Real estate is expensive. Cars are designed to be stored outdoors. Why devote precious real estate to a garage then? A parked car is not subject to the same setback restrictions as the structure of the house. So the area occupied by a conventional garage can be useful living space and the cars can be left in the driveway.
Perhaps you object that global warming is not yet complete. We will continue to suffer from occasional cold temperatures and precipitation that turns to ice on the driveway and front walk. This makes it challenging to walk from the parked car to the house.
Instead of devoting precious building envelope space to a garage, why not instead heat the driveway and front walk? Then the path from the car to the house is always ice-free. This will also be useful for the day when private car ownership is obsolete and we are dropped off in our driveways by a self-driving car.
The hardware for a heated driveway or walk seems to cost about $8 per square foot (source). A landscaping company estimates $17-19 per square foot installed here in the Boston suburbs. It may be necessary to add a drain so that the melted snow doesn’t simply re-freeze as ice. Still, if you consider that two cars plus a walk might be 500 square feet (about $10,000 total for the electric heat), that’s not a big cost compared to what the square footage of the garage would be worth as living space (400 square feet times $200 per square foot?). Operating costs for this much heated driveway/walk seem to be roughly $500/year (“no customer has ever complained about the usage cost” says the contractor).
One would still need enough space for storing bicycles and other “garage junk” but a house with a three-car garage could become a house with a one-car garage.
Readers: What’s wrong with this theory? Why do we need garages if we can heat a portion of the driveway instead?