What’s the Difference Between Stick-Built Garages vs. Pole Barns vs. Modular Garages?

You need a garage. But how do you know which method of construction is best for your new garage? 

Whether you’re looking for a one-car, two-car, or even four-car garage, it’s important to know your options. This article explores the differences between the three most popular types of building for garages: stick builds, pole barns, and modular garages.

Stick-Built Garages (Residential Framing Construction)

The process of building stick-built garages is known as residential framing construction. This type of construction takes more manpower than pole barn garages or modular garages, but the benefits far outweigh the cons when it comes to quality and customization. For example, stick-built garages are framed with lumber specially treated to delay structural damage from decay and insects. 

While residential framing construction takes more time than post frame and modular construction, the buildings are much more customizable since they are built piece by piece directly on site. Since they’re not assembled off site and the roofs are often framed with rafters, stick-built garages are much more customizable. So, if you’re looking to add a two-story garage with living quarters to your property, for example, a custom-designed stick-built garage may be the way to go. 

Core Components of Stick-Built Garages



A standard or custom stick-built garage typically requires a permanent foundation, which ultimately increases the durability of this type of structure. Its concrete foundation helps lock this type of shed in place, increasing its ability to withstand particularly heavy winds and other risky weather conditions. 

One downside of pouring a solid foundation is that it increases the project timeline, because it takes longer to obtain a building permit. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Other factors that contribute to the time it takes to obtain a permit include the time of year and individual township requirements. A concrete foundation also takes approximately one month to cure before contractors can build on it, but the enhanced strength of the structure is worth the wait. This also allows more time for you and your contractor to design the interior of the garage if you’re looking to add a loft or second floor. 


Stick-Built Structure Roof Framing

Rafters and trusses are both common components when it comes to framing the roof of a stick-built garage. Which type of frame you choose should depend on how you plan to use your garage. If you want to create a loft for office space, you’re better off using rafters. Trusses are often prefabricated to match whatever structure they’re being used on, and they limit the available space–and uses–of a second floor. Rafters are individual beams cut to size and installed on site, running from the bottom to the peak of the roof in order to support the roof decking. Stick-built garages are also constructed with wood specifically crafted and treated to withstand moisture and decay, making them last for decades.


Stick-Built Structure Walls

Residential framing construction walls are wood, often board and batten, which makes them better at holding in heat than other types of walls. Wood walls also make it easier for a contractor to finish the inside of your garage with insulation and drywall, so you can also use it as a living space in addition to somewhere to store your cars and tools. 

All exterior walls of garages with rafters are considered load-bearing walls. This means that these walls are the main support for the roof of the structure rather than a pole barn construction. 

Pros and Cons of Residential Construction


Stick-Built Garage Advantages

  • Higher Durability
  • Multi-Level Possibilities
  • More Customizable Design


Stick-Built Garage Disadvantages

  • Longer Design Process
  • Longer Process for Obtaining a Building Permit
  • Longer Construction Time


Pole Barns (Post Frame Construction)

Also known as post frame buildings or pole barn garages, pole barns often come in kits, so materials are already cut to size and ready to install. That means you’ll have your new garage ready a day or two after the crew steps on site.

If you’re looking to expand your parking area or add a workshop on a budget, a pole barn garage is a good economical choice. Pole barns are more affordable than stick-built garages since they don’t feature as many parts and, if properly maintained, they may last nearly as long. Fewer parts also means not as many contractors are needed for the construction of post frame garages.

Core Components of Pole Barn Style Garages



Townships typically don’t require post frame buildings to have a concrete foundation, so this type of garage often requires less site preparation before the build. However, in order to get the most out of your new garage, it’s important to be sure your post frame structure is installed on level ground. Check with your contractors to determine whether they offer this service or ask if they can refer you to a company that specializes in leveling ground for building.


Pole Barn Structure Roof Framing

When it comes to the frame of a pole barn roof, contractors typically use trusses custom prefabricated for each structure. In addition to being part of the ceiling, pole barn trusses help hold the walls of the building together. Since pole barns tend to have higher ceilings, they are often the go-to choice for farm equipment storage. High ceilings are also beneficial for shop work. When you’re working with long 2x4s or plywood, it’s handy to have high ceilings in your garage shop. However, sometimes the trusses may get in the way if your garage isn’t high enough. Be sure to note how you plan to use your garage if you choose to work with a designer.

In addition, truss-framed ceilings are not typically drywalled, limiting the amount of storage space or option for a second floor. This eliminates pole-built structures as one of the choices for homeowners looking to invest in a new multifunctional garage.


Pole Barn Structure Walls

It’s not uncommon for pole structures to have metal–or more specifically, steel–walls. Steel-framed structures are less likely to retain heat, which is another good reason to only use them for vehicles, tools, and equipment rather than living quarters or home office space.

However, pole barn walls are resistant to damage from termites and other outdoor pests.

Pros and Cons of Post Frame Construction


Pole Barn Garage Advantages

  • Lower Costs
  • Less Site Prep Work
  • Faster Installation
  • High Ceilings


Pole Barn Garage Disadvantages

  • Less Customizable
  • Less Durable
  • More Expensive to Heat and Cool
  • Lower Added Home Value


Modular or Prefab Garages

Modular one- and two-car garages are quick and cost-efficient options if you need a garage soon. Two-car modular, or prefabricated (prefab), garages are often delivered to the job site in two main pieces and are joined together by professional contractors during the installation phase. 

These types of garages come in an array of common styles, from elegant to modern. There are also many siding and roof color options for prefab garages, so there’s likely already an option for a detached garage to match your home. 

Core Components of Modular Garages



Foundations for prefab or modular garages can vary. Some people prefer the quicker and less expensive gravel floors, but others opt for poured concrete. A concrete floor can enhance the structural integrity of your garage, while a gravel floor may contribute very little to the stability of your structure. 

However, it is possible to invest in a gravel foundation now and then have a concrete floor poured in a few years. If you plan to use the new garage partly for living quarters, though, it’s more logical to opt for a concrete foundation from the start. 


Modular Garage Roof Framing

It is not uncommon for modular garage roofs to be framed with rafters rather than trusses. As established in the above section on stick-built garages, the use of rafters opens up new opportunities for how homeowners can use their new garage. When contractors use rafters, it’s easier to create an finish a vaulted ceiling, which gives the homeowners more flexibility if they want to use their garage for storage, living quarters, or home office space. 


Modular Garage Walls

Modular garage walls can be either metal or wood. While homeowners can pick a specific style and choose from many color options, prefabricated or premade garage walls are not the most forgiving type of construction when it comes to changing the layout or building an addition onto the structure later. So, if you know you’re going to need a separate apartment for a college grad or feisty mother-in-law in a few years, it’s best to work with a designer now to customize this type of garage with a finished interior for your future needs. 

Pros and Cons of Modular Garages


Modular Garage Advantages

  • Lower Costs
  • Fast Installation
  • Style Variety
  • Choice of Foundation


Modular Garage Disadvantages

  • Less Customizable
  • Mistakes can Take Longer to Fix


Homestead Structures Offers High-End Custom Prefabricated Garages

Founded originally as a professional prefab shed manufacturing company in 2003, Homestead Structures has grown to expand into the outdoor living space and even offers one-car and two-car garages to customers in the tristate area. We have also gained our own in-house designers who work with our sales reps and customers to bring our customers’ unique visions to life. 

At Homestead Structures, we go beyond the standard. We excel in delivering high-quality, custom-fabricated modular garages with living quarters, office spaces, and even just basic auto storage.

Give us a call today at 877-272-7252 to start your project or get answers to any of your questions about custom prefab garages. We look forward to serving you!

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