New Trends in Garages and Carports


Building a freestanding or attached garage or carport is one of the most popular current home improvement trends, and with good reason. Adding a garage not only gives you a secure place to store your vehicles, but it can also be used for a workshop, as extra storage, or even a spare living space!

Here, we'll review some of the most common car and vehicle storage options, as well as some of the truly unique options available to you. We'll also provide tips for finding the best contractor for the job.

Garage or Carport?

A carport is a very basic, open-air structure designed to protect cars and other vehicles from the weather. Carports can be attached to your home, or they can be freestanding structures. If your budget and/or space are limited, a carport is a great way to protect your car. Even though they're not completely surrounded, a car which is parked in a carport is still less likely to attract criminals, and it's also safe from birds, stray wind-blown debris, and hail.

There are kits available for constructing carports on your own, and contractors can also be hired to get the job done. Which option you choose should be based on your own level of skill, and your budget.

Depending on budget, you can build a very simple metal carport, or you can use creative design techniques to make your carport blend seamlessly into the lines of your home. Using the same colors and roofing materials on your new carport will make it appear more in harmony with your home itself, which will give a pleasant, seamless appearance to your property.

You can further enhance the visual appeal of a simple carport with a bit of landscaping. Installing an extension of your driveway is highly advisable. This should match your existing driveway if possible.

If there is money left in your budget once the carport itself and the driveway are finished, consider landscaping to make your new carport as attractive as possible. Fast-growing bushes or shrubs are a great way to make an open-sided carport more enclosed without building walls. Keep in mind that this also gives would-be criminals more places to hide, so use caution. Trees are also great for this purpose, but take many years to grow to the desired size.

If you want to landscape without providing potential hiding places for criminals, consider a low border of flowering bushes. This will create visual borders for your carport without compromising safety, and it will add a lovely touch of color to your yard as well.

Keep in mind that while a carport may seem like a quick fix, it's always advisable to construct a garage if your budget and property size permits it. Garages are more secure, offer more versatility, and add more resale value to your home.

Attached or Detached?

While this question is common, it's very easily answered. Space should be your first consideration. If you desire a certain size of garage, draw it up on blueprints, to scale, to ensure that it will fit where you're picturing it. Many homeowners have run into costly delays simply because they skipped this important step.

Each type of garage has its own disadvantages and advantages. An attached garage is attractive mainly for safety and convenience. In certain neighborhoods, it's unnerving to walk from your garage to your house after dark. An attached garage eliminates this concern, providing a very welcome sense of security. It's also easier to carry things inside from an attached garage, simply because the distance is shorter. Attached garages can be just as elaborate and large as detached garages, if your property is large enough. However, on many of today's lots, there simply isn't enough space.

Detached garages offer much more flexibility when it comes to design and size. You can place your garage anywhere on your property which is accessible (although you may need to install a new or extended driveway). Depending on your budget, you can create a very unique structure. A detached garage can serve many purposes, from traditional vehicle storage to living space.

If you can't attach a garage but still want extra security, you can install a fenced-in area surrounding the walk from your home to the garage. This will give you an added measure of safety, and can also be a beautiful accent to your property.

Different Garage Functions

There's no reason to limit yourself to a boring, standard garage. If you have the space and budget for it, you can create a truly unique structure, as attractive and comfortable as your home!

There are many ways to customize your garage. For most people, their vehicles are the first concern. How many vehicles do you have? Large SUV's take up much more space than small cars, so plan accordingly. If you have children who will have their own vehicles in the near future, plan for that as well. Do you own, or plan to buy, a larger vehicle such as a boat or RV? Storing these recreational vehicles in off-site facilities can be extremely expensive. Creating a space for larger items can save you money.

Once you've planned space for your vehicles, it's time to consider what else you'd like to do in your new garage. If you have a hobby which would benefit from a dedicated workshop, such as woodworking or gardening, now's the time to include that space in your plans.

If your budget allows, you may want to consider building a two-story garage. You can use this extra space for storage, or you can truly maximize your property's potential and create a separate living space. This extra apartment can be used for guests, or it can be rented out for extra income.

Unique Garage Designs

Whether your garage is to be attached or detached, you'll be amazed by all the design variations which are available to you. From traditional to fanciful, there's an option for every taste, budget and style! You can also work with an architect to create a custom structure.

Garages which match your home in color and style are very popular, especially if the structure will be attached to or close to the house itself. A garage which is in harmonious design with the main house is more pleasing to the eye than a structure which looks out of place. Pay attention to roofing, siding and color when planning your garage. If you're constructing something more detailed than a standard box-like garage, ensure that the lines of the building flow with the lines of the main house as well.

If your new garage will be a freestanding structure situated away from your main home, you have a larger range of design options. You can still design a garage which matches your home, creating a beautiful sense of continuity on your property. However, a skilled architect will be able to show you many design options which will blend in with your main home without being an exact copy.

Safety in Design

Due to concerns about toxic fumes and harsh chemicals, many homeowners worry about an attached garage or an apartment above a garage. These concerns are valid, since car exhaust and vapors from various chemicals are known to be harmful. At the very least, they're unpleasant to smell inside your home.

Thankfully, there are many simple ways to ensure that the air inside your home (or garage apartment) stays safe and clean. If you're constructing an attached garage, simply speak to your contractor about your concerns. They will show you many different ways of routing garage air outside, instead of into your home. The same is true when constructing a garage apartment; simple venting techniques are available which ensure that any harmful fumes are vented to the outdoors.

Finding the Right Contractor

Depending on the intricacy of your project, you may be working with several different contractors. For example, a skilled handyman can easily construct a basic carport. However, it takes a highly experienced team of workers to build a garage apartment, since these structures are essentially small homes.

Architects are also sometimes necessary if you want to create your own unique design instead of purchasing ready-made building plans.

Regardless of how many professionals you require, or how specialized they are, you can easily find all the help you need by utilizing home improvement websites. These sites allow you to quickly and simply check credentials, search by location and specialty, and (in many cases) read consumer reviews written by former clients.

Once you've narrowed your search down to a few likely candidates, talk through your plan with them, from start to finish. Ask about building codes and restrictions, and ensure that they have the proper experience for every aspect of your project. If you disagree on something or run into any sort of obstacle, it's always better to get it out of the way quickly. This will save you from running into time-consuming and costly delays once work has begun.

Posted by: Diane Sheppard
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