Daily Archives: October 22, 2016

project addition: garage plan and notes

We’re gearing up for our Conditional Use Hearing next Thursday, and as we start to round the corner towards the finish line (or at least the point in the relay where we hand the baton onto the next runner), I thought I’d give you a brief tour of the garage. I think I might start referring to it as the carriage house because it is both a garage and a living unit, so that’s an appropriate term, albeit an historic one. No carriages in sight, but our Volvo just crossed the 170K mile mark, so it’s pretty ancient.

I’m going to divide this into a few separate posts because I can get so wordy. (And please note, the exported image quality is not stellar, but you can click on the image and see a little larger if you want – it’s just the cropped corner of the whole document sheet.)

Here’s the Garage Plan:


Our lot is only 25′-0″ wide, so as I’ve mentioned before, we had to get a variance to build to the property line on both sides. The typical side setback is 4′-0″ (per side), which would have only allowed for a 17′-0″ wide garage – not big enough for 2 cars. And we have to provide 2 off street parking spaces in order to build the project in the first place – providing one parking space per unit – the main house, and the new living unit above the garage.

25′-0″ is a decent width for a 2-car garage, but that’s an outside dimension, so you have to subtract the thickness of the exterior walls, plus there is a stair to the apartment, so that eats into the garage space as well. We’ll have a double garage door and a “people” door on the alley so we won’t have to open the garage door every time we want to take the garbage out to the dumpsters or get the bikes out for a ride.

And even though every inch counts in a tiny yard, we decided that setting the garage back 2′-0″ from the alley will give us a nice apron at the door as well as improving the turning radius clearance a bit. And the garage will be 26′-0″ deep to accommodate a utility sink and a work bench area. We plan to move the workshop out of our current basement into this area – and really clean things out. We’ve amassed a lot of stuff now that we’ve been in the reno business for 16 years, as well as other stuff that gets stuck in the basement and forgotten.

It will be interesting to see how our garage patterns develop over time. We’re really used to street parking, and have never known anything else in our adult lives. I think we will still street park some, but it will be SO nice to be able to pre-pack for trips. For instance, when we take the truck on a trip, we can’t prepack the night before and leave it sitting out on the street. We don’t even do that with our car, despite it being locked and the items not visible. So any road trip is immediately preceded by a last minute packing session which really adds to the length of the day. Same thing when we return – even if we get back home in the middle of the night, we have to unpack everything immediately. (This really stinks when it’s cold and dark and raining.) So it will be a real treat to pull into a dry garage and leave everything where it is until we’re ready to unpack.

I’m fairly certain we tested out two dozen stair configurations before finally finding one that works. And although it’s a little weird to have to walk down a few stairs from the yard just to enter the garage and walk back up to the apartment, it’s the only way we could make it work. We considered an exterior stair to the apartment, but nixed that idea as well. I think this is the cleanest solution from the bunch, and the one that preserves as much floor space within the garage. We’ll use the open space underneath the interior stair to store bikes and sporting equipment, but once the project is done and the landscaping is in place we will no longer require a mower, so we can get rid of that. Ask M how fun it is to lift a mower up out of the current basement and up the areaway stairs. Good riddance to that chore!

A few nice features we’re incorporating –

Daylight – we’ve got some operable windows over the workshop area so we can get some fresh air without having to open up the garage door. This will be a nice space to work on projects – we’ll just street park while they are in process.

Utility sink – we have a full bath and kitchen in the apartment above, so a utility sink in the garage is a no brainer. This will be so nice, even when doing things like gardening, etc. Having a sink to wash off that isn’t in the house is a real plus. Good for washing paint brushes as well.

Covered Entry – I’ll talk a little more about this in the next post about the apartment, but the apartment has a north facing wall of windows with a “frame” around it that cantilevers off the building. This provides some cover over the entrance into the garage – a little detail that is nice when you have a detached garage and the weather is crappy.

Brick – we’re planning to use brick on the entire structure and this will provide a very low maintenance building for the long haul. It’s not only appropriate to the neighborhood, but I think having a darker brick exterior will help the building to recede visually. This will be important, because this is going to be a dramatic change to the rear yard. I think it’s going to be fairly jarring at first – the difference between the before and after – but our hope is that it will settle in well with the fabric of our neighborhood and be less of an object in the backyard, but rather, a lovely backdrop to the courtyard garden.

There’s an overview of the garage plan – I’ll fill you in on the upstairs plan and elevations soon.