Three-Car Garages a Growing Trend
Back in the 1950s, the one-car garage was standard in the 41% of homes having any garage at all. More than half a century later, almost two-thirds of all new homes have two-car garages and 19% have garages that can accommodate three cars or more.
“The home building industry is definitely seeing a growing trend toward the three-car garage,” said Jerry Howard, executive vice president and CEO of NAHB.
“Especially in areas where houses do not traditionally have basements, the three-car garage is becoming a must-have in new homes,” said Howard. “But it’s not just limited to those areas. Three-car garages are becoming more common in markets across the country.”
Census Bureau statistics confirm the trend toward three-car garages in all four Census areas, although the Midwest and the West are definitely in the lead.
When the bureau first started tracking three-car and larger garages in 1992, they could be found in 20% of the new homes in the West. Last year, they were in 31% of the new homes built in the region. The share of new homes with big garages in the Midwest climbed from 16% in 1992 to 32% in 2004.
The share has grown steadily from 4% in 1992 to 9% in 2004 in the South and 4% to 10% in the Northeast, and anecdotal reports from builders indicate that the number of consumers looking for three-car garages in these regions is growing by the day, especially in upscale houses.
For most buyers, the primary appeal of the three-car garage is that it provides more storage space, which consistently ranks high in NAHB surveys of consumer preferences for new home features and amenities.
In addition to vehicles, large garages are being used to store yard and garden equipment, seasonal recreational equipment and much more, including items that would be difficult to retrieve from a basement or attic.
Additionally, builders are finding that consumers increasingly prefer 8-foot by 10-foot garage doors to the more standard 7-foot by 9-foot doors so that their SUVs can be accommodated.
As they’ve gotten larger, garages have also become more sophisticated, said Howard. “Consumers find elaborate and extensive built-in storage and shelving systems, work areas, utility sinks and many other amenities very appealing,” he added. “They are also tending to view the garage as more of an extension of the house, and some buyers are even heating and cooling the space for comfort and year-round use.”
Three-car garages also allow builders to offer a second floor “bonus room” that can be used for a multitude of purposes. “These bonus rooms are a growing trend in upscale homes and provide a very flexible space that can be put to any number of uses,” Howard said. “From a playroom for the kids to a home office, exercise room, loft, extra bedroom, an in-law or nanny suite, quarters for a boomerang child and even extra storage, the uses are almost endless.”
“With extra space, extra amenities and plenty of flexible customization options, the three-car garage is definitely a trend that consumers are embracing,” he said.
Howard added that today’s three-car garage, with the addition of an upstairs bonus area, actually rivals the size of a typical new home of the 1950s, which averaged about 1,000 square feet.
Ironically, at a time when the size of new home lots is trending down, the three-car garage requires a slightly larger lot. Placement of three-car garages is challenging for builders, who typically site them at the side of the home rather than the front to reduce their prominence in the streetscape.