How To Buy Car Garage Plans - Phase I: Laws and Regulations

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How To Buy Car Garage Plans Phase I How To Buy Car Garage Plans Phase I (214 KB)

Buying car garage plans to build yourself (or have a contractor build for you) takes some homework before you actually make your purchase. You have several important decisions to make, and you need to understand what it will take to do the work or have it done for you. There are always local laws and regulations you must comply with, plus you might have a neighborhood association to get approval from.

To make the process of buying your car garage plans simpler, here are a few pointers plus a garage building checklist you can use to keep track of your project. Of course, if you hire a general contractor to build your garage for you, they will take care of most of these things. Don't let the seeming complexity of this process overwhelm you. Most of the information you need to make it through this phase can be obtained in a couple of 5 to 10 minute phone calls.

Preliminary Decisions - Before you start executing the project, you should make a few preliminary decisions about the garage plans to help you with the next steps. Answers to some of these questions will speed along the process since you will probably have to know them when you talk to the regulatory offices. Don't worry too much about the particulars because some of the ideas you have right now will probably change as you do your searching and as you discuss requirements with the government building offices and your builder. The final decisions will be locked down when you actually purchase your garage plans.

Preliminary Decisions:
Number of cars you want to fit in the garage? _____
Do you plan on having living quarters in the garage? (circle one) Yes / No
Are you going to run electricity to the garage? (circle one) Yes / No
Are you going to run plumbing in the garage? (circle one) Yes / No
Are you going to build it yourself or hire a contractor? (circle one) Build yourself / Hire contractor
How many levels will be in the garage? (circle one) 1 level / 2 levels
Approximate width of the garage - _____ ft
Approximate depth of the garage - _____ ft
Location (address) of garage building site ______________________________
Approximate location on the property where you are going to build the garage ______________________________
Are you demolishing an old garage? (circle one) Yes / No
Will the garage be used for residential or commercial use? (circle one) Residential / Commercial
Are you living in a historic district or otherwise regulated area? (circle one) Yes / No

Laws and Regulations - Most (if not all) local governments have their own laws and regulations. The best place to start is usually your local municipality government because they will generally dictate the requirements. They will also have the inspectors that will come to approve your garage project as it is underway. Your local municipality government might be the only one you have to deal with, but make sure to ask them if there are separate requirements and inspections needed by the county. If you live outside the boundaries of a city or township, the county will have the building regulations and inspectors, so give them a call. It is pretty common to have multiple inspections on the property as it is being constructed. You will probably have between 3 and 6 building inspections depending upon the garage you choose to build, and whether or not you are putting in electricity, plumbing, etc. At a minimum, they will probably do an initial inspection of the footing, an inspection of the rough-in, and a final inspection. Requirements could vary significantly so it never hurts to start asking questions early in the garage building process.

Local Municipality Government
The easiest way to find your local government office is to search for them online, such as 'bozeman montana government office' (substituting your city and state). Bozeman actually has a very nice site with great information http://www.bozeman.net/bozeman/building/brochures.aspx, but it is specific for that city. If they don't have something obvious on the site such as Building Department, or Building Permits, just call the main number and tell them you need a building permit. They should be able to direct you to the right department.

Local Municipality Government Phone Number - ____________________
Department Name - ______________________________
Name of Person You Talked To - ______________________________
Date - __________

When you talk to the building permits department at your local municipality, explain to them that you want to build a garage and be sure to let them know all of the things you wrote down as your Prelimary Decisions. Ask them:

How many different permits do you need and what are they? What is the cost of each permit? (Make sure to ask if there are separate fees for the application and the permit or if it is all rolled into one. Don't forget demolition permits if needed.)

  Type of permit
Cost ($)
Permit 1    
Permit 2    
Permit 3    

How many inspections will need to be done and at what stages of the project?
  Type of inspection
When
Inspection 1    
Inspection 2    
Inspection 3    
Inspection 4    
Inspection 5    

How many copies of the car garage plans do they need? _____
How many copies of the site plan do they need? _____
When do they need the copies of the garage plans and site plan? ______________________________
Do the plans need to be stamped by an architect or engineer licensed in the state? (circle one) Yes / No
Are there specific items that must be stamped by an architect or engineer licensed in the state (such as engineered roofing trusses)? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the specific items that need a stamp? ______________________________
How long will it take to get the permits? ____________________
What is the application process? ______________________________
Is there a separate fee for the application? (circle one) Yes / No (If yes, how much is it? $__________)
Are there any special requirements for your area, such as hurricane or earthquake provisions? ______________________________
If you have living quarters in the garage, what are the occupancy permit requirements? ______________________________
If applicable, how much is the occupancy permit for a garage with living quarters? $__________
Are there any building restrictions such as not building where you interfere with a neighbors view? (circle one) Yes / No
If there are restrictions you should be aware of, what are they? ______________________________
Are there any limitations about where on the property you can build? (circle one) Yes / No
If there are limitations you should be aware of, what are they? ______________________________
Are there architectural limitations (height, historic, etc.) for the area in which you plan on building? (circle one) Yes / No
If applicable, what are the architectural limitations? ______________________________
Are there permits required within the historic district? (circle one) Yes / No
If additional historic district permits are required, what are the fees? ______________________________
What types of driveway surfaces are allowed in your area? (Concrete, asphalt, crushed rock, etc) ______________________________
Are there any easements on your property? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, where are the easements located? ______________________________
Are there building restrictions on the easements? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the building restrictions? ______________________________
Are there set back limits (how close you can build your garage to the property line)? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the set back limits? ____________________
Are there size limits on the depth, width or square footage? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the size limits? ____________________
Do you also need to contact the county government building department?: (circle one) Yes / No
County government building department phone number (if they have it): ____________________

County Government
The easiest way to find your county government office is to search for them online. Try a search like 'somerset county maine government office' (substituting your county and state). There will usually be several options to choose from in the search results page. Pick one that looks likely and you shouldn't have much trouble finding their contact information and hours of operation. You will probably have to call the main number for the county and tell them you need to obtain a building permit. They should be able to direct you to the correct department. The process for the county government is pretty much the same as for the local government.

County Government Phone Number - ____________________
Department Name - ______________________________
Name of Person You Talked To - ______________________________
Date - __________

When you talk to the building permits department explain to them that you want to build a garage and be sure to let them know all of the things you wrote down as your Prelimary Decisions. Ask them:

How many different permits do you need and what are they? What is the cost of each permit? (Make sure to ask if there are separate fees for the application and the permit or if it is all rolled into one. Don't forget demolition permits if needed.)

  Type of permit
Cost ($)
Permit 1    
Permit 2    
Permit 3    

How many inspections will need to be done and at what stages of the project?
  Type of inspection
When
Inspection 1    
Inspection 2    
Inspection 3    
Inspection 4    
Inspection 5    

How many copies of the car garage plans do they need? _____
How many copies of the site plan do they need? _____
When do they need the copies of the garage plans and site plan? ______________________________
Do the plans need to be stamped by an architect or engineer licensed in the state? (circle one) Yes / No
Are there specific items that must be stamped by an architect or engineer licensed in the state (such as engineered roofing trusses)? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the specific items that need a stamp? ______________________________
How long will it take to get the permits? ____________________
What is the application process? ______________________________
Is there a separate fee for the application? (circle one) Yes / No (If yes, how much is it? $__________)
Are there any special requirements for your area, such as hurricane or earthquake provisions? ______________________________
If you have living quarters in the garage, what are the occupancy permit requirements? ______________________________
If applicable, how much is the occupancy permit for a garage with living quarters? $__________
Are there any building restrictions such as not building where you interfere with a neighbors view? (circle one) Yes / No
If there are restrictions you should be aware of, what are they? ______________________________
Are there any limitations about where on the property you can build? (circle one) Yes / No
If there are limitations you should be aware of, what are they? ______________________________
Are there architectural limitations (height, historic, etc.) for the area in which you plan on building? (circle one) Yes / No
If applicable, what are the architectural limitations? ______________________________
Are there permits required within the historic district? (circle one) Yes / No
If additional historic district permits are required, what are the fees? ______________________________
What types of driveway surfaces are allowed in your area? (Concrete, asphalt, crushed rock, etc) ______________________________
Are there any easements on your property? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, where are the easements located? ______________________________
Are there building restrictions on the easements? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the building restrictions? ______________________________
Are there set back limits (how close you can build your garage to the property line)? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the set back limits? ____________________
Are there size limits on the depth, width or square footage? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the size limits? ____________________
Do you also need to contact any other government building departments?: (circle one) Yes / No
Other government building department phone number (if they have it): ____________________

Neighborhood Associations
Once you have run the gauntlet of government offices, you might still have to deal with a local organization such as a Neighborhood Association. Most Neighborhood Associations will have a set of covenants specifying what you can and cannot do, so make sure to get a copy from them. They don't wield as much power as the county and municipality governments, but they are there to help preserve the value of the neighborhood, so don't forget to get their approval also. They may want to see copies of your building plans and all of your building permits. Make sure to ask them:

Do they need a copy of the garage plans? (circle one) Yes / No
Do they need copies of the building permits? (circle one) Yes / No
Are there any architectural limitations for your neighborhood? (circle one) Yes / No
If yes, what are the limitations? ______________________________
Are there any building restrictions such as not building where you interfere with a neighbors view? (circle one) Yes / No
If there are restrictions you should be aware of, what are they? ______________________________

Neighbors
Last, but certainly not least, you should discuss your plans with your neighbors. They will have to put up with all of the construction annoyance, and if they know what the plan is, they will most likely be more tolerant. If you do a good job building your garage it will actually be an enhancement to the area and your neighbors will be quite pleased. If you are replacing an existing garage, then it is probably an eyesore and your neighbors will be most thankful. As you pull together all of your final decisions, keep in mind the impact on the neighborhood and the aesthetic value you will be adding.