Last Updated on November 28, 2016

Are Tandem Garages Bad? | Real Estate Article

By Alan F Macdonald

So tandem garages are long and skinny, but the biggest deal with them is that the car that gets parked first in the garage is trapped by the second car. So they can be a real pain to deal with. But are they bad? Well nothing is bad if you understand why it exists and how to deal with it.

Most families have two cars. If you are living with just one car, a tandem garage is no big deal. If you have two cars and each person has a preference for a car or one person never drives the other’s car, then you might have a problem with a tandem garage.

Here are some considerations for living with a tandem garage if you’re considering buying a house or condo with one:

If you only have one car, you can certainly use the deeper part of the garage as a workshop, or as storage or even to keep a hobby car. So not an issue. If you only have one car, you can consider a tandem garage as an extra large single garage. Not as much flexibility, but useful nonetheless.

If you have two cars, but either person can drive either car, then if you’re leaving first, just take the car closest to the door. No problem.

If you have to drive a specific car, and need to move the car behind you, then you can always carry both sets of keys with you and so can the other person. So that way, you take the car that’s blocking you in out of the garage so that you can get at your car.

And if you can afford it and the tandem garage is situated in a way that allows it, you can actually sometimes put another door on your tandem garage. I have seen some houses in Edmonton that might work for putting a drive through tandem garage. Some considerations for something like this is of course, the cost, the driveway that would have to be paved behind the garage where the second door will be and also the construction of the garage. No all garages would be OK opening on both ends. If you think about it, a garage with two doors would just be like a long tube or covered bridge. These structures are weaker if they aren’t boxed in and that garage might want to fall over! So if extra bracing needs to be put in, make sure to consult a structural engineer before you just go and order a new garage door and cut a hole in your tandem garage. If however, the garage is attached to the house along the side of the home, then you are probably going to be OK with an extra door, but again, consult an engineer before modifying your garage. And of course to make a drive-through tandem garage, you’re going to need a back alleyway. If this garage is butted up against your neighbour’s lot, you’re not going anywhere but back out the front door.

Sometimes, though you just need to knock down a tandem garage and build a double garage that is a side-by-side. In this case, make sure you can actually fit a garage on the lot and that you have the correct setbacks that are necessary in your municipality. The City of Edmonton has relaxed some of these rules for older neighbourhoods to allow garages to be more easily built, but check first before starting any construction project. If might be worth buying a house with a tandem so that you can improve the property by replacing it with something more convenient. Think about it before you dismiss the idea.

You may be compromising on some things when buying a home with a tandem garage. They are not common here in Edmonton because we have a lot of space and a good amount of frontage here, but if you find a great place and it happens to have one of these garages, now you know some of the things to consider before you put in an offer!

Do you have any idea or issues with your garage? Please drop me a line in the comments!

by +Alan F Macdonald REALTOR® | Copyright © –


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