Many of us practically live in our car, which means the front door of our house is actually the garage door. The big exceptions are those who live in apartments and those who live further off the beaten track.
Not so Humble Origins
The tradition of a garage is as old as the car itself, as it began with wealthy people to store vehicles out of the weather. In the beginning, only the rich had cars and it was natural to keep them like they had the horses it replaced, in a stable where the maintenance, care and well, waste could be handled by household employees. So the first garages were repurposed “carriage houses”.
Apart from having money what kind of people would have a carriage house? Well, it depends on how you define one. If you think of it as a cart shed, then anyone with a horse or donkey probably had one. We’re not talking about people in slum areas, but everyone else. The posher ones had living space for staff and no doubt the first garages used the sleeping quarters for chauffeurs.
Modern racing fans know of pit row where cars pit-in for service, but we probably don’t think about the source of the name, which is a pit you dug in your garage so your chauffeur can perform regular maintenance on your vehicle. Now we use hydraulic lifts of course.
The Evolution of the Garage
Garages haven’t changed much with one big exception–where they are in relation to the rest of your house. Most houses now have an attached garage. The big advantage is that you can drive right up to, and really into, your abode without getting out in the weather.
Of course, it goes without saying that you need some sort of shelter for a convertible but there are some advantages for any vehicle. Garaging your vehicle keeps its exterior in better condition, prolongs the paint job, and reduces creature infestations like mice in the engine or yellow jackets in the air intake.
Are there any disadvantages to an attached garage? There must be. How many of us park in front of our garage and use it as a large storage facility. You can try to make the garage double for storage of things and cars, but things like ladders pose a bigger threat to your paint job than the weather outside.
An attached garage also either takes up room from your house (under the roof) or from your yard. Most of us have come to accept the loss of front green space and perhaps even consider it an advantage to have less mowing to do. Still, the modern house, with it’s living quarters tucked behind an amorphous garage is less conducive to a neighborhood feel than say, a wraparound porch.
If you’ve ever lived in a situation where you needed to walk outside for a bit, in order to get in your car, you notice how much the air wakes you up in the morning. You might also notice a lack of smell. Cars have a lot of chemicals, etc. that can gather in the sale air of a garage. The material used for the car such as diesel and anti-freeze also whiff a bit. If you don’t use the car a rust smell will also develop. Many people might prefer these kinds of odors further from the house.
Note: Now that some of us have remote start on their cars, it’s a good idea to make sure the garage door is up before starting your car. That carbon monoxide is dangerous. Then there is the smell. A number of older cars smell especially diesel cars.
Another big advantage to a garage is the safety factor. Garages are thought by insurers to a safer place to keep a car than say the street. For an insurer, it’s all about managing risk in any case. Your pride and joy might not be perfectly safe in a garage but it is better than the alternatives. Many single people feel personally safer walking into a garage attached to their house than walking outside to get in their car.
Whatever you choose, and garage placement may not be a big factor in choosing where you live, there are some plusses and minuses to having a garage. It’s worth giving some thought to.