How To Buy Car Garage Plans - Phase II: Your Specifications

(downloadable pdf version)

How To Buy Car Garage Plans Phase II How To Buy Car Garage Plans Phase II (197 KB)

By this time, you have probably been thinking that you would never make it this far in your quest to build a new garage. Now that you have answers to all of your questions about building permits and other requirements (from How To: Buy Car Garage Plans - Phase I), it's time to get down to what you really want in your new garage and how to find just the right garage plans to make you and the regulatory offices happy. You will need to have your plans in hand before you can proceed with obtaining all of the necessary building and occupancy permits.

You probably already have a pretty good idea about what you want to do with your new garage. Most likely you want to use it for storing a car or two (or three or four). And if you are like most other people, you have some yard tools that need a place for safekeeping, or the kids may have bikes and other toys that need a home. You probably need more space than you originally were thinking, so it's a good idea to write down all of the things you want to use your garage for and will therefore need in your garage plans. You might also be considering living quarters in your new garage, maybe a small apartment or a loft.

Here are a few guidelines you can use for picking out the size you need for your new garage.
Typical vehicle sizes (approximate measurements in ft/m):
Compact car 14.8' / 4.5m
5.7' / 1.7m
Mid-size car 15.8' / 4.8m
5.9' / 1.8m
Full size car 17.2' / 5.2m
6.3' / 1.9m
Compact SUV 14.4' / 4.4m
5.9' / 1.8m
Mid-Size SUV 15.6' / 4.8m
6.2' / 1.9m
Full size SUV 17.3' / 5.3m
6.3' / 1.9m
Compact pickup truck 15.8' / 4.8m
5.8' / 1.8m
Compact pickup truck crew cab 17.0' / 5.2m
5.8' / 1.8m
Mid-size pickup truck 17.8' / 5.4m
6.0' / 1.8m
Mid-size pickup truck crew cab 20.3' / 6.2m
6.5' / 2.0m
Full size pickup truck 19.2' / 5.9m
6.6' / 2.0m
Full size pickup truck crew cab 20.5' / 6.2m
6.6' / 2.0m

Your vehicle will probably be somewhat different from these dimensions, but you can use them as a guideline for selecting the space requirements for selecting the garage plans to build your new garage. If you have any doubt about the size of your vehicle, you can find the dimensions on the manufacturer's site, or at or Don't forget that building dimensions are always specified to the outside of the wall so you will lose about six to eight inches on the inside dimensions for each wall. Overhead doors come in a wide variety of sizes, but 9' wide by 7' high is pretty standard for a single door, and 16' wide by 7' high for a double door. Make sure you pay attention to the dimensions on the plan you are buying so you don't get a non-standard size door unless that's what you really want. Check with your local building supplier to see if they stock larger garage doors, typically 9' wide by 8' high for a single wide garage door, and 16' wide by 8' high for a double wide garage door. Doors for an RV garage are generally 12' wide by 12' to 14' high. Check with your local building supply store to see if they are available. The building supply store can probably special order a size for you.

If you are planning on having living quarters in your garage, now is the time to firm up the plans. garage plans with living spaces usually come in the form of a one or two bedroom apartment with a kitchen, or an open loft. If there is any possibility of having your mother in law come live with you, or you have a kid that just won't leave, this might just be your path to continued sanity. Having a living space could be a wonderful thing for you, but it does come with some extra considerations for your garage building site. The biggest issue you are going to encounter is plumbing and sewage. Are you planning on connecting to an existing system? Do you have to run new lines? Is there going to be a septic system? When the time comes to actually build your garage, almost anything is possible, but take these questions into consideration as you plan your site since they could have a significant impact on your budget.

Armed with your dimensional requirements, take a tape measure, some string, a few stakes, a hammer, a pencil and paper and venture out to the site where you are thinking about putting your new garage. If you are replacing an existing garage and using the same location and rough dimensions as the old garage, you can skip laying out the outline of your new garage in this step because your boundaries have been pre-determined for you. Try to avoid building close to trees because their root system can play havoc on your garage foundation and floor over time, and you don't want to risk damaging the trees. The general rule of thumb is that the root system will extend out about as far as the limbs on the tree. Place your stakes in the ground at the outer dimensions for the car garage plans you have picked, then step back and envision your garage on that spot. Don't forget the property set back requirements you got from Phase I. Keep in mind where the driveway will be running so you have plenty of room for entering and exiting in your car and so that you don't have any extreme turning angles. Be aware of how water drains from the site and surrounding location because you will probably be impacting the drainage with your new garage structure. You don't want the garage floor filling up with water in a downpour and you don't want to be creating little rivers running through the property causing erosion every time it rains. There will be excavation dirt from the site that you can use to create swales for channeling water.

Take some final measurements around your site and write down the maximum final dimensions for the outline of your garage:

Maximum width of the garage - _____ ft
Maximum depth of the garage - _____ ft

Knowing the maximum width and depth will leave your options open in the event you find car garage plans you really like that are a little bigger than your original idea. If you get those measurements now, it could save you another trip out to the site. Make a sketch of the area, including property lines and any existing buildings. On your sketch, be sure to include dimensions of the property, any buildings, and setbacks since you will probably need this as a site plan to get your building permits.

Now comes the fun part. Once you are happy with the location for your garage, you can actually start your search.