Planning A Garage

The ideal garage or carport should blend with and complement the home. It should be neither an eyesore nor an afterthought. The inside should be kept dry as it will serve, in many cases, as a store and home workshop. This “dual” role should be carefully considered when building a garage.

Siting and conversion

The most usual siting for a garage is on the side of the house or at the bottom of the garden.

An attached garage requires some measure of fireproofing. If closer than about 6 ft 6 in. (or 2 m) to your neighbour’s boundary, that side of the garage will need fire-retardent properties. A detached garage set back from the home, should as a rule be no nearer than about 13 ft (or 4 m) to the house.

Addition of a garage at the side of the house may provide scope for a room extension above. This can, of course, be added to an existing garage, but it may be necessary to strengthen existing walls and incorporate some measure of fireproofing. The development works best where a double garage can be built, for the room above may otherwise make a narrow “tunnel” impression.

Integral garage.

Many modern houses integrate the garage into the main structure of the house. In older homes, where no additional space to build a garage exists, it may be possible to incorporate a garage into the actual house structure by adapting a downstairs room. This is easiest to do where the house is double-fronted. In such cases strict requirements have to be met on fireproofing the interior surfaces, which is usually done by means of asbestos sheets. An internal garage of this kind will probably require removal of an existing window in the proposed garage opening. The window lintel may serve the new opening but if it is made of timber it will have to be cased and fireproofed.

An advantage of an internal garage is that it is generally warmer than a detached or attached garage and tools and other materials are not subject to the effects of damp. Also the garage is far more secure.

A disadvantage is the noise level caused by running the car engine or workshop activities. A solid floor and insulation of the interior walls of the garage are answers.

Single into double.

Sometimes a single garage can be made into a “double” garage by deepening it. So that one car is parked in front of the other rather than by its side. This, of course, involves knocking out the rear wall and extending the side walls. An alternative arrangement on these lines could be to lengthen the garage by means of a lean-to carport at one or the other end.

Driver’s access.

Where the garage is on a narrow access road, establish by means of trial runs how far back the garage has to be set on your property for you to be able to turn the car and to drive it in easily. Make sure that the doors open on to your own property.

Where there is a narrow, one-carwidth access between yours and a neighbour’s property and you agree to use this jointly, draw up a written agreement to put this on a formal basis. Usually in these circumstances, the two adjoining garages — yours and your neighbour’s — have to be set back from the house. It is neater for them to conform in appearance so as to look much like a double garage.

Note: Any frontal alteration to your property involved in adding or converting a garage constitutes a change of elevation and is subject to planning approval. You must make sure, too, that the details of any alterations conform with building regulations.

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