What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Garages

Of the seven homes (six permanent, one vacation) we have owned, four were purchased with garages and our vacation home has a carport with attached shed.  We moved a garage from a relatives to one of the homes.  Of the five garages, all were detached except the garage at our current home.  Garages are typically used for vehicles and storage although some use their garage for storage only or as work space.  I have also seen garages converted to usable living space and even remodeled into small homes for the purposes of renting them out.

A garage is usually a selling feature for the house.  Typically a house with a garage will sell faster than one without and buyers are willing to pay extra for a house with a garage.  Adding a garage to a house that doesn't have one not only increases the property value and resale potential, it gives an excellent return for your investment.  Unlike replacement windows, the cost of adding a garage to a house is in most cases fully recouped upon the sale of the house and it may even make a bit extra.   Adding a garage will require a building permit and adherence to building code bylaws. The bylaws typically state that a garage must be a certain number of feet from the property line, finished properly (eg. sided or bricked) but there are exceptions to this, and it cannot be aligned in such a fashion as to interfere with the enjoyment of neighbouring properties.  For example, your garage cannot be built in such a manner as to block the view of your neighbours but this really is subjective, becoming only a problem if your neighbours complain.  It also can't be constructed in such a manner as to create a safety hazard (eg. blocking your neighbours view for getting in and out of his driveway.  I highly recommend consulting with the bylaw inspector before getting a building permit or construction of the garage begins.  It can save you a lot of headaches down the road!  I also recommend telling your neighbours of your plans as it just helps to keep good neighbour relations as well as reducing complaints from them that could impede the construction.

Detached garages are separate buildings from the house, usually a bit of distance from the main house but not always.  They take up part of your usable property, create a bit of dead space and will cost you more in insurance and property taxes.  In some ways they are a greater security risk especially for break-ins as the home owner is less likely to hear someone trying to break-in a garage not attached to the house.  Getting to and from a detached garage is a pain in nasty weather especially if you have to cart groceries or other parcels into the house as there is no protection from rain, snow, or sleet.  If a detached garage is aligned properly to the house it may be possible to build a breezeway that in essence attaches the garage to the house to offer protection against the weather.  Be warned that doing so will in most cases, increase your property taxes but a breezeway shouldn't affect your insurance as it is not considered living space.

Attached garages are part of the main house, typical of new home construction in subdivisions.  I can tell you that the attached garage on this house was very much a selling feature for us as potential buyers.  It is quite possible to add an attached garage to your house especially if there is an existing carport.  Construction will still need a building permit but in many cases the costs of an attached garage are less expensive than a detached garage because you are eliminating the costs of all or part of one wall.  While an attached garage does increase property taxes it may not increase your insurance because an attached garage is viewed as being more secure.  It is easier to include an attached garage as part of your home security system.  Most attached garages are equipped with garage door openers making them more secure than a manual door because the are always locked when closed.  There is a lot less chance of a break-in with an attached garage because there is a greater chance of the home owner hearing someone trying to break in but also there are more eyes watching in subdivisions.  The main problem is, if someone gains access to your attached garage, they have a cloak against prying eyes and if you do not use good security measures they will have easy access to your house.  The nice thing is, an attached garage has ready access to the main house, shielded from the weather so there is no getting wet or shoveling snow just to get to the garage.  You can load and unload your vehicle without getting wet and your vehicle stays protected.    Our vehicle that is kept in the garage didn't even need the windows scraped (eg. ice, frost) last year so it was simply get in and go with no brushing snow off!  Do you know how much of a nicer way it is to start the day without having to clean the car off in the winter?

Garages are one of the best investments you can make in your home if you don't have one for increasing function and resale value.  In my opinion, if your home does not have a garage and you have the room to add a garage, it should be at the top of your renovation list.  If you are house hunting, even though houses with a garage are higher priced they also have a higher resale value in the future along with the potential of being transformed into rental property to help you pay off the house.  If you have a choice when house hunting, an attached garage is always a better selling feature over a detached garage.