Carport design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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What is a carport and why should I consider it?

Among the endless list of coined terms is the word carport. Coined by a French architect, it comes from the French term porte-cochère, which refers to a covered portal. In simple English, a carport is a covered structure used to offer limited protection to vehicles, primarily cars, from rain, snow and sun damage. A carport structure can either be freestanding or attached to a wall, and unlike most structures, a carport has one or two walls instead of four. Although a carport offers less protection than a garage, it allows for more ventilation and prevents frost on windshields. Today's carports are usually made of metal, and modular carports can be found all over America. The metal carports can be divided into Regular, Boxed-Eave, and Vertical roof styles. The difference between these styles is in their sturdiness and roof panel placements. So if you're looking for an easy and inexpensive way to protect your car from wind, rain, snow or sun damage, a carport is a good option.

What are the differences between a carport and a garage?

Carports and garages have individual benefits. Here they are:

Carport: 

- They are a low cost way to protect your car against the elements.

- A carport is cheaper to erect than a garage, and you have the option of having yours professionally erected or doing it yourself with a prefabricated kit.

- Little time is needed to erect a carport.

- A carport can double as a covered entertainment area.

- You have the flexibility when it comes to choosing where to place your carport and its design. You choose to attach it a side of your house, next to an existing garage, or if it's going to be a freestanding structure. You also choose whether to use dirt, grass, gravel, pavers or concrete for the foundation.

- When it comes to the roof of your carport, you're not limited to a flat roof, a gable roof can also be used, as well as a variety of different materials.

Garage: A garage is a fully enclosed, permanent structure for housing your car. Most garages are attached to the home with a door entry.

- Because garages are fully enclosed and lockable, they are more secure than a carport.

- A garage is perfect for protecting your car against the weather, and can be used for storing other items. You can also convert all or part of the garage into extra living space or another bedroom, which is something you can't do with a carport.

What is a prefabricated carport kit?

A prefabricated carport kit is a pre-made carport that you buy to install wherever you prefer on your property. These are available in different styles and materials, and the minimum cost of and average carport is $895.00.

How much does it cost to build a carport?

The typical costs of building a carport is roughly $2,600, and for a two-car version the average costs will be higher. This sort of structure will average at $6,000. The resale value of this update would hold at $4,680, or an approximately 78% return on investment.

How do I build a carport?

If you like taking matters into your own hands and going DIY route, here are instructions to build a carport. The help of a professional comes in handy when you're in the planning.

Step 1—Plan

Before starting to construct your carport, make sure that you aren't breaking any local building codes. Also, make sure that the spot you plan to put the carport doesn't interfere with any gas or water lines or sewer pipes. Mark out the area using string and stakes. Once you have plotted it, double check  by measuring your diagonals.

Step 2—Set Posts

Dig post holes at the edge at least one foot wide and one foot deep. Mix your concrete in accordance with the packaging instructions, pour into the holes, and then set a stirrup bracket in the center of each of the concrete pads. You will need a minimum of three inches of clearance between the ground and the bottom of each post. Make sure the brackets are level, and then place a piece of plywood over the concrete. Allow two days for the concrete to dry. Cut 2x6-inch notches (rebates) in the top of each post for the bearers. Place the posts in the brackets, checking to make sure that they are perfectly vertical. If the posts are wobbly, you can use stones or wooden braces to support them while you work. Drill holes for the carriage bolts and secure the posts to the brackets.

Step 3—Plan the Roof

Using a string line, measure out the height that you want the roof to be, cutting any excess on the post. To prevent the roof from gathering water, you should have a slight angle to it, allowing it to slope away from your house so that snow and water can run off.

Step 4—Secure Bearing Beams

Cut a bearing beam to fit the length of your carport and set it into the rebates you’ve cut. Bolt the beam to the rebates with galvanized 4 ½-inch coach bolts.

If attaching the carport to your house, measure and cut another bearing beam and, making sure that it is parallel to the first, attach to the side of your house. For a wooden wall, use coach screws. If the wall is made of masonry, dynabolts are best.

Step 5—Hang Rafters

Following your local building code for carports, measure and cut the appropriate number of rafters and attach them between the two bearing beam with joist hangers, spacing them apart approximately every three feet. Attach the rafters to the beams using galvanized nails.

Step 6—Attach the Roof

Once you have measured and cut your roofing, attach it to the top of both the bearers and the rafters. Make sure that the roof screws are fitted with rubber washers before tightening them. You will also want to make sure that your carport roof extends several inches beyond the frame for rain and snow runoff.