There are five main elements that will help you determine the general size and style of the garage plan you choose.
1) Layout – Consider the layout and usable space of the design. A larger square footage does not always mean all the space is usable. Watch out for odd angles and poor placement of windows and doors. These things can make it difficult to arrange shelving units, storage cabinets, workbenches and even furniture in the apartment ultimately resulting in wasted space.
2) Open Space – Think about your needs and the importance of open space. How do you plan to use the garage area? Be aware of the placement of stairs and columns within the garage area, specifically a garage with two levels. The unfinished garage space might not be as accommodating if columns or a staircase interrupt its openness. If you plan to use the garage for parking only, you’ll have nothing to worry about as these two items are strategically placed as not to be in the way when storing cars. However, if you plan to use the garage for a workshop or hobby area, be aware that these things might make for a less accommodating space. In a similar manner, if you are building a garage apartment, consider the open space of the living area. Though modest in size, the main living areas (kitchen, dining/nook, and family/living space) should be able to accommodate day to day activities and provide a gathering space. Also, with an open floor plan in the living quarters, you’ll gain a sense of spaciousness.
3) Functionality – How do you want your garage to function? If you find yourself saying, “I wish I had a garage that…,” it is time to pinpoint what purpose your garage or garage apartment will serve. What kind of features and spaces do you want? Will you need various storage units? Could you use a place for the trash cans and recycling bins? Are you dreaming of a workshop with a storage closet for lawn and garden tools? Could you use an upstairs loft as a game or recreation room? Is there a need for living quarters? Would a half bath be handy for clean ups? Make a list of the functions or purposes your new garage will serve and rank them by importance to get a clear idea of what you really need or want with your garage.
4) Lifestyle – It is time to consider your lifestyle and the role your new garage will play in the way your family lives. Your lifestyle may dictate some of the elements you choose for your garage. Do you have children with lots of outdoor sporting equipment? Maybe a garage with storage area will work best for you. Do you enjoy woodworking? Consider a garage plan with workshop or built-in workbench. Perhaps you enjoy traveling in a motor home and need a place to store it when you’re not on the road, or maybe your family enjoys boating and fishing. A garage with RV or boat storage would satisfy your needs. How often do you have out of town guests? Or do you have live-in help such as a nanny or caretaker? Maybe a garage apartment is just what you need giving you additional parking and storage space while providing private living quarters for visitors and family assistants. Consider your everyday needs before selecting a garage plan.
5) Positioning – You may already know how you want to position your garage on your lot. If not, there are several things to consider such as property lines, easements and setbacks. Check with your local building official to find out what is acceptable in your area. There are other elements to think about too. Do you want your garage apartment to have a view? You may want to position the garage so the family room looks out across a lake. Does it make sense to position the garage on one side of the lot opening up yard space for outdoor activities? How will the garage work with the driveway? Do you need to pour more concrete or a longer driveway so the new garage is accessible? Thinking about all of these elements will help you select the best position for the garage on your lot ensuring continued enjoyment in the years to come.
Specific Elements and Details
When searching for the perfect garage plan, planning and prioritizing are necessary steps to narrow down your needs and wants. Now that you’ve considered the broad ideas, it is time to think about specific details and criteria. Envision your new garage or garage apartment. Below is a list of questions designed to help you develop a good idea about the purpose and function of your new garage. (This list is especially helpful for those who wish to include a finished living area with their garage.) When you are finished, rank your responses by importance.
- What is the garage’s purpose now? In the future?
- Will it be used for personal use? A home based business? Both?
- How many levels do you want?
- Will it be built according to energy efficient standards?
- What particular style do you prefer? Craftsman? Country? European?
- What type of exterior finish and trim do you prefer? Brick? Siding? Stone? Stucco?
- Asphalt roof shingles or clay tile? Window shutters? Special architectural features?
- How many cars do you plan to store? How many garage bays do you need?
Unfinished Garage Area
- How will you use the garage area?
- What equipment will you store here? Cars? Boat? RV? Jet ski? Motorcycle? Bikes? Stroller? Lawn equipment or garden tools?
- What size vehicles do you wish to accommodate? Height? Width? Depth? Will they fit in a standard sized garage?
- Will you need workshop or storage space? What type of storage? Organizers? Shelves? Cabinets? Hooks for hanging items from ceilings and walls?
- Would a service door be handy?
- Would you use a drive-thru stall?
- Is there a need for a utility sink?
- How often would you use a full or half bath?
Garage Apartments, Carriage Houses and Other Finished Areas
- What finished spaces do you want or need?
- What activities do you plan to accommodate?
- How many people do you need to accommodate?
- Do you prefer a covered entry?
- Will the apartment/finished area be accessed by interior or exterior stairs?
Kitchen and Dining Area
- Will you require a kitchen?
- What features will you need? Snack bar? Island? Pantry?
- What primary appliances will you have?
- What style cabinets and counter tops do you have in mind?
- Do you prefer an eat-in kitchen or an adjoining nook or dining area?
- Will the space serve more than one purpose (i.e. dining area and study area)?
Family Room/Great Room
- What is its primary function?
- Do you desire a fireplace?
- Do you want to capture a view from this room?
- Will it have any special features? Ceiling treatments? Built-ins shelves?
- Do you need this room?
- How will it be used? How often?
- Should it be secluded?
- Can it double as something else?
- What kind electronics will you need to accommodate?
Master Bedroom and Bath
- Do you prefer split bedrooms?
- Will there be special bedroom features? Walk-in closet? Private deck?
- Do you desire a whirlpool tub? A window tub? Separate tub and shower? Dual sinks?
Additional Bedrooms and Baths
- How many will you need of each?
- Will the bedrooms have any special features?
- Do you want one bath near the main living areas?
- What type of tub/shower combination do you envision for each bath?
Closets and Storage
- How much storage space will you need for bedding, towels and out of season blankets?
- Will there be multiple storage spaces such as a coat closet and a linen closet?
- What else will you store in the closets? Cleaning supplies? Medical supplies?
- Do you need hanging and/or shelving space?
- Will a stacked washer and dryer satisfy your needs? Will it fit in a closet?
- Will the laundry area be positioned in the garage on the first floor or in the living area?
- Is a laundry chute helpful?
Fixtures and Interior Systems
- What type of lighting and fixtures do you prefer? Track lighting? Recessed lighting? Fluorescent? Ceiling fan? In which rooms?
- Do you want built-in protection systems? Home security? Smoke detectors? Carbon monoxide sensors?
- Will you have a specific heating and cooling system? Attic fan?
With careful planning, chances are you can have the perfect garage plan. Keep all of your ideas in mind as you search our top selling garage plans from North America’s best selling designers. These designs include many of today’s most popular and requested elements and features. It is very likely that you will find a garage plan or garage apartment plan that is right for you.
Selecting a Garage Plan provides further information.
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