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You’re Planning to Build a New Attached Garage: Will It Add Value?

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You can picture it now: No more schlepping in groceries in the rain while trying to balance an umbrella. Someplace to store the lawn mower besides that backyard shed. Enough space to fit those tubs of holiday decorations or workout gear, like that treadmill taking up a corner of the bedroom…

Yep, you’ve got some serious garage envy, and you’re considering re-building or constructing an attached garage anew.

When you moved in, perhaps an attached garage wasn’t high on your list of features. But you’re not alone in imagining the advantages beyond regularly parking a car in there. The majority (93%) of new single-family homes built nationwide in 2019 had either a garage or carport, according to an analysis of Census data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Yet like any other home improvement, you have to wonder: How much does an attached garage add to home value?

“Most of the time when I do a first-time buyer interview and ask for their wants and needs and wishlist and so forth, I never get anybody who says, ‘Don’t show me a house with a garage,’” says Scott Freeman, a top real estate agent and single-family homes expert serving Riegelsville and southeastern Pennsylvania. “There might be some people who say, ‘Well, it doesn’t have to have one.’ But people always like to have a garage, even if they don’t intend to put their car in it.”

Let’s look at the value of an attached garage in terms of marketability and potential return on investment so you can decide whether it’s worth making this vision a reality.

A one-car attached garage that adds to home value.
Source: (Dillon Kydd / Unsplash)

Attached garages: A top wish list item for many buyers

A two-car garage is the staple for most new construction homes, with 65% offering this feature, the NAHB analysis shows. In fact, one NAHB survey survey found that 85% of home buyers wanted garage storage as a home feature. Of those, 36% ranked this as a “must have.”

But where you’re located shifts the size of the garage and the desirability. The Southern Atlantic States have the highest share of two car garages at 74%, according to NAHB’s Census analysis. The one-car garage is most popular in the Middle Atlantic states at 24%, while other parking facilities including carports and off-street parking took up the largest share of parking options in New England (20%).

In other cases, garages may not be used for parking at all. One study quoted in 2018 in Remodeling magazine notes that one in four American homeowners said they couldn’t store a vehicle in their garages because of “unorganized elements.” Of those who could contain the clutter, 27% of homeowners used the garage for hobbies, 23% used it to work on cars, 19% used it for woodworking, and 13% used it for exercise or sports.

Typical cost to add an attached garage

Building costs for a garage vary widely because of materials and size. HomeAdvisor estimates that building any garage costs about $40 to $70 per square foot, but Thumbtack, a directory of skilled professionals in over 1,000 home-related services, estimates the cost at about $30 to $40 per square foot.

In general, an attached garage tends to cost about 10% to 15% less than a freestanding or detached garage of the same size and materials. That’s because builders can use the walls or power from your current home.

At the low end, building a one-car garage of about 288 square feet might cost from $11,500 to $20,200. A two-car garage of about 600 square feet might cost about $24,000 to $42,000 while a three-car garage of about 900 square feet climbs to about $36,000 to $63,000.

That’s just for the basic space: no workshop, living space, or plumbing. A lot of decisions can affect your bottom line, such as:

  • The garage door: Steel is durable, but aluminum is less expensive. Some homeowners like the look of wood. Whatever you choose, don’t forget about the “wow” factor. Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report notes that simply replacing an existing 16×7 foot garage door with a heavy-duty galvanized steel model that includes foam insulation costs about $3,700 but recoups about 95% of that at resale.
  • Exterior siding: Engineering wood siding is environmentally friendly and lasts about 20 to 30 years, Thumbtack reports. Vinyl siding is less expensive and easy to maintain, but it contains polyvinyl chloride, which doesn’t readily break down in landfills. Cement-based siding helps prevent termites, but it costs more.
  • Roofing: In general, asphalt is affordable, but if you’re storing anything flammable in the garage (such as paints or fuels), you’ll need non-flammable roofing material, these experts say.
  • Flooring: A concrete slab is perfectly fine for garage flooring. It’s durable and affordable, although in areas with a lot of cold weather, it may need extra finishing or insulation. A low-VOC, water-based epoxy finish such as Rust-Oleum Epoxyshield 2-Part Gray Gloss Garage Floor Epoxy Kit (about $117 to cover a 2.5-car garage) will keep the concrete from peeling or cracking, as well as make cleanup from salt, oil, and other chemicals a breeze.
  • Lighting: Even if a builder can tap into the electricity from your home to power an automatic garage door opener and lighting, you’ll still need lighting fixtures. Our experts recommend LED lighting, which lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting and uses 75% less energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Additional building considerations

Because an attached garage is connected to your home, a few other factors come into play as far as building and design. For starters, your municipality might have size restrictions on how large it can be. Some cities specify that a garage can’t be more than a certain percentage of a lot’s square footage.

The exterior also has to match the architectural style of your house. If your home has notable features, such as a Spanish tile roof, you’ll want Spanish tile on the garage roof as well.

In addition, your area may have safety requirements for attached garages. Mike Ford, a Southern California-based general certified real estate appraiser since 1986, says that in his area, an attached garage “has to be built to more restrictive standards with a firewall and a two- or three-hour fire door between the garage and any living area. Detached garages don’t have that requirement.”

A wood garage door attached to a house with added value.
Source: (Dillon Kydd / Shutterstock)

How will an attached garage impact the appraisal?

The last time Remodeling magazine calculated the return on investment for a garage addition was in 2015, when it ranked among the nation’s 30 most popular remodeling projects. Back then, a 26×26-foot freestanding two-car garage addition cost about $52,000 and recouped only about 65% at resale. You also have to consider several factors that will impact how much value an attached garage adds to your home:

Warm weather

More recently, a nationwide analysis of homes sold in 2018 found that having a garage on average added 12% to the sale price. But that varies widely depending on location. Midwestern cities with cold winters such as Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; Oklahoma City; and Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, put a premium on garages, boosting sale prices in this analysis by as much as 20% to 30%.

This analysis found that having a garage hardly added to the sale price at all in cities with warmer climates such as Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Los Angeles; and San Diego, California. All showed a premium of 5% or less, based on the garage alone.

Parking availability

A “functionally adequate” garage in a typical market might add $5,000 to $25,000 worth of value, but “it really depends on the availability of other off-street parking as well as demand [for] available on-street parking,” Ford says. In high-end markets, the value might be higher. “Where on-street parking or large driveways are not present, the value of a garage goes up quite a bit.”

In dense metropolitan areas such as downtown San Francisco, Manhattan, and Georgetown in Washington, D.C., a garage might be valued quite highly. But in Arlington, Virginia, a garage built circa 1910 with decent driveways might not add much value because of its age and condition. Likewise, Ford says, “In a clover-leaf-shaped cul-de-sac in Herndon, Virginia, with plenty of street parking and a driveway, its value may be limited to depreciated replacement cost.”

Unique selling features

Sure, a garage can keep you dry when you’re bringing home groceries and save you from clearing snow off your car. But its main value? That extra usable space.

“Even a 1920s-era 10×18-foot one-car garage has value as general personal articles storage, even if most modern cars won’t fit in them,” Ford notes.

Angela Miller, a certified appraiser in Tidewater, VA, with over 25 years of experience, says she gives as much value for an attached garage as a detached garage, especially in the country. “I also give some value for an unfinished, accessible second floor,” she says.

Even if you keep the floor plan simple — as just wide-open space — consider installing some type of storage system. Kiplinger reports that 85% of buyers in 2020 want garage storage space, especially if they have a growing family. Adding $2,000 to $2,400 worth of peg wall boards, cabinetry, and shelving in 380 square feet keeps tools, pool and patio gear, sporting goods, and other items off the floor, making it accessible and inviting.

Before building an attached garage, you might want to talk with a local real estate agent as well as a contractor. An agent can provide a free comparative market analysis evaluating what your home would fetch on the market today — and with such an addition. That way you’ll have some solid numbers to consider, instead of just daydreams.

Header Image Source: (Dillon Kydd / Unsplash)