So you just found the boat of your dreams and you are dying to have it. You speak with the dealer and learn as much about your possible new toy as you can. You also want your new toy to last, and an enclosed space such as your garage can provide that… you hope. With the gears of your mind churning, you head home to examine your garage and, lo and behold, your garage is simply not big enough to house the boat. How do you approach this dilemma? You could reorganize your garage to attain the maximum space, but what if even that doesn’t work?
You just might have to rebuild your garage to make it work. Sometimes, it may come down to razing your old garage and building a new one.
The Three A’s in Garage Design
Garages are no longer seen as places to simply store cars. Many homeowners use their spaces for storage of recreational vehicles and household items. Increasingly, homeowners are also viewing garage space as activity centers such as work areas and private gyms. When rebuilding or replacing the garage, design it in with three objectives in mind:
- Adequate space for your boat without the need of special maneuvers. Ideally, you should be able to pull and push your boat inside in a straight line, without bending it across the garage to make it fit.
- Additional space for storage and organization. Take the opportunity to create efficient use of space so that your valuables do not take up the space of the garage dedicated to your vehicles.
- Ample space for activities. With the many purposes given by homeowners for their garages, be sure to consider all possible uses when fleshing out your vision.
Search for References and Ideas
Afterwards, look for examples of garages that have been built by others and see what works. The website Houzz offers a primer on basic garage dimensions, examples of new and rebuilt garages, and points on what you should look for in garage design. You may even want to keep the existing garage for other uses and build a new one on another portion of the property. In the end, you may not want something permanent and a simple yet sturdy do-it-yourself garage may suffice.
If possible, talk with other boat owners who have also rebuilt their garages for their boats to note the challenges, prices and what they look for in prospective builders.
Getting the Facts
To avoid unpleasant surprises, learn as much about what is necessary to build or rebuild your garage before talking to an architect or specialized garage builder:
- Know your boat: Take measurements of the height, length and width of your boat. If you are using a trailer to move it, take the above measurements with the boat mounted on the trailer. That way, you have the dimensions of the two so that they can stay together in the new garage.
- Know your space: Measure not only your garage dimensions but also the available space surrounding it, since you might want to use such space to build an expanded garage. Draw your garage at scale on quadrant paper to show to prospective builders. Take note of any warps and cracks in the existing concrete slab and foundation, since this is an indication of poor substrate and soil conditions below, which must be remedied before any modification takes place.
- Know the process: Learn as much about garage modification regulations and permits from your municipality as you can. Some cities and even some states require a minimum garage size.
- Know the community: If you are a member of a homeowner’s association, learn about any aesthetic requirements to keep your garage’s design on par with that of the rest of your community.
Search for a Builder
Architects are usually the first people to speak with when considering building or rebuilding garages for your boat. There are also businesses that focus exclusively on garage building and remodeling. Learn about their license status, past work and reputation with previous customers. Licensed builders are expected to have knowledge in zoning requirements, local building codes, permits and construction documents. Take a look at this checklist on what to look for in hiring contractors, courtesy of Angie’s List. While not exhaustive, this can give you a good start when inquiring about past work.
For companies that provide do-it-yourself garage kits, do the above research and see if they will provide a quality product that fits your needs and will protect your vessel.
After narrowing down your options, set up an appointment with a representative to discuss ideas, limitations, time expectations, and costs. Clearly communicate the purpose of your garage, the dimensions of your boat and any other objects you wish to store inside.
Understanding the Construction Process
Building a new garage for your boat usually involves demolishing the existing garage, clearing the site, laying down the foundation and concrete slab, erecting the garage walls and installing the roof. Rebuilding your garage for your boat should allow you to keep at least part of the existing garage frame. Construction of a typical garage usually lasts about three weeks, but since boats and trailers require more space, calculate with your contractor a reasonable but firm time frame to complete the work. Do-it-yourself garages are generally not as construction-intensive, often requiring only a clear site to build upon.
Once your garage is finished, you will be able to fit your boat into its new home. Building a new garage for you boat, or simply rebuilding your current garage for your boat, may have its challenges. However, considering how boats require extra care to reach a longer life and proper protection from the elements is paramount, your boat will thank you.