According to Wolf Street, “the average age of vehicles owned by households increased from 9.3 years in 2009 to 10.5 years in 2017.” That means people are keeping their cars longer and that consumer attitudes towards major purchases are changing. Having a recurring car payment hanging over their heads doesn’t have much appeal, so people are choosing to hang on to their cars for longer periods of time and to have them repaired rather than trade them in for new ones.
Cars are necessities for most people, so extending the car’s life by taking proper care of it is important. Leaving a car unprotected from rain, snow, and sunlight year-round will ultimately shorten its life and send it to the junkyard or back to the dealership more quickly. Custom-built carports, however, can help protect your car and keep repair costs down—and a garage can offer even more protection. If you already have a carport, you may want to consider converting it to a garage. This is actually a very attainable goal that can be completed quickly and at a relatively low cost. Here are five tips for converting your carport into a garage.
Research the Local Laws
Before starting any major construction project, it would be prudent to find out if you’re even allowed to. The previous homeowner may have built a carport instead of a garage for a reason. Contact your local planning and zoning commission to find out if you’re able to legally enclose your carport. Maybe your land is zoned for residential living and a free-standing garage is considered a barn to be used for agriculture purposes. Some cities do still have outdated laws that make little sense on the books.
After getting the go-ahead from the local government, you may need to check with your homeowners’ association (HOA), if you belong to one. Some communities have strict rules you must follow, so make sure they approve your plans. They often have the power to levy fines and deny construction plans.
Consider the Cost
Before you do anything else, set a budget for the project. Be honest with yourself and figure out how much money you can realistically afford to put towards the garage conversion. There are plenty of ways to keep costs down, and exploring them all is a good idea. Doing the work yourself would save the most money. Find resale shops that specialize in building materials—you can find a lot of usable materials at these shops for a fraction of the price.
Check Out the Existing Structure
Take a good look at the condition of the existing carport. You don’t have to be a licensed contractor to determine what kind of shape it’s in. Knowing the condition of your carport will save you headaches down the road. In particular, make sure you inspect the following three elements:
If your carport is made of wood, check the support beams for rot or termites. Make sure the beams are strong enough to support new walls and any accessories you might be planning on adding. Use a level to determine whether the support beams are leaning. Metal beams won’t have rot or insects, but they can still be out of square.
Odds are that if you park under the carport every day, you’re already aware of any holes. Get onto the roof anyway to double check. Check the condition of the shingles, if there are any, and of the trusses—if they’re made of wood, check those for rot and termites, as well.
Check the concrete slab under the carport, too. Look for cracks or anything else that could pose a problem later. If you notice any sinking, the slab could be unstable and affect the structure later on. Addressing these problems before you begin adding walls will be much easier.
Consider the Design
Designing your new garage is the best part of the process. Dream about all the things you want to include and start making a list. Think about how you want your new garage to look and how you want to organize it. Considering all your options may be intimidating, but remember to relax and have fun with it. Don’t forget to think about these key components of your new garage:
The location of the garage door may be an obvious aspect to consider. But what kind of door should you get? There are overheads with windows, special insulation, and even faux finishes. If possible, you should also add an access door for getting in and out of the garage without opening the overhead door. For security purposes, get a solid access door with no window, and make sure you can add a deadbolt.
You may just need one window. This is a garage, after all, so you don’t necessarily need lots of natural light. Get a window on the smaller side so that potential intruders can’t access your garage. Also make sure you can easily open it in case you need to ventilate noxious fumes while working on a project.
Don’t forget the exterior design, either. This part of the process should be given some careful thought. Do you want the garage to match your house or just complement it? Think about paint colors and, if applicable, the shingle style for the roof. A fresh coat of paint can make anything look like a million bucks. If the finished product doesn’t look good next to your house, then you may have wasted a lot of time and effort.
Consider the Mechanical Service
No matter what kind of climate you live in, you may want to install an HVAC system—especially if you plan on spending a lot of time working in your new garage. Heating and air conditioning in your garage can also add value to your property in the long run. Overhead lighting and electrical outlets are musts, so draw up your new space and mark where you want them all to go. This will help the electrical contractor know where you want everything.