A clean garage from the inside. The door is open and the driveway, a fence, and the exterior of another house can be seen.

How to Build a Garage

When you undergo a DIY garage build, you’re essentially building a small house; your project will require electrical work, carpentry, roofing, concrete, plumbing (if you so desire), and even foundation work.

If you aren’t confident with your general contracting skills just yet, consider hiring a professional to build your garage. Building a garage yourself is entirely possible, you will just want to be sure to prepare.

1. Make a Plan

Setting out to build your dream garage is no small task. You’ll need plenty of preparation and research before purchasing materials and creating a plan of action.

You should first decide on placement.  Are you going to attach it to the side of your house or give it its own space? An attached garage may cost you more to build but it may increase your home’s resale value.

You’ll also want to investigate your local zoning laws to make sure you can legally build a garage on your property. Zoning laws help local governments regulate what property owners can and cannot do with their property, and they play a large part in managing local economies, protecting resources, and keeping commercial land activity separate from residential land activity.

2. Get Permits and Supplies

The next step is to secure the proper permits and supplies you’ll need for your DIY garage build. You’ll need the whole nine when it comes to building permits to ensure you build your garage to code. Municipal inspectors also need to come out to permit and inspect your garage, both during and after its construction.

Because a garage is a significant structure (most especially if you decide to build a detached one), its plans should be drawn up by a professional; however, if you’re committed to skipping out on this route, you can try your hand at drawing up the plans yourself.

Some of the tools you’ll need to obtain will include:

  • Wrenches;
  • Miter saw;
  • Circular saw;
  • Electric drill;
  • Carpenter’s level;
  • Carpenter’s framing square;
  • Combination square;
  • Claw hammer;
  • Framing hammer.

And some of the building materials you’ll need will include:

  • Sand;
  • Gravel;
  • Concrete;
  • Wire mesh;
  • Wooden forms;
  • Top plates;
  • Cap plates;
  • King, trimmer, and cripple studs;
  • Double sill plates.

Budget wisely and make sure you acquire the proper tools and materials.

3. Lay the Foundation

“Laying the foundation” means preparing the ground for your garage by building a stone or concrete structure. You can’t just start building your garage on top of the land as it is; inclement weather and other hazards would cause serious damage to it without the right foundational support. Laying a foundation for your garage will transfer its gravity loads into the earth and increase its sturdiness.

4. Frame the Garage

“Framing” a structure, in this case, means creating the “outline” of your garage; you’ll be putting together your garage’s overall support and shape with wooden beams, wooden columns, and/or concrete slabs before filling it in with insulation and the proper building materials. 

There are three primary framing techniques you can deploy for building your garage, but if you’re completing this project on your own, the best way to do this is with platform framing. This method of framing involves building the frames of your structure horizontally on the ground to be raised after completion, which involves less manpower than other framing methods and increases structural accuracy. 

5. Assemble the Walls

Once your frame is complete, build the walls. Place double sill plates at the top and bottom of each wall, leaving a vertical stud in place every 16 inches. Don’t forget to leave spaces for the windows and doors. Most local ordinances will require your garage walls to be six inches thick, but some may only require four. Do not forget to research local building codes so you don’t have to redo this step of the process.

6. Build the Roof

If you’re not accustomed to building roofs, you should consider having a professional nearby to supervise or help you where needed. The tools you’ll require for this step will be a miter saw for precision cuts as well as a circular saw and electrical drill. Install the rafters first, then the ridges, end trusses (you can order pre-built roof trusses and install them via crane), roof decking, weather-proofing, and shingles.

7. Install Sheathing and Siding

Sheathing a wall is the basic practice of covering a wall frame with board or panel material. This is so that other material may be securely applied to the wall. Wood sheathing with plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) is probably the most common method of sheathing. 

Make sure your sheathing panels are flush with your garage’s framing. They should not extend below the bottom sill plate. Along seams, nail one 8d nail every six inches as well as in every vertical stud. Never hammer the nails in all the way; hammer them in just enough to hold everything in place. Don’t forget to insulate your walls as well, but only after you’ve installed wiring.

The siding will be the exterior application of your garage’s walls; in other words, the material that people will see. If your garage is attached to your house, it can be the siding your house currently uses; if it’s detached, it can be steel or James Hardie siding.

8. Add the Windows and Doors

The next step is to fill in those spaces you left open in your walls with windows and doors. Make sure you acquire the proper materials for installing your windows first, such as pre-hung windows and two-by-fours. If you need to make more cuts, use a circular saw to do so. Use a level to make sure that the window is straight when you install it. For added security, install locks on your windows.

You’ll more than likely have to order your garage door online; because of their size, garage doors aren’t usually stored on a shelf. Garage doors come in fiberglass, steel, and wood options. We use and recommend steel doors as they’re light, affordable, come with high insulating value, and are generally maintenance-free. Install regular entrance doors as you normally would. 

9. Make It Functional

Your DIY garage has taken its shape; now it’s time to put it to good use. Add any additional electrical and/or plumbing features to your garage that you would like. Maybe you want to include a bathroom or install a large, bright ceiling light. How about some extra storage shelves and a ceiling fan? And don’t forget about surround-sound speakers.

10. Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches

Don’t forget to make your garage look nice after all those hours of work you put into building it. Give it a nice paint job, install additional fixtures, and hang up some decorations. Take some time to cultivate comfort in the place you’ve just created.