Pros and Cons of Attached Vs. Detached Garages
Maybe you’re building a new house, remodeling your current house or looking to buy a house and move. Whatever your situation is, you’re facing an overwhelming amount of decisions.
You’re thinking about how many bedrooms you want and how many bathrooms. You’re trying to decide if that dining room will be big enough for the whole family at Christmas. Do you want a kitchen island? And do you need a finished basement or not?
With all these decisions weighing on your mind as you think about the house itself, it can be easy to forget another big decision you’ll have to make. Do you want an attached or a detached garage?
There’s a long list of pros and cons that comes with either option. Neither option is better or worse than the other. Both have a lot of advantages to offer. So instead of trying to figure out which is better, instead, it’s a matter of deciding what your priorities are and what’s most important to you.
To help you make your decision, we’ve compiled a list of the benefits and disadvantages of both attached and detached garages. The purpose of this list isn’t to convince you that one is better than the other, but rather to highlight the unique features each offers and to help you decide which is more practical and useful for you and your home.
Detached Garages: The Basics
A detached garage is the most traditional option. When garages first became popular, most of these garages were detached and took the place of structures like carriage houses. Because they took the place of these similar structures, they have a lot of similar features. They might sit at the head of the driveway or on the other side of it, across the driveway from the house.
They are completely unattached, self-contained units. They have all the features you would expect from a garage, such as the automatic overhead door, room to park a car or two and storage space. They might have heating and cooling and they might not, depending on the individual garage.
However, just because these are a more traditional option, it doesn’t mean they aren’t every bit as modern and elegant as attached garages. Plenty of new houses are currently being built with detached garages, as well as the many older homes that already have them.
Depending on your needs, a detached garage could offer just the right combination of features and benefits that will make it perfect for your needs.
Detached Garage Advantages
- It fits an older-style home better. Because attached garages are such a relatively new design, they might tend to look awkward and out-of-place when they’re added on to older houses. That’s not to say the attached garage is entirely off the table if you own an older house, but the detached garage will probably look more natural.
With an older house, a detached garage can help evoke the feeling of an old-fashioned carriage house, and it will likely look much more natural and blended with the style of the house.
- It’s further from any harmful gas emissions. Garages are often a place where people store all kinds of chemicals and things like paint, heavy cleaners, weed and insect killers and similar items. While all of these are perfectly safe when handled and stored correctly, there is always the potential they may have been stored incorrectly and will begin emitting hazardous fumes.
With an attached garage, all that separates your house from these fumes is one wall. Because of this, many homeowners feel safer knowing these items are safely stored in an entirely separate building like a detached garage.
- It limits home access points. Many homeowners also enjoy the added sense of security that a detached garage brings because of the way it eliminates an easy access point to the house. With an attached garage, an intruder might enter through a garage window. From there, the only thing keeping them out of the house is the door between the garage and the house. If this unlocked, it becomes an easy task to break into a house.
A detached garage eliminates this problem. The only home access points are the regular windows and doors. There is no lapse in security in an unlocked garage door. Because of this, detached garages can offer a greater feeling of security and safety from potential intruders.
- It offers extra privacy. Some individuals use their garage to store a car and some tools and nothing else. In other cases, however, garages can often be used as a kind of shop where members of the family do woodworking or operate power tools and complete small construction projects. Other times, people use garages as hang-out spaces. Some people might have a TV in their garage, others might have a full man cave and others might use their garage as a place for kids to practice loud musical instruments.
If you spend a lot of time in your garage, you might appreciate the way a detached garage offers a little extra privacy from the house. In an attached garage, family members can easily join you just by opening a door. In a detached garage, the little extra walk might deter these visitors for when you don’t feel like company.
- It minimizes noises from the house. Related to the previous bullet point, if you use your garage as a getaway from the rest of the house, you might appreciate the quiet of a detached garage. In a garage situated across the driveway or in a similar location, you are effectively cut off from noise and distractions from the house.
Of course, this works in the opposite direction, too. If you frequently engage in noisy activities in the garage, like using power tools or playing an instrument, the rest of the house might appreciate the sound protection offered by a detached garage.
- It eliminates the garage-dominated house façade. For most houses that feature an attached garage, the front of the house is dominated by the garage door. It can sometimes even take up almost as much space as the front of the rest of the house. This overpowering garage space is especially noticeable if your house is unusually small. In cases like this, a large attached garage can almost appear to swallow up a smaller house.
Of course, this is largely a matter of taste. Maybe this look doesn’t bother you. But if you’d prefer your house to be the main feature of attention instead of the garage, you might prefer the detached garage.
- It allows more room for expansion. Right now, you might be perfectly happy with the garage you already have or are planning to build. But who’s to say in the future, you won’t decide you need a bigger space? Or how do you know you won’t want to add some living space above the garage?
Expanding your garage is much easier to do if it’s detached. With an attached garage, your space is limited and largely dictated by the house space already in place. The detached garage allows you more freedom to build, expand and re-imagine.
- It allows more room for landscaping. Having your garage on the other side of the driveway means you have more usable space around the house. By not having an attached garage, you have room for all kinds of creative landscaping. You could add a few more flower beds, a cobblestone walkway or a goldfish pond. You might be able to add a patio area or even a kitchen garden.
Detached Garages: The Cons
- You’ll have to walk to it. Walking to and from a detached garage isn’t a hardship in the summer. It might even be a pleasant walk. It also isn’t typically an issue if you live in a mild climate.
However, if you live in a climate where the winters are harsh, you’ll have to walk from the garage to the house in the inclement weather. This means you’ll be exposed to any amount of wind, rain and snow. An attached garage, on the other hand, lets you exit your car in the safety of the garage and walk directly into the house without ever having to go outside.
- It’s less accessible. Even though the idea that a detached garage is isolated can be a pro because of the privacy it affords you, but it can also be a con as well. When your garage is attached, it’s an easy matter to go back in the house to grab something you forgot or visit the bathroom.
This walking back and forth becomes slightly less convenient when your garage is detached. It can be very frustrating to sit down and have your tools all set up only to realize you forgot something and need to trek back up to the house to get it.
- It takes up space in the yard. Not all houses have a lot of backyard space to spare. If you’re already a little tight on space, adding a detached garage can eat up a large chunk of your limited yard space.
This may turn out to be a benefit if you’re looking to cut down on the amount of yard that needs to be mowed and maintained. But it can be an inconvenience if you’re looking for a large yard space for kids and pets to enjoy.
- It’s more of a project to build. If you’re contemplating a building project, both detached and attached garages are completely viable options. Both are very doable, but the detached garage will most likely end up being just a little bit more work.
The reason for this is that with an attached garage, you’ll already have at least one, if not two, walls to work with. You might even be converting part of the house into a garage, which makes the work even more minimal.
Of course, there are unique situations where a detached garage might be working with an existing structure as well. If you’re renovating an old shed or carriage house, this bullet point might not apply. In most cases, however, building a detached garage mean starting entirely from scratch. This means more work is going to be needed to get your garage built.
- Utilities will be more expensive. Building or renovating a detached garage will also be a little bit of extra work because of the utilities involved. With an attached garage, the electricity is already wired into the house, so it’s a relatively small matter to extend it into the garage.
With a detached garage, more work is going to be involved in extending the electricity out to the other side or end of the driveway. The same applies for heating and cooling. If you’re going to be working out there in the winter, you’ll want some form of heating. This will almost certainly mean extra work and extra money to install.
Attached Garages: The Basics
Attached garages are a relatively new development in the world of house building, as they didn’t become popular until the 1950s. Most houses built before then will not have an attached garage, and even many built after that time still have the traditionally detached garage.
However, there are plenty of benefits to the attached garage, as proven by how popular they have become in recent years. Their size may vary, although they typically have enough space for either one or two cars. Most attached garages open directly into a mudroom, entry hall or kitchen.
It depends greatly on your individual needs and on the neighborhood and area where you live, but it could be that an attached garage is exactly what you’re looking for.
Attached Garage Advantages
- You don’t have to walk through the weather. When it’s raining, snowing or the wind is blowing fiercely, there’s nothing more convenient than having an attached garage. You simply drive in, close the door behind you and safely enter your house. You haven’t had to step outside and be exposed to the elements once.
While this point applies more to locations where the winters are harsh, it’s also applicable to places that are subject to extreme heat in the summer, too. By parking in an attached garage, you can transition from an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned house without ever having to set foot outside in the heat.
- It’s easy to access. An attached garage is simply much easier to access than a detached garage. It’s more convenient and easier to pop back and forth between the house and the garage when all that separates the two is one door, instead of an entire driveway’s worth of space.
There are many reasons this accessibility is convenient. You might keep an extra fridge in the garage, and you want to access it easily from the kitchen. You might use the garage as a workspace, and you’ll need to make trips in to use the bathroom. Or the kids might use the garage to hang out in, and you need to pop in quickly to ask them a question. All of these scenarios become much more convenient by just having the garage attached to the house.
- It can make your house appear larger. If you have an unusually small house but are interested in trying to make it seem bigger than it is, an attached garage can help you do so. Depending on the size of your garage and your house, an attached garage can sometimes appear to double the size of a house.
This won’t actually add any extra living space to a small house unless you add a space above the garage, but it has the effect of making the house seem much more impressive from the road or the driveway.
- It saves on yard space. We mentioned how having a detached garage can hinder your open yard space and take up a lot of that. The opposite is true here. One of the benefits of having an attached garage is that this frees up a ton of yard space.
While this may be more of a con if you dislike lawn maintenance, it can be a huge advantage if you have kids or pets that would love the yard space. It also provides you with opportunities to put in a garden, more trees or maybe a deck and a pool.
- It’s easier to build. If you’re building from scratch, the attached garage is almost certainly going to be the simpler and more cost-effective project. The reason for this is that you already have at least one if not two walls that will form half of the garage’s skeleton. The work is already halfway done.
The opposite is true with a detached garage, which will most likely have to be built entirely from scratch. As such, this will probably take slightly longer and cost a bit more.
- The utilities will be less complicated. If you have an attached garage and decide to add heating and air conditioning, this will be a relatively simple process. These are usually already set up in the house, so it will be an easy process to extend them into the garage. The same is true with electricity. It will be much cheaper and easier than trying to extend these utilities out into a detached garage.
Attached Garages: The Cons
- It’s less private. Whether or not this is truly a shortcoming depends on what you use your garage for. If you only use it to park your car and store some extra items, this probably won’t be a problem.
If, however, you use your garage as a workspace or any getaway from the main house, this might be a drawback. Not only is it easier for family members to pop in to see what you’re up to, but you’ll also be able to hear noise and distractions from the house. They’ll also be able to hear you if you’re using power tools or doing anything else that might be especially noisy.
- It’s closer to potentially harmful gas emissions. Even though most paints, pesticides and other chemicals are completely harmless if handled correctly, there always remains the slight chance that something will go wrong and these chemicals will start emitting hazardous fumes.
If this does happen, the drawback of the attached garage is that there is only one wall separating you from any harmful airborne chemicals. A detached garage, on the other hand, offers the protection of distance.
- It poses a greater security risk. Although you might not think it, attached garages offer slightly less protection from potential intruders than detached garages do. With an attached garage, if an intruder gains access to the garage through a window, it’s far easier to enter the house through the garage door, which many people leave unlocked.
On the other hand, if an intruder enters a detached garage, they will still be no closer to entering your home.
- It may look strange on an older house. Because many older houses weren’t intended to have attached garages, it can be difficult to add one on. It’s still possible to add an attached garage of course, but it will most likely look slightly strange and out of place.
- It can be difficult to build in close neighborhoods. If you live in a neighborhood where houses are tightly fitted together, there simply may not be the space to add an attached garage. Small city lots, for example, are often long and narrow, offering the opportunity for a detached garage behind the house at the end of the driveway, but little room to expand the house sideways to include an attached garage.
Which Is Better: Attached or Detached?
So are attached or detached garages better? This isn’t a question that has an easy answer. Neither is objectively better, and neither is definitively worse. Both attached and detached garages have many desirable qualities, and both have a few drawbacks.
There is no way to answer which option is best for everyone. The only way to answer this question is to look at what your priorities are and what you need most from a garage. Is privacy most important to you? Security? Protection from the elements? By asking yourself these questions and looking at the features both types of garages offer, you can best decide what option will suit your needs.
No matter what type of garage you decide to go with, you’ll need a working overhead door. Once you’ve decided which type of garage you want, please contact American Overhead Door for your garage door installation or repair. We’ll be happy to provide a free estimate for you, whether your garage is attached or detached. Contact us anytime or give us a call at (719) 538-9900. You can also reach us at our Salida location by calling us at 719-530-3000.