At first glance, there's nothing unusual about Brian Carroccio's home in Rockville, Md. But just behind the house, at the bottom of the...

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At first glance, there’s nothing unusual about Brian Carroccio’s home in Rockville, Md. But just behind the house, at the bottom of the sloping driveway, is a garage so mammoth that if it were attached to the house, it would dwarf it.

The two-story, nine-car garage consumes the modest backyard behind the one-story rambler. There isn’t a blade of grass to be found, and that is just fine with Carroccio.

The garage “has become a bit of a gathering place,” said Carroccio, 30. His father and uncle join him there weekly to work on the family’s growing car collection.

Yes, we need it that big

While some homebuyers covet granite countertops, hardwood floors and emerald lawns, Carroccio and fellow car enthusiasts care about having somewhere to house and tinker with their cherished automobiles. Their wish list might include an air-conditioned work area with an engine crane, a large sink and a sand blaster to clean parts.

According to 2004 Census Bureau statistics, 19 percent of new single-family homes had a garage for three or more cars.

It sometimes seems all that space is not even used for cars, but for stuff. Homeowners can spend as much as $20,000 on cabinets; customized storage racks; and color-coordinated, stain-resistant flooring, making the humble garage the latest place for homeowners to show off their wealth.

But for Carroccio and other car enthusiasts, buying a house with a large garage, expanding an existing garage or even adding custom-designed space is more necessity than status symbol. A garage protects cars from exposure and thus increases their resale value.

“Better shape means better value,” said John Powell of Bowie, Md., who owns a landscaping company and a nine-car garage. But even though their cars might be worth a lot, who really wants to sell them? “I will get rid of them when I quit breathing,” Powell said, and then “they will become my children’s.”

Let’s gather in the garage!

When Carroccio bought his house and its 1,748-square-foot garage, he laid out three separate rooms, each with a designated purpose. One room serves as storage for two cars not being worked on, and a second is the workroom, with space for two vehicles. The third area, now affectionately referred to as “the showroom,” is home to five cars. The walls are covered mostly with British automotive paraphernalia, a salute to the homeland of many of the cars.

The workroom is stocked with just about everything an amateur mechanic would need, including an engine crane and a mini refrigerator. Now the family is able to spend more time in the garage working on its projects — a 1918 Ford Model T and a 1980 Triumph Spitfire.

When Leonard and Patricia Paquette of Woodbridge, Va., were shopping for a home, one of the items on their must-have list was a three-car garage.

The Paquettes are members of the Bull Run Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America, and their hobby is restoring classic cars. Before finding their home, the couple worked on restoring their 1966 Mustang convertible in a cramped one-car garage.

“I needed more room,” said Leonard Paquette, 52, a production engineering manager. “I am not going to put a rusty something sitting [outside] on blocks. … I want to get along with the neighbors.”

Get that junk outta here

With more projects than their original three-car garage could handle, the couple added an unattached three-car garage in 2003. The second space now serves as home for a restored 1929 Ford Model A, their next projects (1956 and 1963 Thunderbirds) and the occasional antique car club meeting. The new garage is immaculate, with room for an engine crane and a second story for storage. The couple insisted on large, second-story windows for natural lighting and reinforced concrete in the middle to accommodate a future car lift.

One thing is strikingly similar about the Carroccios’ garage and the Paquettes’: There isn’t a lawn mower, trash can or bicycle to be found. For those things, each family has built a separate shed.