Garages vs. Carports: Which is best for you?

Garage or Carport
Should you get a garage or carport? Each has its pros and cons. (DepositPhotos)

Homeowners wanting to expand their property, and those who are building a home, face several choices when it comes to a car storage addition.

They must decide whether it will be attached to the home or detached nearby, and that raises more questions: Will the addition share the same design of the main home or depart from it? What kinds of materials will be used? How much should be budgeted for this project?  

But before a homeowner gets to those questions, this is the most important one: Carport or garage?

For some people, this will be easy. Maybe your homeowners association does not allow carports. Or, if you own multiple cars, you will need the extra storage a garage affords. Or maybe you don’t have enough space for a garage, and a carport will fit your needs just fine.

While they sometimes serve the same function, there are differences between a carport and a garage.

A carport is a shelter for vehicles with a roof supported by posts. It may be attached or detached from the house.

It is much simpler to build, but, if detached, is less permanent than garages, and can often be easily moved to a different location.

A garage is a permanent structure, with walls, an entryway and a roof. Garages are often attached to the main house. If detached, they typically sit in a permanent spot near the house.

Carport with adobe shingles (DepositPhotos)

Carport Pros

A carport usually costs much less to build than a garage. While the exact cost can vary quite a bit, the website Fixr estimates that a carport of the same size as a garage is roughly 20 percent that of a garage.

Additionally, there are rarely any kind of local, state or federal regulations for building a carport, as it is not considered a habitable addition.

Some carports, such as those that come in a kit, can be built in a day. Virtually all of them will be easier to construct than garages.

The roof of a carport might protect the car from sun damage, tree sap or storms; and, since carports are open-air structures, they can sometimes do double duty for outdoor activities such as a cookout.

(DepositPhotos)

Carport Cons

Since there are no walls to a carport, you cannot store anything of value. There is no way to put a lock on a carport.

For the same reason, a carport offers no protection from thieves. Animals have free reign in a carport, as well, and can cause damage to your car. A carport also offers limited protection from the weather.

A carport is unlikely to add any real value to your property. It is often smaller than its garage counterpart. Many people find carports less appealing visually than garages.

(DepositPhotos)

Garage Pros

Since garages are fully enclosed structures, they are much easier to secure. This security also makes them great places for storing items that otherwise might not have a home, such as lawnmowers and tools.

The walls of a garage offer much better protection from storms and animals; garages are also easier to convert into livable space, and a garage will usually raise the value of the property.

Garage Cons

Garages take much longer to build than carports. This is true whether the garage is attached to the home or not.

Since garages require more materials, they are also more expensive to build and have limited style choices. Rarely will they differ from the style of the house.

Building a garage requires following local codes. You will likely need a building permit. Other permits, such as for electrical or plumbing, might apply. These permits will add costs to your project.

According to homeadvisor.com, the average cost of a building permit nationwide is $1,091. Your garage permit may not be that steep, but it will cost you.

Garages and carports both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is important to do your research, know your needs, and decide what is important to you before deciding which option is best.

Abby Drexler is a freelance writer.

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