There are a variety of things to consider when trying to determine your cost to build a garage:
Additionally, garage building material prices can change quite a bit depending on seasonal influences and other variables (think the foreign created dry wall mess in Florida a few years ago). How complex are the garage plans you want? There's a significant difference in building a basic single story one car garage with no apartment or loft and building a 4 car garage with a 2 bedroom apartment. In the simple one car garage plans there aren't any fixtures or utility hookups required but for the 4 car apartment garage plans there can be some expensive fixtures plus finishing materials required; toilets, sinks, light fixtures, trim, carpeting, etc. A one size fits all garage building cost estimator is not an easy thing to put together and maintain an accurate value of garage cost for all situations.
- your cost of living
- how complex the garage plans are you want
- are you paying a garage building contractor or doing it yourself
- what size garage plans you have selected
- is there an apartment or loft included in your garage plans
Garage building contractors charge differently in nearly every region of the country. Even within the regions the costs can vary dramatically between rural and urban areas and even between garage builders. The research we did on the cost of building a garage did not turn up any reliable values in the U.S. Government statistics, but there is fairly recent data for the cost of building a new home in the different regions of the U.S. Comparing the home building cost data and assuming it is valid for garage cost data isn't perfect, but it at least gives some relative credibility to what we are looking at. The data we used is from the U.S. Census Bureau for home building cost through 2008. In 2008 the average cost per square foot to build a new home was:
The cost of building is lowest in the South so that will be the baseline for our discussion. Compared to the cost of building in the South:
- South $79.64
- Midwest $87.99
- Northeast $117.91
- West $111.72
It's pretty easy to see that the region you live in will have a dramatic effect on your garage cost, but that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. As an example, the cost to build a $20,000 garage in the South would cost you $29,600 in the Northeast. The difference could be even more pronounced if you are building a garage in a rural area versus a city.
- the Midwest is 10% more expensive
- the Northeast is 48% more expensive
- the West is 40% more expensive
Looking at the other data we found on garage cost, the consensus seems to be that a garage should cost somewhere between $34 and $48 per square foot to build. One of the most widely sited values is $35 - $45 per square foot given originally on the Ask The Builder website, but that data is over 10 years old. A lot has changed in the last 10 years. According to the U.S. Government Census data - in the 45 years from 1965-2009 - home building price increases have outpaced the Consumer Price Index in 26 of those years. For the last 10 years here are the housing prices versus the inflation numbers:
In the construction industry it is either feast or famine. In the building boom years of the middle 2000's housing prices easily beat the CPI, but when the housing market crashed in 2007-2008 the Housing Price Index fell dramatically. The cost per square foot to build a home isn't going to be in perfect alignment with the Housing Price Index, and the cost to build a detached garage is not going to be in perfect alignment with the Housing Price Index, but together it gives an overall sense of the relative 'Garage Price Index' (that's a term we just made up).
Here we assume the $34 - $48 per square foot garage cost is a garage without living quarters, apartments, lofts work shops, etc, just your basic garage plans. If your garage plans include any of those items then it is safe to say the garage cost per square foot is going to get close to the cost per square foot to build a house. The more your garage plans look like a house, the closer the garage building cost per square foot will be to that of a house. We also assume in these numbers that a building contractor is doing the garage construction for you. You can save quite a bit on your garage cost if are making this a do-it-yourself (diy) garage project.
Conclusion - If you consider the Southern region of the U.S. as having the the lowest garage building cost, the garage cost to have a contractor put up a garage for you should be between $34/square foot for basic garage plans and $80/square foot for garage plans with an apartment and all of the amenities. At the higher end of the scale is the Northeast, where it should cost you somewhere between $48/square foot and $118/square foot to build a garage. The only way to know for sure is to get real quotes from garage builders, but we hope this information gives you some idea. Always get a minimum of 3 quotes before starting your garage building project! In a future article we'll talk about the impact materials have on the garage cost.
You can use the My Garage Plans garage building cost estimator to give you a rough idea of your garage building cost. The numbers won't be 100% accurate, but if you have a grasp of the variables such as the cost of living in your area, it will at least give you some idea of the price range for your garage building cost.