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attached vs detached garage cost

Building a Garage: Attached vs Detached Garage Costs

Staring down the driveway at an empty garage, you dream of parking your car inside away from the elements. But should you expand your existing house or build a separate structure? This decision impacts convenience, costs, and even resale value. Before making a decision, weigh the full costs of attached versus detached designs.

From material expenses to labor, our guide breaks down the prices per square foot and factors that make one garage cheaper than the other. With the right information, you can construct your ideal garage without breaking the bank. Let’s open the (garage) doors on smart budget planning.

house with an attached garage

Key Takeaways

  • Attached garages cost 10-15% less than detached garages on average due to shared infrastructure

  • Expect to pay $35-$70 per square foot for a new garage build, with labor accounting for 50%

  • Detached garages allow more design flexibility but have higher upfront costs

  • Get multiple contractor quotes and use online calculators to optimize the budget

Key Factors That Impact Garage Building Costs

There are several important variables that will determine how much it costs to build any type of garage. As you estimate your budget, be sure to account for:

Garage Size

The total square footage of your garage is one of the biggest cost factors. The larger the footprint, the more you’ll pay for materials, labor, and other expenses. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to build a garage is $40-$70 cost per square foot.

Some typical garage sizes and their average costs are:

  • 1-car (12 x 20 ft): $9,600-$16,800
  • 2-car (20 x 20 ft): $16,000-$28,000
  • 3-car (30 x 30 ft): $36,000-$63,000


What you construct your garage walls, roof, foundation, and other components from will impact the total project price tag. Some popular garage-building materials include:

  • Wood framing - Cost-effective option at $15-$35 per square foot installed. Requires regular maintenance.
  • Steel - More durable but costs $20-$50 per square foot.
  • Brick/stone - Attractive but expensive at $30-$100+ per square foot.
  • Concrete block - Affordable and sturdy but requires cladding. Costs $10-$20 per square foot.

More premium materials like stone and brick will add to costs, while basic options like wood framing provide cost savings.

Garage Features

Upgrades like insulation, electricity, windows, and storage space will all add to your bottom-line budget. Some popular garage add-ons to consider include:

  • Insulation - Improves temperature control. $1-$5 per square foot installed.
  • Electricity - Required for lighting and garage door openers. $2,000 average cost.
  • Windows - Adds natural light. About $300-$700 per window.
  • Garage door - Electric openers cost $1,000-$3,000 to install.
  • Storage lofts - Adds usable space. Roughly $30 per square foot.

Attached vs Detached

One of the biggest cost factors is whether you build a detached garage separate from your home or attach it directly. According to HomeAdvisor, attached garages cost 10-15% less on average than detached garages.*

Some of the cost differences include:

  • Foundation - Attached garages use the existing house foundation, while detached require a fully separate foundation.
  • Framing - Detached garages require complete framing on all four sides. The attached only requires framing at the separation wall.
  • Utilities - Electrical, plumbing, and HVAC connections are simpler with attached designs.
  • Garage door - Detached designs may need doors on both street and house sides.

Attached garages provide more convenience, protection from weather, and slightly lower building costs. However, detached garages offer more flexibility in size, location, and aesthetics.

detached garage metal


Before breaking ground, costs will be incurred for:

  • Permits - Vary by location but often $500-$2,000+
  • Site prep - Clearing, grading, and excavating land. $2,000-$4,000 on average.
  • Architect fees - For drawings and plans. Around 10% of the total project cost.

Attached garages usually have lower permit fees but may require more involved planning.


Carpentry work, concrete installation, and construction management will be your primary labor costs. This can range from 35-50% of your total budget. Most homeowners hire contractors rather than tackle the build alone. Expect to pay:

  • Framer: $60 per hour
  • Electrician: $65 per hour
  • Concrete installer: $75 per hour
  • General contractor: 10-20% of build cost

Now that we’ve covered the universal factors that apply to any garage build, let’s focus specifically on detached and attached garage costs.

building a garage

Cost to Build a Detached Garage 

Detached garages, also known as stand-alone garages, are completely separate structures from your main home. Here are some average detached garage cost estimates:

  • 12x20 (240 sq ft) 1-car garage - $9,600-$16,800
  • 20x20 (400 sq ft) 2-car garage - $16,000-$28,000
  • 24x24 (576 sq ft) 2-car & workshop garage - $23,040-$40,320
  • 24x30 (720 sq ft) 3-car garage - $28,800-$50,400
  • 30x40 (1200 sq ft) RV garage - $48,000-$84,000

Overall, you can expect to pay around $40-$70 per square foot for a standard detached garage. With labor accounting for 50% of costs, the total price for a 400-square-foot 2-car garage would be $16,000-$28,000 on average.

When planning your detached garage design, be sure to consult our detailed guide to building a detached garage. It will help yield a stable, high-performing detached garage tailored to your property.

detached garage with windows on lawn

Cost to Build an Attached Garage

Attached garages are directly connected to your home and are often accessed via a door inside the house. Here are some typical attached garage sizes and price estimates:

  • 12x20 (240 sq ft) 1-car garage - $7,500-$12,500
  • 16x20 (320 sq ft) 2-car garage - $12,800-$22,400
  • 20x20 (400 sq ft) 2-car garage - $14,000-$25,000
  • 24x24 (576 sq ft) 2-car with workshop - $20,160-$35,280
  • 24x30 (720 sq ft) 3-car garage - $25,200-$44,000

Building an attached rather than detached design saves an estimated 10-15% on project costs. You can expect to pay around $35-$50 per square foot based on typical attached garage sizes.

So if you want to add a 400 square foot attached 2-car garage, the total cost would be approximately $14,000-$20,000.

attached garage with two doors


Key Differences in Attached vs Detached Garage Costs

To summarize the major differences in price between attached and detached garage designs:

  • Detached costs $40-$70 per square foot on average
  • Attached costs $35-$50 per square foot on average
  • Labor accounts for 50% of the total budget for both structures
  • Attached saves 10-15% in upfront build costs versus detached

The most significant savings for attached garages comes from utilizing the existing house foundation and framing. You also simplify the roof, sidewalls, and connection to utilities in the home.

Detached garages however have more flexibility. You can build larger sizes more easily and customize the location, appearance, and materials used. But you’ll pay more in initial construction costs.

Here is a direct example cost comparison:

Garage Type Size Total Cost
Detached 24x24 (576 sq ft) $23,040-$40,320
Attached 24x24 (576 sq ft) $20,160-$35,280

While attached garages are generally cheaper to build, other factors like layout flexibility, functionality, and home resale value help determine the better investment.

Garage Cost Calculator

To derive a more precise estimate for your specific detached or attached garage project, we recommend using a garage cost calculator. These online tools allow you to input details like:

  • Size
  • Style (detached vs attached)
  • Materials
  • Features
  • Location

Based on this data, you can get detailed projected costs including:

  • Total materials needed and pricing
  • Expected labor hours and rates
  • Permitting fees for your area
  • Site preparation work required

The total estimated price is typically broken down by category such as foundation, framing, roofing, siding, electrical, etc.

Most garage calculators also provide recommendations on:

  • Best design options to maximize space and functionality
  • Material packages to consider for budget optimization
  • Ways to reduce your costs based on preferred features and upgrades

Using these outputs, you can more accurately plan your attached or detached garage budget and make the optimal design decisions before breaking ground.

Tips for Minimizing Your Garage Build Costs

To reduce expenses on your attached or detached garage project, keep these money-saving tips in mind:

  • Get precise measurements - Undersizing your garage can lead to costly changes later. Overbuilding wastes money upfront.

  • Use efficient framing plans - Optimize spacing between studs, rafters, and joists while meeting code.

  • Size garage door correctly - Too small requires costly adjustments. Too big wastes money. The opening should be 2 feet wider than the car's width.

  • Use existing electrical and HVAC - Tapping into your home’s systems is cheaper than installing new ones.

  • Add windows later - Framing for windows now costs more. Add them down the road for utility savings.

  • Insulate ceiling but leave walls bare - Ceiling insulation is vital. Wall insulation is optional.

  • Pour concrete floor yourself - DIY concrete installation can save thousands in labor costs.

  • Purchase materials directly - Avoid markup by buying garage packages yourself versus paying a contractor.

Being strategic at the planning stage and hiring experienced contractors goes a long way to keeping your attached or detached garage built on a budget.


Whether you add an attached or detached garage may come down to budget. Going attached generally costs 10-15% less per square foot since it shares walls and foundations. But detached allows more creativity. Ultimately, weigh needs over wants. If easy access matters most, an attached one-car garage gets the job done. If hobby space is critical, a detached garage may be worth the extra cost. With smart planning, you can build a garage tailored to your life without breaking the bank. Adding a garage to your home can open up convenience and flexibility for years to come.


How much more does a finished garage cost versus an unfinished one?

Finishing a garage adds $10-20 per square foot for drywall, insulation, paint and trim. So expect an additional cost of $4,000-$8,000 for a 400 sq ft garage.

How much does it cost to build a garage with living space?

Building a garage with living space will generally cost more than a standard garage. The cost will depend on factors such as the size of the living space, the level of finishes, and any additional plumbing or electrical work required. On average, the cost can range from $50,000 to $100,000 or more.

What is the cost of a garage door installation?

The cost of a garage door installation can vary depending on factors such as the type of garage door, materials used, and any additional features or insulation. On average, the cost can range from $500 to $2,500 or more.

Can I build a garage myself?

Yes, with proper plans and permits, you can build and install a garage yourself. This saves on labor but requires DIY construction skills.

How much does it cost to build a garage foundation?

The cost of building a garage foundation will depend on factors such as the size of the garage and the type of foundation required. On average, the cost can range from $5,000 to $15,000 or more.

Previous article How Much Does a Detached Garage Increase Home Value?

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About The Author

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu - Resident Expert

Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

His main focus is on sheds and generators!

In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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