Carport: Costs, Seven Advantages and Solar Power from the Carport Roof

August 4, 2022
  1. What is a carport?
  2. Carport or Garage?
  3. Carport: seven advantages
  4. Wooden carport
  5. Metal carport
  6. How much does a carport cost?
  7. Does a carport need a building permit?
  8. Photovoltaic system on the carport roof

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most influential US architects of the 20th century. Eight of his buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Wright also built residential buildings such as the style-defining Prairie Houses or Usonians, but refused to design garages. Why? He believed that the builders would need their garages to store junk. That's why he designed open storage spaces for cars and called them "carports". Today, a carport is a popular, cost-effective alternative to a garage. Read what you should know about carports before you decide.

What is a carport?

Since the 1930s, carports have stood for covered parking spaces for cars and/or motorbikes without walls or doors. Carports are open, airy and easy to see; they are built freestanding or attached to a house wall. They protect against leaves, hail, rain, snow and storm damage, for example from branches. They also prevent car windows from freezing. Because the carport roof reflects the heat, the windows do not get colder than their surroundings, even though the car is parked outside in sub-zero temperatures. The temperature in the interior also does not drop as much as in a normal parking space.

Carport or Garage?

The decision for or against a carport depends on your answers to these four questions:

  1. How much space do you have? A carport requires less space than a garage. If you have little space, you can attach the carport to a house wall with direct access to the house. If space is tight, the carport is a space-saving alternative to the garage.
  2. How much can or do you want to spend? A garage costs significantly more than a carport (see "How much does a carport cost?"). A prefabricated garage is also significantly more expensive than a carport. If the budget is tight, the carport is a cost-effective alternative to the garage.
  3. How much protection do you want? A carport protects against wind and weather, but not against marten damage or thieves. On the other hand, the carport is less humid in winter and less hot in summer because it is better ventilated than a garage.
  4. How do you want to use the carport or garage? In the garage, as Frank Lloyd Wright feared, you can store garden tools, bicycles or tyres. In return, you can set up tables and chairs in the carport so that the guests at your next barbecue party don't have to sit in the blazing sun.

Conclusion: If you can't decide, a garage with carport is worth considering. For example, if you have a classic car for weekend trips and a mid-range car for everyday use.

Houzy Hint

Tip

For a small or medium-sized car, you need 3 to 4 metres wide and 5 to 7 metres long. Do not plan the carport too small. Otherwise you will have to replace it when you buy a bigger car.

Carport: seven advantages

What are the arguments in favour of a carport? These are the seven arguments that are mentioned most often: A carport ...

  1. ... protects against hail, rain, snow and UV rays, branches and leaves as well as tree sap, pollen and bird droppings.
  2. ... protects against the summer heat and ensures bearable temperatures in the car even at the height of summer.
  3. ... costs less than a garage because you don't need walls, a garage door or ventilation.
  4. ... takes up less space than a garage.
  5. ... is easier to plan and built in just one day.
  6. ... protects against humidity damage and salt water because the air circulates and the car dries quickly.
  7. ... contributes to the long-term value retention of the car because it is protected from wind and weather.

Carport

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Wooden carport

Wood is cheaper than steel. On the other hand, it is more susceptible to humidity, insects or weathering and can rot, mould or decompose if it gets damp. Pay attention to the quality of the wood. It is best to buy local wood, such as spruce or larch. These types of wood contain a lot of natural tree resin and are more resistant to fungi, wind and weather than other woods. The wood, preferably pressure-impregnated carport wood, should be pre-treated and must be treated every two years with a special wood preservative with UV filter. Because wood is less stable than aluminium, metal and steel, you should definitely pay attention to the load-bearing capacity: the carport roof should bear at least 85 kilograms of snow load per square metre, better more.

Metal carport

Metal is significantly more expensive than wood and has numerous advantages. For one thing, a carport made of galvanised steel or anodised aluminium is much easier to maintain than a wooden carport and only needs to be cleaned with water occasionally. On the other hand, both steel and aluminium are rust-proof and easily stand up to wind and weather. In addition, metal carports can bear snow loads of up to 200+ kilograms and, thanks to their high load-bearing capacity, are suitable for greenery or for a photovoltaic system on the roof. Metal carports have a more filigree appearance than wooden carports and can be powder-coated in almost all RAL colours. The coating is lightfast and does not fade in UV light, which is why a metal carport still looks like new even after decades.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

Although anodised aluminium and galvanised steel are actually rust-free, you should regularly check a metal carport for rust in order to detect and treat damage at an early stage.

Attached Metal Carport
A metal carport costs more than a wooden one, but it is easier to maintain and lasts longer.

How much does a carport cost?

The carport costs consist of the

  • Material costs (concrete for the foundation, post anchors and carport) and the
  • Work costs (planning the carport, submitting the planning application, pouring the foundation and installing the carport) together.

Expect costs of 7,500 to 15,000 Swiss francs for a wooden carport or several times that for a metal carport. In return, you don't have to worry about anything and your carport will be planned and installed by a professional, for example a carport expert from our network. A carport must be stable, provide secure protection against hail, rain and snow, and bear heavy snow loads in winter. That's why it's worth having your carport installed by professionals, even if the costs are higher than for a DIY model.

Very simple wooden carports are available in DIY stores for a few hundred francs. For this, you have to plan the construction, submit the building application, pour the foundation, consider the statics, assemble the carport and treat the wood. This takes time and craftsmanship. If you want to assemble a metal carport, you will need help - even metal beams and posts made of light aluminium are much heavier than wood.

Does a carport need a building permit?

Small buildings such as carports must be approved from a size that varies from canton to canton. In the canton of Zurich, for example, from a height of 2.50 metres and an area of 6 square metres, in the canton of Bern only from a height of 2.50 metres and an area of 10 square metres. In principle, you need a building permit for all structures that are firmly connected to the ground or firmly anchored in the ground. You can read how to proceed in the article "How do you apply for a building permit?". Anyone who builds without a permit is in breach of the Planning and Building Act, is liable to prosecution and could be reported to the police if the breach is deliberate. This can be expensive: If the building authority does not subsequently approve the building project in a building law procedure, the carport must be dismantled.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

If you add your carport to the wall of the house and plan to have direct access to the house, you must report this extension to the building insurance company, which will adjust your insurance policies against fire and natural hazards.

Photovoltaic system on the carport roof

With climate change and rising energy prices, interest in photovoltaic systems is growing. The roof of the new carport is ideal for installation if it is strong enough to support the heavy solar modules. With solar electricity from the carport roof, you could, for example, consume your own and the remaining solar electricity in the household or store it in an electricity or battery storage system. The roof orientation (to the south) and the roof pitch (25 to 40 degrees) are decisive for electricity production. In our article "Solar energy: Is my roof suitable for a solar system?" you will find more tips for photovoltaic systems in general. We will go into more detail about solar power systems on the carport roof in one of the next articles in Houzy Magazine, we promise.

With a carport, you protect your vehicle(s) and increase the market value of your house. In our network, you will find certified carport experts in your area who will provide you with competent advice, plan the project with foresight and professionally build or install your carport. Get up to three quotes and start the "carport" project.

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