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Tips for Building a Garage

Updated on April 29, 2011

By building your garage, you give yourself the opportunity to create so much more than just somewhere to keep an automobile. It will form an excellent additional storage area for items like bicycles and garden furniture. It can provide a utility area for a washing machine or clothes drier. It will also be somewhere to put a large freezer if this will not fit indoors. Above all, it makes an excellent workshop. And if you build it large and airy enough, it can also make a playroom for the children or a games room for the whole family.

If you want a plain, value-for-money garage with no frills, then a simple wood-framed type is the answer. If you have a masonry-walled house and want the garage to match its appearance, then a purpose-built brick or con­crete block garage will be your only option. In the latter case, you can at least be sure of creating a building that will match the style of the house.

You can normally choose from a pitched roof or one that is more or less flat, but in fact slopes to the end or one side. A pitched roof looks more attractive, especially if covered to match the house, and offers useful extra storage space. But it is more expensive.

An extra door for access at the back or side of the garage is often useful and additional windows are important if the garage is to be used as a workshop or utility room. The entrance door will usually be an up-and-over type, either plain or paneled, and made from steel, timber or glass-reinforced plastic. Side-hung doors are an alternative more in keeping with older properties.

With a new garage, you will need to prepare a concrete base. Normally a 4in thick layer of concrete laid over a 4in thick layer of compacted gravel will be sufficient.

You should make the base 6in wider than the garage on all sides and dig out the edges to 8in deep to give an extra thickness of concrete to support the walls. Set out wooden formwork around the slab to support the concrete while it sets and to make it easy to level off the slab.

With a purpose-built garage, you will at least be getting one to suit your requirements exactly. By choosing the materials and style of building carefully, you can affect a perfect match to the house.

If you build the garage against the side of the house, you will get one wall for nothing and save some space. And if you knock a hole for a door in the wall between the house and garage, you will have direct sheltered access.

However, the door must have a one-hour fire rating, be fitted with a metal door closer and there should be a non-combustible step be­tween the house and garage in case of spills of flammable liquids.

If you have the space, it can be a good idea to build a detached garage - and even better if you can build a double one, even if you have only one automobile at present. The extra room will be useful and family needs change remarkably quickly. It may not be many years before you become a two-automobile household.

Obviously, it is preferable to build a double garage side by side. But if you do not have the space for this, you will have to build it lengthways to take two automobiles in tandem.

The minimum internal width of a single garage should be about 10ft - and ideally rather more. The minimum length should be about 20ft and preferably at least 24ft.


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