Unlike standard garages, which are built on site from commonplace materials such as bricks, prefabricated garages are a little more specialised. Comprising of panels that have been manufactured off-site, for quick and easy installation, these innovative solutions to car storage have steadily grown in popularity over the last decade. Needing little specialist construction knowledge, prefab garages are an ideal DIY project for beginners and frequently prove to be more cost-effective than a bricks and mortar build.
Essentially, you can get any look you like, from a wood finish through to steel and even concrete, but the style you choose will impact on overall cost. The most common style of prefabricated garages include:
Concrete. The compacted concrete walls can be shaped to resemble a more attractive material, with brick-effect being a popular choice. A layer of textural gravel is also a widely chosen and cost-effective decorative finish.
Wood. For a more traditional and organic look, which can be more in keeping with rural or period homes, a wooden prefabricated garage is a definite option. Large side panels and doors are created in a specialist factory and are simply transported to and erected on site, to complete a garage in a matter of hours. Wooden garages are often on the more expensive side.
Steel. Steel prefabricated garages are usually notable for their slightly industrial appearance, but offer fast construction times and excellent weather protection. They tend to be most suitable for garage/workshops.
The foundations you lay for your new garage need to be capable of easily supporting the final load that will be placed on them. Because of this, poured concrete tends to be the recommended course of action, with a secure and level pad laid well ahead of prefabricated panel delivery and erection.
Deep-fill concrete pads are best and UK legislation states that a minimum thickness of 4 inches in the middle and 12 inches at the edges must be assured. It is also important to remember that you’ll need at least 3 inches of foundations extending past the edge of your garage, on every side.
You can also look into the possibility of a stone pad for your garage, but this is generally only recommended if you are not going to be exposing it to a lot of weight, or if you don’t need a smooth floor.
There are steps you will need to follow, in order to properly erect a prefabricated garage, if you’re planning to do it yourself, and an order in which to tackle them, that goes as follows:
- Choose a suitable location. You need to pick a spot that is within your boundary constraints, has easy access to drainage (for your gutters to flow into) and you need to make a decision as to the size you need.
Check with your local council if you need planning permission, or if you will need a buildings inspector to come and sign off on your finished work. Most UK councils have a planning portal on their websites, which will allow you to check this.
Think about safety. While your garage is being made, you can be stocking up on all the goggles, gloves and safety boots that you’ll need to tackle the job.
Lay your foundations. If in doubt as to the size you need, speak to your panel manufacturer, as they will be able to give you exact dimensions to work to. You might like to hire a contractor to complete this phase for you, just to be sure that you have a level and square finish.
Read all the accompanying instructions before building. Think of a prefabricated garage as a giant Meccano set. It has been efficiently designed to go together a certain way and will be simple to complete, if you follow the instructions to the letter. Always have a few people on hand to assist you and take it at your own pace.
The short answer is size, materials and style. The bigger or fancier your garage is, the more it will cost you. A single steel prefabricated garage will be a cost-effective addition, but a double or triple wooden garage will prove to be a large investment.
The differences between the two construction methods are vast and as to which is better; that really is a personal choice, but for cost-effectiveness, speed and ease, most people agree that you can’t beat a prefab design.
Price-wise, you can be as frugal or indulgent as you see fit, but on average, in the UK, prefabricated builds come in at around 25% cheaper than standard construction garages, including your foundations.
In terms of construction time, you simply cannot beat a prefabricated garage. The longest part of the process is waiting for your foundation pad to harden and that should be done in under a week. It’s very rare to hear of a prefab garage taking longer than 14 days to complete, from start to finish.
It’s generally accepted that for a sturdy and long-lasting garage build, you are better off choosing a traditionally constructed variety, just because bricks and mortar have more staying power. You can also customise more with a traditional build and adapt to solve any unforeseen issues quickly and without incurring more expense.