: views from the Hill

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Garage Mahals

[via MetaFilter]

[ NYTimes, registration required. Registration is free. Still don't like that? Check into http://www.bugmenot.com/.]

In California, 'Garage Mahals' Are Not Just for Cars


At 6 feet 10 inches tall, the financial consultant Brad Barnes needs a lot of things custom built. His home's doors are more than a foot higher than standard, and a go-cart he made for himself for fun looks about the size of a Mini Cooper. But what's most indicative of this man's need for space is his garage, which with six car bays is at the cutting edge of a trend in high-end real estate: the "garage mahal."

Mr. Barnes's 1,700-square-foot garage is an airy contiguous room more than a third the size of his 4,800-square-foot custom home, leaving plenty of space for five cars, five motorcycles and his colossal go-cart.

"If I had it to do again, I'd do 12 -- I'd go double-deep," he said, standing on the gleaming light green epoxy finish that covers the garage's cement floor.


The article goes on at length about garage mahals. It quotes Gopal Ahluwalia of the National Association of Home Builders, who claims that in "The West" he estimates that 10% of new houses are being built with four-car garages or larger.


Bakersfield has room to spare. San Francisco doesn't.

We have good friends in San Francisco who have a five-car garage, but that's an anomaly. They were thrilled to find the home when they were house shopping because not only was it a wonderful old building, but also he needed the garage space. He restores old Alfas and usually has several in various stages of restoration.

In San Francisco, parking spaces are at a premium. Craig's List even has a category for people needing/leasing parking spaces in the city.

These days it costs $100K+ to call in Add-A-Garage and have your quaint cottage jacked up, your basement excavated, and a garage added underneath. Even at those prices, Add-A-Garage's business has boomed in the last few years. Neighbors are squawking because each new basement garage includes a driveway that eliminates a section of public curbside street parking.

On Telegraph Hill, many of the dwellings do not have private spaces. Check out open houses on a Sunday and the question is always asked, "Is there parking?" Dwellers park on the street, if they can find a spot (with their $27/yr "A" parking sticker they can park more than two hours at a stretch) or they lease a space nearby.

We lease two spaces in a garage three blocks from our place. One space is primarily used for visitors. The car(s) are usually only used when we are coming in to or heading out of town.

Cost for the leases is not cheap, but we have no alternative (besides giving up cars altogether) because there is no place to Add-A-Garage. Spaces that need tarps because the garage leaks are $50/mo less than non-leaky spaces. If we'd opted for a space nearer to our place, we would be paying an additional $100/mo. If we wanted a covered space closer in, well ... the cost would be extraordinary.

Parking is a pain, but the silver lining is that a lack of parking tends to keep the car-mad suburbanites in the suburbs where they can have their four-car garages and drive their white Humvee down to Starbucks for their morning triple grande non-fat caramel macchiato.

No comments: