Pros and Cons of Garage Basements

A garage is found with most homes nowadays – no wonder either as these spots work great in protecting your car from the elements and provide much-needed space for storage, tools, and whatever else for your home. Basements are similar to this – these areas are often used to hold appliances and storage overflow but have plenty of potentials to be converted to whatever the homeowner desires.

Garage basements are a third type of structure that fuses all the advantages of both garages and basements into one area. If you’re thinking about making a garage basement or buying a home with one, then there are a few things you need to know first.

Understanding what these structures actually are, how to plan for one, the advantages and disadvantages of these areas, and how they stack up against more traditional garages are integral. Making the choice on whether or not you want a garage basement is just a matter of knowing all the pros and cons of these structures.

garage basements

What is a Garage Basement and How Do I Plan for One?

As the name suggests this is a combination basement and garage. These structures allow homeowners to keep their automobiles under the ground. Naturally, everything that goes into basements goes into the construction of a garage basement.

You will need different types of foundations depending on the type of soil you have. First, you will also need to have your lot surveyed – this can help determine where the actual corners of the foundation will be at and where to install your footings.

In terms of what foundation you will need and the construction of the walls, you can expect one of four materials: poured concrete, concrete block, precast panels, and stone walls. Putting the finishing touches on a garage basement is much like any other room – it depends heavily on what you want to do with it.

Some sort of drywall and the insulating material is recommended on the walls and ceiling.  The biggest difference in a garage basement opposed to a traditional variant is that these types have a garage door. This door can be situated below the ground at the end of a downward slope.

If your home is in the side of a hill, mountain, or some other uneven plane the garage door can be situated in a spot to allow for a straight driveway.

Garage Basement Advantages

One of the biggest advantages of a garage basement is that it, being underground, doesn’t count toward the total square footage of your home. This is important for two simple reasons, the first being that it makes it much easier to build it in the first place – not subject to any zoning issues, a garage basement can actually require less red tape than a traditional garage.

The second advantage of this is that this square footage doesn’t impede the rest of your property – allowing for a larger yard or even another addition. This underground garage also has a psychological bonus – the distinct separation from the rest of the home allows for a level of isolation not often found anywhere else.

Depending on how you choose to furnish this type of garage, this area can even be considered a house in its own right. This living space can also be used to fix problems with a vertical gap in a potential new home. If you have to put up an artificial structure you might as well make it something that is useful.

Finally, at the end of the day a garage basement is a garage – that means it provides protection against the elements for your vehicle along with being a multipurpose room for anything else you need. The full scope of what a garage can be is nearly infinite – everything from a workout area, laundry room, or just for storage.

Expanding your space so much can leave your home in a much better spot than it was before the garage – there are so many immediate and obvious benefits to having a garage that it instantly adds to your home’s value.

garage turned into a basement game room

Garage Basement Disadvantages

As imagined, garage basements are not without their disadvantages. The biggest one is the amount of labor and technical work that goes into creating one of these structures. A garage by itself only requires four walls – three if it is attached. Creating a traditional garage is a fairly straightforward process – a basement garage requires all sorts of specializations.

Being at least partially submerged into the ground, builders have to work around soil along with making something that is capable of holding up the home above. There are also things like additional insulation, drainage, and the pit itself. The driveway is also part of this and, depending on the slope needed, might require a large amount of area.

Combined, all of this leads to a structure that takes considerably longer to build and accrues additional costs compared to traditional floor garages.

Garage Basement vs Floor Garage

How does the more common floor garage compete against a basement garage? The advantages that a floor garage has over its competition are immediately obvious as they are the opposite of the underground variant. For one, a traditional garage is much simpler structurally.

Being built like any other addition, these garages only need a set amount of square footage that is sufficiently away from the property line. Whereas a basement garage requires a great deal of digging and special work, a traditional model only needs the foundation poured at the walls put up.

Being above ground also means that less space is needed for the driveway itself – a natural result of not having a steep downward trajectory that it has to follow. All of this translates to a project that can actually be pulled off by a skillful enough homeowner – a feat not possible with garage basements.

This isn’t to say that basement garages aren’t without their advantages over traditional garages though. The garage basement is able to be in an out-of-the-way space that doesn’t take up nearly as much of the property as floor garages do – this helps if you live in an area that is limited in the amount of square footage you have.

This out of the way feature can also work in combination with the aesthetics – unless part of the original home, a floor garage may upset the look of your home.

empty detached garage

Final Thoughts

A basement garage is exactly what it implies – the combination of a garage and basement into one structure. Allowing you to keep your vehicle safe without upsetting your plot of lands square footage maximum, these are often found in extremely uneven areas.

Being an underground or partially underground structure means that building a new one isn’t easy – it requires significant planning and set up to pull off correctly. When compared to typical floor garages they have a tendency to cost more but make up for it as being a more out of the way space that won’t upset your home’s look – while also improving its value.

Garage basements are excellent areas but aren’t necessarily for everyone.

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