By Jason Gillikin

A carport combines ease of access with good protection against wind, rain, sun and snow. Not only can a well-built carport, carefully erected on a good site using the right materials, be a wonderful convenience for your family, but it can add significantly to your property's resale value.

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Carports can keep your car free from rain and snow.

Site Selection

A carport built in a wet or soggy area needs ample drainage and pressure-treated lumber to reduce rot. Brace your primary support posts if there is any risk that the posts could shift over time in waterlogged or sandy soils.

If you live in an area that has a lot of snow or rain, build a roof that has sufficient pitch to allow for drainage. Be careful, however, to not build a pitched roof that is open in the front to the direction of your area's prevailing winds--in a storm, the roof could be blown off.

Materials

Use heavier wood posts carefully sunk into concrete as your primary structural supports. Use heavy-duty bolts to assemble parts, through holes drilled through the lumber--bolts make it easier to disassemble, expand, or move your carport, and bolts absorb a tremendous amount of shearing force. Remember to properly seal the bolt shaft to reduce the risk of future rotting.

If you live in a high-sun area, install solar panels on the roof of the carport and take advantage of the free energy.

Aesthetics

Use colors that coordinate well with your house or barn. If your carport is free-standing, consider using the same shingles, or even the same roof angle, on the carport as on the house, to tie these structures together. Decorative elements like flags or flowers can enhance the beauty of an otherwise functional carport, and simple things like trim or facing boards can hide structural beams and make your carport look visually appealing.

If your carport will shelter things like fireplace logs or a lawn mower, consider putting a half-high wall or screen under the structure so that most people who look at your carport from the front do not see the extra clutter.

Considerations

Always check with your local zoning professional or condo/neighborhood association board about any rules regarding carport construction--some communities require a licensed builder to approve of any plans that modify a primary residential structure. Share your carport success story with your insurance agent to see if you qualify for any discounts for your auto or homeowners policy.