When Is a Detached Garage Best for My Home?

Non attached brick three car two story garage
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When cars first became widely owned by Americans, storage of those vehicles usually meant parking them in the open or in some form of carriage house adapted for the "horseless carriage." The first dedicated buildings for car storage were quite similar in size to those carriage houses—and they were still detached structures. While most garages today are attached to the house, a detached garage offers some unique benefits.

What Happened to the Detached Garage?

Integrating the garage structure into the home itself as an attached structure began to become popular in the late 1940s, as greater prosperity led to larger cars—and more of them. In the 1950s, many families found themselves in a position to own two cars, and using the attached garage as the main entry point to the home became a common practice.

By the 1960s, 60 percent of new homes were built with garages (and at a much higher percentage in non-urban areas), and by the 2000s, fully 80 percent of all homes had garages. The majority of these are attached garages.

The Beauty of Separation

More and more homeowners are beginning to discover the advantages of a separate garage when they are building a new house or when it's time to rebuild an old garage. One option fueling this trend is the conversion of an attached garage into living space, then building a separate, detached garage for vehicle and tool storage (and everything else garages are great for). There's no end to the common advantages of having a detached garage.

Better Look With More Design Options

A detached garage can reduce or even eliminate the effect of the garage-dominated facade—also know as "garage-forward"—that has plagued suburban architecture in modern times. Also, if you have a small house, adding an attached garage can overwhelm it. A detached garage can be a much more aesthetically pleasing option.

A detached garage can be set at an angle to the house, or set back from the house, or hidden in the backyard, or even look like a little house or cottage all its own. You can't do that with an attached garage.

It can be easier to add living space above a detached garage than an attached garage, especially if the detached garage is planned for new construction: the garage is not subject to design limitations imposed by the main house.

Breath of Fresh Air

If you live in a moderate climate, you might actually enjoy the walk through a nicely landscaped path from the car to the house. Homes seeking certification for environmental building practices often receive green points for detached garages, because the separation prevents toxic fumes from cars from getting into the house.

A Home Office Away From Home

An attached garage can be ideal for adding on or converting the space to a home office. Being away from the house, it offers quiet and solitude from the everyday household activity. And you can't beat the commute. When serving as a workshop or office, an attached garage can keep noise, odors, and fire hazards separate from the main residence.