Back to Articles
Florida Today

Americans Love Their Garages

By Anne Straub

Americans just can’t get enough garage.

Three-car garages are becoming the must-have option in the home building industry, says the National Association of Home Builders. Think of it as a real-life monster garage: In the 1950s, the one-car garage was standard in 41 percent of homes that had a garage at all. Today, almost two-thirds of new homes have two-car garages and 19 percent have space for three or more cars.

“A three-car garage is almost the norm anymore,” said Danny Herman, owner of Belmont Homes. The company is building in Summerfield, a Bayside Lakes community in Palm Bay where prices start at about $500,000. Three-car garages are a common request, particularly because home sites are on the larger side. Herman also builds on off-site lots, and if they’re wide enough, the buyer wants the extra space. “Anything over a 65-foot lot, they’re expecting a three-car garage,” Herman said.

The NAHB is seeing the same trend nationwide. Builders also are finding that consumers increasingly prefer 8-by-10-foot garage doors over the more standard 7-by-9-foot doors so garages can accommodate sport-utility vehicles and other larger vehicles gaining popularity, the organization said.

Larger garages also increase the size of the upstairs bonus room, another popular option in today’s homes. In fact, the NAHB says, today’s three-car garage and bonus room rivals the size of a typical home built in the 1950s, when homes averaged about 1,000 square feet.

When Bahman and Shiba Anvary moved to Viera from Minnesota two years ago, they chose to build a Damar Home partly because the company offered designs that included a two car garage plus a larger, boat garage. “I really think the garage was one of the biggest points,” Bahman Anvary said of their home search. Damar offers a boat garage with a 14-foot ceiling or an RV garage with a 16-foot ceiling.

The family entertains visitors from the North often, and the space gives their guests a place for a car. For now, they use the extra space for a car, motorcycle and storage, though they might convert it to a ping-pong room. Others in the neighborhood have put tile in the boat garage and used it as an overflow room during parties.

“For the money, you can’t go wrong by having that third garage,” Anvary said.

The option adds about $12,000 to $13,000 to the cost of a home, Herman said. “It’s cheaper to add it now than later,” he said.

He has seen an increase in requests for larger garages in just the past few years. Three years ago, about 40 percent of Belmont buyers chose the option. Today, it’s 75 to 80 percent. Mercedes Homes, also, has added a three-car garage option in its communities that feature larger homes.

“There seems to be more money floating around,” Herman said. Two-income couples have more items to store, such as personal watercraft and motorcycles. They also have money to pay for the extra space, and with basements not an option in Florida, a large garage is the natural answer.

More clients are asking for a three-car garage, confirmed David Omler of Paradise Properties of Brevard. “You’d think that with families getting smaller, the trend would be going down,” he said. Instead, people tend to want four bedrooms – with the fourth to be used as an office – and consider a third garage slot the “icing on the cake,” he said.

Customers chose the extra garage space partly to make their home more marketable for resale, said Catherine McHenry, sales manager for Merritt Island-based Damar Homes. About half the company’s homes used to have more than a two-car garage. “Now, it’s closer to 90 percent,” McHenry said.

The trend is happening at the same time that home sites are getting smaller, but customers don’t seem to mind. “More people are looking for not so much land, but more house,” McHenry said. 

Larger garages pose a design challenge for homeowners who want the extra space but don’t want their home to look like a huge garage. Damar often adds more windows to give the eye something else to focus on, McHenry said. Designers also pay attention to symmetry so the overall effect is one of balance.

Herman likes having enough land to work with to be able to build a side-entry garage so that the door isn’t visible from the curb. If the lot is wide enough, he can put the driveway toward the outside of the property. If the extra space is in depth, the drive can go across the front of the house.