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Universal Design Home Tips: Fully Accessible Garage Designs

Posted by Penny Hull on Wed, Mar 09, 2011 @ 06:03 AM

Universal Design Garages - How to build an accessible garage in Raleigh NC

Universal garages are designed to accommodate special needs. These tips will help you understand what makes accessible home garages unique, with specific width and height requirements for North Carolina homes. Here are the basics:


Universal Design Garages | How To Build an Accessible Garage | NC Custom Home BuildersUniversal garages are usually either attached to the home with a direct (no step) entrance or connected to it with a sheltered breezeway at least 36 inches wide.

Building codes may require a step or curb between the house and garage floor to prevent fumes from entering the house.

  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, the entire floor can be sloped from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to doorway can be provided if needed

If these codes do not apply, thresholds should not be higher than ¼ inch.

Single-bay garage doors need to be 8 feet high for a large SUV or pickup truck, higher for special vehicles such as a van with a chairlift—an extra 18" to 24" compared to most standard doors.

There should be an at least 5 feet wide aisle adjacent to the vehicle for easy access to the vehicle while inside the garage.

Lift-equipped vehicles may require an 8 foot aisle. (A two car garage accommodates this if only one vehicle is parked)

Steps require a railing on both sides 34 to 38 inches high that can support at least 250 pounds. A second, lower handrail 28 inches is helpful. Allow enough clear space near the steps to build a ramp later, in case it becomes necessary.

Consider including well-placed electrical outlets that eliminate or reduce extension cord usage. Outlets should be 18 inches above the floor to reduce the need for reaching and bending, and at workbench heighUniversal Design Garages | How To Build an Accessible Garage | NC Custom Home Builderst in that area.

Make getting into your home from the garage easier.  The door from garage into home should be extra wide.  We recommend choosing to include lever-style handles and secure, easy-to-maneuver locks.

Universal devices for the garage

Life is easier with the addition of a few small extras that light up your universal design garage without a lot of manual labor. Ask your builder which amenities would best suit your individual needs.

  • Automatic garage door opener
  • Electric sensor to prevent door from closing inappropriately
  • Easy-to-reach push-button keypad allows access without keys or opener
  • Button controlled automatic door openers can be installed on all doors (people as well as vehicle passageways)
  • Motion-detector lights
  • Lighted switches.
  • Motion-sensor downlight above garage door
  • Path lights to define edges of driveway

Universal Design Garage Cost

Building costs are dependent on current pricing of materials and labor. But there are some basic costs inherent to every universal design garage. Here’s how it breaks down, so you can ask your builder what the current pricing is for the kinds of materials you want used in the construction of your new garage. 

One of the biggest cost factors is, of course, the size of the garage.

Basic structure: Footings, foundation, framing, roofing, siding, doors, windows.

Electrical components: Duplex outlets, light fixtures, single pole switches, sensors, keypads, extrUniversal Design Garages | How To Build an Accessible Garage | NC Custom Home Buildersa lighting.

Siding materials such as: Brick veneer, stone veneer, Hardiboard siding, vinyl clapboard siding, vertical vinyl siding.

Roofing materials such as: asphalt shingles, standing seam metal, cedar shakes.


Experienced Accessible Home Builders –

Stanton Homes is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA-approved Specially Adapted Housing custom home builder.

Whether you start with a plan that is designed for accessibility, ask us to modify or create a new plan, we can build in wider hallways and doorways, entry ways, turning radius, non-slip flooring, ramps and walkways, special lighting, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grope door, faucet and drawers, accessible switches, no step entries, roll-in showers, ADA roll-under countertops and work spaces, and whatever else you need.  

Get help finding an accessible home floor plan in North Carolina, here.


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