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Thread: Garage Sizes

  1. #1
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Garage Sizes

    OK, just wanting a reality check on what other people's By-laws permit and what other people think is reasonable for the size of a garage/accessory building in a residential (single or two unit) neighbourhood.

    Our By-law permits 80.5 square metres (866 sq. feet) or 10% of the lot area whichever is less. This building size allows for a typical building of 24*36 feet.

    [EDIT]If it is attached to thee main dwelling unit there is no limit in size as it is part of the house. (minor exceptions realted to lot coverage and setbacks not withstanding).[/EDIT]

    What do your By-laws say and what do you think is reasonable?

    The reason i am asking is that my employer granted a variance last night to allow for a building with an area of 1120 square feet saying that that seemed like a reasonable request.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I think your by-law is reasonable.

    Ours:
    Attached - we don't limit size or proportion to the home. 920 sqaure feet + is typical around these parts. Only limit is total parcel open space.

    Detached - guaranteed 720 square feet by right, in addition to the primary structure's attached garage. From that starting size, you get a formula increase based on both lot size and structure placement (the farther from a line lot line the larger you can go), to a maximum of 2% of the lot size. Plus if you are a lake lot (about 10% of our residences are) you get an additional boat house up to 420 square feet. Open space requirements for the parcel still apply.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    The reason i am asking is that my employer granted a variance last night to allow for a building with an area of 1120 square feet saying that that seemed like a reasonable request.
    Damn, that's the size of our house!

    Our ordinance doesn't limit the size of attached garages, but states that accessory structures cannot exceed 10% of the lot area.

    I think it's reasonable.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    what do you do about 1 acres lots or even 1/4 acre lots (4000 sq. foot garage or 2500 square foot garage).

    And what typical household use are garages this big being used for?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    what do you do about 1 acres lots or even 1/4 acre lots (4000 sq. foot garage or 2500 square foot garage).
    Are you asking me? We don't do anything ((sigh)). I guess if that's what they want, than they can build it. Not that I agree with it, but that's what we have. We are rewriting our zoning ordinance, so that's something that will be looked at. Right now, it's not a big problem since the standard lot size is 7,500 - 10,000 sq. ft.

    Oh, and BTW, I meant to say that I think your regulations are reasonable. Our entire ordinance sucks

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by donk
    what do you do about 1 acres lots or even 1/4 acre lots (4000 sq. foot garage or 2500 square foot garage).

    And what typical household use are garages this big being used for?
    A one acre lot, which isnt common around these parts, max out at 870 for detached garages based on the 2% limit. A quarter acre lot, which is common in our urbanized area, get the 720 square feet.

    We are a lake / recreation oriented community. Everyone it seems has the 2+ cars, boat on trailer, jet skis, snowmobiles, etc. With a 2 car garage, you end up parking cars in the drive because you store and protect the toys first and worry about the ride later.

  7. #7

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    We allow the cumulative square footage for all accessory structures to be up to 1/2 the footprint of the house, subject to the normal setback and lot coverage requirements. It seems to work for us. Your requirements seem reasonable, too.

    Everybody here wants a big garage - gotta have room for the toys: at least two cars, boat, ATVs, jet skis, snowmobiles....

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    What is reasonable? I suppose there has to be some relation to the use. Personally, mine is 24x32 and 24x60, or about 2200 square feet, not including the barn. I have one car.

    I am sure the space made a lot more sense when it was a working farm. In the same way, I might see more of a justification to allowing a larger garage related to a home-based business, or perhaps if they have an office or studio or workshop attached to a freestanding garage. As others have suggested, there may be a relationship to the size of the lot (rather than the house, IMO). Keep some flexibility in the rules.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I'll add some more info on our area.

    1) If you have a lot greater then 1 acre in a residential zone you area permitted 90 square metres (968 sq ft), recognizing that you will probably have a lawn tractor, snowblower and other items related to the maintenance and up keep of your property.

    3) If you are in a rural area of the City - 10% of lot area limit.

    3) Barns in rural areas are not considered accessory buildings, they are a permitted main use.

    Bullwinkle's requirements would never fly here. I probably could not put up a 12 x 12 foot shed.

    Just trying to figure out what is reasonable and why things are the way they are before I go get yelled at by council next week.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  10. #10
    We allow for an attached or detached garage. The total lot coverage (all buildings) is 35% of the lot. If it is detached, it is limited to 10% of the lot and cannot exceed 50% of the rear yard. We have somewhat small lots here...not many lots are over an acre.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Our ordinance has a range. Any garage, whether attached or detached, cannot be less than 440 sqft or exceed 750 sqft. And one can have both a detached and attached garage.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian smarty's avatar
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    accessory buildings

    detached accessory buildings are set at 800SF max. No limited if attached to home/duplex, but must meet setbacks.

    Larger than 800SF requires a conditional use permit approved by the Hearing Examiner. Typically staff recommends approval based on an obscure ratio of size of building compared to size of lot.
    I wonder if birds know it's Tuesday?

  13. #13

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    These are all very interesting rules, BUT WHY, given an overall limit on lot coverage that, if properly designed, limits runoff and provides for vegetated spaces, and given setbacks that respect the neigbbors, is it a matter of legitimate public concern how the owner balances her use of the buildings on the lot? What if I can live comfortably in 900 SF, but am a metals artist who needs a 1500 SF shop that meets reasonable home occupation standards (for noise, glare, etc, etc.)? Can anyone actually make a straight face argument for how an accessory building has a different (and presumably greater, since accessory buildings are never allowed to be as large) impact than the principal building?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    These are all very interesting rules, BUT WHY, given an overall limit on lot coverage that, if properly designed, limits runoff and provides for vegetated spaces, and given setbacks that respect the neigbbors, is it a matter of legitimate public concern how the owner balances her use of the buildings on the lot? What if I can live comfortably in 900 SF, but am a metals artist who needs a 1500 SF shop that meets reasonable home occupation standards (for noise, glare, etc, etc.)? Can anyone actually make a straight face argument for how an accessory building has a different (and presumably greater, since accessory buildings are never allowed to be as large) impact than the principal building?
    Or for that matter, why a minimum size? Say I wanted to build a 15 by 15 art studio. Why not? I'm entirely with Lee here. Flexibility!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Lee presented an interesting point, but in my area no one would look at the overall design or layout of the lot or adjacent lots. (You'll have to trust me on this one). We end up with accessory buildings that look like they belong in an industrial park. We have actually hade people buy old steel buildings from the mine, when it closed, and think that they made a suitable garage in a residential area. Next time I am out I'll try to get some pictures of these monsters.

    For your consideration and visualiztion to better understand where I am coming from:

    City population = 20 000
    City Area = 176 square km
    Primary employment - paper mills, resource extraction
    Education level - 30% have not completed high school (older then 20 years of age0


    I have no idea why you would limit the minimum size, my shed is only 192 square feet and I don't need nor would I want anything bigger.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    What if I can live comfortably in 900 SF, but am a metals artist who needs a 1500 SF shop that meets reasonable home occupation standards (for noise, glare, etc, etc.)?
    Just throwing this out there, but should the use of a property have anything to do with size of buildings? My first thought was that in the above situation, the principal use of the property would be the occupation, not residential.

    Our ordinance states that a home occupation should be clearly incidental to the principal use of housing. Just a thought?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    And what happens if it is not a metal artist / potter (or other artisan that people romanticize about) but someone who paints and repairs cars or welds or slaughters animals or runs a bottle redemption centre? All things that people have told me are their home occupations, within the City limits and within historically residential areas on small (60' x 100' )serviced lots.

    While common sense should prevail in the by-law, it should also apply to the general public.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  18. #18

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    No "straight face" answers yet. Donk, it sounds to me, based on a lot of experience in mining communities, as if metal buildings may always have been used as accessory structures in your residential areas, and are part of your local character. Perhaps not in your specific place, but it is certainly true in most resource extraction communities I've worked in.

    As for the nature of the activity and potential nuisances, I agree that some activities are not compatible as home occupations in most typical residential neighborhoods. But the size of building they occupy has nothing per se to do with their nuisance potential. I could install a trip hammer in my tool shed, which is only six by six feet, and drown out every other sound in the neighborhood! Or stack my barn, which is small enough to meet many of the rules listed here, full of hazardous materials.

    It is true that many ordinances say an accessory use has to be clearly incidental, or words to that affect, to the principal use, but in the absence of a definition of "incidental" (which I do not believe I have ever seen in one of the ordinances that use this approach), I wonder what one would say on the witness stand when asked what size has to do with a building being the principal use? I'm not saying you couldn't devise a reasonable response, but I wouldn't want to have to fence with a good attorney on this one!

    I'm still curious!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I have been questioned on the stand (both at appeal and in court) about defining incidental and subordinate. to answer the questions, I read the first paragraph of our definitions section that says that unless the word is defined in teh By-law, use the "normal" meaning of the word. The normal meaning of the word is typically found in the Websters Dictionary (that is the first rule here in defining items).

    As for the steel buildings, the mine while an employer in the community is no where near the community (over 100km away deep in the woods). The buildings that came out of it when it closed should have gone to the scrap yard. That was the comment I was trying to make.

    In many cases steel is an acceptable and vernacular cladding material for sheds and barns, but would you want a dented, rusty, old building that is bigger then your neighbours house going up in your backyard or sideyard?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  20. #20
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I would like to agree with Lee, but have had too many experiences like Donk. We do not control the design of accessory structures, and large ones can (do) overwhelm neighborhoods. Our code requires that they can be no larger nor higher than the principal structure.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    1200 square foot max. for detached acc. structures. Must be compatible with primary residence (i.e., same roof pitch & materials, similar siding, same (or less) height).

    Attached accessory structures are considered expansions of the primary residence and do not have a size limitation or design standards.

    All new SFRs in our happy little city must be accompanied by a carport or garage (240 sq. ft. min.).

    We allow snout houses. Oink oink!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
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    attached - height equal to or less than roof peak
    - set backs same as house - 25' front & rear yard
    - 5' min. side yard
    - sq footage - including house (footprint) sq footage
    not to exceed 30-40 % of lot sq footage

    detached - height - same
    - setbacks - as accessory structure
    - front yard same
    - 2 ft side and rear yard
    - 10 ft seperation distance from house
    - sq footage - same total, but garage sq footage has to be less than house (footprint) sq footage

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