Keeping your investment safe with a car garage

Think a home garage is purely to keep your car dry? Think again – here’s why your classic needs to be stored in a proper structure

A car garage is the ideal place to store your prized classic. A well built one will protect the vehicle from the elements, and is great for storing all your tools and equipment in one convenient location. If finances and space allow, a number of customisations can be installed such as a car lift or pit, which can make all the difference when you are tinkering about with your motor in the depths of winter.

There are a number of options out there when it comes to building a garage, and we take a closer look at what each of these entails.

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Building from scratch

This method tends to involve the most cost and effort. Also, if the garage will be free standing, electricity cables and possibly water lines will have to be piped into the new building.

A concrete foundation, external walls, garage doors and a roof structure with guttering and adequate drainage will all need to be taken into consideration.

The wall thickness will dictate the level of insulation you will get, and you should pay particular attention to the pitch of the roof if you live in an area where snowfall is common. Adequate ventilation is important to prevent the air from becoming too humid in the summer months, and should be factored into the build from the outset.

Standard-size garages tend to fit an average-size vehicle with little room left over for much else. Extending the length or width of the structure may cost a bit more, but it will allow you to accommodate a variety of vehicles as well as make getting in and out of the car a whole lot easier.

Angling the floor slightly towards the garage door will make it easier to hose out, while a pit can also be factored into the build if you don’t want to lift the car on to a jack every time you need to take a look underneath. There are a number of companies that offer prefabricated pits that include lighting, built-in sumps, jacking rails and anti-slip steps. You will still have to get a contractor to dig the hole, though.

Installing an electric garage door is a great feature that saves a lot of back bending and fumbling around – particularly unpleasant in poor weather conditions. Aluminium or steel doors require less maintenance than wooden ones, but can dent easily. Vertically rolling doors allow for a car to be parked closer to the garage when it is outside.

It is worth noting that a detached garage in the UK does not require planning permission if it is single storey, covers no more than half of the total area of the land around the house, does not sit forward of the principal elevation and is not more than a maximum of four metres high.

In the US, planning permissions are called building permits, and they tend to be a bit more involved as each state has slightly differing laws and rules. Visiting your government website is recommended before commencing with any build to ensure that local requirements are met.

Your average classic car is generally quite a bit smaller than a modern equivalent, but sizes do vary greatly so it’s worth measuring your specific vehicle’s dimensions beforehand. As an example, a Bentley Turbo R is approximately 5.2 metres (17 feet) in length and two metres (six feet) wide, while an air-cooled Porsche 911 is 4.2 metres (13.7 feet) long and only 1.6 metres (5.2 feet) wide. It’s best to add at least one metre/three feet around the car, and it may be wise to cater for something a bit larger even if your current classic is a little Mini Cooper.

House extensions

This method will require a similar level of commitment as if you were adding an additional room to your house, but using the existing wall and a section of the foundation may lower overall costs.

Whether you plan to build a free-standing structure or an addition, you can choose to go it alone to save on costs. It goes without saying that this is a big undertaking, and professionals will still have to install the electrical systems and sign off on the structure.

Wooden structures

A wooden garage can be an aesthetically pleasing and more cost-effective solution than building one out of brick. However, a solid foundation is still necessary, and the structure may need extra maintenance over the years.

There are various sizes to pick from, and some companies offer up to triple-sized garages with additional workspace if required. Some have the option to construct the building yourself, and this can save up to 20 percent on the final costs.

Carports are also a viable option for the cash strapped, and do keep the majority of the sun and rain off your car, but they offer no security and you should still use a car cover. Some companies offer a carport structure with the ability to add walls and garage doors at a later date; a useful option if you need to spread the building costs over a longer period.

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The serious car collector

If you are looking to store a number of cars under one roof, then you have the option of constructing a larger wooden or aluminium/steel structure. Many specialists offer bespoke structures at a cost, and can add loft storage and workshop sections if required.

A metal structure will be more susceptible to temperature changes, but can be more cost effective to construct. Installing doors on opposing walls will make it easier to manoeuvre your vehicles around once inside, and – if your budget allows – rotating pedestals, tiled floors and air-conditioning units can make for a very luxurious classic car garage.

Condensation is also an issue that should not be overlooked. Proper ventilation and a dehumidifier can make a big difference, and using wood instead of steel or concrete can also help mitigate this issue. If your garage is built from concrete, there are a number of quality waterproofing coatings for both the walls and floors that are well worth investing in.

Safety should not be overlooked, especially if you have a number of priceless classics stored under one roof. Fire-retardant materials in the walls and a fire-extinguisher system are essential in any larger build, and theft-proofing measures such as burglar bars and manually lockable garage doors are a good idea, too.

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