Looking for a Garage Alternative? Consider a Carport

Stacy Sare Cohen
Written by Stacy Sare Cohen
Updated November 5, 2021
Wooden carport with pitched roof
anela47 - stock.adobe.com

If you’re wondering if a carport is right for your home, we’ve got you covered

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

When you don’t have the budget to build a garage—or it’s filled to the brim with collectibles, sporting equipment, and storage boxes, consider investing in a carport to protect your vehicle from the elements instead of having to leave it in long-term car storage.

The cost to convert a carport into a garage starts at $18,000, but that may be more than you’re willing to spend, which is what makes the affordable carport so attractive. Carports offer many benefits, but is it the right choice for you and your home? We’re answering all your burning questions here.

What Is a Carport?

Modern carport with a car inside
schulzfoto- stock.adobe.com

A carport is a freestanding structure made of metal or wood with open sides, but others come with waterproof fabrics with or without metal that enclose the structure. 

Some carports serve as permanent structures for long-term use, while others are used for temporary vehicle storage.

Types of Carports

Whether you prefer a carport for one or two vehicles––or one that’s freestanding or attached, manufacturers design them to suit your specifications. 

Let’s take a look:

  • Single carports: Used for one vehicle

  • Double carports: Wider carports that fit two cars side-by-side

  • Tandem carports: Similar to tandem parking, where one car is parked in front of the other

  • Freestanding carports: Unattached and can be located several yards away from a home

  • Attached carports: Affixed to a building structure such as a house or garage

Benefits of Carports

From style and type to budget and ease of installation, carports offer a variety of advantages. Wondering what makes them a good alternative to a garage? 

Here are seven benefits to start with:

  • More affordable to buy and build than garages

  • Come in a variety of types and styles

  • Don’t need to comply with stringent building codes and city regulations

  • Protects your vehicle from elements and falling leaves and branches

  • Offers a covered space for your vehicle (or a second car) when your garage is packed with stuff

  • Easier to install or build than a garage

  • Doubles as an outdoor dining and entertainment space (just move the car and create an ambiance)

Carport Styles

Manufacturers make carports in a variety of materials and styles.

  • Flat roofs: These are just like they sound––flat––but they can be unsafe in heavy snow and heavy rain, which can weigh them down and damage the vehicle below

  • Canopy styles: Can enclose the sides, are inexpensive compared to other options, but don’t last long

  • Metal carports: Made in durable aluminum and steel (know that some metals are stronger than others; galvanized steel holds up the best)

  • Gable roof carports:  Their triangular, sloped design makes an attractive option, plus rain and snow trickles down the roof to the ground

  • Timber frame carports: Provides a stylish appearance against many landscapes, but since they’re constructed of wood, they can rot easily and develop insect infestations and incur squirrel damage since they love to gnaw on wood

Cost of Carports

After narrowing down your carport options, of course you want to know how much green you’ll need to spend to own one. 

According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of a carport averages between $3,192 and $9,700, depending on the following factors:

  • Material construction

  • Custom features like painting, enclosed sides, electricity, or installation on a concrete slab

  • Site preparation needed

  • Price for a permit if required (check with your municipality)

  • Size of the carport

Longer-lasting metal carports cost between $3,275 and $9,650, but some can cost as much as $22,000 when they’re fully customized.

On the lower pricing end, you have carport kits and canvas options that cost less than their metal counterparts, but they usually don’t last long.

Carports vs. Garages: Which Is Best for You?

Does a carport stand up to a garage–– and vice versa? Learn the pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Appearance

Most garages are flush to the home, although some are freestanding. Garages match a home’s architectural style and color palette. However, some carports, like timber frame carports and gable roofs, present a lovely aesthetic and blend nicely into the landscape.

Cost

Carports cost less to buy than garages. They don’t require expensive building materials for support like garages need. You’ll pay more to have a garage installed, which makes a carport a better financial incentive for budget-conscious homeowners.

Permits and Regulations

This project requires you to hire a carport builder in your area with a license and insurance to pull a permit. Homeowners and contractors must comply with building codes and regulations that may require provisions like installing firewalls when attached to homes. 

While some cities require permits to install carports, their size and material requirements are minimal compared to garages––which means fewer headaches, fees, and paperwork.

Storage and Security

Typically larger than carports, garages contain more room for storing items, including:

  • Valuables

  • Furniture

  • Appliances

  • Gardening equipment

  • Tools

  • Lawnmowers

  • Ladders

  • Sporting and leisure equipment like bicycles and kayaks

Carports don’t allow much space for storage, and most don’t have locks, which means they’re not as secure as garages with heavy locking systems. While you may place a locked shed or cabinet under a long carport if the town will let you, these items could tempt a prowler to take a closer look at what’s in view.

Protection From Nature

Carports protect your vehicle from bird droppings, falling leaves and tree branches, and bad weather.  But when heavy winds from hurricanes and tornadoes roll in, your car will be more protected in a garage, although it’s not a guarantee when natural disasters occur.

Is a Carport Worth It? Is It Right for You?

When you don’t have the luxury of owning a garage, or you need space for a second car, hiring a qualified professional to install a carport might be the ideal money-saving garage alternative to protect your vehicle.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.