You can buy the newly constructed home – without a garage door

Supply chain issues have limited the availability of garage doors for new homes:

Photo by Castorly Stock on

In most parts of the country, a builder can’t pass final inspection for a home that is otherwise perfectly complete — but that is missing its garage door. That means builders don’t get paid and home buyers can’t move in…

These last two years, the garage has also become the answer to all kinds of pandemic problems. It’s the remote office, the home gym, the one-room schoolhouse and the makeshift bedroom for doubled-up family. The pandemic has effectively completed the decades-long evolution of the garage from a detached carriage house to a connected car annex to a space inseparable from the home itself.

Along the way, the garage door became, for many, the real front door. And so it can be surreal to see brand-new homes with their garages sealed in plywood, or to hear homebuilders talk of installing temporary ones. Welcome to your dream home! The real garage door will be coming later…

Amid all this variety, a few problems have been acute lately. Many doors contain spray-foam insulation, which has been in short supply since the plants in Texas that manufacture its chemical components were disrupted in last year’s winter freeze. (If you make garage doors, you’re also competing for polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride with window frames, vinyl siding, caulking — and the aerospace, cruise ship and automotive industries.)

Many other garage door components are made from steel, which has also been in short supply. And even companies that manufacture the finished doors domestically typically source parts from China that have been snarled in global shipping.

Having a garage is essential in many ways (hence the need for it in a final inspection): it protects whatever is in the garage from the elements, it seals up the opening for safety, it provides for entering and leaving, and it is part of the front that home presents to the world.

Indeed, with the development of the single-family home in the United States, the garage became a key, and sometimes, leading component. With homes in the suburbs dependent on cars plus the ownership of more and more vehicles, garages became larger and featured more prominently in the front facade. As the term “snout house” implies, some houses literally lead with the garage closest to the street. In other homes, the garage might be set further back or even discreetly turned or more hidden from the front. Regardless where the garage is placed and featured, it is very important to the American single-family home.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to rethink garages and how they might work. As noted above, many garages have been used in different ways during COVID-19. Is there a way to build them where they can be more quickly converted without the need for a traditional large door? In a possible future of electric car fleets, how would a home garage work?

Making art out of “McMansion doors”

Making art of McMansions is not that unusual in recent years but specifically focusing on their doors is:

How housing became a commodity — and what ultimately led to the housing crisis in America — is the theme of a new work of art by Koumoundouros. It’s on view at the Hammer Museum, and is called the “Dream Home Resource Center.”

But it might not be what you typically think of as art.

Two giant doors enclose the exhibit. They once belonged to a McMansion in nearby Orange County, but have since been repainted in rainbow colors by Koumoundouros. Inside the clear glass walls, it’s actually a pretty white spare room — with a few striking differences. To the left, a giant whiteboard is updated weekly with statistics on the economy — from the most recent homeless population numbers to news about the Detroit bankruptcy filing. Wrapping around the rest of the room: a rainbow timeline following different threads, all piecing together what housing looks like in America today.

The most unusual aspect of the exhibit sits dead center in the room: An informational booth. Here, the artist curated a number of guests — from real estate brokers to homeless rights activists.

There may be other features of the typical McMansion that receive more attention: the undulating roof lines, the foyers, the stucco or fake stone or fake brick finishes. But, the humble door doesn’t get as much attention. An interior door might be a six-panel dark wood door or perhaps a french door, such as between a den and a great room. The exterior door is likely to be a large one, double-wide, ornate or with plenty of glass, and proportionately fitting the outsized foyer which may include two stories, pillars, and surrounding windows.

All that said, I’m not sure there is a single image of a “McMansion door.” The Soprano McMansion had a double set of double doors – a vestibule sat in between – with frosted glass. Cynics might note that the garage doors on McMansions might actually be more important.