First things first, current or future homeowner: You need a garage.
“I would say, for sure, 100 percent of our customers want garages,” says Brice Craig of custom home designer Craig Builders.
Really, like 100 percent 100 percent? Not even like one carport somewhere? “I haven’t seen any carports,” Craig says. “For new construction homes, a garage is certainly a must.”
Hard to argue with that.
If you’re looking to build a home or just want to update your existing car barn, here are five things to keep in mind.
Go for dual use
Craig says he’s seeing lots of customers splitting their garage down the middle, making one half storage and the other for cars. Most people are “very in tune to how the car is going to fit and how they are going to use the garage,” he says.
For customers with the space and means, Craig says a three-car garage offers two bays for cars and one for storage.
Chris Shaners, sales manager for Overhead Door Company of Charlottesville, says folks who plan to use at least part of their garage for automobiles have to keep the space more orderly. “They have lots of space and shelves on the walls to store things,” he says. “People that use their garages for storage and don’t park their vehicles in there are usually more in disarray.”
Make it pretty
Garages are looking good nowadays, and Craig and Shaners agree it’s largely due to the fact that carriage-style doors are on trend. They can be painted any shade and are just as pleasing to the eye as the rest of a home.
“I think garages are really cool,” Craig says. “They add some great accents these days. These aren’t your old-school garages.”
Craig says all of the new garages the company is working on are insulated Sheetrock structures with a “finished feel.” Most people are painting their garage interiors, and some homeowners are adding epoxy floors for a polished look and better grip.
Shaners says it’s a natural progression for higher-end homeowners. “When people decide to stay in a house for a long time and they’ve already done the kitchen and bathrooms, now they are renovating the garages,” he says.
According to Craig, all that’s adding up to builders and homeowners wanting to show off their garages. He says he’s seeing more “front load” garages and fewer positioned off to the side of homes.
Link it up
If you have an attached garage, you’re going to want to make the structure work well with the rest of the house, Shaners says.
“If the garage is underneath a living space, you’ll want to insulate the walls and get a better insulated garage door to keep it more at a temperate level,” he says. “You don’t want the living area to get so hot in the summer and so cold in the winter. Detached garages can be non-insulated structures.”
Craig says his customers prefer attached garages, as long as layout allows, and he’s seeing more and more folks including mudrooms or laundry rooms with locker-type storage or cubbies right off the garage so homeowners have a “drop zone.”
Forget your car
Shaners says about 50 percent of Charlottesville residents opt to use their garages strictly for storage—the number gets lower as you head farther north. But that’s just the beginning of what you can do with a garage if you don’t mind leaving your car in the elements.
“We’ve done a few detached garages as woodshops, and some people want kind of a man cave,” Craig says. “It’s a great way to use a garage if you don’t have a basement.”
Shaners says he’s seen garages, even attached garages, designed as extra living spaces. Those homeowners usually go with a glass and aluminum garage door and open it up to create an open-air covered porch.
Go go gadget garage
If you’ve finished your brand new garage and just can’t get enough of that sweet roll-up door, consider taking garage styling elsewhere. Craig says Craig Builders has used garage design principles to create walk-out basements, and the company recently used a vertical door to give a top-floor kitchen a retractable roof.
“The whole roof is wide open to the air,” Craig says. “We thought, ‘How do we create that?’ The answer was a roll-up type garage door.”