How Much to Build a Garage and What are Your Options?

A new car garage can prove to be one of the best investments you make as a homeowner. Apart from the usefulness of added storage room, it also serves as a great way to keep your car secure and protected from the elements and can add significant value to your property, but how much does it cost to build a garage?

The answer to that question all depends on you, your family’s needs and, of course, how much budget you have to play with.

If all you need is a simple, pre-made solution to keep your precious vehicle safe and warm in the winter, you could get away with spending no more than $5,000 as long as you’re prepared to put it together yourself.

If, on the other hand, you’re going all out to build a bespoke garage from scratch, then you’re looking at anywhere from $7,500 to over $40,000 depending on the size, location, and functional features.

Those aren’t the only options you have to consider, either.

Determining the true cost of your car garage depends on other factors such as whether you attach your new facility to your house or build a detached version on your land, whether you want to add an extension on top of the car garage and -if you’re going bespoke- which materials you use.

If that sounds complicated, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be.

In today’s guide, we explore all the different options available to you when building a car garage, explain how much you’ll have to pay for each and discuss the best way to get the best value for your hard-earned money.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Garage?

Garage 2 Garage Costs
Two-car garages have long been the most popular option for American homeowners who want to build a garage. Naturally, such a garage costs several thousand dollars more than a standard single-car option.

When it comes to determining the cost of your new garage, size definitely matters. Here’s a look at the average costs of the two most common garage types:

Single Car Garage

For a single car garage averaging between 12’ x 24’ and 14′ x 28′ in size, expect to pay around $7,000  to $15,000. In some instances, that cost to build could soar to as much as $20,000 if you go the DIY route, or even in excess of $45,000 if you hire construction specialists to do the work for you.

Two-Car Garage

Over the last decade or so, the two-car garage has become the standard for modern homes. According to an analysis of construction data carried out by the National Association of Home Builders, some 61.9% of homes built since 2014 have garages with enough room for two vehicles, so this is going to be the most realistic and practical option for many of our readers.

For a two-car garage, you should be looking at between $15,000 – $50,000+ cost to build the garage.

Again, this all depends on a number of factors, but as a rough guide, an average cost to build of $50 per square meter or $500 per square foot is a good starting point when determining a budget for your new garage.

Additional Size Factors to Consider

With size playing such an important factor, budget-conscious homeowners will no doubt want to keep their new garage as small as possible, but keep in mind that there’s more to consider than simply how many vehicles you own.

That pickup truck may be your only vehicle, but it’s going to take more garage space than your average saloon car, meaning your needs will be closer to a two, or even three-car garage than a one-vehicle garage.

Don’t forget too that you’ll need to allow for at least four or five feet around the vehicle so that you and your family can get in and out comfortably. You may need even more garage space if you need to install a wheelchair lift, a ramp or other accessibility features.

Attached vs. Detached Garages: Which Costs Less?

Garage 3 Attached
An attached garage usually works out cheaper than building a detached garage unless you have to make major changes to your home’s structure.

One of the biggest options to consider when building a new garage is whether you attach one as an extension to your existing property or build a completely brand new building from the ground up, but which one works out better for your budget?

Carry out even the smallest amount of research on this one and you’ll no doubt run into all kinds of conflicting answers.

Some specialists claim that building an attached garage is cheaper because most of the existing infrastructure already there, while others claim that any changes you make to the structural integrity of your property will significantly bump up the costs.

So which is it?

The truth is that both sides are technically correct here.

The average cost of a basic, single-car attached garage is between $8,000 and $15,000 in cost to build, with two-car options starting at around $15,000 in cost to build. However, if you do have to replace entire walls or otherwise rework any aspect of your property’s structure, you can tack anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000 in cost to build on top of that price.

When you build a detached garage, however, your costs will vary greatly depending on which option you go for.

Build the entire structure from scratch using raw materials, and you’re looking at $19,600 to $28,200 in cost to build though it’s entirely possible to buy a pre-made detached garage kit for under $6,000 and do all the work yourself. With the latter option, your only other main expense may be laying a foundation, which for this kind of project should cost no more than $2,000.

It’s also worth considering the cost of powering your detached garage. With an attached garage, you can utilize your home’s existing power supply, an option that should require very little extra work, yet if you go detached, you may have to pay an electrician to carry out extensive wiring work. Of course, you can ignore this cost if you simply don’t add any power source, but if you want electric doors, and especially if you’re planning to use your garage as a workshop area, some form of electricity will be essential.

Prefab Garage Kits vs. Custom Garage Design

There’s a lot to be said for premade garage solutions like this 12 ft. x 20 ft. Wood Garage Kit from Best Barns.

All of the hard work involved in designing your garage, sourcing, measuring, and cutting materials to size is already done for you so that all you have to do is put everything together.

Naturally, this is the quickest, easiest, and often the least expensive way to build a garage.

A one-car garage kit will set you back between $3,500 and $6,000 in cost to build the garage depending on the materials used (steel construction kits are usually cheaper), whereas a two-car option starts from $5,000 in cost to build the garage. Larger kits for up to three or four cars can run anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to $40,000, though -at face value at least- this still works out as less expensive than building from scratch.

With a custom garage, you have a lot more to pay for.

For starters, there’s the cost of planning and design. For a detached garage, you can always buy prefabricated plans, but most attached garages will require input from a professional architect. This should cost at least $2,000 in cost to build the garage though possibly as much as $5,000.

Add in the costs of materials, labor, and equipment hire, and you could end up paying double the price of a prefab kit.

Building Your Own Garage – A Break Down of Costs

Garage 4 Garage costs
Building your own garage rather than using a pre-made kit gives you the freedom to get creative with the aesthetic design and functional features of your garage.

Having weighed up the pros and cons of prefab garage kits against a custom-built garage, you may still decide that building from scratch is the way to go.

After all, it’s the best way to ensure your new garage looks and functions exactly the way you want it to. It’s also the better option if you’re attaching a garage to your existing property as most garage kits are for detached buildings only.

So far, so good, but how do you go about setting your budget? Here, we break down the individual costs involved.

Garage Foundation Costs

Working our way literally from the ground up, let’s start with what is perhaps the most essential part of your project:

A solid foundation.

Earlier, we advised that $2,000 should be an adequate budget for your foundation. While that’s true for single-car facilities and smaller two-car options, larger garages may require a budget of between $2,000 and $5,000 in cost to build the garage.

On top of that, you may have to factor in the cost of hiring a mixer truck, and if access restrictions make a boom arm pump delivery method necessary, you can add an average of 10% on top of your total foundation costs.

Garage Framing Costs

The cost of your garage frame will be entirely determined by the type of material you use.

Timber framing

Timber has long been the most popular choice for a garage frame because it’s both low cost and lightweight, making it easy to transport and use.

For this option, expect to pay around $9.50 per square foot for good quality wood.

Concrete Masonry Units (CMUS)

While wood has long been the go-to choice for garage building, CMUs are becoming a more common sight in today’s modern homes.

Structurally sound, they aren’t prone to mold or termites and other bugs in the same way that timber is. They also prove to be much more energy-efficient than timber frames, making them a good option for eco-conscious construction.

For the concrete blocks themselves, set aside a budget of $12 – $15 per square foot. Keep in mind that even if you choose this option you may still need to add in a timber frame to support any electrical and plumbing work your garage may require.

If you’re hiring a professional for this part of the work then you should also note that contractors specializing in CMU work generally charge more than those who focus on building timber frames.

Still, though you’ll be paying more for it, a concrete frame will prove to be a worthwhile investment as it offers the kind of solid support and long-lasting durability that even the best lumber on the market can’t match.

Garage Wall Costs

Again, materials will play a big part in determining how much you pay here, though the good news is that your garage walls are typically the least expensive aspect of the whole construction.

You could choose to do nothing more than installing basic drywall for around $2 per square foot and plaster over it, a process that should cost no more than $30 – $50 if you do it yourself. If you take this option, the only other potential costs involved are those associated with hiring or buying equipment such as a quality drywall sander.

If that’s a little too plain for your liking, you can always add a coat or two of paint, a process which again should cost very little if you do it yourself.

Beyond that, you have a range of options for adding garage wall panels, each one creating a different aesthetic finish for your project.

Some of the most common and affordable garage wall options include:

  • Metal – $2 per square foot
  • PVC  – $2 per square foot
  • Galvanized steel – $8 per square foot
  • Rosewood MDF – $12 per square foot
  • Brick – $14 per square foot.

Garage Door Costs

Garage 5 Garage Doors
Wooden garage doors like these can be bought for as little as $250, making them a much more affordable option than vinyl and fiberglass doors.

There are two factors to take into consideration here:

1: The cost of the door itself

2: The cost of paying a professional contractor to install the doors for you.

For the actual door, you could spend as little as $250 for a one-car garage door whereas a two-car garage door will set you back somewhere in the region of $500 to $1,00.

Your choice of materials plays a factor here too.

Steel and wooden doors always prove to be the cheapest options, ranging from between $250 and 500. At the opposite end of the scale, you could find yourself paying between $800 and $200 for fiberglass or vinyl options.

On top of this, labor costs should cost you no more than between $200 and $500.

Garage Roof and Ceiling Costs

Having laid the foundations, built the walls and fitted a door, all that’s left is to put a lid on the whole thing.

For the ceiling, budget around $5 per square foot for drywall, wood or tiles. An extra $3 – $4 per square foot should then be set aside for your roof.

Where to Find Professionals

If you need professional help with your garage installation, here’s a good resource that can help you find the most qualified professionals in your area:

Frequently Asked Questions About Building a Garage

Garage 6 FAQS
If your garage doubles as a workshop then you’ll need more space than you would if you were using it only for vehicle storage 

What is the Ideal Size of a Garage?

As with most things, this all depends on how you’re going to use your garage. As a rough guide, a two-car garage should be at least 20′ x 20′. Most modern cars are around six feet wide, so when you add on space so that you and your passengers can comfortably get in and out of both vehicles, you’re pushing perilously close to that 20-foot minimum.

If you have space, the budget, and the permission, we recommend pushing this to 22′ x 22′ ft, or even 25′ x 25, though even this affords you little room for anything other than the two cars.

If you’re planning to use your garage as a workshop to carry out repairs to your vehicles, consider adding at least another four feet for a workbench and additional space to move around in.

Height wise, the higher you go, the more room you’ll have for storing your work tools and other essentials. A typical two-car garage stands roughly 12′ tall, though you could always push that up to 15′-20′ if circumstances allow.

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Garage?

In most states, you’ll certainly need a building permit to comply with local law.

These typically cost between $100 and $200, though costs vary greatly from one state to the next, often even from one county to the next.

Though it’s an additional expense, paying for the appropriate permit is always worth it, and not just because it keeps you on the right side of the law.

With a permit, a representative from your local government building department will visit you to check out your new garage once it’s finished and check that it meets all the required building codes. This is actually very useful as a garage that successfully passes the inspection is deemed to be safe and well-built.

Final Thoughts: Why Cutting Costs May Not Always Be Worth It

By now, you’ve no doubt got a good idea in mind of how much it will cost you to build a new garage. If you have a tight budget, then it probably goes without saying that you’ll want to do as much as you can to keep that cost as low as possible.

You may, for example, be looking at using cheaper timber frames rather than concrete, or you may be thinking about abandoning your plans for an attached garage altogether and opting instead to spend a few thousand on a cheap prefabricated garage kit.

While nobody could ever blame you for minimizing your expenses, it’s always worth considering whether spending as little as possible is really going to play out in the long-run.

If you opt for timber frames for example, you’ll make a pretty big initial saving on the cost of your garage construction, but once a few years have passed, mother nature and those terrible termites may have done such a number on your structure that the whole thing needs replacing. In other words, while CMUs may take a bigger bite of your budget right now, they may end up saving you much more in the long-run.

One area where it certainly doesn’t pay to cut costs is labor. If you’re a seasoned contractor or a skilled DIY specialist who is fully confident in your ability to complete the task at hand, then, by all means, get a few trusted buddies involved to help out and get on with the task at hand.

Otherwise, hiring a contractor will definitely prove to be a solid investment. Not only does it eliminate the risk of you injuring yourself while working on the construction, it also ensures that your garage is in the safe hands of capable professionals who will ensure that every aspect of the job is done to the highest possible standards.

How much does it cost to build a garage