Design or Buy
The Best 3 Car Garage Plan
you want a fully functional three car garage plan,
shoot for 24 X 36 at a MINIMUM."
Choose your 3 car garage plan wisely. Boost your home's value and save
yourself a lot of unnecessary frustration. How?
Contrary to what Yoda says (yes, THAT Yoda), size DOES matter (at
least when it comes to your garage). Think this one through before
making a HUGE mistake.
The next time you pick up a home plan book
or visit a website that sells home and garage plans, pay more attention
to the garage size, especially if it's a 3 car garage.
I recently did a random, online search for home plans from 2100
to 2499 square feet, and discovered only ten 3 car garage plans
for every 50 plans available.
That squares with the U.S. Census Bureau Characteristics of New Housing, 2010, which reports that more than 80 percent of new homes built in 2010 included a 2 car garage plan. In other words, only 17 percent of new homes were for 3 car garage plans or larger.
So, how big were the garages I discovered in my random search?
From 21'4" X 29'4" to 23'4" X 36'8".
How Big Is Big Enough for a 3 Car Garage Plan?
If you want a fully functional 3 car garage, shoot for 24
X 36 at a MINIMUM. Why so big? First and foremost, your garage is
supposed to house your cars. How big are YOUR cars? If you drive
a 1917 Model T, it's only 11'6" long. No problem. However,
if you live in the 21st Century, you might drive something a little
longer, like a Ford Explorer (16' +), a minivan, like a Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Town & Country at about 17',
or a Chevy Silverado standard cab, longbed pickup (18' 7"+).
Food For Thought...
If ALL you want to put in the garage are cars, OK. On the other hand, most people have so much "stuff" (aka C.R.A.P) in their garage, they don't have room for their cars. Hmmm. A few hundred dollars worth of C.R..., uh, stuff, on the inside, and a $29,000 car parked outside (the approximate average price of a new
car according to the National Automobile Dealers Association).
Why should your garage be so big? Room for your "stuff,"
a garage workbench and tools, hobby space, recreational equipment storage,
"toys" (including Big Boy toys), laundry appliances,
utility sink, and on the list goes. If you want to learn how to
organize your garage, that's a topic covered elsewhere on this
Let's do the numbers
Park your Ford Explorer in the garage with at least one
foot between it and the garage door. That leaves about 30 inches in
front of the vehicle if your garage is 20' deep. Subtract 25"
for the workbench and you now have 5" to spare. You better not gain any weight!
Now, let's park your Ford Explorer in a 24' deep garage. With the
same one foot between it and the garage door, you have more than
five feet between the front bumper and your workbench. "But,"
you say, "I'll just back my car out of the garage when I need
to do some work?" Why not choose a 3 car garage plan that allows
enough room to actually walk from one side of the car to the other,
without opening the garage door?
You DO have a full-sized pickup?
Are you driving the standard cab Chevy Silverado? (forget the extended
cab). If your garage is only 21'4" deep (very common), your front bumper
is resting against the workbench and you have a chasmal 7"
gap between your tailgate and the garage door. Extend your 3 car
garage plan by a mere three and a half feet, and you might have
If you really DO drive a Model T, do you think the NEXT owner of
your house will drive a Model T? Why chance it. Get the size right
and reap the reward - now AND in the future if you ever decide to
What about width?
The wider the better! Let's go back to our Ford Explorer, which
is about 6' 7" wide (2012 model). If you don't drive a Ford Explorer, I don't either, but I had to pick something. Since the Explorer is one of the
more popular SUVs on the road, and it's about the same size as other models in the same class, it's all pretty relative.
Ask a garage planner and they will likely tell you 30" is
the minimum comfortable width between cars in a garage or between
your car and the wall. Why? So you can open your doors IN the garage.
In a 3 car garage plan example, that means you need 30" between
the walls and the outside cars, as well as 30" between each
of the three cars. Add to that 6' 7" for three cars and you
reach a minimum width of 31'. Do you want to have room for
storage along the walls?
If you place 24" shelving on both walls, you are now at 35'.
If you are like most of us, you need room for your stuff and larger garage shelves are a big help. Keep that in mind when planning the proper garage size.
But THAT 3 car garage plan would cost a LOT more to build?
Really? As an example, let's say you bought a house with a garage
that was 30'6" wide and you had a 30 year, $200,000 mortgage
at 6% (even though current rates may be lower). Your payment would be about $1193 per month. Just for fun,
let's bump your garage out to 34'6" wide, adding 96 square
feet. Even though garages are less expensive to build than the rest
of the house, let's use $100 per square foot and add $9600 to the
cost of your house. Your payment only went up by $58 per month!
If you expanded your garage to 36' wide, my "ideal" recommendation,
that adds 132 square feet and $13,200 to the cost. Your payment
goes up by $79 per month from the $200,000 example.
NOTE: As you read this, you may be thinking, "Wow!, if interest rates are even lower than 6%, the cost of a properly sized garage just went down. Also, keep in mind that garage construction costs tend to be closer to $50 per square foot than $100, so your overall construction cost will also likely be lower.
The Right 3-Car Garage Plan Makes All The Difference!
Is a larger 3 car garage plan worth another $79 bucks?
My wife always catches me when I start talking about resale value.
She says, "WE live here and WE AREN'T selling our house."
(Marriage counseling? No, we're good, we're good.).
OK, what if you NEVER sold your house? You still win. If you stay
in your house for the rest of your life (and then what?) you STILL
get to enjoy a comfortable garage for all those years. No more door
dings when opening the car door. No more backing out into the rain
to let someone else climb in. No more mini-storage costs for storing
all our "valuable" C.R.A.P. (mini-storage - I'll spare
you that rant for some other time! You can read it here if you are interested). You get the idea.
But, what if you DID sell your house? After more than 25 years
as a licensed real estate broker, I have learned one very important
lesson about selling your house. When you put it on the market,
you are in COMPETITION with every other house in your price range.
In other words, if two houses are priced about the same, have about
the same floor plan, and are located in the same desirable area,
why would someone choose YOUR house over one down the street? Because
YOUR house has a better garage (or kitchen or whatever feature you
want to name)!
Add $79 bucks a month to your house payment today to get the RIGHT
3 car garage plan, and you will be VERY happy you did when (or if)
you ever decide to sell.
Pick up a book called Smart Guide: Garages & Carports. This Creative Homeowner publication is the revised edition from March 3, 2008.
You will see the minimum "comfortable" length of a
garage is 23-24 ft (where have you heard that before?) and a width
of 20-24 feet. Although
the book doesn't include a 3 car garage plan, by extrapolation you
will determine the "comfortable" width is 30-36 ft. Personally,
I prefer 24 X 36.
This is a great book
if you want to learn how to read blueprints, learn building techniques
from foundations to framing, learn how to install siding, roofing,
windows, doors and more! More than 240 detailed drawings and photos are talor made for do-it-yourselfers.
You need a 2 car garage plan? Take a look at my 2 Car Garage Plan page. Thinking about a
garage apartment or guest house, workshop or home office, starter
home or recreation center? Learn more about garage apartment plans to meet your needs!
Find Remodeling Contractors. Get Up to 4 Quotes Now. It's Quick, Free, and Easy!
Visit the 2 Car Garage Plan page
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