One of the questions I hear from my buyers who are relocating to the Philadelphia/Main Line area is, “If I find a house without a garage, I can just add one, right?” My answer is usually, “You’d have to check with the township.” Even though we have few communities with HOA regulations, our townships can be very strict when considering impervious surface amounts (how much of your property is covered by ashphalt, structures, swimming pools, etc. that do not allow for water drainage) as well as set backs. Set backs are designated linear distances from property lines and, sometimes, other structures on the lot. So, in the event that having a garage is important to you, if you do consider properties without them, but sure to check with the appropriate township regarding the allowability of a garage.
Another thing they are very strict about is how that garage is used. I had a client who wanted to add a “garage”, but use it as an art studio. “Living space” is defined as anywhere that someone could comfortably sleep. Certain townships address whether there has to be bathroom access, but heating/cooling may be enough to categorize a space as “living space” and most townships won’t allow garages to be used that way without a variance. So, the takeaway is: do your research carefully before committing to buying a house if you plan to build an additional structure on the property.
If you are relocating to the Philadelphia/Main Line area, please go to my blog page and search for posts using the relocation tag. Contact me to discuss your Philadelphia area relocation! firstname.lastname@example.org/610 308-5973