State Create A New Local Macro From An Old One How to Build a Garage: Save Thousands Building DIY Garage Vs Hiring a Contractor

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How to Build a Garage: Save Thousands Building DIY Garage Vs Hiring a Contractor

Learning how to build a garage isn’t as difficult as you might expect, well, at least for individual buildings. Homeowners who build their own garage can save thousands by hiring a builder, who in many cases will subcontract with the same construction crews that you can hire. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous or just frugal, you can invite your friends over for a few beers on the weekend and make them work.

There are many points to consider at an early stage of planning, such as:

Garage size: A one-car, two-car, or even three-car garage can be designed in a variety of sizes, but the lot and the homeowner’s budget are usually the limiting factors. Local building codes and ordinances vary, but generally a structure must not be within eight feet of property lines in rural areas and zero to four feet in urban areas. Detached garages must also be set back a minimum of eight feet from other buildings, but this should be confirmed by local building officials as estimates vary. One important factor is the roof overhang. Eaves and gable overhangs are typically 12 – 24 inches (although less than 12 inches is common in windy areas) and must be considered when sizing and locating the building.

One way to determine the ideal size is to add 12 to 15 feet of width for each car. If you plan to use interior walls on the sides for storage, this will require an additional two feet of width on each side. The length should be a minimum of 22 feet and add four to ten feet for desk and storage. A two-car garage can be calculated as 2 x 12′ + 4′ storage along each wall = 28′ x 22′ long without bench. Common dimensions include:

1. One Car: Common garage sizes include 12′ x 24′, 14′ x 24′ and 16′ x 24′. Twenty-four feet is pretty much the minimum if you have a full-size truck, and even with a small or medium-sized vehicle at twenty or twenty-two feet, there’s going to be little wiggle room.

2. Two cars: The most common garage size in many states and provinces is 24 feet by 24 feet because many building codes require an engineering drawing and two inspections by a structural engineer for concrete floating slabs (monolithic) larger than this size. If space is tight and two small to medium sized cars, 20′ wide may be sufficient, but certainly not comfortable.

3. Three cars: There are many three-car garage sizes due to the increased space for multiple structures, and homeowners often have a larger budget when considering such large construction projects. Common sizes are 36′ – 42′ wide and 26′ – 30′ long.

Foundation: a floating slab (monolithic) and a slab with a frost wall are the two most common foundation options. A floating slab is less expensive and easier to build, but larger concrete slabs (such as 24 feet by 24 feet) often require a design drawing and two inspections. In cold weather climates, many contractors install 2.5 inch foam under the concrete to reduce heave during freeze/thaw. In cold climates, floating slabs usually require an additional two feet extending around the perimeter of the slab.

Adding 6′ x 6′ #10 wire mesh to the slab is an inexpensive method of increasing floor strength and reducing concrete cracking. Most contractors install floating slabs with a 12″ – 16″ thick reinforced concrete perimeter around a 16″ – 24″ outside perimeter. Adding two rows of #4 rebar will increase the edges. Concrete strength should be a minimum of 3,000 psi, and many contractors use 4,000 and 4,500 psi because the added cost is minimal. Another consideration is ordering concrete with fiber mesh and macro synthetic fiber used for secondary concrete reinforcement. Local concrete suppliers can cover the cost of adding this to the concrete. The thickness of the slab depends on the strength of the concrete and the reinforcement design, but a good rule of thumb is to pour a slab 4 inches or more thick.

Minimum frost depth is determined by local building codes and is typically 48 inches in cold climates and 36 inches in more temperate areas. After the trench is excavated, a footing approximately 12 inches wide and 8 inches thick is formed and poured, and a key is engraved along the length of the footing to prevent movement of the concrete wall. Masonry is formed and poured on the foundation, and anchor bolts are installed in it to fasten the walls to the foundation. Then the concrete slab is poured to the desired thickness. Obviously, this foundation system requires more time and expense.

Wall construction: If the garage is to be insulated now or possibly in the future, the size of the wall studs is important, as 2″ x 6″ studs provide more insulation that meets building code requirements (for garages with apartments) than 2-in. x 4″ studs. Of course, the 2 x 6″ studs are stronger, resulting in a stronger building.

Wall Height: Typically walls are 8 feet tall, but 9 and 10 foot high walls are common. In urban centers, there is often a height limit for structures, such as less than 16 feet to the top of the roof based on the average height of the four corners measured at grade. This means you can get a bit of height if the garage is set into a bank with a concrete curb or retaining wall at that end and backfill to the top of the retaining wall. Another way to maximize height in these areas is to pour a 12-inch concrete curb around the perimeter of the concrete slab and fill with soil up to the top of the curb and away from the structure. This method can add 12 inches of height while still meeting height restrictions (local building offices will confirm this prior to implementation of this strategy).

Garage door placement: Garage doors can be on the gable or on the eaves side. There are several points to consider:

1. The existing project of the house may determine the direction of the roof line. A method to help visualize this is to take a picture of the house and include the area where the garage will be built. Print out two copies of the drawing and hand draw the garage using both the gable and cornice.

2. If the garage is to be built in a cold climate, a gable end garage door is the best design, as snow and ice will slide off the end of the eaves.

3. Flexibility with a garage door at the gable end allows height for a future car port.

Roof Style: Often the style of the roof is determined by the existing house, for example if the house has a hip roof it will be a good option for a garage. If this is a homemade project and the homeowner is building a garage, it should be noted that hip roofs are more difficult to build than installing standard rafter trusses. The pitch of the roof should also be considered, and often it must match the existing house. A roof pitch of less than 4/12 (rises 4 inches for every 12 inches of run or length) is not recommended due to the increased possibility of water leakage. Roofs with a greater pitch and certain rafter structures can accommodate storage, lofts or even apartments above the main level. The most common garage roof trusses include:

1. Standard Fink: This is the most common residential farm.

2. Double fink: Designed to handle heavy weight loads for higher snow load requirements.

3. Attic: Common for structures that allow storage above the main floor. Access may be via stairs or a loft ladder, and the available option may be dictated by local building codes.

4. Scissors: This option provides cathedral (vaulted) ceilings that provide a large interior ceiling height. For example, a 24 x 24 foot garage with an 8/12 pitch might have a ceiling height of 12 feet at the center and 8 feet at the wall. This system usually resists construction with regular trusses and taller walls.

If this is a DIY garage project, be sure to order two gable trusses for each gable end. Otherwise, two regular trusses will require wood filler to hold the clapboard and siding together (not to mention that the building inspector may not pass the framing inspection. If you’re insulating the ceiling, consider ordering “raised heel” trusses to ensure proper insulation between the top plate of the wall and the roof This is the only way to meet many requirements for the insulation level of the attic (eg R40).

Garage Plans: After deciding on the above points, it’s time to get the garage plans for your building permit application and builder. It’s important to get quality garage plans that are easy to follow, accurate, and include a bill of materials (well, the bill of materials isn’t important, but it sure saves a lot of time). There are several websites that offer garage floor plans made by dozens and hundreds of different companies, so consistency and quality control should be kept in mind. There are several companies that do their own design and an internet search should find these companies. Another option is to hire a local draftsman to create garage plans.

Site Plan: The Department of Building Codes will require a drawing showing (site plan) the site with existing buildings, proposed structure and property lines with measurements showing distances between property lines and structures. This can be a hand drawn diagram of a marked copy of the plot/area plan. The building department may require a survey to confirm the accuracy of measurements for exact garage placement requirements.

Building Permit: Make an appointment with the building inspector to discuss the project and submit the garage plans, materials list and site plan to the building department. A building permit may be issued at this time or it may take a few days to several weeks for the building inspector to review the documents.

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