What is the difference between a carriage house and a garage?

What is the difference between a carriage house and a garage?

At first glance the difference between a carriage house, wooden garage, cart barn or even a carport can seem a little blurred, after all, each timber building can cover a car. There are distinct differences in structure and potential uses. We will help you find out which option suits you. 

Wooden Garage

Both carriage houses and garages have walls and a roofed structure. A garage is generally used to store vehicles (although we often add in junk, & workshop space). A garage is very open one open space, although again not always

Most garages fit one or two cars; although triple and quad garages are perfect possible. Garages shelter vehicles from rain, snow, hail, and sun, as well as protecting them from theft and vandalism. Many people also store bikes, tools, lawn mowers, motorcycles, and more in their garage.

The key difference structurally lies at the front of the building. As seen in the picture below the door is set into a panel which forms part of the structure.

Wooden garage note the front face of the building with double doors

Both wooden garages and carriage houses are more sustainable than concrete ones and more cost-effective. They therefore make an excellent choice for anyone looking to add a garage to their property. Timber garages are sturdy, thanks to the hefty structure they are built on. High quality timber is also highly resistant to all sorts of weather conditions.

By building a bespoke timber garage, as opposed to a concrete one, you can make the most of the space in your garden and potentially fit a workshop in it, too.

Carriage House

Carriage houses were originally built to store carriages and horses. They were typically open-fronted, single-storey buildings with a roof. This was supported by pillars (wooden uprights). Their size varied, based on the property they were built on and the number of coaches they needed to host.

Modern carriage houses have retained many of the features of the original ones. They are usually bigger, taller buildings than garages and can therefore be used for more than one purpose. A carriage house is usually divided into different bays. For example, there can be a gym room, a storage room for a sailing dinghy and tractor, an open bay for a car, and some sheltered wood storage space outside.

A traditional Carriage House. Note front face construction

Looking at the picture below you will see the difference in the front of the building. Carriage houses have a unique, heritage barn-style design and come in a variety of roofing options. They match the old-world look of a period, listed building perfectly. For this reason, many people who own listed buildings opt for a carriage house over a garage. However, a timber carriage house can equally sit effortlessly alongside a modern home, thanks to the timeless look of timber wood.

Carriage House under construction showing the uprights and bracing

Garage or carriage house?

Are you undecided on which structure to build? You are not alone, many people have an idea in their mind of the type of garage they want. Although called a garage as a car will fit inside, this picture perfect image in your mind may well carriage house not a garage. Don’t be afraid to ask, even send a picture of a similar building and the Olson Timber Buildings team will guide you. 

There are many factors to consider. The amount of space available on your property will be a key element, as a carriage house is usually bigger than a garage. 

You will also need to check the regulations for the construction of outbuildings in England, such as the distance between the outbuilding and the property boundaries and the house. Before drafting any plans, it is worth looking at these in detail

In addition, it is worth considering the type and style of your property, especially if you need planning permission. An outbuilding that matches the look of a period home may well have a higher chance of gaining planning permission. 

Finally, think of both your immediate and upcoming needs. Will you soon buy an extra car or motorbike? Will you need to move your office or gym out of the house, one day? Consider your short-term and long-term plans, so you can build a future-proof garage or carriage house. If you would like a more in-depth view have a look at this video of a wooden garage and this video guiding you round a carriage house.