Built-in Vs. Attached Garage: Which is Better?

An image showing an attached garage

When deciding the layout and design of a garage, you can usually make it part of your house or keep it as a separate structure. This is where the two popular terms, attached and detached (garages), come in.

As the terms imply, a standalone structure is a detached garage, while one integrated into the house is attached. 

But do you know that other types of garages exist beyond these two? If you choose a connected garage, you must still decide whether it will be built-in or simply attached.

This article compares built-in vs. attached garage types to help you understand which one suits you better.  

What is a built-in garage?

This is an attached garage with living quarters directly above it. The living area may be a bedroom, game room, or some other living space. 

As the name suggests, a built-in garage is built into the rest of the property, so the garage entrance acts as the house’s main entrance.

Because this type of garage has part of the property on top of it, it lacks a standalone roof. 

It is a preferred choice for homeowners with little space, such as in townhouses. It allows for consolidating everything into a narrow footprint by capitalizing on the vertical space.

This type of garage is the most common in homes built on sloping land. The architecture utilizes the limited flat land more efficiently while creating an exciting style. 

Built-in garage pros and cons 

The pros 

  • The design makes better use of a narrow footprint 
  • It can add a beautiful architectural appeal to a building 
  • It provides extra living space in the house 

Cons 

  • If the garage is uninsulated, the design can affect the living space above it, driving up the utility bills.

What is an Attached Garage? 

An attached garage is one that is part of a house but without any living space above it. The term attached garage is typically used in reference to garages integrated into residential properties. 

While the garage and the main house are connected, the garage typically has its own roof. However, since an attached garage is connected to the rest of your house, sharing at least one wall, it usually has a door leading into your home.

This way, the garage door usually serves as the main entrance into most homes with an attached garage. With the garage integrated into the rest of your home, you will likely enter and leave your home through the garage door more frequently than any other entrance. 

Attached garage pros and cons 

The pros 

  • Attached garages are convenient 
  • They are easy to access from the adjacent rooms or living areas 
  • They are typically cost-effective to put up 

The cons 

  • Attached garages may require a wider footprint, which may be a challenge for townhouses. 

Built-in vs. attached garage; Which is Better?

Since a built-in garage is a type of attached garage, the two garage types share many features. However, the main distinguishing factor between a built-in and an attached garage is that a built-in garage has a living area above it, whereas an attached garage has no such living space. 

Both garage types are part of the property, so you can access them conveniently without leaving the house. 

Nonetheless, these are not the only similarities and differences between attached and built-in garages.

Read along for more on how the two garage types compare. 

  • Adjacent living areas 

Attached garages are technically inside the house. This means other living areas sit beside the garage, and you can easily access the garage from these living areas, just like any other room in the building.

A built-in garage is technically an attached garage, so it is accessible from the other rooms in the house. It has rooms adjacent to it that you can enter and leave through the garage exits. 

The only difference is that a built-in garage will have an additional living area directly over it, which is lacking in a standard attached garage.

Verdict: it is a tie. 

  • Curb Appeal

Since most attached garages extend the footprint of your property, it can make the house appear larger or grander from the street. The bigger the garage, the larger your property may appear since a garage can take up plenty of square footage.

This image can be advantageous to your property when selling it. The imposing size can contribute to a higher bargain. 

In contrast, built-in garages are tucked into the house, adding no square footage to the overall size of the house. 

However, since a house with a built-in garage will have living spaces above the garage, the property may appear much more prominent and taller. 

If you have a two-car or three-car garage, it will occupy ample space, directly impacting the overall size of the house from a street view. 

As such, both built-in and attached garages may considerably impact the value of the house in terms of curb appeal. 

Garage doors are wide and take up a significant part of your home’s exteriors. Installing beautiful garage doors and adding roof overhangs or other decorative features to the garage can make the property look considerably more attractive.

This applies to both built-in and attached garages. 

Verdict: Both built-in and attached garages can impact the curb appeal 

  • Garage size 

Garage sizes are another shared area between attached and built-in garages. You can have a one-car garage measuring an average of 12-16 feet wide and 22-24 feet deep or a bigger two-car or three-car garage instead. 

A bigger two-car garage measuring approximately 18 feet wide by 20 feet deep will offer more room for storage, which is ideal for a garage attached to the house. 

If you have more than two vehicles to keep in the garage or just need more storage space on your property, a three-car garage may be handy. These garages measure about 32 feet wide and 22 feet deep on average. 

These dimensions are the same for built-in and attached garages, from one-car to three-car garages. 

Verdict: it is a tie 

  • Shared walls

Shared walls are a primary feature of any garage attached to the house. An attached garage must share at least one wall with the rest of the property to qualify as one.

However, this garage may differ from a built-in garage in that an attached garage may share just one wall with the house, while a built-in option may share more walls. 

If the property has a good floor plan, it may share a maximum of two walls with its attached garage. 

On the other hand, a built-in garage typically shares a minimum of two walls with the main house. It can share up to three walls with the property, one wall more than a standard attached garage.

Verdict: built-in garages share more walls with the main house than attached.

  • Garage roof style

If your property has a built-in garage, the latter has no roof. Instead, the floor of the room above is the garage’s ceiling. 

Built-in garages are tucked into main houses, so they lack a roof and an attic of their own. Their ceilings are floors of the living spaces above them. However, you can still outfit your garage ceiling in your own functional style, depending on how you use the space. 

In contrast, attached garages have no living spaces above them. For this reason, they often have their own attic and roof. 

In North America, your attached garage roof is likely to consist of asphalt shingles, the most popular roofing material for residential properties in the region. 

Since asphalt shingles are widely used on standalone roofs across North America for their durability and cost-effectiveness, your attached garage may have them.

In any case, the roofing style and material will be consistent with the rest of the property for a unified look. 

If the house is multi-storied, the roof will be raised higher than the garage roof. But for a single-floor property, their roofline may be uniform, with the garage roof continuing seamlessly from the roof of the house.

Verdict: attached garage has the same roof style as the main house.

  • The applicable building code

The applicable building code for both attached and built-in garages is the same. This is primarily because a built-in garage is essentially an attached garage.

Both garage types subscribe to section R302.6 of the International Residential Code (IRC) of 2018.

If you use drywall in your garage, you will follow the same local building code for the attached and built-in garage. This code is a copy of the IRC code stipulating the building requirements for attached garages. 

Verdict: the same code applies to attached and built-in garages 

  • Entrance style 

The garage door is usually the main entry point for most homes with attached garages. Thanks to modern garage door technology, you will hardly ever leave your car to open or close the garage door. 

With automatic garage door openers now commonplace, homeowners use remotes or their cell phones to operate their garage doors remotely. Once inside the garage, they simply proceed into their main living spaces through adjoining doors.

This is why the garage door serves as the main entrance for most homes with attached garages. 

This rule applies equally to built-in garages as it does to attached. 

Verdict: Both attached and built-in garages can serve as the main entrance to the property

What to consider when choosing between attached and built-in garages 

When it is time to put up a new garage in your home, you’ll ideally decide between an attached and detached option. 

People who prefer to avoid walking in bad weather to reach their vehicles will choose an attached garage. Making this choice is not the end; you still have to decide whether it will be attached or built-in. 

Here is what to consider to arrive at that decision: 

  • The size of your lot

The most significant advantage of a built-in garage is its economy of space. Because the garage is typically tucked into the property, it can fit in a narrow lot, which is characteristic of most townhouses.

So if you have a narrow space where the room for an extensive structure would be a problem, a built-in option would be best.

However, if you have a big lot, the size won’t be a problem, so you can go for an attached garage that extends the footprint of your property, covering a wider area. 

Both attached and built-in garages constitute part of the main house. Their only difference is how they impact the square footage of your property. 

So, consider how big your lot is when planning your new garage to choose the design that your space will allow.

  • Your preferred aesthetics 

Does the built-in or attached garage fit your home aesthetically? 

A built-in garage will have a living space directly over it. If you have a multi-storied building, this style should be ideal.

However, since an attached garage has no living space above it, it may be the preferred choice for a single-floor property. 

Built-in vs. attached garage- Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. What is the difference between an attached and a built-in garage?

A built-in garage typically has living quarters directly above it, while an attached garage has no such living areas over it. However, both built-in and attached garages are connected to your property, with the garage door serving as the main entrance to your house.

Q2. Are detached or attached garages better?

While attached garages offer the convenience of easy access to your home, detached garages may be safer due to the distance they offer from your main living spaces. This distance reduces the chances of carbon monoxide from your vehicle seeping into your house.

Like any small engine, lantern, or stove, your vehicle produces carbon monoxide fumes when its fuel burns. When burnt indoors, these fumes can build up to dangerous levels as the gas is poisonous when inhaled. 

So, an attached or detached garage can be better, depending on what you are considering. 

The video below describes the pros and cons of attached vs. detached garages.

Conclusion 

While both attached and built-in garages are connected to the property, they may be suitable under different circumstances. 

Ideally, go for a built-in garage if you have a narrow space for construction. The small footprint of the house will accommodate a built-in garage better.

On the other hand, choose an attached garage if you have adequate square footage where your property can spread out horizontally, accommodating the garage.

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