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Abandoned Barns in the Snow

Garage Options

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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So, you want to build a garage?

Me too.

In fact, I need to build more than one to house my car hobby — which is why I created my Hobby Complex concept.

What are the best options for a garage?

Obviously, configuring a garage can take on so many permutations it would be impossible to consider them in this post, so I'm narrowing it down to one facet: structure.

More specifically, the type of material.

You can build a garage using lots and lots of different methods — probably as many or more than there are options to build a home. However, I'm going to concentrate on the most common methods used today: pole barn, wood frame, metal, and concrete block.

What else can there be? To name a few, how about timber, rock, adobe, concrete, glass, and brick. Is that all? I don't know, but conceivably, anything you can do to build a home or commercial structure can be used to build a garage — however, I'd like to keep it focused on the types most commonly used by the average homeowner.

Here we go:

Pole Barn
Advantages: Price, aesthetics, and speed to build.
Disadvantages: Fire resistance, durability, security, and weather resistance/insulation. Also, although they can be sided with wood and can be built to aesthetically match a house, depending on your municipality, you may not be able to use it as an attached addition to your home — and, though they can be built with metal siding instead of wood, the framing members are still wood, making them susceptible to fire. Additionally, pole barns aren't usually as well insulated as wood-frame or concrete block buildings, so they can struggle with efficiency when heating and cooling. Finally, pole barns are often just wood siding nailed over a wood frame, making them easier to break into by simply prying the siding off. Also, any gaps in the siding can create additional weather resistance problems.
Wood frame
Advantages: Aesthetics can easily be matched to a wood-frame home and it can be added on as an attached garage with relative ease.
Disadvantages: Price, fire resistance, and durability when used as a workspace — however, the durability issue can be addressed by using more robust materials to protect the interior walls from damage.
Advantages: Price, fire resistance, potentially the easiest and fastest structure to build.
Disadvantages: A challenge to match a wood-frame home and more difficult than wood frame to add on as an attached garage — both of which would dramatically increase the cost and reduce or nullify the cost savings. Also, depending on the structural design, may be more difficult to build than a pole barn or wood frame building. Additionally, metal buildings struggle with insulation, heating, and cooling just like pole barns.
Concrete Block
Advantages: Greatest fire resistance when used with metal roofing components and finished with non-flammable materials. Also, the most durable and secure.
Disadvantages: Difficult or maybe even impossible in some circumstances to match to a wood-frame home, probably the most difficult to use as an attached garage addition on the average house, and it is the costliest and slowest to build of the four. Also, probably not a DIY project as it is the most difficult structure to construct and requires the most specialized knowledge and skills.

Of course, which one you use is entirely up to you and your situation.

For me and my Hobby Complex, I intend to build most of the buildings from pre-fabbed metal kits for ease and to save on cost — the exception being the attached garage and carport addition, which I'm planning to do with a custom-designed wood frame structure to match the home.

Whatever you choose — or have chosen — I hope your plans are moving forward satisfactorily and your projects are fun and successful — after all, it's a hobby and that's what hobbies are for.


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