Where can you safely store all of your vehicles, bicycles, boats, lawn equipment, or other odds and ends? Most people don’t have space for these items in their home, and their sheds may already be packed full. A garage makes a very convenient place to store these items, and it may even give you more storage space than you have in your home. The question is, what is the cheapest way to build a garage?
Generally speaking, there are two main methods that you can use to build your garage without breaking the bank. We’ll break down both of them and highlight everything you need to know about each method to help you figure out what the cheapest way to build a garage is for your situation below.
When it comes to building a garage, there are several options you have available that can fit virtually any budget.
One of the cheapest ways to build a garage that is also very simple is to set up a space and build a pole-style building. You may hear this type of garage referred to as pole barns or post-frame construction, and a lot of people consider this type of garage to be the superior choice to more traditional stick-built garages. If you want to figure out the cheapest way to build a garage, this should be on the top of your list.
A pole garage or post-frame setup is where you use laminated wood posts to frame out your garage space. They will form the bare-bones structure and support the load that your garage will carry when there are strong winds or it snows. You typically use metal panels to hold the whole structure together, but some people choose to use alternative roofing so that the roof matches the shingles on their home.
There are several benefits to going with this type of garage. The biggest is that it has low or no foundation costs associated with it. This is the first big investment people make when it comes to building a garage, and it usually takes up 10 to 15% of the total project cost. Pole buildings require you to sink the posts deeply into the ground to make it stable, but they don’t require a concrete slab. However, you can have one installed if you wish.
A lot of people also gravitate to post-frame construction because it is usually a much quicker process than stick-built garages. There are a lot fewer elements involved during the construction process, and this allows you to move the project along quickly without much room for error.
Storage is also a lot easier to work with when it comes to the cheapest way to build a garage because you don’t have any load-bearing interior walls. Instead, you get a wide-open space where you can park several cars, store all of your lawn equipment, and keep your Christmas tree safe until it’s time to use it. The benefits of getting this open floor space are virtually endless.
If you’re wondering how much it’ll cost you per square foot to build a pole garage, you may be surprised. Generally speaking, a more modest pole building should only cost between $10.00 and $30.00 a square foot for materials. If you choose to have a company come in and put it up for you, you’ll have to factor in labor costs.
Stick-Built Garage Kit
Some people may balk at the idea of having a pole building on their property and prefer to get a much more traditional garage with the stick-built approach. This will be more expensive than the pole building, but you can actually buy the kit that has all of the materials you’ll need to create your stick-built garage for a fee. However, you may figure out quickly that this kit isn’t the way you want to go.
For a lot of people, they already have an idea in their head on what they want their finished garage to look like and how they want it to function. They may even want to convert the top half of the garage into a living space where they can work or host guests. These requests can be much more difficult to accommodate with a more bare-bones structure you’ll get if you go with the pole garage or a stick-built garage kit.
The biggest benefit of this type of garage is that it has a high degree of customizability. Each garage can be 100% unique and can align with your overall vision. Instead of being boxed into what a pole garage kit offers, you can have much more flexibility. A contractor can also tackle any issue that you may encounter and come up with a solution that works for you.
However, even though this is one of the cheapest ways to build a garage, it’s still significantly more expensive than building a pole-style garage. The average price tag to build this one is $49.00 a square foot. So, the average cost to build a single-car garage with this method is $7,500 to $14,200. This makes it a much larger investment than what you’d spend on a pole-style garage.
No matter which option you choose, smaller garages typically cost less than larger builds.
Things to Know Before Building Your Dream Garage
The first thing you should consider when you decide what the cheapest way to build a garage is how much money you’ll set aside in your budget. Some people are happy with only having a little storage space where they can store basic things like mopeds or bicycles, and other people want a lot more room where they can have a workshop and park their cars. No matter which side you fall on, make sure you do your homework and figure out how much it can cost you so you don’t end up with a sky-high bill. So, the following things are what you need to know before you start building:
Before you start your building project, you should look and see if any stores around you offer discounts. If you buy everything from a smaller lumberyard and a local store, you may be able to get a cheaper deal on everything and save roughly 20% compared to other bigger stores. Although you will still have to buy some materials and tools in other areas because you likely won’t find everything in one place, it pays to find every discount possible. Your job is to get the best deal possible on your construction materials to help keep your project costs down.
Find Cheap Labor
No matter if you’re building a garage or a house, the labor costs are going to be the second most expensive element to deal with. If you can find someone you can hire to do a decent job and they’re at an affordable price, this would be great for your project bottom line. Since you are building a garage on your own to help save money, you can try and recruit some of your family or friends to help out during the build process.
However, keep in mind that whoever you hire has to have some experience when it comes to construction work. You don’t want to get people who are hanging around with no experience to help. Having family or friends with experience is the best bet outside of hiring professionals because they’ll care what the end result is and do their best to help you finish the project. If you don’t have this option, you’ll have to hire professionals and factor this cost into your budget.
Plan Your Construction
Pre-planning is the first thing you should do before you actually start getting the materials and figuring out the cheapest way to build a garage. You need to know which materials and tools you’ll need for the project, and you’ll need to have the measurements for the area where you want to build your garage. Nothing will cost you more money than running into issues that you forget to plan for straight away.
Before you do anything, make a detailed plan on what you want to do, and consider getting a garage blueprint. Make a list of all of the necessary materials, and look around to see where you can get materials for cheaper like screws, windows, siding, and any equipment you need.
The planning process will allow you to get a rough estimate for your garage build project and help keep you on track, budget wise.
So, What is the Cheapest Way To Build A Garage?
For most homeowners who want to DIY this project, we recommend that you do a post-frame building method. This is due to several reasons, including:
- A post-frame building is easier to do and requires less labor
- Post-frame buildings are much more affordable up front
- Post-frame garages offer the best value over time for your garage
- You have the option to pick out the design you need or want
Now that we’ve outlined both build methods and the benefits of going with post-frame, you may wonder about the stick-build method. This method is also very commonly used as the cheapest way to build a garage, but it’s not as cheap as a pole-style garage. We’re going to go over the benefits and drawbacks of both methods below.
Pole Garages & Stick-Built Kits: Benefits & Drawbacks
Having touched on the methods for the cheapest way to build a garage, if you’re still not 100% sure on which method is best for you, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of both methods below.
Pole or Post-Frame Construction
Pole garages are a very popular type of garage that you see set up as pole barns all over the place. One of the benefits of this post-frame method is that it is very quick to complete from start to finish. It’s also very durable and cost-effective. The other benefits include:
- Extremely affordable building method
- Get the choice of materials that you trust to support the structure
- Options to choose the features, size, and design
- Safe and fast build process while being designed to last
- Need to put together a blueprint or building design
- Need to source your own materials
Stick-Built Garage Kit Construction
A stick-built garage is common if you want to build a garage that will match your home’s siding or shingles. But, it’s much more complicated and expensive than post-frame construction.
- Good quality construction that is very durable
- You can easily match your garage’s design to your home
- Construction needs more people and will take longer
- If you chose to build it attached to the home, you’ll need a contractor’s help
- Slightly more expensive building method than the post-frame option
- You’ll need more materials to complete your project
Now that you’ve touched on two of the cheapest ways to build a garage and understand their biggest benefits and drawbacks, you should be able to see that pole or post-frame construction is the cheapest option for a DIY project than the stick-built kit. If you have the budget for it, a stick-built kit is still an option, but it’s also the lengthiest and most costly choice.
Factors That Decide the Final Cost to Build a Garage
As with any type of construction project, size is the driving factor that will help you determine the final costs, from single-car to RV-sized builds. You’ll also have to decide if you want to have full insulation or windows and how much electrical wiring will be. Attached garages are usually cheaper than detached ones, but every new construction will require you to put up a roof and foundation, both of which can drive your costs up very quickly.
You’ll also need building permits to build a new garage, and those costs will vary from location to location. The following are the biggest factors that will go into estimating a project cost and give you a better understanding of how much you have to set aside for this project.
Attached vs. Detached
The average cost per square foot for this project of $40.00 to $70.00 will still apply no matter if you want an attached or detached garage. However, building an attached garage is roughly 10% to 15% less overall than a detached one. This is due to the fact that it shares wall space with your home, and it’s easier to deal with electrical wiring.
Electrical and Wiring
Running electrical wiring and electricity to your new garage is a helpful and common feature, but it’s also an additional cost. You can use your garage, electrical equipment, and tools at night when you install outlets and lighting. An automated garage door will require electricity too, and some building codes require you install a minimal amount of electricity, and this cost typically runs between $6.00 to $10.00 a square foot.
With a stick-built garage kit, a foundation is a critical component of your build, and it can take up a large part of the total project costs. The size of the pad will be the determining factor to the cost. The average price for a garage foundation comes in between $1,500 and $8,500, and this works out to $140 per cubic yard.
The foundation will take up a decent portion of your budget, so pole-style garages are less as they don’t require one.
Framing and Entry Door
Unlike a simple carport, your garage will have four enclosed walls, and this means you’ll need to include framing costs if you’re not planning on using concrete blocks or a metal garage kit. Wooden framing is a cost-effective and standard option, and this framing will usually cost between $1.00 and $5.00 a square foot with $4.00 to $8.00 a square foot in labor. Your entry door cost can range from high security to very simple, and it costs between $100 and $2,500 on average.
Installing gutters on your new garage is essential as they’ll help to protect your garage from long-term damage due to water. You can choose from vinyl, aluminum, or steel gutters to best match your garage’s style. You’ll position downspouts to prevent any water from pooling near the garage’s foundation. On average, your gutters will add between $4.00 and $8.00 a linear foot to your project cost.
Heating and Cooling
If you plan on spending time working in your garage, you can consider adding an all-in-one heating and cooling unit, and this will cost between $700 and $1,500. The final price will depend on what temperature you need to address inside of the garage and how big it is.
This isn’t an option for metal or brick structures, but you can choose to have insulation if you have a new wooden garage. This includes batting, blown-in, or spray-in insulation, and insulating your attached garage can help prevent the temperature in your garage from negatively impacting the temperature in the house during big temperature fluctuations. On average, expect to add between $0.50 and $2.00 per square foot for insulation.
Since building a garage or any construction project around the house can be a big one that involves several types of contractors to install the walls, foundation, electrical components, and the roof, your labor will be one of the biggest cost factors. Labor rates can run between 50% and 70% of your total price.
Local building codes will spell out any requirements you have to meet regarding your new garage, and they usually include an inspection of the final construction. Before you build anything, you’ll need to get a permit to start. A permit can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,500, depending on the region. Some HOAs also have fees attached to any new construction projects.
The most common style of roof is asphalt shingles. This roof type comes with a very long lifespan between 20 to 40 years, depending on the material quality. Roofing costs will come with a large price range, depending on the style, size, and additional features you want like skylights. On average, your roof will cost between $1,000 and $10,000 for materials and $600 to $6,000 for labor.
Depending on how far you want your garage to be from the water supply, whether you want a functioning sink or a sink and shower, and which fixtures you want, a plumber may be able to tap into your current water supply and connect everything for $1,100 to $3,000.
Size and Number of Garage Doors
The average cost you can expect to spend for a new garage ranges from $40.00 to $70.00 s square foot. This is for a single-car attached garage, and this is the least expensive option you have. It runs from $10,500 to $27,000. This size works out to roughly 240 to 384 square feet. A 2.5 car garage is a very popular option, and it gives you a very small amount of work space to deal with. You also have to factor in your garage doors, and they tend to run from $450 to $8,000.
Storage Space & Cabinets
On the lower end of the price range, you could buy low-end cabinets at one of the many big-box stores for around $55.00 and install them on your own. If you pay a contractor, the price jumps to $3,400. On the higher end, you can buy a full kit to create a nine-piece cabinet system with tool drawers, tall cabinets, overhead cabinets, and a lighted work area and a worktop.
A garage can rely on windows in the garage door to let natural light in, or you may choose to skip the natural light altogether. Other people prefer to have a few windows installed for extra light or to help the garage match the home’s exterior better. However, windows are an additional cost to consider, and most garage quotes won’t include them unless you specifically ask. The cost to install windows starts at $200 and goes up to $1,300, depending on how many you want, the style, and size.
On average, carpenters make $75.00 an hour. Counterspace or a bigger workbench can get added to your garage to give you a small working area. Typically, a smaller workspace where you can mount power tools or a vice can get installed in five to eight hours and cost between $400 and $600. If you want something more elaborate, the costs can double.
Cheapest Way to Build a Garage – FAQs
Now that you know the cheapest way to build a garage and all that it entails, we’ll touch on the most frequently asked questions people have about this process below.
1. Is it cheaper to buy a kit or build from scratch?
Garage kits will usually be less expensive than building a garage from scratch. There are many options available, and you can easily find the model that suits your budget when you buy a kit. All you have to do is pay for the materials that fit your budget and build it.
2. Is it worth it to get a prefab garage?
A prefab garage is a great solution if you have a very small budget for your garage building project. The main reason why this is a cheaper collusion is that you won’t have to pay a construction crew, architect, and engineer to build it.
3. Are metal garages worth it?
When you compare metal garages and roofs to other models, they offer superior pest and fire resistance, are stronger, cost less, and they’re easy to install. They’re also usually cheaper than wooden garages, so this is another bonus.
You should now have a much better understanding of the cheapest way to build a garage and how much it’ll cost you if you decide to take this project on yourself. The design, size, and material of your garage will also influence the total cost, and you’ll need to fit these options if you have a tighter budget.
There is also the choice to use cheaper timber frames instead of concrete for your garage. Whatever option you choose, you’ll need to get a detailed plan in place before starting your project and figuring out how much your final cost will be.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.