Curious about the cost of building a garage?
Whether it's attached or free-standing, a garage has many possible functions and is a good amenity to consider adding, if you don't yet have one. It helps you to store the junk that you can’t seem to part with, it gives you a place to park your car, and can even house your laundry machines.
Estimating the cost of building a garage will take into account a number of factors, including the size, the materials used, price of permits, labor costs, and any extra bells and whistles you want to add.
Let's take a look at overall costs.
How much does it cost to build a garage?
On average, it costs around $40,000 to build a garage from scratch, according to Jerry Banks, a project manager at Judd Builders, a custom home builder in Asheville, NC. He projects the timeframe for building most types of garage at two to three months.
However, exactly where and what you build will obviously affect the price. According to HomeAdvisor, in Birmingham, AL, the average garage addition costs $34,232. Los Angeles is slightly higher, at $35,840. Bostonians can expect to pay around $43,316. And in Indianapolis, IN, the cost to build a garage is very reasonable, at around $19,807.
“Any place that requires union labor is going to cost more,” says Mike Arman, the economic development director for the City of Oak Hill, FL. In areas like New York City—where detailed building codes, lots of inspections, and sealed engineered drawings are required—the cost will be much higher.
Before you build
Before any construction begins, you’ll need to check with your municipality to identify the zoning laws for your zone district. These laws will ultimately determine whether you can build a garage or not. Just search for zoning information on your city's website, or call the planning, building, or community development department.
The cost of building a garage will largely be determined by the materials you choose. Do you want wood sheathing or metal panels for the walls? A steel garage door or one made out of fiberglass? Keep the following major parts of a garage in mind when planning your project.
1. Number of studs and joists
2. Number of subflooring sheets, wall board (i.e. drywall)
1. Amount of concrete needed for footers
2. Concrete needed for a slab
3. Blocks needed for a foundation
1. Number of rafters or trusses
2. Number of sheets of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB)
3. Number of shingles
Automatic or manual
Cold water vs. hot water for a laundry machine
Attached or free-standing garage?
Where you decide to build your garage will also influence the overall price.
Attached garages tend to be more cost-effective than free-standing units, because you will only need to build three walls. Another benefit: an attached garage will be considered part of the house, so if a tree falls on it, it's covered by your standard home insurance plan. “If it is not attached, it is considered an accessory building, and coverage is limited to 10% of the amount of coverage on the main dwelling,” Arman says.
However, the masonry involved in an attached garage is more demanding. "You'll need sledgehammers and a masonry saw (which is big, heavy, and dangerous) to make the doorway into the house,” Arman says.
Additionally, you'll probably want to match the garage to the existing material used for the house.
Once you decide what type of garage you want, you’ll need to secure the necessary permits. While the process of getting your project permitted can be stressful, having a permit will ensure that your build is done according to health and safety codes. An improperly constructed home could put you at risk of fire (from poor wiring) or structural damage.
Banks says you’ll need a Residential Construction Building Permit that covers electrical, mechanical, and plumbing (if a water heater will be located in the garage).
Hiring a contractor
If you choose to have a contractor build your garage, Banks offers three tips:
1. Always make sure to check with your state's licensing board to ensure the contractors have met the state's requirement for licensure.
2. Don't simply rely on online reviews. Go further and ask friends, family, and neighbors for referralsmake sure former customers were satisfied with the contractor's skill level, communication, and project billing/pricing.
3. Ask multiple contractors for estimates. If one is substantially lower, there may be a (disturbing) reason why.Ask about the quality of materials and about which companies they will be subcontracting.
4. Be sure that the contractor verifies that all subcontractors are licensed and insured.
5. Ask how long the contractors warranty their work if something were to go wrong after they're off the job site.