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swentastic81

Seeking garage addition advice!

Swentastic
2 months ago
last modified: last month

We’re working with an architect to design a 3 car attached-ish garage to our 1949 ranch home.

I would like to take it in a mid-century modern direction (the last picture is my vision for the finishes) and I’m hoping for some feedback on ways to improve on the existing structure aesthetically. I’m thinking to add the same wood cladding to the gables on the house and updating the door. The current garage will be converted to an office and the doors will become windows. There’s a breezeway structure that will be built to attach the new garage to the house.

Do you guys have any feedback or advice me on how to bring this poor little ranch into the 21st century??








Comments (29)

  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Also want to add that I realize this new garage looks deceivingly large compared to the primary structure. Our house is long on a deep lot and the garage is a little less than half the size of the actual Square footage of the home.

    Unfortunately with setbacks we have to position the garage where it is drawn. I realize now it kinda dominates the house and am hoping to make the house look a little more impactful than it does now.

  • 3onthetree
    2 months ago

    Some of these may sound harsh, but don't take it personally as these are items your architect should bring up and I'm making points quickly:

    - It appears the breezeway entrance is angled, or is it the drawing playing tricks on me? If so, why? Is that the new front door to house, because that's getting the visual attention now.

    - You will have difficulty matching the stone - infill side door, garage door, new garage.

    - The choice of window filling in the old garage still makes it look like a converted garage. Since you can't match the stone well, consider removing all of the stone on that massing and providing a window with complete siding that meets the horizontality focus of MCM, which your new garage possesses.

    - There is no blending of the house to the new flat roof garage, since the difference in gable vs flat is very stark. You could balance the elevations, which would make the new garage less of an appendage, if you introduced some design elements onto the house that matches the garage. So, maybe an extended porch/cover over the existing house entrance that ties into the old garage massing and prevents what I said about the hidden front door and old garage window above.

    - I see no correlation of a stone water table on the new garage to anything whatsoever. It's a "try to match material, but save money so only this high" decision.

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  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Thank you for the thorough feedback this is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for!

    -Breezeway entrance is angled, yes, to make that the obvious front door. The original house has a 36” door on the garage side but nobody knows it’s there. Per universal design, the 24” door you see in the photo isn’t sufficient so we’re adding the larger angled entry through which guests will enter. We run our business out of the house so there will also be a door into the office from the beeezeway. City requires 50% of the garage firewall to be touching the house and this design complies with that requirement, surprisingly.

    -The stone is actually still quarried locally. I realize it’s probably going to be a little off color due to age but the city is requiring us to include some of it on the garage and you’re right, it would be prohibitively expensive to clad the entire garage in the same stone so my first thought was just to put it just on bottom. We could perhaps run it up to the roof line in three columns on the sides of the garage doors? I’m sort of at a loss for what to do otherwise.
    -I like the idea of doing some kind of horizontal roof or maybe pergola type structure over the current entrance. I’d 86 that door entirely except I don’t really want to drag groceries etc all the way through the house into the kitchen (which is the middle large window on the house) so I’d like to keep it as kind of a side entrance from the driveway.
    -I like the idea of stripping more of the stone from the existing garage and adding siding - I’ll talk to the architect about that.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 months ago

    Have your architect present you with black and white drawings and renderings. This will keep the 'Halloween house' colors from detracting from the design of the home. It will be difficult to successfully change your ranch house into Mid-Century Modern, and getting only partially there most likely will not bring success.

  • shirlpp
    2 months ago

    I agree with the above about the roof lines. Not intending to offend, but the garage looks like a place where I'd take my car to be worked on. Hopefully the architect can rework the roof line.

  • PRO
    BeverlyFLADeziner
    2 months ago

    I think you should maintain a similar roof pitch when you add on. the design can still be contemporary, but right not it looks like you are grafting grapes onto an apple. They don't seem to fit esthetically together.



  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I see your point - thank you! I’ll try on regular roof for the garage. I think you guys are on to something. Thank you!

  • houssaon
    2 months ago

    Is there any reason to keep the original front door? Keeping it still makes it confusing where the front door is. You could remove it and the walkway to it.

    I agree you should change the window configuration on the converted garage. What if the converted garage became the main entry? You could move the new garage closer to the house and lose most of the breezeway.

    Make the floor level of the old garage even with the house.


  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Just so I'm explaining this to the architect correctly, would a roofline like this or similar make more sense with the original structure? I"m kind of flying by the seat of my pants here and don't have time today to load it all into sketchup.

    Thanks to all for the input - this is extremely helpful!


  • lafdr
    2 months ago

    I like your original drawing even though the addition is a different style. Can you switch to the new door as the main front door and eliminate the original door so there is no confusion? It seems the new door with have nice windows and a view guests could walk into. I also like the above idea to not add the breezeway and keep the original door if that works better for you.

  • PRO
    BeverlyFLADeziner
    2 months ago

    Yes I think with time you can arrive at a more creative massing of the garage addition, but at least the two pieces fit better.

    Either adjust the existing building to match the new garage or vice versa.

  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    I love the clerestory style! That was my original thought when we set out but I figured it would be more expensive than a shed roof. I don’t really want to/can’t afford to alter the existing structure much but this might be a good, modern alternative to plain old gable ends. Thanks!

  • houssaon
    2 months ago

    There is a lot of money in the breezeway. I would change the original garage to function as the connector.

    I like the clerestory. Maybe it can go in the old garage. Or you could do saltbox roof configuration on both the old and new garage.

    I don't think there can't be a bay of the new garage forward, because it would interfere.

  • nevemarin
    2 months ago

    Hi. I just wanted to pass on our experience with doing something similar. We had a 1955 ranch with a detached garage that was below and in front of the home on a large double deep lot. I too love MCM and wanted to upgrade our fairly basic ranch to something cooler. We tried lots of different roof lines but ultimately settled on continuing the existing hipped roof. I am so glad we did. The house is still modern, just more subtle. The old and new blend perfectly that most would not know that the house was extended over the garage. We also still fit in the neighborhood. We spent much less because we maintained the old roof and three walls. Good luck on your project. Looks like great advice above.

  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Nevemarin- do you have pictures you can share? I’d love to see what you finally landed on!

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 months ago

    I think one of the most confusing things is the door on the breezeway wall, I am assuming there will be a door on the inside wall of the garage that leads the breezeway to the house. So why have a second door there? I also dislike how far set back the front door is from the reveal of the house, especially since the garage i swallowing up the foreground, and will create shadows and a dark enclosed area. I think you need to have ONE front door, as it stands now I would go to the one closest to me, rather than the one set far back in....just a thought.


    Also, where is the kitchen in perspective to the garage, the corridor leading to the house, imagine how you will get groceries through that hallway??


  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Hi RL - I explained a lot of this in the comments and drawings above. It’s a complex situation!

  • houssaon
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    What about a front facing addition? You could use half of the space of the old garage for one of the bays. I would take down the other half and make a more generous entry with a porch.


  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 months ago

    some times if things look forced they are, and with complex situations, it sounds a bit like back to the drawing board? I do not mean that in a negative light but it really looks forced here.

  • houssaon
    2 months ago

    Years ago one of my neighbors expanded their one car to a two car garage. Rather than take down a tree, he just curve the drive out from a one lane near the street to two by the garage.


  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 months ago

    houssaon you have got great ideas on this one!!

  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Ok, one last question for y’all. We’re in the Milwaukee area and my husband and I have been arguing about the potential cost of this project. We will be GCing this project ourselves (we’re house rehabbers by trade but typically only work within the existing structure - we don’t do additions or construction). Can anybody chime in on what it’s been costing lately per square foot to do a garage addition? My husband votes $50-60k for this project. I’m thinking it’s going to be $75k+ once we get all the grading handled, cement poured, etc. Thoughts?

  • 3onthetree
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    From your description of "rehabbers that don't do construction" I guess that limits your DIY to paint and backsplash. There is not a lot of detailed info, but my WAG is starting $125K+.

    I know my continual attempts to teach the interwebs about cost/SF are futile, but here goes anyway. Realize cost/SF does not exist for residential of this type. Now, if you had a handful of exact same 24x28 garage with mono slab, 4:12 truss gable, asphalt roof, vinyl sided, 1 window, 1 man door, unfinished inside, 3 receptacle/4 lights and no exterior flatwork to compare building costs with, you could come up with a cost/sf for your local city. Sure, you can backstep any project when it's done and do the math, which is what interweb commenters do, but that number is useless to carry to someone else's project. Understand that you can have a cost/SF for some specific trades, like concrete flatwork, siding and asphalt roof per square, etc, but that is the backhouse calculations to arrive at a total cost for your specific project. Here, you have a flat roof, the stonework, unknown site concrete, more expensive windows, a breezeway full of windows, expensive door, etc that are pushing your costs.

    Your architect should have guided the design with your budget in mind, if you have one.

  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC
    2 months ago

    That was an awesome explanation, and I agree I was thinking well over 100k I mean that breezeway alone.. and of course all the unforeseen.

    That ranch is in the 21 century, I think maybe to be totally honest you have outgrown the house itself and effectively you are only gaining an office as actual living space. so why not just add a second garage, and just use the existing one as the office. I would assume the second garage bay would add value without having to "transform" the house? just a thought...

  • doc5md
    2 months ago

    If you had the budget, time, and could do so... it would be interesting to consider removing stone from the main house and using it to build the stone ledge on the garage addition. Ending up with the same height of stone across the entire house and garage. Then, side the house and garage with the same siding above.

  • 3onthetree
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I suspect the original conception of the project is to house the trailer in the 10' door bay. And the "50% garage wall tied to house" regulation is to get the additional SF required to house 2 cars + trailer, where an accessory structure (detached garage) would be limited in that total SF. It also looks like your Living Room is in the back of house, where this new breezeway entry will connect directly to it rather than through the kitchen.

    The typical conundrums you see coming from an expanding family have to do with additional bedrooms or playspaces, so this is a surprise. From what you said this garage addition is 1100sf vs the 2200sf existing house (existing 1 stall garage included in existing 2200sf?). I personally am garage-centric and have difficulty finding/adding to houses for others that meet that niche. However, consider if you haven't already that you will not recoup this investment as it sits. The plans certainly have a nice aesthetic and that will improve value - but have you considered while you are spending this much money and effort to also use this addition to improve on the house to claw a little ROI back and meet an expanding family? Like, maybe the breezeway is more than a hallway to the Living room - what if the garage can trade a bit of SF to allow an office on the backside of breezeway, allowing the old garage to become a bedroom? Or the new front door has a porch that fits people's conception of arriving at a house? Or the placement and footprint of garage allows less of a breezeway, where you can incorporate a Foyer/closet and Living access directly to outside, rather than down a hallway?

  • Swentastic
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    @3onthetree you are spot on w your assessment. The city would only allow a 500sf garage if built freestanding. We hoped to build out the office with no closet so we’re not paying taxes on yet another bedroom (we already have one “non-bedroom” in the basement we’d prefer the city not acknowledge) and yes the existing 2200 sf includes the 1 stall but not the (built-to-code but illegally) finished square footage in the basement. There are several steps up to get into the house from the garage elevation and while it’s not impossible, a bedroom located in that space would be awkward at best. I called the architect this morning and told him to hold off on construction drawings so I can try to noodle a way to join a garage on the side without a breezeway. Depending on the way the existing garage is constructed (I’m having a hard time telling from looking inside) we might be able to take the stone off the exterior and buy 8”-10” or so, and widen that 24” door and create some kind of covered walkway leading up to it to be a more appealing entrance. It’ll never be ideal to walk into the kitchen but like you said, I’m realizing very quickly that the ROI on the breezeway concept is limited. We did buy the house very deep knowing someday this addition would be necessary but I don’t want to eat all our equity if we don’t have to. Thank you for your insights - our architect is actually with a structural firm whose main job is assessing foundations for us etc but it was half the cost to get the drawings from them vs one of the big design firms in the area and I’m willing to do a lot of the design and legwork myself (with the help of you kind folks) to save the extra cost. I’ll share my crude sketch up drawings here when I finish them if I can. Baby has been served her eviction notice so she’s coming in two days come hell or high water! Again, thank you to everyone for their input - this has really helped us out the scope of this project into perspective. I love this forum!!

  • houssaon
    2 months ago

    Best of everything with your new, soon to arrive, baby!

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