Thursday 13 June 2013

When it comes to garage doors, housebuyers feel the squeeze

Up to three quarters of recently built homes with garages have garage doors that are too small to truly accommodate today’s larger cars, a recent survey has shown.

Now developers of new homes are being urged by the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) to review their current developments and increase the width of the garage doors.

The DHF, which represents manufacturers and installers of garage doors, says that developers still design and build new homes with 2134 mm (7 ft) wide doors, which has been the standard width for the past 40 years.

But cars have been getting wider, and many cars on the market today are simply too wide to fit through the garage. Garage doors need to be at least 2286 mm (7 ft 6 ins), according to the DHF.

The federation carried out an informal survey amongst its garage door members which revealed that around 75 per cent of new homes with integral garages built in recent times have garage doors that are too narrow. And the DHF worries that developers are continuing to specify garage doors that are too narrow.

The DHF carried out the survey following recent complaints from a family in Huddersfield who only discovered their Volvo S40 would not fit in the garage of their brand new £200,000 home after they moved in.

They complained to the developer who told them they should have measured the garage before buying the house. The family subsequently used the internet to research widths of typical family cars and found that eight of the fifteen they compared would not fit. These included some of the most popular cars on the market, including the Ford Focus and the Honda Civic.

Said Bob Perry, executive chairman of the DHF: 
“Housebuyers are increasingly looking to buy new homes with integral garages and it’s a reasonable expectation that an average sized car will fit into the garage. The problem is, developers started using the standard 7ft wide doors in the days of the Ford Anglia and have continued to do so ever since. But over the years the width of cars has steadily increased to accommodate safety features such as door airbags and larger door-mounted wing mirrors.

“Garage door manufacturers produce doors in a variety of widths that can accommodate all sizes of cars, even the latest 4x4s and SUVs. We would strongly urge developers to take this into account when designing and building new homes to avoid these justified complaints from disgruntled purchasers. Developers must realise that when it comes to garage doors, size really does matter.”

It is believed that developers try to maximise living space in new homes at the expense of the integral garage size. The problem was confounded in the last decade when local councils encouraged smaller garages in homes to reduce car usage. Following a campaign by garage door manufacturers, one local authority in 2009 admitted its policy had failed and relaxed its restrictive guidelines on garage size. But despite the relaxation, developers are continuing to use narrow garage doors and the DHF campaign continues.

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