If you’ve driven through Nashville recently in one of the old urban neighborhoods, you’ve probably noticed the return of carriage houses. This classic structure was once a common feature of homes when your automobile was a living animal. Now we’re seeing a revitalization in the functionality and creativity of carriage houses. Here are 4 reasons why a carriage house is a great investment once again for today’s homeowner.
Up until the point when Henry Ford unleashed the Model T to the American public, carriage houses were a common feature found with the purchase of a home. A carriage house back then was a detached outbuilding that provided shelter for, ‘ahem’, your carriage and horses (aka noble steeds). It’s quite obvious why it was a detached building, isn’t it? I haven’t meant a single person who wants the aroma of fresh horse doodie percolating through your home. I mean really, have you ever met anyone who has gone to the Yankee Candle Shop and asked, “Ma’am, where can I find your horse manure scented candles?” It was an obvious choice then to keep your form of transportation away from where you slept, but somewhere over the last century we lost that mindset. Now, we’ve gone to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We all decided that instead of hiding our garage, we’re just gonna slap in on the front and make it the first thing you see when you drive by. Ba-da da da da, I’m lovin’ it. Not so much. If there’s one thing that irks me in residential design, it’s that we celebrate the almighty garage all too much. We have chosen that the best thing for us is to design our homes in a way where we can pull into the garage the quickest, push the button to close the door as we floor it to make it under in time so we never have to see our neighbors, then walk the very least amount of steps to get inside, hang up our coat and log in a solid 3 hours of Netflix binging. America the beautiful, folks.
Whew, I got on my soapbox a little there. So the carriage house. Ahh yes. The carriage house is making a comeback in certain neighborhoods, at least around Nashville. It’s partly due to the context of historic neighborhoods and partly due to the functionality of these structures.
Weirdly enough, a carriage house is now a good economical investment. Now granted, I do think carriage houses are very charming and a great way to hide the garage. Despite the aesthetic qualities, there are some major lifestyle and financial benefits. Here are our top 4 reasons why.
A Multi-Functional Building
Now the carriage house as I’ve been calling it is referred to as a DADU, or Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, in your local building codes department. The reason it’s called a DADU is usually these outbuildings are two stories with the second floor being a livable space. The first level is the garage. Then, somewhere on that first floor will be a sectioned off staircase with a separate exterior door. That staircase will take you to the second floor. And here’s where you get to create what works best for your family. This livable space, assuming it’s a 2 car garage underneath, will be in the neighborhood of 700SF. A place of that size is comparable to most 1 bedroom apartments. Or an office for a small business. Or the size of a very large hotel room. Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you have the flexibility to work from home or you own a small business, this is a nicely sized office to get work done. Think about it. It’s a lovely commute. It’s so close you can run home to grab a bite to eat on your lunch hour. And when you leave the office at the end of the day, you can shut the door and not have work looking you in the face when you’re trying to be present with your family.
With a detached accessory dwelling unit of this size at your disposal, you could create a lovely studio or 1 bedroom apartment to rent out and make passive income. Heck, find a college student who will mow your lawn for a discount off rent. Another option is it’s a great mother-in-law suite for when your family and friends come to visit. Or, even better, when no one’s visiting rent it out on Airbnb and make some quick cash.
Making the Garage a Thing of Beauty Once Again
The garage is like the loading dock, you want it accessible but not visible. If you take the time to make a detached garage (carriage house) complement your home’s architectural elements, it appears as just an extension of your house. When you build a carriage house the right way, you get functionality, accessibility and beauty.
A carriage house isn’t for everyone and unfortunately isn’t accepted in all zoning jurisdictions. If you can make it work for your home though, it’s a great investment.
If you’re thinking about building a carriage house (DADU) at your new or existing home, we’d love to help. We work with homeowners and developers to design some of the most well-crafted homes in the Nashville area. To get in touch, click here to get started.