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Basement garages help to save ground floor space, construct larger garages, and avoid property-line limits. Vehicles will be well-protected from heat but will be subject to cold. Construction can be tricky and costly. You lose storage and introduce flood risks. You also have to carry bags, etc., up stairs.
|Pros of a Basement Garage||Cons of a Basement Garage|
|The size of your garage is not limited by property lines||It can get very cold in a basement garage|
|Your cars are protected from the hazards of extreme heat||You would have to contend with the cost and difficulty of converting the basement|
|Your ground-level areas are available for other purposes||There is less space for bigger appliances|
|Basement garages can be bigger than ground-floor garages||You would have to carry bags up the stairs|
|Flooding could be an issue in some areas|
Pros of a Basement Garage
Looser Size and Property Line Restrictions
Whether an attached garage or a detached garage is being built, there are many restrictions in place that make constructing them a hassle.
The definite parameters differ by your location but are fairly similar across the United States.
For example, the city of Waupun, Wisconsin dictates that a detached garage cannot be more than 1,400 square ft in area. They must also have at least three feet of distance from the property line as well as the main home.
For an attached garage, the restrictions get a bit more complicated. The attached garage must be 30 ft from the front yard, 6 ft from the side yard, 30 ft from the corner lot line, and 25 ft from the rear lot line.
All of these restrictions must be upheld, as well as all of the building codes that must be followed for these garages.
When a garage is underground, many of these restrictions will not be applicable. With this advantage, a garage can be larger than above-ground restrictions say. Moreover, distances from the property line are much less of a problem.
Cars Protected From Extreme Heat
In high temperatures, problems arise with the gas consumption, tires, battery, and engine of your vehicle. Since basements are underground and thus consistently have a cooler temperature than the rest of the household, extreme temperatures are not a likely problem with a basement garage.
Gas is a precious resource, and extreme temperatures can easily evaporate it from your car at a higher rate than in mild temperatures.
Although tires can withstand a great deal of stress, they have a weakness to extreme heat. They can dry out and cause a blowout, which is not only a threat to your wallet but also to your safety.
Evaporation is not only a concern for gas consumption but also for battery deterioration. The water in the battery evaporates at high temperatures and cause once-submerged lead plates to emerge. This has a negative effect on battery amperage and leads to difficulty starting the car.
An overheated engine is much more likely to occur when outside temperatures are high, and coolant is vital in managing your engine’s temperature. Low levels of coolant can be catastrophic in a situation of extreme heat, and your engine could die.
Ultimately, all these factors mean that investing in a basement garage can save money in the long run when your vehicles are protected from the possible damage that high temperatures can cause.
Ground Level Area Available for Other Purposes
The garage takes up a large amount of square footage on the main floor of the house.
Not having an attached garage can mean expanding vital areas of the first floor.
Your living room can be expanded to allow for more seating and a more comprehensive entertainment system. The kitchen could have more counter space, seating, and even just more space to walk around to prevent “too many cooks in the kitchen” situations.
Not only could existing living spaces be expanded upon, but new rooms could be added. A child’s playroom, a home office (which is an unexpectedly important space these days!), or guest bedroom would be a wonderful use for this additional space.
The extra space would not have to be limited to the first floor. Rather than an addition to the home itself, the space could be used for a larger patio, deck, or an expansion of your beautiful garden. The yard would be expanded and open to many new possibilities.
Can Be Bigger Than Ground-Floor Garage
An above-ground garage is either limited by the floor plan of your first floor or, if the garage is an outbuilding, by your yard space.
The garage is often only as large as it absolutely needs to be so that the more lived-in areas of the home, such as the kitchen and living room, have ample space to be comfortable and usable.
A basement garage, though, can easily be the size of the whole of your first floor, if the basement mirrors the dimensions of this floor.
This would fully depend on the structure of your basement and the limitations of your foundation, but with good planning, this garage could be larger than any attached garage could ever be.
This could mean space for more than one car, maybe even more than two, or an extra stall for your lawnmower. This would also mean that more storage space would be available, whether used for the garage or the basement area.
Cons of a Basement Garage
Basement Garages Can Get Very Cold
Like extreme heat, extreme cold can also wreak havoc on your vehicles. The batteries and tires of your cars can suffer in the cold.
Battery chemistry is slowed down in low temperatures, and in the case of electric vehicles, this can mean negative effects on the range, performance, and efficiency of your vehicle.
Those who reside in areas where winters are harsh know to dread the sputtering of your car’s engine in the cold, especially with an older car. Not only is battery chemistry slowed, but the cold can fully kill batteries, which can entirely ruin a day where a car is depended on for daily transport.
As the outside temperature decreases, the pressure of a tire also decreases. This means that checks on your tire pressure should be done more often to cars in a basement garage.
How Cold Do Basements Actually Get?
Although basements can get quite chilly, extreme cold is fairly unlikely. According to the Chicago Tribune, “basement temperatures rarely go below 40, even in the coldest of winters, and sometimes when the heat goes off.”
Above 40°F, it is very unlikely for your battery to die, but lower-than-average temperatures may still take a toll on your vehicles.
Cost and Difficulty of Converting the Basement
Whether you are building from scratch or starting with a basement that has already been dug, the cost of converting a basement into a garage is quite a bit more pricey than an attached or detached garage.
The process that makes a basement garage so expensive is a great deal of excavation and the structural concerns that come with it.
For example, excavation cannot interfere with the foundations and load-bearing structures of the above-ground section of the house. If these were interfered with, the structural integrity of the house becomes compromised which can be disastrous.
The type of soil below your home also factors into structural integrity and cost of excavation since some soil horizons are easier to excavate than others. If rock is struck while excavating, that adds another layer of difficulty.
With these factors considered, a basement garage with space for two or more cars can cost between $100K and $200K. This, compared to the average price of adding an attached garage, $35K, is quite the project.
Although the cost is quite high in comparison to an attached garage, this addition adds quite a bit of property value to your home. That, as well as all of the pros listed in this article, makes the intimidating cost more worth it to some.
Less Space for Big Appliances
Basements are often home to bulky and unattractive appliances such as water heaters, furnaces, fridges, chest freezers, and more. Converting your basement to a garage can intrude into space that basements often need.
Garages not only house one car or more but also often a variety of car maintenance items. Garages can also be storage for various outdoor items for tasks such as lawn mowing, gardening, and various landscaping (unless a shed is used for this.)
Basements are also often great areas for excess bulky storage. Since most of the storage areas on the other floors of the house are limited to closets, basements are a great place to store a variety of large items such as old electronics or large boxes.
The ‘garage’ part of a basement garage and the large amount of space needed for its function can limit the space for the appliances named above as well as various other bulky storage typically stored in a basement.
Carrying Bags up the Stairs
While this problem can seem trivial to some, when you think about how often bags are carried in through the garage, the issue becomes more concerning.
In many households, there is a decent amount of traffic through the garage door and into the home. Groceries, newly-bought furniture, and packed bags from a vacation are often transported from the car parked in the garage and brought into the house from there.
Adding a flight of stairs from the basement garage to the main floor adds a whole other level of difficulty to the process of unloading your car.
The process would take longer, be more difficult, especially in the situation of lugging furniture up the stairs, and make unpacking after a long drive much more tiring when all you want to do is settle back into your home.
Flooding Could Be an Issue
Basements, for fairly obvious reasons, are the most likely floor in the house to be flooded since they are the lowest and underground. Flooding is devastating enough to a regular basement, but damage to a garage basement would be even more devastating.
Basement garages are more vulnerable to flooding because the driveway acts as a channel for heavy rainwater; in some areas, it can look as though a river is coursing down to your garage.
Another point of concern is that there is at least one large door leading from the driveway and into the garage. You can make the door as water-tight as possible, but it will always be a door and there will always be cracks for potential water entry.
A flooded garage basement would have damage to the usual amenities of a basement along with horrible damage to the vehicles. The removal of water from the garage would also be challenging since it is underground.
The usage of a basement garage would have to account for the fact that it is much more likely to be flooded than a garage above the ground.
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