Removing the garage

Removing the garage was one of the biggest decisions I made during the design process. I definitely got some pushback. But hear me out.

In the original draft plans, the daylight basement included a studio ADU (aka “mother in law apartment”), entryway and stairs, and a two car garage. Putting a garage in a daylight basement makes a lot of sense: basements tend to be dark, and it’s cheaper to build a garage into a house and essentially use it to elevate the living space, rather than build a separate structure. Also, who doesn’t love a warm car in Alaska?

But the more I talked to people and thought about it, the less it seemed right. The ADU and entryway felt cramped, and while the garage could fit two cars it was the bare minimum size needed to do so.

Removing the garage allowed the ADU to stretch into a nicely-sized one-bedroom unit. Then the rest of the space became a laundry room with storage and a huge mudroom. To me, one of the most distinctive things about interacting with our homes in Alaska is that a LOT goes into transitions between inside and outside life. We might peel off four or five wet, snowy layers on the way in, or tromp in with muddy boots carrying skis or snowshoes. My plan for this room is to make it a bombproof space with a big bench, tons of closets, a row of boot warmers, shelves, and maybe even an attractive rack for skis and other outdoor equipment. Laundry is right there, and the entry door is slightly oversized to 3’6″ to make it easy to move gear in and out.

What about the garage? It’ll probably come later. After a few years of digging cars out of snowdrifts I’ll know what kind of garage is needed, and hopefully I’ll be able to save up a little (or at least find the debt from this project less daunting). Detached garages are also good because they isolate carbon monoxide, smells, and fire risk from the rest of the house.