11 Tips for How to Build a Carport That Will Last

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When you moved into your house, you were excited about the change. With all the home’s fun features, parking your car outside didn’t seem like a big deal.

After a few times of walking out to see your car covered in leaves or bird droppings, though, it gets old. For many homeowners, that’s enough to get them thinking about a carport. In other cases, the local housing market will let them get a much higher price for their home if it has a carport.

Whether your new carport is a convenience or an investment, you want it to last. Here are some tips on how to build a carport that stands the test of time:

How to Build a Carport That Lasts

The basic structure of a carport is simple: six posts and a roof. For that reason, most homeowners assume they can build it themselves. Perhaps you can, but there are specific steps you need to take to make it last.

1. Make Sure Your Land Has What it Takes

Before you hit up the home improvement store, you need to find out if your land meets the specifications for a carport. To have plenty of space, you want to have an open area that’s 12 feet wide and 20 feet long.

Don’t forget about the vertical space, too. Make sure there’s enough space to build a carport tall enough to store your vehicle. You might need to trim some tree branches to make this work.

Keep in mind that to construct your carport, you’ll need to dig post holes. Find out if there are any gas lines, water lines, power lines, or other utilities in that area of the ground. Map out where they are. It’s also important to make sure your underground water table is far more than four feet below.

2. Cover Your Legal Bases

When you think about how long your carport will last, you’re thinking about weatherproofing and stability. However, your carport could also be short-lived if it’s an illegal structure.

It may surprise you to know that you need a building permit to construct a carport. The codes and permitting will vary based on where you’re located. Florida residents should check the Florida building laws before you start any other part of the process. Find out the details with your local authorities as well.

3. Prepare Your Land Ahead of Time

When you have met the legal requirements and you know you have enough space, you need to prepare the ground. Make sure your ground is level in the entire area. If you don’t have a concrete pad already, remove any grass or plants in the space.

4. Pour Your Concrete Before Building the Structure

Let’s assume for a moment that you don’t have concrete already. Some homeowners use gravel as the floor of their carport. However, concrete tends to look more finished, so if it fits your budget, concrete may be your footing of choice.

If you choose to add concrete, you should pour it before you install the carport structure. After the structure is in place you’ll have less space to work, so it will be easier to install the concrete first.

5. Already Have a Concrete Pad? Give It a Check-Up

It’s common for homeowners to already have a concrete driveway. In this case, you may choose to install a carport that covers part of the driveway.

However, this doesn’t mean you can start with the carport structure right away. You need to inspect the concrete first and make sure it can withstand the weight of your vehicle. You can find out by measuring your concrete’s load.

Even if you’ve been parking your vehicle on the concrete for years, it’s worth an inspection. It will be harder to replace the concrete after the carport is in place, so you want to make sure it will last.

Look for signs of wear, like cracks. If it looks like you’ll need to replace or repair your concrete in the near future, now is the time.

6. Choose Your Materials

There are several materials you can use to build your carport. The most common options are wood or metal. For the most part, it’s a question of style and how you want your carport to look.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you select materials that are made to withstand the elements. All metal should be rust-resistant. If you choose wood, make sure it’s well-sealed against moisture. This is even more important in our high humidity area of Florida and southern Georgia.

7. Measure Twice (or Three or Four Times)

It’s important to place your posts with care. They need to be the right distance apart to offer stability and symmetry.

8. Place Posts Deeper in the Ground

Many people recommend digging a two-foot hole for your carport posts. That’s the minimum. If you want to make sure your carport is more stable, aim for four feet instead. We all know the type of winds and storms Florida tends to see, so you need some extra stability.

You should keep this in mind at every stage of the process. When you buy materials, for instance, you need to buy posts long enough to get your desired height while being four feet underground.

To place your poles, start by using a post hole digger to dig the four-foot holes at the specified places. Next, pour about six inches of concrete into each hole. Place the pole in each hole while the concrete is still wet so the concrete forms around it.

After the concrete has hardened, use soil or other materials to pack in the rest of the hole around the pole. You can add landscaping or flowers later to make it more attractive.

9. Plan for Rainwater

The weight of too much rain can take down a carport in a hurry. As you buy or design your carport, make sure the rain has somewhere to go.

Many homeowners choose a roof that has a peak in the middle and slants down on each side. If you prefer a slab roof, tilt it to one side.

As an added measure, consider installing a gutter system on your carport. This prevents the rain from soaking you when you walk out of the carport. It also protects any landscaping around the carport.

Regardless of how you choose to control the rain, direct it away from your home’s foundation. The last thing you want is for your carport to cause damage to your house.

10. Choose Your Roofing Material with Care

You can’t just toss a few sheets of plywood on your carport’s roof and call it a job well done. To give it a pleasing look and to make sure it stands against the elements, you need a true roof.

Many homeowners opt for singles on their carport. You could even make it mimic your home’s roof. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could add something high-tech like a solar panel roof.

11. Reinforce Your Joints

This is a quick and easy step but it makes a big difference.

At any point in your structure where two beams meet, install a metal brace. This adds more reinforcement to stand up against those tropical storms.

12. Opt for a Pre-Engineered Building

If you aren’t an experienced builder, it may be best to leave your carport to the pros. A pre-engineered carport will have all the pieces and the quality you need. In some cases, you can have a professional install it. In other cases, you can choose a kit that you build yourself.

You may see pre-engineered carports in either wood or metal. Metal is more common and it tends to be more affordable as well.

13. Consider a Carport With an Additional Structure

Your carport can be more than a carport. More and more homeowners are choosing a garage and carport combination. These structures have a typical carport but the far end also has an enclosed area that most homeowners use for storage.

In some cases, this can offer extra stability because you have a more solid structure holding up the roof. Click here to learn more about this popular option.

14. Plan For the Future

Another key to making your carport last is making sure it still meets your needs in the future. For example, think about whether your household might have more vehicles in the future. If that’s the case, you can make it wide enough for two cars.

Another consideration is the type of vehicle you expect to have in the future. If you’re not a fan of fossil fuels, electric cars are getting more popular. You could install an electric charging station in your carport or set up your electrical system to make it possible in the future.

Making Your Carport Last

A carport could be a great way to add value to your home without the large expense of an enclosed garage. However, it takes more than a quick search for “how to build a carport.”

You need to take extra steps to make sure it’s stable enough to stick around for decades to come.

For more great tips and tricks for every sector of your life, check out our lifestyle blog.

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