The carriage house is by no means a new idea when it comes to Charlotte, NC homes. This historic structure can come in many shapes, styles, and sizes, but all have certain characteristics that make it a true carriage house. What is a carriage house and how could you benefit from updating or building your own carriage house?
What Is a Carriage House?
Originally, a carriage house was where the horse-drawn carriage would be stored, along with any equipment. Above what we would call a garage today was a small housing unit where the driver would live, perhaps with additional storage space. These were modest buildings that were, and are, detached from the main home but were usually built in the same style.
Carriage houses may sometimes get confused with townhouses. What makes a carriage house different from a townhouse? The most obvious difference is that a townhouse shares at least one wall with another dwelling unit. A carriage house shares a wall, or floor, but it’s with a garage rather than a second unit.
The carriage house is making a big comeback and homeowners are realizing its usefulness. Today, a carriage house may or may not be original to the home, but are nonetheless made to serve as a secondary unit that can be used for many purposes. The face of this smaller building still has one or more large garage doors with a second story, but today’s carriage houses are outfitted with all of your modern conveniences…like electricity and proper insulation for starters.
What is Usually Included in Carriage House Plans?
Whether your home still has an original carriage house or you’re planning to build a historic look-alike, there are a few typical characteristics included in carriage house plans. Spoiler alert: they don’t include space for a horse-drawn carriage, but a different type of horse-powered means of travel.
The space that’s concealed by the large garage door, or doors, is usually your typical modern garage. Could this space be outfitted to be used instead as additional living space? Certainly. That is if you don’t need a garage. To each their own.
Depending on the amount of space you’d like to have on the second level, you could also have three garage doors, for the sake of appearance and proportionality, but only two true garage spaces with the third being non-functional. Instead, you’ll have additional living space on the first floor. This type of layout could be useful if there isn’t room on your property to build out the back for a proper interior staircase or to install a lift to make the upstairs more accessibility-friendly.
Cohesive Exterior Design
Carriage houses are designed to match the main home. Paint color, siding, stone veneer, and trim would all coordinate with the house for a cohesive look across your property. The main differentiating feature would be the garage doors themselves but could be made of wood that matches the home’s columns, for example.
Modest Dwelling Space
The original carriage houses included a living space on the second level, and modern carriage house designs follow suit. However, they function as complete smaller homes rather than just a barebones place to sleep.
These apartments would include anything you’d need to live comfortably and independently from the main home, such as at least one bedroom, a living space, a full bathroom, and a kitchen area. Of course, the more space you’d like above, the larger the footprint below.
Is a Carriage House a Good Investment?
Because the carriage house can be used to fulfill so many different needs, it’s a fantastic investment. Below are just a few ideas on how you could make use of your carriage house.
The technical term is Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) and is defined by a city’s ADU ordinance. In Charlotte, NC, the ordinance defines an ADU as a unit that’s located in the main home or a detached structure that includes a kitchen and a bathroom.
You could use this space for passive income as a short-term rental when you don’t have friends or family visiting or as a year-round rental property. The latter would provide a consistent financial benefit to the unit, but of course, you’re losing the opportunity to use the space for visitors.
Be sure to check with other governing bodies that your ADU is permitted. It would be a shame to invest time and money into the planning of an ADU only to find out that your HOA doesn’t allow this type of property or that there are restrictions that will affect your design. Some restrictions could affect the maximum square footage allowed, the accessibility of the unit, or how far from the property lines or main home the ADU will have to be built.
With more of us working from home than ever before, many dream of a workspace that is separate from home life. An office within the home is difficult to escape, physically but also mentally. But an office that’s detached from your home can be more “out of sight, out of mind,” creating a healthy work-life balance.
Not to mention, a detached home office offers more peace and quiet that lends better to all those virtual meetings that the main home can’t provide. Really, how many important meetings have been interrupted by little hands knocking on your home office door that’s only steps from your living room?
The Ultimate Flex Space
The carriage house could truly serve any purpose that suits you and your family best. When you’re not in need of lodging space for guests, the space a carriage house affords you could be used for anything you’d like! A pilates gym, a music studio, an art space–the list goes on.
Ready to Enjoy the Benefits of Your Own Carriage House?
Find a builder that’s experienced in this specialized space. You’ll be glad you did when you’re looking for guidance on how to update your existing carriage house or when you’re ready to build one on your property. Making the most of this smaller square footage while also making it stylish takes expertise. Not to mention, just because it’s not part of the main home, this doesn’t mean you should skimp on high-end details and impeccable design, inside and out.