Free Parking
December 25, 2009 7:42 PM   Subscribe

What would be involved in building a driveway / basement-level garage for a house in Seattle, WA with respect to zoning, estimated costs, etc.? Specifically, it would be for a house that currently has on-street, city-zoned parking only.
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Best answer: I don't have a specific answer for you, though if you're talking about putting the garage completely under an existing house, you can probably expect the permits for that to be relatively straightforward, as setbacks, lot coverage, etc. will probably be a moot point. Code will have to be met, of course, and it will all have to be engineered.

I don't know what the driveway permitting would be like, it might require permeable surfaces these days, and might require setbacks.

I imagine the most difficult part of the process is going to be getting a permit for the curb cut, but every Seattle house I lived in already had a basement garage so I don't have any actual experience with the process. Looks like most residential lots are allowed one curb cut...if there is already one out in front of your place but pointed at the wrong part of the house, you may need to negotiate it's move. Also note some language in there implying it you're on an arterial (like 45th NE or 3rd NW) you may have a harder time getting approval.

I'm also not sure what Seattle's policy is regarding "street trees," if one needs to be removed for the driveway. If you have a tree larger than 6" in diameter in the parking strip, you will definitely want to be aware of it, it seems.

If you already have a curb cut and are reconverting a former garage from a room back into car storage I imagine the process will be much easier than starting something from scratch. That said, I imagine the city general favors off-street parking for private residences, especially if the parking can accommodate more vehicles than the curb-cut parking spot.

Be prepared for foundation work. When we lowered the basement floor in our 1910 house (partially to make the "Model T" garage more usable) we discovered (a) no footings and (b) the foundation ended at floor level, so we essentially had to pour a new foundation. $6,000 turned into $19,000 pretty quickly.
posted by maxwelton at 10:12 PM on December 25, 2009

Response by poster: I don't have a contractor or (more importantly) a deed, I'm just trying to get a feel for the process and costs.

There are houses we are interested in, but parking is on-street, which requires moving every 72 hrs and being able to find it in the first place. So knowing what's involved will help us price out an offer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 AM on December 26, 2009

Best answer: As a back of the envelope super-hand-wavy guesstimate: If there is a basement already and the house is high off the road for a road-level driveway into said basement--at least $40-50K, easily, and closer to six figures, I would guess.

If the house has no basement and is at street level, you're going to be into (much) bigger money than that, if it's even possible, depending on grade and what-not.

Any of these places have alley access, and is there potentially room in the back for a free-standing garage? Not that you haven't thought of it, of course.
posted by maxwelton at 12:15 AM on December 27, 2009

Response by poster: Those that have alley access seem to have parking along it already. It is a detail we are looking it, definitely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:40 PM on December 27, 2009

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