More than just a garage

Andrew Guppy of The Classic Barn Company discusses the options and considerations when specifying a detached garage

Garages may not immediately seem like the most interesting part of a self-build, but with a little imagination and creativity, adding a detached garage to your project can make a huge difference. The days of ‘bog standard’ square buildings with plain up-and-over doors are gone and garages can present a perfect opportunity to express your personality through design choices.

The benefits

Storage is one of the most important factors with any home and with the correct approach, adding an outbuilding can enhance the presentation of your new home by providing that much- needed storage space, avoiding clutter in the house.

Clients also don’t always recognise that adding a well-designed and well- built garage will often increase the value of their home and in doing so offset more of the build cost by putting the value back into their estate. This theory was tested on ITV series The Home Game in March 2017 – a client’s house was valued independently before and after the addition of an attractive outbuilding to prove it adds value.

Planning & regulations

Of course there are a couple of important legal requirements that need to be considered before beginning work on a detached garage. The first thing that needs to be given some thought is planning permission. In some circumstances home owners wont need planning permission to add an outbuilding as it can be built under permitted development rights. However, a particular set of requirements must be met for it to fall under these rights. For example the building must have a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and the overall height must be kept below 4 metres if it has a dual-pitched roof. This will of course influence the style of the outbuilding. For this reason, self-builders are generally better off seeking advice from professional providers who can offer attractive solutions. For those who wish to check these requirements, downloadable checklists are available online from various websites.

The other important legal consideration is Building Regulations. If the floor area of your outbuilding will fall between 15 m2 and 30 m2, you will not normally be required to apply for Building Regulations approval – providing that the building contains no sleeping accommodation and is either at least one metre from any boundary or is constructed of substantially non- combustible materials.

If your garage size is going to exceed these markers then most reputable suppliers should ensure all of their working standards meet the necessary Building Regulations.

Costs & materials

Naturally cost is an important factor with any aspect of your self-build. The cost of building a detached garage will vary greatly depending on the decisions and choices you make. For those on a tighter budget, building a garage isn’t out of the question, but naturally it often comes with compromises.

The groundwork required for constructing an outbuilding should not be ignored as this represents a sizeable proportion of the cost and is often dictated by the ground conditions. However, everything that happens above ground is more controllable and this is where savings can be made. Using oak framing, for example, is a relatively cost effective form of construction that can be designed to a budget requirement. Timbers can be sized and specified accordingly.

Oak framed construction is also very durable, as well as classical and flexible. With the correct specialist on board, an oak building will represent classic character and stand the test of time. It’s for this reason that so many home owners are exploring the delights of classic barn- style garages and car ports and that oak framing is becoming increasingly popular throughout the UK, particularly in rural regions. It’s also important to ensure the joinery is well-built, and iroko wood works particularly well.

The choice of door is another important element of the design. For those who want to maintain the timeless, classic look, outward opening barn doors will suit better than up-and-over style doors. Well-established and reputable companies will also offer discreet automation options, whatever style door you decide to go for, meaning you can combine a traditional appearance with modern convenience.

The roof surface reflects a large proportion of the building and will therefore also impact the overall appearance. Something people are often not aware of is that while the roof design (including its pitch) will of course be decided by the architect, the manufacturer of the chosen tile will supply a certain pitch range to operate within. This is particularly true with handmade tiles but can also be the case with machine-made clay tiles as well, so its something to bear in mind. Most self-builders will of course opt for a tile that closely matches that of the main house, but other options can include specialist thatching, timber shingle tiles or camber tiles for a irregular, textured effect.

When it comes to the overall design, you can be as bespoke as you want or need to be. Large open roof areas with truss spaces will continue the classic style of a barn through to the interior. Being creative needn’t stop with your new home – get the design juices flowing and your imagination run wild. James Bond-style features often come into play when it comes to designing garages – for example, The Classic Barn Company has provided a host of fun design solutions for clients, such as creating spaces that can accommodate turntables and even car lifts. The possibilities are endless.

Andrew Guppy is director at The Classic Barn Company