Building and buying

Building a garage: requirements, costs and types

Thomas Bott

A garage can usually be built quite quickly as an extension or additional construction on a property. Probably the biggest advantage is that it will provide a safe and dry parking space for your car. A garage can of course also be used for other purposes. But before you do so, you should think about planning and construction. Find out here what you need to consider.

A concrete garage clad with high-grade wood can be seen next to a modern house.
© Getty Images / Dariusz Jarzabek

In this article

Building permit: apply before planning

As with all construction work on your property, you should first contact the relevant building authority. In most cases, a building permit is required for the construction of a garage. The building authority will inform you about the rules and regulations in force where you live. This information will allow you to draw up a detailed plan and ultimately obtain approval for the project. Anyone building a garage without a permit is at risk of having their new construction demolished.

Obtaining the building permit is also important for financial planning. Fees are charged for the necessary assessments and approval. You shouldn’t disregard these costs.

Foundation: the base for the garage

No matter what type of garage you decide on: a strong foundation underneath is crucial. This will ensure that neither the structure itself nor the vehicle will sink into the ground. This is important because depending on the material and the car, a heavy weight will be placed on the ground. You should let professionals take care of the work. They will excavate the exact area required and fill it with concrete.

Ready-mixed concrete will be needed, especially for larger areas, and a truck mixer will pour the concrete into the pit. You will end up with a flat surface of the desired size. You should also consider any potential future changes at this stage. If there’s a possibility you may want to extend the garage at a later date, you should make the base a little larger.

The roof: what shape should it be?

A classic flat roof is often used for garages or carports. But there are many other possibilities such as a pent roof, gable roof or arched roof – each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Flat roof

Simple construction, moderate costs. These are the main advantages of a flat roof. It’s important to have proper sealing as well as a good roof drainage system to allow rainwater to run off. Snow, on the other hand, will remain on flat roofs and put a strain on the load-bearing structure. Consequently, other roof shapes are recommended in snowy regions.

Pent roof

A pent roof surface is inclined to one side so that rainwater can drain away easily. Snow will also slide down the slope. A pent roof is also usually a very simple, flat roof construction. Depending on the angle of inclination, you will need different roofing material, so you must check whether the roof and the roofing go together.

Inclined roofs (gable roof, hipped roof or half-hip roof)

Steep roofs are technically more demanding and therefore require more time and effort to construct. This is because a roof truss is necessary for these shapes of roof. You can also add a second story under a pitched roof and use it as additional storage space.

Arched roof

In principle, all roof types are suitable not only for garages but also for carports. The advantages of a closed construction only partially apply to an open construction, for example when it comes to exploiting storage space under a pitched roof. An arched roof is an attractive option for carports. It is more visually appealing than a flat roof and also solves the problem of snow and rainwater collecting on top.

Building a garage: a large selection of models

How you want to build the garage is entirely up to you. There are different models and suppliers on the market. The materials used vary, as does the general construction method.

Wooden garages: the natural material

There is a wide choice of different types of wood, which produce some very different results. Wood can be very stylish, but it can also have a rustic look, for example. You are relatively free in the design of a wooden garage. If individual assembly is too complex for you, you can also obtain numerous kits in specialist stores.

With a little bit of manual skill, you can build a wooden garage yourself. However, a professional can usually do it faster and may perhaps be more accurate. Wood can lose some of its color when exposed to sunlight, and it becomes rotten over time due to moisture. But as a material, it is relatively cheap to purchase. Details of the costs can be found below.

View of a wooden garage. A garden gate, also made of wood, can be seen in the foreground.

Garages made of wood do not have to look like a cheap solution and can be visually very attractive.

Metal garages: steel walls

“Metal garage” is the generic term for steel and sheet metal garages. Although these garages are available in different colors, they all look slightly industrial. Sheet metal garages are usually ready-made complete garages. Individual construction is theoretically possible, but uncommon. Since the structure is fairly light, in some cases a foundation is not necessarily required. However, it is still advisable.

This type of garage is usually less stable than a wooden garage because of the thin sheet metal, but a metal garage has nothing to fear from sunlight and moisture. Depending on the metal and coating used, corrosion can occur, which can permanently damage the material. The costs for sheet metal garages are comparatively low.

Prefabricated garages: it couldn’t be easier

A prefabricated garage consists of a complete system purchased from a supplier, who then delivers the garage and sets it up. This is particularly straightforward for you because the only thing you have to take care of is the foundation. Manufacturers have a whole catalog of models to choose from. You can customize the size, color, equipment and individual parts, such as the roof or the garage door.

Prefabricated garages are available as single garages, double garages, open-plan garages, caravan garages and even multi-bay garages. The construction costs are usually lower than for an individual concrete garage. Yet these garages are similarly stable and well equipped.

View of a large single-family house with a white facade and a dark roof. A matching prefabricated garage can be seen on one side.

A prefabricated garage is probably the simplest way to build a garage. The company will deliver it ready made.

Garage kit: the building-block principle

Brick garages are also available as kits similar to those for wooden garages. They often work according to the building-block principle. You receive the necessary materials and a plan which will enable you to put together your garage. Whether you do this on your own or hire a professional is up to you. However, because the individual parts are heavy and the assembly is time-consuming, in many cases it’s worth calling in an expert.

Garage construction kits fill the gap between prefabricated garages and individual brick garages. They leave you a little bit freer in terms of design, but you don’t have to plan the construction all by yourself. You can usually save a few francs in relation to a ready-made garage – but more about this later.

Individual brick garages: to suit your own personal taste

If you want to build a solid brick garage exactly the way you want it, you can’t avoid detailed complete planning and construction. Since structural analysis calculations and an exact plan are necessary, you should definitely hire experts such as architects, structural engineers and bricklayers. One of the main advantages is that they will fully adapt the garage to the conditions on your property. If you wish to have direct access to the house from the garage, for example, the professionals will create it for you.

The garage door, windows and an inside door can be placed exactly where you want them to be. Special shapes or unusual structures for specific uses aren’t a problem either. You can request good thermal insulation so that part of the garage can be used as a heatable hobby room, for instance. The costs depend to a large extent on your ideas. A solid brick garage is often more expensive than other types of construction.

Carports: an alternative to a garage

Maybe you don’t actually need a huge garage. In some cases a carport is sufficient. This is especially true if you simply want a dry parking space for your car. A carport is not completely closed, which means that the car is not protected on all sides. Modern carports are available in wood, metal or plastic. The costs are lower than for a comparably sized garage.

Picture of a carport that is closed at the back and on one side. It stands on a path of natural stones.

A carport can be an alternative to a garage. Although it doesn’t offer as much protection, it is usually less expensive.

The costs: a comparison of garage models

As already mentioned, the cost of a garage can vary considerably. Below you will find a table indicating the prices of different types of single garages. Please keep in mind that these are only rough estimates. Depending on size and equipment, garage prices can vary considerably and deviate significantly from the table. But you can use it as a rough guide that might help you to make a decision.

  • Construction method
  • Price
  • Foundation
  • about 1,000 francs
  • Wood garage
  • about 3,000 francs
  • Sheet metal garage
  • about 2,000 francs
  • Prefabricated garage
  • about 7,000 francs
  • Garage kit
  • about 6,000 francs
  • Individual brick garage
  • about 12,000 francs
  • Carport
  • about 1,500 francs

Equipping a new garage: uses and tips

Once the garage construction is complete, you can start equipping the inside. As well as using it to park your car, you can store tools or accessories in your garage. However, you can also use the additional space for other purposes. Find out about the different possibilities you have and the points to consider in our article “Equipping your garage: from a parking space for a car to a small workshop”.

Conclusion: the total costs depend on the construction method

A garage is a worthwhile addition to the house that can serve as a parking space, storage room or living area. However, the total costs depend a great deal on the construction method. Prefabricated brick garages are stable and durable, but also expensive. If you are less interested in making versatile use of space, a sheet metal garage – or maybe even a carport – may be enough. Ideally, you should sit down with a professional to plan your project. They will help you choose the garage that’s right for you.

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