Some columnists in popular media have been wondering whether the garage is on its way out. They cite recent census data (from the U.S.) that show a steady increase in the percentage of homes built without a garage or carport — a surprising 8% at the height of the housing boom in 2004, rising to 13% in 2011. It seems that homeowners are opting for neighbourly front porches instead of the 1990s-standard, oversized garage that took up most of the view from the curb.
While cars are still important in many people’s lives, we agree that the garage shouldn’t be the most prominent feature facing the street. This diminishes the aesthetic appeal and welcoming character of the home, making it fortress-like in appearance. Our BC Mountain Homes stock plan don’t generally include built-in carports or garages. There are other options that are just as functional and integrate better with the overall plan.
Many people prefer the detached, free-standing structure that was the norm a couple of generations ago. The space can be designed for multi-purpose functionality — for example, built-in office or studio space, as in the ‘Chemainus’ plan shown below. Alternatively, the garage can be connected to the house by an open breezeway or enclosed, lower-roofed vestibule.
If your building lot is on a slope, you can situate the garage a short walking distance away from the house, and out of visual range if preferred. Otherwise, you can use part of the basement for vehicular storage, as we’ve done successfully with our ‘Ponderosa’, ‘Nasookin’, and ‘Balfour’ plans. If there’s enough space, it’s even possible to integrate a fully-attached garage that complements the architecture of the home without overwhelming it visually. The car is and will remain essential to many of us, but let’s remember to keep it in its proper place, and not substitute the garage for the real heart of the home.