We want to add another car's worth of space to our garage. What are the steps involved in this project? And what is the best way to get started on the project? Also if we want to add a screened in porch to our house is it best to try and incorporate both projects at once?
Dan ~ Dover, Delaware
Hi Dan, I'll answer your second question first. If your budget can handle doing the garage addition and the screened-in porch at the same time, I think you could get a substantial savings over doing them separately. When contractors estimate the cost of work they add in trip charges, especially with the cost of fuel today. If the excavating contractor only has to move his backhoe in one time to do both projects, it should save you money. The same should be true with just about every contractor who would be involved with both projects.
When you are getting prices for the work make sure you bring that issue up, that you are doing both projects at one time to save the contractors and yourself money and you expect pricing to reflect that.
Okay, now for the main question. The first thing you should do is make sure you have room for the projects on your property. I got a dog from the Humane Society in Dover, Delaware about 6 years ago, and I love the area, especially the older part of town. I remember that the homes were fairly close together, which is true in a lot of older towns, but it might make a garage addition difficult.
The survey you got at settlement should show your property lines and any setbacks and easements your property might have. A setback is an area next to your property line that you are restricted from building on. I believe mine are 10 feet on the side property lines and 15 feet on the rear, you may have similar setbacks. An easement is another area that you are restricted from building on. Easements are usually contain either utility lines or drainage swales. The utility companies don't want anything preventing them from working on their lines, and building in a drainage swale can interfere with the master drainage plan. If you don't have a copy of your survey, there should be one on record there in Dover.
If you have room for your garage addition and screened-in porch, I would have a meeting with a draft person or an architect to get some plans drawn up. You will need drawings for a building permit, and even though some contractors have the capability of drawing very nice plans, I prefer having an independent party draw them so that all of the contractors pricing the work are pricing the same thing. I'm not sure of the regulations in Delaware, but in Virginia you don't need an architect's seal on these types of drawings, so you might be able to get a better price by using a draft person.
Once you have working drawings you can begin getting prices for the work. I would get pricing from 3 or 4 reputable general contractors with good references and all of their licenses and insurance in place. Look at some of their past projects and talk to past customers if possible. Good luck with the projects, it sounds like your summer may be busy!