Carport vs Garage: Which is Better? [Cost, Differences]


If you need more space for your car, you really have two main options: a carport and a garage.

Before making your decision, it’s crucial to understand what each offers.

A carport is better for some homeowners, while a garage is ideal for others. In today’s post, I’ll discuss the various properties of carports and garages and compare them so you get a good idea of what to expect from each.


What is a Carport?

A carport is an open-sided structure with a roof under which you can park your car. Simple carports don’t have any walls, while some have between one to three walls.

A standard carport comprises four steel frames holding up the roof.

Aluminum sheets or fiberglass panels make up the roof. This helps protect the car from rain, snow, and other damaging weather elements. If it includes walls, they’re usually made of steel or aluminum siding.


What is a Garage?

A garage is a permanent structure with standard walls, just like your house. This usually includes electricity outlets, insulated walls, and concrete floors, but not always.

Garages can be attached to your house, or a freestanding structure (detached garage).

Attached garages have a fire-rated door that allows you to go directly from the garage into the home, usually through the kitchen.


Carports vs Garages: Major Differences

The major differences between carports and garages lie in their structural design. While carports have open sides, garages are fully enclosed.

Because of this, garages are subject to local building and zoning codes because they’re livable spaces.

You’ll still probably need to talk to your local building code office before you construct your carport. In general, however, you’ll need far fewer inspections and regulatory hoops with a carport than a garage.

A simple, prefabricated carport can be a DIY project you can complete in an afternoon, without any expert help. However, you’ll either need a concrete slab, or packed earth as the carport floor.

If you don’t already have this, bring in an expert to prepare one before fixing the kit.

By contrast, garages should be designed and built by an expert who can adhere to your local building codes.

While you can get pole garage kits that handle the basics, all the features that go into a garage, like insulation, doors, windows, and finished walls, make it too complicated for the average homeowner to take this on as a DIY project.

Finally, a garage offers substantial storage space, far beyond what you can store in a carport.

If your carport has no siding whatsoever, it’s suitable for just keeping your car, boat, or trailer. The openness of the structure means it doesn’t provide enough security or protection from the elements to other heavy-duty equipment.

With a garage, however, you can store practically anything that fits. The garage is a great place to stuff away anything you don’t want in the house, from lawn equipment to cleaning supplies.


Carport vs Garage: Which is Better?

Now that you know the differences between a carport and a garage, it’s time to determine which is better. Below are some factors you should consider before settling on one.

Cost

Cost is a major factor that can help you quickly decide on what structure to construct based on your budget. Costs for each vary, depending on the size, style, materials of construction, labor, and more. For instance, a simple carport with no walls is the most inexpensive, but if you decide to include siding on some sides, you’ll spend more.

According to HomeAdvisor, carport costs range from $3,232-$9,640, with an average of $6,327.

Generally, a carport is less costly to install than a garage. This is due to the fewer construction materials used, simple structural design, and the fact that you don’t need skilled personnel to do the job.

Even if you hire a professional, they’ll spend only a few hours on the carport. A garage can take weeks to build, which means more labor costs. HomeAdvisor estimates garage costs to be between $17k-$38k. Homeowners who opt for more customization can spend as much as $100k on a garage.

Property Value Addition

A garage can add value to your property, while a carport doesn’t. When you build a garage, it contributes to the total square footage of your house since it’s a habitable space. This automatically increases your home’s resale value.

Also, a well-constructed garage adds to curb appeal, contributing to the resale value. When designing your garage, whether attached or freestanding, ensure its design complements the main house to elevate the curb appeal.

Besides increasing your property’s value, having a garage makes it easier to sell your house. Many homebuyers are looking for homes with garages, so you’ll have an easier time selling.

While a carport is not as useful as a garage, it’s more attractive to some buyers than a home with no car shelter.

If you don’t have space for a garage, you can still improve your property’s value with a carport. Just make sure it’s in a good location, and matches the house’s style so it doesn’t look out of place.

Durability

The durability of the structure you choose depends on the materials used and structural design. In general, a garage will last as long as your house.

The durability of a carport, on the other hand, is entirely dependent on the construction decisions you make. If you use materials such as steel that’s resistant to environmental hazards, it’ll serve you for many decades.

Maintenance

As you might expect, garage maintenance requires more effort than maintaining a carport. A garage’s maintenance needs are mostly similar to those of the rest of the house.

If you use it frequently, you’ll have to vacuum, dust, or mop the floor to keep the place clean. You might also have to finish the concrete floor by installing coverings or coatings that make the space more comfortable and inviting.

You’ll need to clean the garage doors and windows to remove any built-in dirt that could lower your curb appeal. Lubricating your garage doors with oil on the pivot points, hinges, or springs at least once a year is essential in keeping them working well.

Carport’s don’t require much in the way of maintenance, especially if it doesn’t have any walls. The most you’ll have to worry about is repainting the frames or the roof when they start fading.  


Reasons to Choose a Carport

I have a full article discussing whether a carport is a good investment, but I’ll summarize a few key points here.

A carport is a better option when you’re more interested in an inexpensive option. Carports can cost half as much, or even lower, than a garage. Therefore, opting for a carport is more favorable if you have a limited budget.

Another instance where a carport is better is if you’re not interested in using the space for storage or as an extended living space. A simple carport can protect your vehicles from the elements, but it doesn’t offer secure storage for other items. It’s advisable to install security cameras and motion sensors at your carport to deter thieves.

If you’re interested in a structure you can put up quickly without going through the hassle of hiring builders or seeking permits, go for a carport. The effort and time necessary to install the frames and roofing are considerably much shorter than what it takes to construct a garage.

A carport is also suitable if you’re interested in a temporary structure. This can either be because you intend to build a garage in the future or because you don’t need the shelter for long.


Reasons to Choose a Garage

Is security a big concern of yours? Then a garage is definitely the way to go.

Garages are fully enclosed and have doors you can fit with burglar-proof locking systems. Cars locked up in your garage are less likely to attract thieves, compared to one that’s out in the open under a carport.

If you live in a hurricane or tornado zone, like I do, you’ll definitely want the added protection of a garage.

While a garage isn’t the safest place in a hurricane, there’s only so much a simple carport can do in the face of strong storms. No walls means that parking your car in a carport will still expose it to the elements at some point.

But the biggest reason to go with a garage is the increase in property value. A well-constructed garage increases your home’s total square footage and is a great selling point. 

Statistics show that homes with garages sell for an average of $23,211 more than homes without. The more effort you put into your garage—plumbing systems, flooring, security system—the more money it’ll fetch during a house sale.

Another case where a garage is better is if you would like to have optional living space. It’s easy to convert a garage from a storage space into a hangout area or bedroom, something that’s not viable with a carport.

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