On this page:
- What Should I Expect From an Estimate?
- Do I Really Need a New Garage?
- What Affects the Cost of Garage Construction?
- How Do the Details Really Add Up?
- Preparing For Your Garage Project
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Garages have become more of a necessity than a luxury in many parts of the U.S., whether used to simply provide protected parking or to serve as a workshop, utility area, or storage building. The scope of a garage project can range widely, from a basic outbuilding that provides a place to stash your lawnmower to an elaborate home addition that’s the stuff of dreams for a car enthusiast. There are many details that influence the cost of building a new garage, so be sure to do your homework before settling on a plan and choosing a contractor for the job.
What Should I Expect From a Garage Build Estimate?
The Basics of the Equation
Building any structure, whether a house, garage, shed or chicken coop, requires appropriate materials and the skilled manpower to put them together correctly. With the exception of building permits, most expenses associated with building a garage come down to the materials and labor involved, from running equipment for site work to pouring the foundation and framing and finishing the structure. With experience in the field and familiarity with issues and obstacles common to your area, local contractors can generally provide a rough estimate of overall construction costs or a price per square foot that is based on your plans and description of the job.
How the Pros Price the Work
Since there are a number of variables involved in calculating the cost of building a garage, and since each project is unique, your contractor really needs to know the details about the project in order to give you an accurate price. Your choice of style and finishes could make the difference between $30 and $60 per square foot to get the job done. When it comes time to collect estimates or bids, expect them to be based on specific features of the entire job, rather than on a per square foot basis or on standardized fees.
Do I Really Need a New Garage?
What is All That Space Really For?
The obvious benefit of building a garage is the room it provides for whatever your garage-related needs are. This area of the home is often underappreciated, but provides essential space for storage, work areas, and utilities that might otherwise steal precious square footage from the house—not to mention parking, of course. Due to their typical level of finish, garages are generally much less expensive to build than living spaces, so in addition to providing a safe place to park and stow your garbage cans, adding a garage may be an economical way to gain space inside your home. Moving laundry facilities, seasonal storage items, and even some appliances to the garage may free up floor space inside your home that you can put to better use.
Is It Really Worth It?
Even though construction costs are comparatively low for garages, building one is still a substantial and expensive project. Typically, a garage adds value to a home, but whether or not you will realize a full return on your investment depends on your real estate market and your plans for the house. Regardless of the potential for a sale though, the increase in property value won’t be overlooked by your municipality, so brace yourself for an increase in your property tax bill. Be sure to consider your long-term plans for the home when deciding if having the extra space will be worth the investment. If the numbers don’t work out, it may make more sense to install a smaller shed or a carport, depending on your needs.
What Affects the Cost of Garage Construction?
Location Can Be Everything
The cost of both labor and materials can be affected by the cost of living in your area, so your location is one of the first factors to consider when pricing a construction project. Dense urban and coastal areas typically support higher wage levels than rural and inland areas, so depending on where you live, the total cost for your garage could be substantially different than for one a few states, or even miles, away.
Demand is always a part of the equation too; the larger the pool of qualified contractors is, the better your chances are of negotiating the price down. The best way to find out what is typical for your area is to meet with several contractors and compare estimates for the same job. This method is a more reliable way to see what kind of range to expect than to simply talk with other homeowners who have recently built a garage. Since the features of every job are different, it will be difficult to get an accurate picture of the cost for your project if you make an unrealistic comparison.
The Scope of the Job
As simple as a garage may sound, there really is a wide potential for finish options, on both the interior and exterior. While every garage must be weatherproof and secure, features beyond those basic requirements can expand the scope of the job. If any part of the new space will be conditioned, finished for living areas, or customized in any way, the job could move into a higher cost bracket than a basic, functional garage.
To avoid any surprises, be sure your contractor knows up front what level of finish you have in mind. Even if you plan to make improvements later, it may be important to plan ahead and account for certain types of fixtures during construction, such as stairs or attic ladders, plumbing, and electrical expansion.
How Do the Details Really Add Up?
To Attach or Not to Attach?
Whether or not you should build a new garage attached to your home really depends on how much space you have to work with, the layout and design of the home, and the practicality of the design. Some homes were designed in a way that just begs for a garage to be tucked neatly on the end, while others just aren’t as flexible.
If the answer isn’t clear in your case, keep in mind that it is often more expensive to build an attached garage than a freestanding structure, since the added requirements to tie into the existing foundation, wall, and even the roof can complicate the job. Homeowner’s insurance rates are also often a bit higher for attached garages. So while an attached garage may seem ideal, be sure to weigh the costs and benefits and determine if there is a logical way to integrate the new structure that gives convenient access to the home.
On the Level
While the ground level of your new garage will most certainly be devoted to something typical, like parking spots, a workshop, and a place for the kids’ bikes, adding a second level is something that can expand the usefulness of the space. If you plan to expand your home into the upper level of the garage or even if you just think you may need loft or attic space for storage, now is the most economical time to build it in. Leaving the interior open as a single level could save a couple thousand dollars over building a second floor deck, but trying to add one later could cost many times more than that, so plan ahead when possible.
What’s Going On Out There?
Your plans for your garage will dictate what systems need to be installed or expanded from the main house, such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. Even a simple, detached garage usually requires wiring for lights and receptacles, but if you go beyond that to add an upgraded service for shop tools, or plumbing for laundry appliances or a shop sink, installing an electrical panel and running the needed supply, drain, and vent lines could add a few thousand dollars to the bottom line. If you need to condition the space, choosing a standalone heating or air conditioning unit come in under $1,000, while it could cost significantly more to tie into or expand the home’s existing systems.
Upgrading the exterior and interior of your garage will add to the cost of the project according to the nature of the materials used and the design of the building. For example, if your garage is attached and is finished with stucco to match the home’s siding, the siding could cost more than two or three times what vinyl siding would.
Likewise, mimicking a complex roof line from the house, adding dormers, or integrating elaborate trim and architectural details will cost many times more than the most basic design and features on the exterior. On the inside, upgrading from sealed concrete to an epoxy-coated floor can add up to $5 per square foot to the tab, and installing storage systems, cabinetry, and work benches can tack on another $1,000 to $5,000 pretty quickly.
Ease of Access
Beyond the obvious garage doors you will need to provide access for parking, each entry door or window included in the job will add to the cost of construction. If your garage only needs a single steel entry door and a modest window or two, supplying and installing them will probably amount to less than $1,000.
If you go all-out with windows and install multiple doors for a more appealing design or to improve accessibility, you could add $5,000 or more to the job. When it comes to those big garage doors, your choices there also have some influence on price. A standard, uninsulated single-car door typically costs half as much as an insulated door with windows, and a designer door can cost three or four times that.
Preparing for Your Garage Build Project
Plan for the Future
There really is a lot of potential in a garage, so try to think ahead about what you may be able to use your garage for in the future. It’s always less expensive to rough in plumbing and wiring during construction, and is much simpler to frame the structure for flexibility at the outset. Even if you don’t need the added features now, planning ahead for workbenches, staircases, ductwork, interior partitions, and even windows and doors can make the work simpler when the time comes to finish it off.
It’s a good idea to get several estimates from local contractors for a big job like building a garage. Be sure that each contractor is bidding on the same scope of work so you can compare them on the same basis. Reviewing estimates gives you the chance to determine a fair and appropriate price for the work in your area, and also lets you get a feel for what it may be like to work with different contractors. It takes a lot of good communication to pull off a major construction project without any hitches, so be you are confident and comfortable with the pro you hire.
Get the Facts
Don’t make assumptions about what will work best for your lifestyle or your home. Consider the pros and cons of different design styles and whether it makes more sense to build a detached garage or integrate it with your home. If resale is a concern, do a little homework on your market and check with real estate pros to find out if you are likely to see an adequate return on your investment. Don’t forget to check with your insurance carrier and tax assessor to budget for a bump in your premiums and taxes.
|$14,000 - $26,000||$28,000 - $36,000||$40,000 - $85,000|
The sky's the limit when designing a practical and attractive garage, so it can be hard to know what a realistic price range should be for your own project. Consider how the features of our example projects affect the cost to build a 24’x 28’ 2-car garage.
A Serviceable Structure: $14,000 - $26,000
- • Type: A detached, single story structure with two standard garage doors, a single entry door and two double-hung windows keeps things simple, but functional for parking and storing outdoor equipment.
- • Systems: Basic electrical service is installed to provide lighting and outlets for typical use, as well as two garage door openers.
- • Finishes: Since the space is not conditioned, foregoing insulation and drywall eliminates the interior finishing budget. On the outside, economical vinyl siding and trim keeps costs on the low end.
Convenient and Practical: $28,000 - $36,000
- • Type: Attaching this garage to the house provides convenient access to and from cars. Integrating the garage with the design and structure of the house raises the complexity of the job a bit, but allows for an attic for extra storage space.
- • Systems: In order to free up a little space in the basement, the washer and dryer are moved to the new garage, requiring plumbing hookups that add about $2,000 to the bottom line. A standalone gas heater keeps the area comfortable during cold spells, and a few extra outlets are installed to service a workbench and the laundry area.
- • Finishes: Since this garage is connected to the home, it features a dormer and higher pitched roof, which call for more material and labor for construction. Windows, doors, siding and trim materials must be matched and coordinated, which can add several thousand to the total cost. On the inside, insulation and drywall are required to meet code, and an epoxy floor coating helps keep the space easy to maintain.
All the Amenities: $40,000 - $85,000
- • Type: This attached garage is carefully designed to complement the style of the main house and incorporates a second-level living space that is accessible from the home. This level of integration changes the scope of the job considerably, placing it in the highest cost bracket.
- • Systems: Since the upper level will be used for living space, the home’s HVAC system is expanded to serve the new area. On the ground level, in-floor heating is installed, along with plumbing for a shop sink and wiring for general and task lighting as well as electrical upgrades to power a welder or other equipment.
- • Finishes: The extra details on the outside, along with upgrades inside, push this project toward the top of the scale. A high-end floor coating, cabinetry, storage, and workbench system easily add $10,000 to $20,000 to the budget.
Level of Difficulty
Coordinating a garage build is a big job that requires knowledge of construction and building codes, along with the ability to manage the details of hiring and scheduling various subcontractors, from excavation and foundation pros to carpenters and drywallers.
Additionally, building permits must be secured and inspections carried out. Contracting a project like this yourself can save you up to 15 percent of the cost of the project, compared to hiring a general contractor, but it’s a time-consuming and stressful job. If you would like to shave a bit off the total cost, but aren’t up for the challenge of handling the reins, consider taking on some of the finish jobs, like installing insulation, sealing or coating the floor, and painting, which are all beginner to intermediate level jobs.
Find a Pro
If you’re ready to plan and budget for building a garage, get in touch with a Garage Build Pro in your area who can handle all the details and get the job done right. The contractors in our network of providers are all independent professionals who have been background checked and are verified to have the skills and experience needed for your project, along with the licensing and insurance required by the states where they work. You can hire a Pro with confidence and get started on your new garage!