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    Thread: Living with a one-car garage as a "car guy"?

    1. Senior Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 01:43 PM #1
      As some of you may know, I've been on a house hunt for a while now.

      After getting my over-asking offers rejected multiple times (and f'ing up one deal with an amazingly sized garage), I'm finally under contract on a house. Just had the inspection done this weekend. Don't even have the results yet but am getting cold feet. The problem (aside from feeling like I'm overpaying by this thing in this insane market)? It's a 1951 build and has a one-car garage. I've had big dreams of doing a GarageJournal-style build but I can't help but think that a one car garage is just unworkable for something like that. So, I have come to TCL for help. Is it possible to be a happy car guy with a one-car garage or will I regret this purchase? Also, those of you in the industry, am I insane for buying in this market?

      The house and garage at issue.











      My measurements sucked because there was so much crap in there. Ballpark 12-13" ft wide, maybe 18-19" ft deep? The red-circled items can be used as reference points:

      From the garage door in, there's a work bench in that extended area to the left of the door, then the interior laundry room intrudes slightly into the garage and cuts off the workbench area (you can see the intrusion in pic #2, where the conduit is running on the side of the intrusion (to the right of the ironing board):



      From the back door, looking toward the garage doorm


      The house and oversized 2-car garage I missed out on. This was one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made, TCL. I can tell the story if anyone cares but the short of it is that I'm a moron.





      Given the state of the market and a possible drop in housing prices, I could be stuck in this thing for a while. So, TCL, should this garage be a deal-breaker?
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    3. Senior Member
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      09-21-2020 01:47 PM #2
      I've lived with a one car garage for 10+ years. It's not ideal--I'd like more storage, and the width makes it a bit tough to work on anything. But it's better than what I had before, which was street parking.

      Just buy the house. It's a nice place, well-kept, and I think you'll quickly build equity in it. The place with the two car garage would have been a money pit even before you got to the cosmetic updates. You can stuff the 993 or other project car in the garage and still have one car in in the driveway (at least)--that's still a win.

    4. Member Nealric's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 01:49 PM #3
      Personally, I couldn't do it. You'll reset the lack of space every day you own the house, and moving is very expensive after broker fees and closing costs.

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      09-21-2020 01:53 PM #4
      First off, I think buying a house in the current market is crazy in general unless you feel like you will be comfortable with your purchase for a good long time. The inventory is at all time lows, people are paying ridiculous amounts of money, and when the inventory comes back IMO a lot of people that are buying now are going to be stuck.

      So if you are already having second thoughts and you aren't in any kind of crazy need to make a move. I'd personally wait for the right place. We almost settled for two houses a few years back when we were shopping and looking back on them I am SO glad we didn't compromise. We ended up finding our dream home (and my three car garage and a barn) and quite frankly I feel like I will be buried here.

      My last long term rental had a one car garage and it sucked. We had three cars so two of them always needed cleaning, snow brushed off, shuffle them around and hope storms weren't too bad. Obviously you won't have to worry about snow but it is still a pain in the ass depending on the driveway and access to garage door.

      I'd pass. I'd also be interested in hearing your story about the house you missed out on.

    6. Member davewg's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 01:58 PM #5
      Don't do it. You'll forever regret it. Trust me. We moved from a 3 car to a 2 car and it sucks. More so because we have no basement for storage, and because we have a classic it effectively means I'll never park my car in the garage (my wife gets the 'free' side in the winter months because she has to drive to work every day. She cannoned my recent plans to put a lift in....
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      09-21-2020 01:58 PM #6
      We are closing on a new place in a couple weeks and two-car garage/ two-car-wide driveway was a must-have. I can only imagine your challenge though, as it's tough to find something decent with that here under $400k. Where you live, that price target could be double or more, I don't know.

    8. Member Itgb's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:01 PM #7
      How long do you plan to stay in this house? If more than 8-10yrs, then I would look for one that has the 2-car garage that you want. if you want to park 2 cars inside, you will regret your decision for a long time.
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      09-21-2020 02:04 PM #8
      Can you extend the garage?
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      09-21-2020 02:12 PM #9
      I can't tell from this pictures, but is there enough room to extend current garage, and add another 10-15 feet?
      looks like there is a driveway going to the side gate... what is behind a gate? Can you build standalone shop on the back?
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      09-21-2020 02:12 PM #10
      You’re lucky you have a 911 as they’re pretty small. I had a deep one car when I had my 1970 911 and it was ok. The jobs that sucked involved taking the wheels off or having the doors open. That garage looks a little wider than mine was but it’s still going to be a compromise vs a nice two car. If you love the house maybe expanding the garage is an option.


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    12. Member SchnellFowVay's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:17 PM #11
      Buy the house. It appears that you have plenty of room to expand the garage after a few years.
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      09-21-2020 02:17 PM #12
      Gene Berg said it best. "Buy the best and cry once."

      Of course with a house you can cry every month, but unless you can expand that garage (and in a reasonable timeline) you'll almost certainly rue the day you decided to compromise for expediency.
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    14. Turtles walk slowly, but get angry fast! Smooremin's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:21 PM #13
      For me, yes. Especially after just getting into a house with a 2.5 car garage. I already wish I had a 3 and have begun planning building a 3.5. You will be amazed how quick the space gets eaten up with crap.
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    15. Member 2 doors's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:23 PM #14
      I just want to know the asking price for that house with no 2nd floor or basement in your location. Current owner is apparently using it for storage (including dead bodies), so where will you keep your stuff?

      I have a no car garage, so you'd still be beating me.

    16. Member SCHWAB0's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:25 PM #15
      don't settle .. get something exactly you need/fits your needs. We're in this house for the last 3 years and we've outgrown it .. people and car wise .

      You know you'll need a 2 car garage, look for homes that are 2+ minimum. Good luck!
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      09-21-2020 02:31 PM #16
      It looks like it can easily (there's enough room) be extended, so I'd say go for it if you're OK doing that...
      Side thought: will it fit a lift?

      Personally, I wouldn't even try for a single car garage knowing I wanted 2-car. When purchasing any expensive thing you're going to keep for awhile, never settle. You may be able to deal with it for the first year, or second... but what about 3 more years? 5? 10?

      Side-side thought: In the current market, everything we wanted we had to jump on way too quickly, and most of it was still not "perfect" and fixer-uppers. 2-car garage was a requirement as well (2 cars, it snows).
      We eventually decided to purchase a new home (new build) and the cost was not much more than others - and we're not dealing with all the old homes and the crazy market.
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      09-21-2020 02:34 PM #17
      I've got a wide 1 car garage (about 12ft). It's perfectly fine, and enough room to work as long as you don't line the walls with crap. Car gets parked to one side, with room on the other to walk and work from.

      No, you're probably not going to fit a lift and a tire machine, but be realistic about what you're using it for.

    19. Member masa8888's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:35 PM #18
      I think you'll make it work as a single guy, as long as you're content with having 2 cars max.

      Gotta be a multi-millionaire to have a large detached garage in Los Angeles. Or find a place with an 80 year old deteriorating barn on a $1 million parcel of land like Toretto did


    20. Member CostcoPizza's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:40 PM #19
      I think the bigger question is buying a house in this market vs. the actual one car garage.

      There's a lot more room for prices to go down than up IMO.

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      09-21-2020 02:46 PM #20
      Cali is an insane housing market - not envious of your position.


      Can be a good thing - limits the ability for you to buy cars you probably don't need?

      Driveway looks to be of a decent size as well...could be worse!

      Finally...along the left side of the house there is a large gate ...do you have enough backyard space to build a 2 car garage in the back corner of the back yard? Could be a 2-3 years out sorta plan.

    22. Senior Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:47 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by JackStraw79 View Post
      We are closing on a new place in a couple weeks and two-car garage/ two-car-wide driveway was a must-have. I can only imagine your challenge though, as it's tough to find something decent with that here under $400k. Where you live, that price target could be double or more, I don't know.
      Quote Originally Posted by 2 doors View Post
      I just want to know the asking price for that house with no 2nd floor or basement in your location. Current owner is apparently using it for storage (including dead bodies), so where will you keep your stuff?

      I have a no car garage, so you'd still be beating me.
      It's $660k . It also has 1 bathroom, which sucks in a 3 bedroom. We'd be adding a bathroom, so that's another $15-20k on top of the purchase price immediately.

      Quote Originally Posted by Itgb View Post
      How long do you plan to stay in this house? If more than 8-10yrs, then I would look for one that has the 2-car garage that you want. if you want to park 2 cars inside, you will regret your decision for a long time.
      I need to prepare myself to stay in this for the long haul if prices tank and I'm upside down.

      Quote Originally Posted by Elite_Deforce View Post
      Can you extend the garage?

      Quote Originally Posted by SchnellFowVay View Post
      Buy the house. It appears that you have plenty of room to expand the garage after a few years.
      I'm not sure if the setback limits will allow for it if we're talking extending out into the front yard.

      Quote Originally Posted by GoLfUnV View Post
      I can't tell from this pictures, but is there enough room to extend current garage, and add another 10-15 feet?
      looks like there is a driveway going to the side gate... what is behind a gate? Can you build standalone shop on the back?
      It's more of a wide walkway than a narrow driveway. Maybe 7 feet across. Something narrow, like a 993, would probably fit.

      Looking toward the gate from the rear:



      Standing in the same spot, turned around about 180 degrees (the lot isn't a perfect square, the rear walls taper into a triangle, hence the angle:



      Looking at the "driveway" from the farthest point in the triangle of the rear yard:







      Quote Originally Posted by CostcoPizza View Post
      I think the bigger question is buying a house in this market vs. the actual one car garage.

      There's a lot more room for prices to go down than up IMO.
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    23. Member KlokWerk's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:50 PM #22
      Is it possible to be a happy car guy with a one-car garage or will I regret this purchase?
      Yes, you'll regret it. I've never heard of a single person who said "man, I wish I had a smaller garage, this thing is just too big!" Never. So buy the biggest shop/garage you can get. This from a guy who bought a house with a two car garage but needed 3. I'd eventually want 4.... see where that's going?

      Also, those of you in the industry, am I insane for buying in this market?
      Yes, you're insane. But meh, it's just money right?
      ...oh, just 'F it.

    24. Member Stevo12's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:51 PM #23
      Tl;dr head over to Garage Journal. The long version:

      While I decried my decision to buy a house with a 1-car garage in my 20's, I realized that when you have a smaller space, you tend to make better use of it, and later when I bought a bigger house in my 30's - I also came to realize that you just end up filling that extra space with more stuff.

      I started detailing my current workshop in the Man Cave thread, because I'm finally getting to a spot - 2 years after moving into our current space - that I'm able to sort through the stuff that I (amazingly) was able to store in my previous setup.

      For reference, I started here:


      I moved back to my home state of CT, fresh from Texas, with a LS-swapped C10 of course. It barely fit, but it was refuge from the cold and snow during the winter months. Having to work on my daily drivers outside was kind of a pain, but it builds character. Especially when we did a transmission swap on my friend's Honda in the dead of winter, only for him to crash/total the car 6 days later.

      Throughout the 7 years I was in that house, I was able to do all kinds of stuff. Engine swaps, transmission swaps, partial engine rebuilds, bike projects. All within the confines of this space. Granted, there was an attic above this space that I was able to keep loads of project parts in for later use, but it was kinda inaccessible when there was a vehicle in there.



      Now, I'm in this kind of space:



      That's just the workshop, there's a separate garage for the daily drivers. My workshop has its own driveway, and 2.5 bays (the bay to the left is short, so it's good for my lawn tractor and motorcycle or two. As mentioned before, you just end up filling the space you have with more stuff. In addition to the daily drivers and the truck - there are 2 other vehicles, and 2 motorcycles. All projects in various stages of completion. It's a habit of doing that, in addition to my career and employer choices, which have precluded me from having the sweet 993 in your OP.

      I'm still having to do daily driver work in the garage, or do a song and dance to move the race car out of the way (when it's driveable) and pull in whatever car needs more serious work. Ideally I'd like to get to a point where I just have a work bay that I can pull into, but knowing me I'll likely just fill the space whenever it's empty.

      In addition to the space pictured below, there's another 100 sq. ft in the space between the 2 bays and the half bay, with badly-organized shelving and a work bench that's never free for me to use (too much piled on it right now - "needs to be organized"), and I just finished a small storage/compressor room just off the bay on the left.




      Vad, I'd suggest delving into Garage Journal and seeing how a 1-car garage can be worked into a very functional space. Hopefully you're not going to be inundated with other projects so that you can start on the garage as soon as you move in. I went the other way and started on car projects before settling into the space - now I'm trying to balance project car progress with project space progress. I'm getting there but it still needs a good amount of organization. Organization is the key to making a smaller space hugely functional

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      09-21-2020 02:54 PM #24
      I have built numerous cars and motorcycles in a 1 car garage. Totally doable, just need to be flexible (in more ways then one!)
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    26. Senior Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      09-21-2020 02:55 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by UncleJB View Post

      I'd pass. I'd also be interested in hearing your story about the house you missed out on.
      The story is one of my own stupidity. I found that house just after COVID restrictions on showings loosened up in June. It was listed during COVID for $735k, dropped to $675k in June. Huge garage, pool, but needed obvious work inside. I offered $642k, they accepted. I did an inspection report and it came back somewhat scary (dry rot, needed plumbing, etc.). Many people I talked to told me to back out, the smart ones (numbersix, for example) told me to grab it and work on the stuff slowly over time. I didn't listen to the smart people and it went under contract with someone else.

      In July, that deal failed and the seller's agent asked my agent if I'd be interested at $620k. This is how that conversation went (I'm paraphrasing the texts I saw, but this is nearly spot-on):

      Seller: "We'll give it to him for $620k"
      My agent: "He's got a couple of houses he wants to see this weekend"
      Seller: "What about 610k?"
      My agent: "Yeah, he really wants to see those houses"
      Seller, 10 min later: "How about $600k?"

      Eventually, the discussion ended with me taking the house for $612k with 12k of that going to closing costs, so that I was essentially rolling the price of all new plumbing ($12k) into the loan and spending my own money on other repairs. But they wanted it with no inspection contingency, since I had done one in early June. Given that this was the end of July, I had no idea if there had been other issues that cropped up in the 40 days I hadn't seen it. I slept on it and bailed. They immediately dropped the price to $612k from $675k and it went under contract a day later. Just closed on Monday. After seeing the state of the market, it was a screaming deal, even with the issues. Also, I was getting a 2.75 rate on it with a $1800 lender credit. Today, that 2.75 rate will cost me $4,500 in points.
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