Detached Garages

Garages Soild State Home Inspections

Garages provide home occupants with a dry and secure place to store cars and other possessions. Garages were originally very common on the back alleys of homes which meant they were detached the main home. However, as residential planning largely removed alleys in new communities in the 70's, it became more common for houses to have attached garages accessed from the front of the home. As with all trends however, alleys and detached garages are making a comeback in many of those same communities to improve the curb appeal of new homes and neighbourhoods.


For home inspectors following common industry standards, detached garages are included in a home inspection as this is an important safety space for home inspection clients.


Exterior, Structure, and Roofing

Attached garages and detached garages largely share the same features however with detached garages, there are no shared walls or roofing with the main home. This means the detached garage has to have descriptions and inspection of its own structure, exterior, and roofing by the home inspector


For garages build pre-1970's, detached garages were often built as an accessory on the property by amateurs. Detached garages also tend to see less regular maintenance than houses do. These circumstances result in many deficiencies and maintenance issues for home buyers in the home inspection report. In some cases, the garages are deemed to be entirely unsafe.


In more modern detached garage construction, the garages are commonly built by the main house builder and generally are better made using better materials. Typical home inspection deficiencies in builder-built detached garages tend to be similar to the main home.


Electrical, Water

Electricity may or may not have been originally part of a detached garage. Many newer detached garages have one or two circuits provided by the main home distribution panel intended for operating the garage door, interior and exterior lighting, and 110v outlets. Detached garages where occupants require additional power often should have a separate electrical sub-panel fed by the main power in the home. This also allows for 240v and 110v power outlets for occupant use.


Regardless of the power needed, power should be delivered by overhead or buried underground lines and use materials rated for exterior use. A common home inspection deficiency with detached garage wiring is the use of extension cords or interior home wiring for permanent garage power. These wiring solutions are not designed for permanent wet use and could result in electrocution hazards.


An underground cold water supply is not uncommon for detached garages where occupants may want to wash vehicles or have another place near the rear of the property for watering lawns. Water lines need to be buried deep enough to prevent freezing and mechanical damage. Sewer lines are very rare for detached garages but if they are present they require correct venting and connections just like in home sewer and drain connections.


Heating

Detached garages can be heated to make the space more comfortable for home occupants. The most common heating systems are electric baseboards however it is also possible to have forced air furnaces or even in-floor radiant heating. The heating system of an attached garage is most often completely independent of the main home. Home Inspectors will investigate heating systems in attached garages.


Garage Door Safety

Garage doors have major safety issues for home occupants. See our article on garage door safety here.


Final Thoughts

No matter if you have an older or newer detached garage, the garage is a potential danger zone for people and belongings. If you are in the process of buying a new home, always have your home and garage spaces inspected by a professional home inspector who will help protect you and ensure your detached garage is safe and solid.


By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.