We think that a carport is a fairly recent invention, but the first carport was built for Sloane House in Illinois by Walter Burley in 1909. It wasn’t technically called a carport by name, instead Burley called it an auto-space.
The first carport to be known by that name was created in Madison, Wisconsin by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Draw a picture in your mind of a Model T and it makes sense to keep these early cars undercover—not exactly water-tight. What you may not know is that they could also be damaged by the cold or even by too much heat.
Types of Carports
This is by no means an encyclopaedia of carports and their designers (and who wants to read that anyway) but this short guide focuses on different types of carport on the market.
If you live in cold, even snowy, areas it makes sense to have a full garage where the space is closed off.
Wood carports are less expensive than steel or aluminium but it can be affected by the elements. Steel and aluminium carports do have the disadvantage that they take longer to install, but they are worth it if you can handle the hassle.
One way to keep the costs down is to look for a self-assembly carport. To ensure that the carport is at the right level having a carport with adjustable height is a must.
You need to make sure the site is level before you can build a carport.
In sunny climates it’s not unusual to see flat roof carports to keep the sun from damaging paint and interior, and also to keep the car from being too hot when you go to start it up.
Some carports have a diagonal roof which is much better in snow and rain, and can allow you to place a number of cars underneath.
The biggest expense in a carport is the steel understructure, some businesses offer a galvanised steel choice—a worthwhile upgrade when available.
Other expenses involve the site excavation, installation, electricity and painting. Electricity is optional, but again, its wise to do. Paint is not optional on wood structures as it protects the structure.
As you may guess, the expenses soon add up so coming up with a budget is vital.
You may have restrictions on carport building in a specific area. If you don’t have a concrete base already, it will cost more, and likely more to maintain as they need to hold up against the strengths of the storms and it is rust free.
What style of frame do you require?
A cantilever relies on a curved frame system which touches the ground only on one side (but may be supported by something like an out-building) and then there’s post and purlin which is a single slope design.
It is vital that the canopy is load bearing. Some are made of metal, others are shingled wood. The idea is usually to match a nearby house, but often apartment complexes will do something entirely different for carports than they do for the buildings. It may come down to how close the carport is to your other structures.
You may need to consider rubber sealing for the roof and some form of drainage, otherwise the canopy will not protect the car for that long.
A solar carport has a solar canopy over the car. The canopy has a surface from where solar energy is derived. The plus point is that you may not need to run house power out to your car port in order to have lights or even a charging station for your EV. Solar canopies can produce more energy than a rooftop solar panel. Massachusetts and various other states provide a cash incentive for buying a solar panel. You will also receive a reduction in your electricity bills.
If the job is done well, it will protect your pride and joy for several years and may mean you don’t need to spend as much time waxing and polishing your car. Though having said that, all cars benefit from some attention now and again.